Making friends in Lima

Like my Aunt Vicki, I love making lists.  To-do lists are my favorite, but I also enjoy making step-by step instructional lists, lists of places I want to travel, lists of potential blog topics, of men I’ve dated, of men my friends have dated, of men I’m currently dating (short list).  You get the idea.

One time in college, I decided to make a list of all my friends.  I added to it for weeks and it began to fill multiple pages of my Kinesiology notebook.  Not that I’ve ever been super popular.  I was a 90-pound, flat-chested, underdog in high school.  It’s just that I’m not that picky.  Most likely, if we spent time together at some point in our lives and I remembered it, you were on the list.  I included my current sister-in-law, Chelsea.  Though at the time we had only met twice, Charlie and I were not dating, and she was not yet married to Ted.  The two times we met, I really liked her and thought we would probably be good friends at some point.

Gladys, Me, and Gaby (left to right) at one of our beach days

This week, I decided to make a list of all my friends in Peru.  It took me less than five minutes.  I included the members of my running group, the owners of the dogs Brandy plays with in the park, Carlos the driver (who I professed my love to in Spanish my first day here), my maid Gloria, co-workers of Charlie who I’ve met or had dinner with, Becca from Colorado who is studying here (we hung out once and we talk on Skype, that counts), my cousin’s friend Hernan who we met up with one night for dinner, Brandy, Brandy’s best dog friend Inca, and Charlie. Then there are a few select people I’ve spent a little more time with…

Gaby: Mi Salvadora

Knowing how important it is for me to have friends, Charlie tends to seek them out for me.  He’s really good at this.  My first week here in Peru, Charlie decided that I would get along well with Gaby from his work and invited us both to lunch.  Sure enough, we hit it off!  Since then, Gaby has been my savior here in Peru.  The first weekend Charlie was away, she picked me up and took me all around Lima to buy things I needed for the apartment.  I knew we would get along because we both liked gossiping, shopping, Pisco Sours, and working out.  We started having girls nights, going to Pisco Sour tastings, beach trips, etc.  She’s in my running group that meets for long runs on the weekends.  At least one day a week, she meets me at my apartment at 5:30AM, and we jog down to the ocean front to run stairs for 30 minutes.

Gaby studied translation in school and while I am determined to soon speak only in Spanish, it’s really nice to have someone I can gossip with in English.  She helps me with my Spanish, and I teach her slang words that she hasn’t heard of in English, such as “prego”  (for pregnant), “huffy puffy” (to describe being angry), and “douchbag” (to describe a guy we don’t like).

Gladys: My famous friend

One day when we were at the beach, we noticed that Gladys was in the background of a photo in Cosas, which is like the Peruvian version of People magazine.  We joke that this makes her my first famous friend!  She is also in my running group.  Although her English is good, we speak solely in Spanish (we are in Peru, you know).  Fortunately, she speaks slowly and clearly so I can understand.  When Gladys, Gaby and I hang out, we discuss very important topics such as celebrities, male anatomy, articles in periodicals like Cosmopolitan and Cosas, and the word I learned from Gladys “Chaka Chaka.”

Noelle:  My American Friend

Charlie, me, Ricardo, Gladys, and Noelle

I met Noelle in my first Spanish school.  We bonded over the fact that we didn’t like the teaching style there.  The next semester we switched to a better school and began studying together after class.  Noelle’s from Washington, but is a world traveler.  In recent years she has lived in southeast Asia where she taught English and has spent the past few months traveling in South America in hopes of settling somewhere down here for at least a year.

One thing I appreciate about Noelle is her willingness to talk to anyone.  She has gotten herself in trouble a couple times, misjudging the seemingly kind intentions of men who want to “help her learn Spanish” over coffee.  If someone tells her a section of town is not safe, she tries even harder to go there.  Most of the time she just ends up with good stories about the people she meets in her daily adventures.  Unfortunately, in the next week or so, Noelle will be heading off to Columbia to pursue a potential job opportunity.

Vanessa:  My Friend From the Park

Vanessa is from Mendoza, Argentina and is married to Felipe from Santiago, Chile.  We met in the park where Brandy and her dog, Inca, hit it off right away.  We had no choice but to become friends.  Vanessa, like me, has moved to Peru on account of her husband’s job, has plenty of free time during the day, and loves to talk!  We meet in the park, walk our dogs together, and recently started doing errands together during the day.  We’ve had a couple double dates with our husbands, who also get along quite well.

Ricardo, Gaby, Gladys and I at a restaurant about to eat Ceviche

Although now I understand most of what she says, when I met Vanessa, I could only follow about a third of our conversation.  We speak to each other in Spanish and she speaks quickly in her Argentine accent.  I remember coming in from the park one day, trying to tell Charlie about my new friend.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: “Either she’s married, or is going to get married in either April or November.”

Charlie: “Interesting.  How long has she lived in Peru?”

Me: “Either she arrived a year ago as of April or November, or she’s been here a year and it will be 2 in April or November.”

Charlie: “Hmm.  So what else did you talk about?  Are you going to meet again?”

Me:  “Yes, we exchanged phone numbers!  Either we’re going to meet in the park at 5, or she’s going to call me at 5, or I’m supposed to call her at 5.  Either tomorrow, or next Wednesday.  I didn’t follow that part, but I really like her, I think we have a lot in common.”

Some guy named Ralph Waldo Emerson said at some point “A man’s growth is seen in the successive choirs of his friends.”  I wonder how long his list was.

-Posted by Danielle L. Krautmann, 02 April 2010