Day 124

First Day in Arequipa, Peru

I arrived early in the morning Wednesday, July 27. My first impression of Peru, arriving in Lima at around midnight, was one of warmth. Watching the people interact with each other, I couldn’t help noticing how close everyone seemed. It was the way they leaned in closer to each other, and the way they talked to each other as if they knew every intimate detail about the other and loved every part of them. Now that I am in Arequipa and I have interacted with the people on a closer basis; the tour guide Alonso, and the staff at the hotel where I am staying have strengthened my first impression of the warmth and kindness that can be found among the people of Peru.

Alonso, the tour guide, was so kind. He showed up to my hotel and explained a tour that I will be going on Friday. He also showed up again to see if I wanted to go to dinner with him and another conference participant who was also staying at the hotel. The three of us went to dinner where we met the organizer with whom I have been in contact over the months leading up to this trip. She was accompanied by Alonso’s aunt and another woman who I believe is their friend. We greeted each other with a hand shake and a kiss on the cheek. It was like we were old friends rather than acquaintances meeting for the first time. When I am greeted like this, it is both awkward and disarming.

It is awkward because I am used to handshakes or living in Japan bowing deeply upon greeting someone, so it takes some getting used to. It is disarming because it is one of the most vulnerable greetings, getting that close to another human being immediately builds a sense of trust. You are both vulnerable and so you must trust each other. To be that close and that vulnerable with someone you barely know sends the message that you trust them and that is reciprocated. It is a wonderful feeling.

It was wonderful first day. I learned a lot about myself and the people who will be in my life for the next six days. I anticipate that I will learn a lot more, and I am looking forward to the lessons that are in store for me. I will write a post every day that I am at this hotel because I have wi-fi, but when I go on the tour Friday and Saturday, I might not be able to post anything; however, I will give an update as soon as I can. Until next time, I wish you all the best.

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