Greetings from Arequipa! We’ve been here for just over a week now, and although it’s still early days, are beginning to feel a bit more settled. Arequipa is Peru’s second city, although it feels significantly smaller than Lima. This might be because the roads are considerably less hectic, and could be due to the lack of high buildings – they keep them low here because of the fairly regular seismic tremors! It is, however, a beautiful city, and we are looking forward to exploring the winding cobbled streets and historic buildings. The sun shines every day, meaning that it gets nicely warm in the day time. The same cannot be said, however, for the nights, which are decidedly chilly! The cold doesn’t seem to impede the local stray dogs, who sound their chorus late into the night and again a little too early in the morning. This is more than compensated for by the view – the city is surrounded by a spectacular mountain range, including three volcanoes, of which we have a stunning view from the roof of our house. Watching the early evening sunlight on the snow covered peaks as it turns orange and slowly sinks away is breathtaking. God has done well here!
This week we began language school. This means that every morning we pile on one of the many combis – small busses which are usually rammed with people and driven at breakneck speed around the city whilst everyone hangs on for dear life. Although there are taxis (thousands of them in fact), we prefer to take the bus when we can as a) it’s considerably cheaper and b) it seems a much better inculturation into Peruvian life.
Our classes start with an hour and a half of grammar with Julio, who is also our landlord. Julio is also a dentist and seems to have an inexhaustible supply of incredibly funny stories about life here in Peru. Lessons are not going to be dull! We share the class with an Australian couple – David and Christine – and are sometimes joined by their 10 month baby Samuel, who is showing better aptitude for grammar than the rest of us.
After a short break we then have another hour and a half of one to one ‘practical’ work, in which we sit with a teacher and are drilled in conversation, pronunciation and vocabulary. This is, as you can imagine, pretty intense, but we’ve been amazed at how much we’ve learned already.
Once lessons are over it’s back on the combi to head home for lunch, then hit the homework, of which we’re meant to do a couple of hours each day. We are slowly discovering different places we can work to get us out of the house, including our personal favourites the coffee shops. So all in all we’re doing well – thanks to all who have been praying. Please pray that we’d continue to settle in, that we’d be able to find a church to attend regularly, that we’d be able to adapt well to the altitude (Arequipa is 2,500m above sea level), and that our brains would expand sufficiently to fit in all the new words we’re learning!