Lima Diaries: Museo del Oro.

September 15, 2012

Proof that I was there.

The more removed I become from my college days, the more appreciative I grow over the privilege of having attended UCSD. I did not want to end up there initially, but in retrospect, I see how God’s plan has been and continues to be very intentional and specific.

One of the things I struggled with most during my time there though were the many classes I was required to take despite not possessing even one ounce of interest. I tend to be an all or nothing kind of person, so it was difficult to engage and work hard at subjects I simply wasn’t passionate about.

But with increasing passage of time, I become more grateful to have been exposed to things I otherwise would never have chosen to research on my own. Like the anthropology of prehistoric cultures and the Making of the Modern Man.

We went to check out Lima’s Museum of Gold this week. After an extremely squishy combi ride, a short jaunt by foot, and several requisite photos at the front gate, we stepped down into a dark basement wing full of gold artifacts from Pre-Columbian era societies.

It was fascinating. The intricate details and extensive nature of the gold articles were admirable, but even more incredible was that I could appreciate the exhibits at a deeper level because I had spent so many quarters attending lectures, reading (okay, skimming) textbooks, and writing late-night MMW papers about the various people groups and such enigmas as their cultural customs, and it was all coming together.

It’s a unique feeling to watch past collide with present, and humbly stand in awe over how intentional and specific God orchestrates life–in even seemingly superfluous things like Inca history and a Wednesday morning trip to a museum.

Little did I know how many of these types of moments this trip would hold. More to come…

Lima Diaries: Lima Loves Lo.

September 15, 2012

The good life.

Before and after I arrived in Peru, I heard many less than positive opinions regarding the city of Lima. The dismal weather, a thick smog layer, and its lack of interesting draws as compared to other Peruvian cities were just some of the noted drawbacks.

What those individuals did not understand was that I was coming from Paraguay.

I’ve been giddily reveling in the gloomy overcast days, nippy with the occasional sharp wind, and breathing deep the air that smells to me not of pollution but of delicious sea salt. I have been celebrating spicy hot aji sauce accompanying every meal already vibrant with flavor. And I actually went into such reverse culture shock upon touring the grocery store here, that my friend G had to quickly usher me home on the first day. So. Many. Available. Products!!!

I have also been staying in a house that is, by my current standards, qualifying of luxury vacation digs (and free of uninvited guests like mice, lizards, and cockroaches), and I have been surrounded all week by fun-loving young adults my age who are neither all dating each other nor married (and with no children to boot).

Additionally, since G is here, I’ve had the privilege of just following him around all week. It is so relaxing not worrying about where we need to go or how to get there. And though we have been taking every mode of wild Latin American public transportation possible, I have not had a single moment of feeling unsafe, tense, or paranoid.

Most significantly, there is a BEACH here! Miles of coastline caressed by the faithful lapping of the blue Pacific and surfers everywhere. It is like a vacation paradise and a warm hug from home all rolled into one sweet week of familiar comforts and sheer relief. Lima has been good to me.

When It All Works Out.

September 11, 2012

In anticipation of my next required 90-day exit, I had planned a trip to Montevideo, Uruguay for several reasons. The airfare was affordable, travel time was short, lodging would be available through missionary contacts, and there was no exorbitant visa fee to pay upon entrance. Word on the street was also that the city was beautifully modern and safe for single female travelers adventuring alone. Not to mention, Montevideo is RIGHT ON THE BEACH. Living in a landlocked country doesn’t do much in the way of sea air and I was anxious to get back to a coast.

So back in June, after several weeks of researching the best fares, I purchased my ticket, confirmed my housing, and even booked a private cooking class with a famous Uruguayan chef. I was pumped.

Then in the midst of a non-stop work schedule several weeks ago, I decided to check my itinerary and research my options to possibly extend my upcoming weekend vacation. Instead, I encountered a defunct website and discovered that Pluna Airlines had declared insolvency. After raiding every online forum on the subject, it seemed that there was no way to contact Pluna and the only way to obtain a refund was to place an appeal through one’s own credit card company.

I Skyped in to my bank in San Diego and had them mail paperwork to my parents to complete for me, and embarked on an extensive search for replacement tickets to Montevideo. The only options now available cost $600 and required six hours of travel time—a stark difference against the original $200 and 50-minute flight.

And so I left all Uruguayan excitement behind and looked at airfare to pretty much every major city in South America. To my great dismay (but not surprise since this was all happening pretty last minute), prices across the board were exorbitant. Until I had a light bulb moment.

TACA Airline frequent flyer miles. I have been intentionally booking my flights exclusively through TACA over the last year to accumulate miles, and this decision-making was about to pay its dividends. Delightfully, I discovered that a ticket to Lima, Peru would be completely covered by a minimal amount of miles save for fees, and not only that, I remembered an old college friend was to be in the city the same dates I was looking to travel. Happy heel clicks ensued.

And here I am, waiting to board a flight to Peru. Though I have passed through the Lima airport several thousand times, I have not yet had the chance to venture outside. Here’s to a trip that has worked out better than anything I ever expected, and a week of old friends and good times awaits. Stoked.

Cheers!

Twenty-Cinco.

July 20, 2012

I have celebrated many a birthday outside of the U.S. This year: Paraguay.

For someone who spends so much time in her own head, I find it kind of remarkable that I have never really given much thought to where I’d be at 25. I suppose since it sounded old and far off, I assumed I’d simply have it figured out.

But here I am and…I don’t. After some cursory reflection this week, I actually find myself a little embarrassed at how unsettled life still is at this quarter-century mark. I look around and see friends my age who have been married for years, nestled into the domestic bliss of stable careers, purchasing homes, and making babies (and lots of them at that). I’m still wracking my brain about what I want to do “when I grow up.”

I struggled as an academic during my time at UCSD–it was just so difficult for me to muster up sufficient interest in subject matters that didn’t inspire straight out fiery passion in me. I dabbled in crisis intervention social work and that almost broke me. And while I am convicted this is where God wants me for now, I’m fairly certain a lifetime of overseas missionary work is not where I’m headed either.

Furthermore, my predilections towards possible future endeavors are strangely balanced, so it is hard to say that any one thing in particular jumps out at me. Graduate school? Cooking school? Back to the working world of fixed schedules and paychecks? So much ambivalence.

These things I do know to be true: I am inordinately good at consuming large amounts of black coffee. Baking fruit muffins with crumble topping is kind of my forte. World travel is my soul song. I have great parents and the best batch of best friends. And even though long-distance ranks up there with poop on my shoe, genocide, and boxed mashed potatoes (tongue-in-cheek, peeps), I love doing life with someone who inspires me daily with their stability and optimism.

Food, family, friends, livable wanderlust, and love–really, I’ve got it all. There is a richness in life that, in spite of the foggy uncertainty and momentary lack of direction, brings fullness and reminds me this is a great place to be. I also know that He abides and His plans are good. And if there is anything I have learned in the last twenty-five years, it is that He brings clarity in His timing and His timing is perfect.

Here’s to twenty-five more delicious ones full of new flights, sights, and flavors. Cheers!