We've been quiet for the past couple of weeks. I think the urge to write about our new lives here drops off as the normalcy sets in. We've settled in to our apartment, figured out how to pay the security, water, internet, and light bills-at any bank in town, for those who want to know. We can describe where we live in a variety of ways to taxis, and know when we are getting ripped off with the gringo tax on public transportation. Lawn advertising no longer looks strange to me, but I think it is a "green" advertising technique we should start doing in the States. Companies buy/lease public green space, and use different plants or flowers to advertise their business alongside the highways. Since the traffic is god-awful here, people spend a lot of time staring out the window of their cars, taxis, or combis; pretty smart idea, eh? My favorite baristas at Starbucks now know my name is Kate-no more vanilla lattes for Keith!
Matt has been working a ton-he had his first triple digit map week. I've been busy, too-finally getting out into the field, both around Lima and up in the Andes, and getting all of our budget and planning for 2009 out of the way. We're still in the official registartion process with the government, but our lawyers have done this with multiple international and Peruvian NGOs, so I feel like we have good people working the system for us.
Our recent trip to Huaraz was a highlight. An 8-10 hour bus ride up the Panamerican Highway and over the mountains takes you to Huaraz, one of the hubs for outdoor activities in Peru. Our bus ride was towards the 10 hour side, as getting out of Lima took 2 hours. But when you have a stewardess, two movies, and lunch served, somehow the time goes by. A woman I had met through work a few weeks ago had invited to a cycling event in Huaraz; and some colleagues who also work in the water and sanitation sector had also invited me to come see their work, so we killed two birds with one stone.
It was so refreshing to get out of the city-no traffic and high mountain air to breathe. There was probably a group of 20 of us who went out for "ciclo-turismo". We thought it was going to be a tour around town on cruiser bikes; we were wrong. Roads that gradually blend into people's potato fields wind up to the natoinal park surrounding Huaraz and we spend a (mostly) pleasant three hours exploring the countryside. I say mostly pleasant, because a local had "volunteered" to guide the group and lend Matt and I bikes. He was probably the crabbiest man I've met in a long time-he complained about the weather (which was perfect); how boring Huaraz was; how horrible Lima was; how Colorado had no high altitude places; all with quite a sexist attitude. I was ready to throw something in his spokes by the end of the day, but it was a welcome change from pounding the pavement in Lima.
We planned to go for a hike in Huascaran National Park that weekend, but Matt got sidelined with a bad bout of food poisoning. I don't think I've ever seen him that sick-don't worry, no details here, but it was bad. I was next-not quite what he had-but no fun on the 9 hour bus ride back.
Time is flying-only a few more weeks before we leave for our honeymoon in Argentina and Chile, and home for the holidays and new visas!