People always say that first impressions are important, so it didn’t take long for me to already have some “impressions” about the country of the Inca’s, Peru.
Around 4 am Peruvian time, me and three other Belgian exchange students arrived in Lima. Before we left Belgium we were told that there would be an AFS coordinator waiting for us at the airport. What we met at the airport was someone, or rather something, totally different; Nothing. Nada. No one.
Luckily we had the AFS Peru emergency phone number, because this was truly an emergency. Of course, with our Belgian phone chips we didn’t really want to spend hundreds of euros on a one minute phone call, so we asked the informations desk to contact AFS Peru. After having been awake for more than 24 hours, we got the “good” news that we were going to be picked up in half an hour (while we were already waiting for an hour). So, what did we learn from this experience? In Peru people are more laid back when it comes to punctuality.
Not soon after we learned our second lesson in Peru: traffic is crazy. We got in the cab that would take us to our first destination, Chaclaclayo, where there was going to be an AFS orientation camp. Even though it didn’t seem that far in distance, it surely took us a long time to get there. On the road I was starting to notice some Peruvian driving habits. How they wouldn’t drive in only one lane, but just drive in the middle. Or how people were acting as if driving was equal to slalom skiing. People here also really like to drive with their windows open, so when we got stuck in traffic it felt like we were going to suffocate in the exhaust gases of the cars. In that moment I could only think how I didn’t want to die on my first day of my exchange abroad. Honestly, I’ve had better times on the road.
There we were, four Belgian exchange students, sitting in a cab in a country we didn’t know anything about except for some stereotypes like; people are small (which they are) and they eat a lot of rice (which they do). All of a sudden, we turn into a street that has probably seen better days. While we were sitting in the car and having the bumpiest ride of our lives, we saw a first sign “no cell phones allowed”. Some time later we came across the sign “Use of protection allowed”. That’s the second time I thought I didn’t want to die yet. After some more rollercoaster action because of the bumps in the road, we arrived safely at our destination. At this point it was already past 8 am, and I was just so happy I could finally eat and rest.. and take a nice, hot shower.
We would be spending the next few days in a fairly modern church, with some nuns, dogs and other exchange students.
to be continued..