This blog is a bit embarrassing to write, because I have to admit how timid I can be when I end up in an environment I am not used to. Whether a situation is frightening or not is relative depending on who is experiencing it. But stepping outside one’s comfort zone is so very empowering–all of us must do so every once in a while! As my mother would tell people when they asked her if she worried about me traveling back when I was much younger: “Well, she can’t live in a cave!” Thank you, Mom!
On Saturday, the day after I arrived in Arequipa, I decided that I would go and explore the city on my own. The day before, Mechel had taken me on a walk to the Plaza, and it was quite an experience as I learned how to dodge taxis and try not to let the sights and sounds overwhelm me. As I finished getting myself settled for the day and ready to go out, I found myself procrastinating. I knew that I had to at least stretch my legs and walk around the neighborhood a bit. I kept thinking about the character Jean Ainsley in the movie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. She was so frozen with culture shock in India that she would never leave the hotel. I told myself, “I am NOT that woman!” and off I went to at least make a circuit of the neighborhood and THEN decide what to do. (Baby Steps) I walked several blocks and remembered that if I was going to be out in the near-equatorial sun at 7600 feet, I should get sunscreen. So I returned and put some on my arms, grabbed my water bottle, camera, some money, and small notebook. Adela had told me about a park nearby. So I thought, “I can walk over there, at least.” I walked in the gate and sat for a bit in the tranquil landscape trying to decide what to do next.
The requirement to feed our bodies can be quite an inducement for action, so I started for the Plaza knowing that at worst case, I would have the courage to go back to the same place I ate yesterday.