You may have noticed a more frequent appearance of new blog entries… we all have Julia to thank…if Julia had not come all the way from Washington, DC to Peru, and all the way from Lima to Oxapampa to visit me and my site…and if she had not lectured me about posting blog entries more often, we would not be where we are today. Thank you, Julia. This blog post is dedicated to you. Well, actually it’s about you…here is the story of my first visitor from the States to visit me in my site!
Julia had been a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, so she kind of had an idea of what traveling and living abroad as a foreigner in a Latin American country was like, but she had never been to Peru. She came with her boyfriend who had not been out of the US his entire adult life (and had only been on a cruise before that)!
Wanting to get the feel of a small city in Peru instead of just the capital city and the tourist spots, they planned in an extra day to come out to Oxapampa (which itself is a tourist town, but more commonly for intra-country tourism…tourists are usually Limeños (people from Lima), rather than international tourists.)
I was super excited to have my first visitor from the US, and a little anxious…how was I was going to be able to present all the great things about my site to them in 12 hours. (I was super thankful for that random tourist route I had gone on that forced me to start thinking about how to share Oxapampa with others in a short amount of time (described in my previos entry: Being A Tourist in Your Own City.))
Everything turned out fantastically though! I was nervous about communication because they didn’t have a cell plan here, so we were relying on them finding wifi to be able to communicate. We had a rough plan for how to meet up, but when I still hadn’t heard from them 2 hours after I had expected to hear from them, I had no idea if: (a) their bus was on time and they were eating breakfast but hadn’t found wifi, or (b) their bus was late, or (c) they were wandering lost around Oxapampa for two hours. But Oxapampa is a small, friendly town, and being here has taught me to manage my anxiety and relax a little, and sure enough I got a message from them saying they had made it to the plaza and their bus had been late.
So we headed to a restaurant to have an Oxapampino breakfast and talk about what they wanted to do that day. (I love that things here move just slow enough and just fast enough that we can go with the flow with minimal planning and still be productive and have things turn out well.)
We settled on a guided tour to a waterfall for them in the morning (while I finished up some work), and an afternoon wandering around together checking out a few sites (to be determined), after having lunch in my house with my family.
My mom was pretty excited to prepare them a typical dish in Oxapampa, and she settled on a parrilla…a cut of beef seasoned exquisitely, with sides of yuca, fried plantains, rice, and a little salad…and the presentation was restaurant-scale! And with freshly made guyabana juice. I am super lucky to have a chef of a mom here, who likes to cook and does it super well. (It helps that she had attended a technical school for chefs here in Oxapampa!)
In the afternoon, we hiked up the hundreds of stairs to get the look-out point over the city of Oxapampa.
From there, we headed to the opposite end of town to go to the neighboring district where there is a park that has a distillery that makes aguardiente from sugar cane. We taste tested their products and also had aguardiente flavored ice cream.
Finally, we headed to the pizza place in town to see what they thought of the Peruvian version of pizza (they approved), and then we walked back to my house for some tea – and some delicious homemade bread that my mom had just pulled out of the oven! The days here are always full of surprises!
The day ended too quickly, though we all agreed it was a full, fun, and great 12 hours, before they boarded the bus to head back to Lima.