Last Sunday was census day in Peru. This involves everyone staying at home, broadly under curfew, until your house has been visited by the census collectors and your details taken. For us Brits it seems an odd way of doing it, an opinion shared by our Peruvian hosts in Arequipa, but everyone just seemed to knuckle down and allow the process to work. Church was cancelled (or moved to Saturday afternoon) and then on Sunday evening all the shops opened. As Sunday was also our wedding anniversary so we celebrated by going to the mall and having cake!
When you do preparation for mission trips they normally talk about culture shock. Nevertheless it was a surprise to find ourselves feeling quite as much like fish out of water for our first weeks in Arequipa. After all this is a city with modern conveniences, shopping centres, internet, warm water and more. But after a couple of weeks here we’ve got our mojo back and are spending large parts of each day working on our Spanish. The language school students are made up of people from the US, UK, Germany and Norway; all of whom are preparing for some form of mission work here in Peru (including Dave and Michele Mahon who are long term mission workers with BMS and who will be coming to Iquitos in January). The students are a great bunch, friendly, welcoming and all at different stages of language learning. The teachers are friendly and really want to help us. So do the Peruvian couple we are staying with; they also delight in introducing us to the local food and talking to us about a wide range of subjects at mealtimes!
The other thing you can count on in this part of the world is earthquakes; we’ve not felt anything significant yet but we are prepared if the need arises. Arequipa is surrounded by a three volcanos, which look beautiful in the sunset, but are a reminder that this is a fault line. Being up in the mountains also means blue skies every day, dry and thin air; it is very different to the hot, humid jungle we are used to.
You can also count on there being another blog post soon as we prepare to return to Nauta and start to get into the details of working at the training centre and developing the new course.