Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Monday, April 29, 2024

Your brief tour of our daily life in Arequipa Peru: Stories from A to Z

 After church on Sunday, we walked past a park with an event happening. Since the entrance fee was minimal and we had a whole day to fill, we decided to go in. 

We saw a large pond where a long boat took people around in circles. At the end of the pond, a giant slide was set up for kids to climb and swoop down into the water. 

There were stalls for face painting and selling trinkets. Food sales is what we were after. There must have been a dog contest too, since we saw people dressed up in costumes to match their dogs. 

As Forrest and I sauntered through the park, we bought some cookies, fruit and sandwiches. When we found an empty bench, we ate and watched the crowd. 

“This has been an entertaining couple of hours,” I said. “I’m glad we came.” 

“Yeah, me too,” Forrest agreed. 

“If it were me alone, I wouldn’t have come in.” 

“Why not?” 

“Crowds of people. I tend to avoid large crowds. It’s automatic. But you’re like how Dad was in his early years. You just take charge and say let’s go here or there or do this thing. At first, I might not want to, but then I go along and end up really enjoying it.” 

“You don’t think you’d do any of this stuff if you were on your own? Like if you decided to move to Arequipa and live here permanently, you wouldn’t go out and do things like this?” 

“Probably not.” 

“That could be a problem, Mom. Once you’re on your own, I’m afraid you will isolate too much and end up getting bored and lonely.” 

“But I like my alone time.” 

“If I lived alone in a foreign country, I would find someplace to volunteer. You could volunteer, Mom.” 

“I’m not the volunteering type. Other than taking a calling at church when they ask me.”

My handsome son

After that first weekend, our days took on a comfortable regularity. I had the room to myself all morning while Forrest went to Spanish school. I wrote and worked until I felt ready to go out. 

We both returned to the room around one and ate lunch together. Most often bread, butter, cheese and fruit, which we kept in a small cabinet, "our kitchen." We’d gather what we wanted and take it to the dining room. 

We might go out for lunch if Forrest didn’t have a meal scheduled with a couch surfing or Spanish school friend. Either way was fine with me. I enjoyed time alone and I enjoyed time with him, adapting as needed to either situation. 

Forrest didn’t seem bored with this simple, easy routine of taking a great deal of time to do very little. I figured he would grow restless with it. But he had pushed himself to finish undergraduate and graduate school in five years without a break, and this was his break. “I’m fine doing nothing,” he said. 

Although like me, he didn’t actually “do nothing.” He went to the Spanish school from 8 to 12:30 and did homework outside of class. He read books on my Kindle. He connected with people and engaged in conversation with native Spanish speakers. 

My language study was watching Netflix telenovelas in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. Socializing was spending time with my son.  I wrote and kept up with my publishing business.

I loved walking everywhere in the historic area near our hotel, appreciating the grand architecture as I observed life happening all around.

Street near the central park

Historic Church built by early Spaniards

Typical architectural detail in Arequipa buildings from Spanish era

There are always pigeons to feed

This man sits in the park with his typewriter and will type up things for a small fee

If Forrest felt hungry in the evenings, we went out for street food or to get popcorn from his favorite popcorn guy. When he liked a vendor, he returned again and again. Whether it was popcorn or jugo or the chorizo burgers, he headed straight to his favorite person. If they weren’t there, he would do without rather than go to someone else at the next corner. 

One lady made chorizo burgers at her stand with sauteed onions and a soft fried egg on top. The first time we tried them, he said it was the best food he had ever eaten in his life. She set up her cart most evenings but not always. He would do without his chorizo burger rather than go to another lady selling the same thing a block away. Once Forrest found his person, he stayed loyal.

The mercado had a full aisle devoted to selling mixed juice drinks, or jugo. Of course, Forrest had his jugo lady. Whenever we went to the mercado, he ordered one from her and sat there drinking it happily in her presence. If she wasn't busy, he would engage her in conversation to practice Spanish. 

Jugo ladies lined up at the mercado

One time, Forrest wanted ceviche. The ceviche stands were closing since it was after three and past time for people at the mercado to eat. He found a lady who still had some left and ordered a plate of it. Ugh, no bite for me. No way would I eat raw fish ceviche four hours after they had opened. 

I could have eaten tamales every day at one mercado stand. I tried each of the varieties, and they were all so good. People waited in line for these tamales. You had to get there early before they sold out. For some reason, Forrest didn’t stay loyal to this tamale place. 

For him, his loyalty was based on a combination of friendliness, willingness to speak Spanish with him, how big were their servings, and price.

Shopping from a friendly street vendor


  1. It sounds as though your son knows how to make the most of a situation.

  2. Thank you for taking us on this delightful trip.

  3. Tamales sound good. I am the same way. I don't like crowds or going in places.

  4. It seems that you and your boy are very different. The love is evident though - which is wonderful.
    Thank you so much for taking us along.

  5. I'm not big on crowds either, but that architecture is gorgeous. I would've loved to have seen the dog contest. So would my husband, but he'd be just as interested in going down the slide at the end of the pond. I'd pass on that.
    It is so wonderful that you've gotten to experience this wonderful trip with your son. I'm envious. :-)

  6. I have to admire the blue skies and the "winter" weather, so unlike what we have in New York State. And the food. Especially the food. What a relaxing part of your trip!

  7. Hi Karen - I enjoy my own company, but do need others - thankfully you and Forrest work together as a duo - great to see mother and son happily enjoying time together. His loyalty is to be applauded ... cheers Hilary


Comments are welcome!