05 April 2011

5 Months in Peru : Am I Still a Tourist?

Long break of my blogging time, first of all : SO SORRY, COMMITMENT! I've been involved in several projects here in Lima, either work things or independent ones with my friend (we are developing youth empowerment project here in Peru, wish us luck!), so... here I am back to the virtual productivity! :)

I can't believe, 8 (eight) days from now, is gonna be my 5th months in Lima! I've been 5 months away from home, taking care everything from my head to toe by myself, be a good friend of Lima local buses (I'm so proud of myself for this! Haha!), got myself attached with Pollo ala Brasa, reggaeton music, local cafes, street festivals, and more lovely things I found in Lima. The point is, I found myself have fallen in love with this city, I'm becoming more Peruvian than I ever expected! Haha!

Whether it's because I have Peruvian friend (he's so lovely by the way-hihi) or not, lately I'm realizing the fact that it is hard for me to accept: I am a tourist, not local, still. It's not a selfish yet arrogant statement from an expatriate who currently residing abroad and try to persistently act as a foreigner (hell noooo, that's not what I meant). But from what I've heard, as long as I can't talk in local language, eat local foods, and live 100% my life like local people do, so I'm still labelled as a tourist. 


So let me examine this first :

1. "I can't talk in local language."

Okay, just admit it Afie, you're such a pain in the ass with this situation. 5 months hanging around Spanish speaking countries (I've been stationed in Chile and Bolivia as well during my times in South America), and all I can say so far is all about either "Good Morning" (Buenos Diaz), "Good Afternoon" (Buenos Tardes), "Good Night" (Buenos Noches), or the one I've been using almost every time I'm trapped in tricky situation in public places when people start asking me questions in Spanish : "Lo siento, no entiendo, hablo poco Espanol." 

With wide-innocently-apologizing-face, that words of mine will solve everything, because that means : "Im sorry, I dont understand what you said, I speak very little Spanish." Then, people will smile back and say "Ok, no problemo." 


In my humble opinion, the longer you stay abroad, the more opportunities for you to learn, not humiliatingly save and bordering yourself from many stuffs including speaking local language. Am I right?

So yes, it's my mistake, my number one mistake.
I keep myself act as a tourist by not seriously learning Spanish!

2. "I dont eat local foods."

When people talk about Peru, mostly they include these things: "Macchu Pichu, Cuzco, Lima, and of course FOODS." Peru is famous throughout South America for its food, and it's incredibly diverse in each region. My first week in Lima, I stayed with Indonesia's embassy officer and I got introduced to several others Indonesian who works at the embassy (Considering how far Peru from Indonesia, we dont meet a lot of Indonesian here in town, unless they're working for the embassy or the wife or the kids of the diplomats).

So these Indonesian people I met in Lima, made me feel home and of course welcomed. They took me into many parks (Lima's parks are really wonderrrful!), we did some picnic style sunday getaway, and they brought me various kinds of...... Indonesian snacks. 

What? Say it again?

Here we are in Lima, the city for food lovers, and all snackers I eat during my first weeks was:
-Lemper (Tasty Indonesian snack of chicken wrapped in sticky rice);
-Gorengan (Fried snacks included tofu (tahu), bean curd (tempe), bananas (pisang), and cassava (singkong);

and more than those two snacks, they served me....
-Kolak (Indonesian dessert made with palm sugar and coconut milk with pandanus leaf).

                                       Indonesian foods, who can resist it???!

I came all the way to South America and tasted Indonesia street foods. 


At that moment, I felt very happy, I thought like "Wow, it's cool, I'm away from home but I feel like I'm home. This is perfect, I won't feel homesick or those kind of feelings! Yay!"

Eating.. eating.. eating again.

But then now, I realized that was huge mistake! By eating my local foods in Indonesia here in Lima, I won't open myself for the variety of Peruvian foods, local foods here. In fact, that matter the most! I didn't want to try Causa, one of the most well known food from Peru (Made from potato), just because (I thought) I couldn't stand the smell of the ingredients (Stupid reason of course!)

Another confession: I haven't try Ceviche. 

                                        This is how Ceviche looks like (Google)

Okay, I hear that "WHAT????" sounds over there, and there, and yeah you there. I know that Ceviche is like "Number one food for tourist to try in Peru", but unfortunately, I just can't open my mouth for 'strange' food. This is the most stupid thing ever, I know, but it's just hard for me to even try. Ceviche is raw fishes blend into one dish and served with lime or special sauce. It sounds normal, but eating raw fish... like RAW... and then 'hap' swallow it in my mouth... I just can't imagine how it feels like.

Is it like Sashimi?

Okay people, stop hating me. I'm just trying to deal with new thing in my life, in this case, Peruvian foods.
And so far, I'm failed :(

One more reason to agree with that "I'm act as a tourist."
Stupid tourist.

3. "I dont live 100% my life like local people do."

What now?

Oo..okay. I go into starbucks every morning to have breakfast there (Only capuccino alto with soya milk, not with those sandwiches of course), take my bus (the real local bus!) to go somewhere, I like to come to see live music event in several cafes in town (mostly around Miraflores 'touristic' areas), and I'm addicted with... Pollo ala Brasa, chicken grilled with special condiments (HEAVEN!).

That's not really bad, right? I meant, starbucks coffee is the best, and I just can't start my day without it's cappucino with soya milk. Well maybe actually I exaggerate it, but the point is, what's wrong with starbucks?

And I took the bus to go everywhere. Wait, not everywhere, there will be time when I can't face the truth about hanging-standing inside the bus with several people during traffic hours. So I simply took taxi, pay 3 times more than I would if I took the bus, but I'm saved from 'the sweats war' inside bus. That's what people would do, right? RIGHT? Oh c'mon be honest!

And live music event? Who dont need music? Especially the one in friday night, good vibes, good people, good places, it will make you feel relaxed, and there are lots places for this in Lima. Enjoying life is not a crime, of course local people would agree with me! Ha!

I know 'Eating Pollo ala Brasa' is not 'local life' here, since that food is not always served in a house like daily food or something. But what's wrong with "Eating What You Like" principle?? Life will only happen once, so after I die, I won't be able to eat Pollo ala Brasa anymore. Reasonable? Checked.

                                   My lovely Pollo ala Brasa! Love it to the max!!

SO... after 5 months in Peru, am I still considered as a tourist? 

Maybe the 'language' and 'food' parts are seriously need my number one concerns.I have to open myself to fix it. Living in Peru is a bless for me, I've changed a lot over the months, I believe that I'm not the same person anymore. My personality, the way I see people, the way I talk, travelling made me open my eyes wider than before.

So for me personally, 5 months in Peru means: Perspective changed.

My missions in Peru now has to be : Language improvement + Foods exploring! 

Wish me luck, people!!!!! Especially on a food part! Hihi :)

Have I told this? I LOVE PERU! :)

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