It's been three months since Kathleen and I left DC, so it's well
past time for a report on life and work in Lima. And the end of our
first year in the Foreign Service, calendar year anyway, seemed like
a good time.
We got here on the last day of September. Our flight was supposed
leave Miami, where I had done the DHS consultation, at about 4:30 PM
and arrive in Lima at the reasonable hour of 8:30. It didn't work
out. After all passengers boarded a flight attendant announced that
there would be a delay and told us to gather our stuff and wait in
at the boarding gate. It turns out that the pilot had forgotten his
passport and had to go home to get it. Either the pilot lived far
away, or traffic in Miami is worse than in DC, because we didn't
take off until about 8:00.
We arrived around midnight to a foggy, misty, cold Lima (more about
the weather later). My sponsor and the expediter got us through
immigration in a snap, while all of the civilians waited in long
lines. But the great equalizer, baggage claim, intervened. Bags
did not hit the carrousel until long after all of the non-diplomats
had joined us at the baggage claim. And our bags rolled off last.
So a long time after landing we made our way out of the airport and
headed to our hotel. (Yes—hotel. The housing office had given our
apartment as temporary housing to another employee who had arrived a
few weeks earlier.) We were booked at a hotel in chain called "Las
Americas." The only problem is that there are four Las Americas
hotels in the area of the city we were supposed to stay. The motor
pool driver eventually found ours after stopping and unloading our
luggage at each of the first three. We got to bed after 3 A.M—so
much for my hope of getting a good night's rest before my first day
of work at a United States Embassy.
Since that first day, like many of you, my days have been filled
with NIV interviews. I got here at the beginning of Lima's busy
season with a lot of tourist visa applicants for holiday travel, as
well as about 10,000 J1 work-travel kids. The ski resorts of
Colorado and Utah now have ample lift operators and hotel room
cleaners thanks in part to my work. And as many of you also know,
doing visa interviews all day is tiring work. I wasn't in the mood
for posting earlier because I was dead tired at the end of the day.
Now, after three months, I'm starting to get the hang of it.
After about a month living in our hotel room with two cats we moved
into our apartment. It's a block from a cliff that overlooks the
Pacific Ocean in a great neighborhood called Miraflores. Our car
finally arrived just before Christmas, but we haven't used it too
much because there is so much to do within walking distance of our
apartment—great restaurants, cafes, a gym, and a shopping center
built on the side of the cliff with spectacular ocean views. To the
members of the Oakwood Thursday Night Running Club—I miss having
great friends to do my evening runs with, but I console myself by
running along the ocean. Have I mentioned that living next to the
ocean is really fine?
For our first two months here we experienced typical Lima weather.
It was cloudy interrupted by occasional fog or mist. I did not see
my shadow until December. As I write this report, however, summer
has arrived. New Years Day was about 80 degrees and the sun was
shining. Unlike New Years Days past, I didn't watch bowl games.
Instead, Kathleen and I walked on the beach. It wasn't exactly a
quiet, romantic walk. About 9 million people live in Lima, and we
weren't the only ones who had the idea of going to the beach. We
continuously had to dodge street vendors, surfers and sand-covered
kids, but had no complaints.
Peru is a country of amazing geographic contrasts—ocean to desert to
mountains to rain forest. So far we have had time for one long
weekend trip to a beautiful colonial city, Arequipa, and to the
Colca Canyon in the Andes, where we saw condors flying 100 feet over
our heads. We saw so many llama, alpaca and vicuna along the way
that I started just yawning and thinking "Oh well, more of the
same." I've heard that you know you are in the Foreign Service when
animals that used to seem exotic become familiar. We will make sure
to see a little of all Peru has to offer before leaving.
I hope all of you have fun and stay safe in our second year in the