We left La Inmaculada the morning of June 1st. Leaving Lima and La Inmaculada was difficult for me because it was leaving the sense of community and acceptance that our entire group had tried so hard to foster. La Inmaculada for me represented safety, because it was so different from the slums from which we had just come from working the day before. Leaving our homes and loving families, La Inmaculada was a smooth transition into Peruvian life with each of our own rooms, and 24/7 guards protecting us from the outside world.
After arriving to the airport, Señor Cordova gave us free time to get food in the airport. Most people got Papa Johns or McDonalds and decided to sit outside the food court. Everyone was enjoying their lunch until a family of Peruvians approached us and asked if we were Americans. After saying yes, the family asked us if we could take a picture with them. I thought this was odd at first, but we all got up and took the photo, however awkward it was. As I was thinking about it later, I began to recognize that we were probably the first Americans they had ever seen. I don’t think any of us really thought about this before the fact, as in America it is extremely easy to see a diversity of people.
When we arrived to Arequipa, all of us were amazed by the difference in terrain from Lima. Lima never had any sun and was constantly cloudy, Arequipa was already hot even at 5 o’clock at night. Arequipa also has the tallest mountains I have ever laid my eyes on. I felt like I was looking at Mount Everest.
When we got into the single carousel airport, we immediately saw the families waiting for us outside. They were so excited, it sounded like the crowd of a football game. When I met Gabriel’s mom and Grandma, I was caught off guard with their Spanish. It was embarrassing to tell Gabriel that I couldn’t talk to his mom clearly because I didn’t know enough Spanish.
That night I was introduced to my room in my family’s two story penthouse. With no TV or electronics as always, I know I will finish my book on Steve Jobs. That night, I went to dinner with some other Brophy students at a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant. It was surprisingly good. When I went home that night, I fell asleep instantly, even with the dogs barking because of the fireworks going off. Apparently setting off fireworks for no reason on a weekend is an acceptable thing to do in Peru. I am thrilled at the idea of serving the community here.