This is the sixth in a series of blog posts written by Elizabeth Williams, the daughter of Kathy Williams, director of communications for the Ursuline Sisters of Louisville. Elizabeth provides a fresh and witty travelogue of their trip to Peru September 29–October 13 2019.
Oh. My. Goodness. What a couple of wonderful days we have had the past two days. I’m soooo exhausted, but I am making myself write this blog for my dedicated fans out there (wishful thinking that I have dedicated fans).
I will write about our adventures from yesterday, tomorrow. Does that even make sense? Sorry for the disorganization. It gets my OCD going too.
Today was great. I really enjoyed myself. We are back in Lima. Callao to be more exact. Today, was the 54th anniversary of the school that the Sisters founded here. We went to their celebratory Mass this morning. That makes three Masses I’ve been to in less than a week. But I mean who’s counting??? I got to see all the little cutie pies again. Katy and Elisabet were back in action. The Mass was very nice with very joyful and happy music.
After Mass, the sisters’ friend (Sonia) and her niece (Jaqueline) took us to Lima city for the day to show us around. We had a blast! Jacqueline just finished her certificate in translating. Her English is very good. Don’t worry, I was able to practice my Spanish with Sonia. I’m still not at Sister Sue’s level though. Maybe one day. I might have to live in Peru for 40 years though.
Every church we tried to see, didn’t really work out. Ugh. I guess it wasn’t meant to be. We tried to see the church for Santa Rosa De Lima, Saint Rose from Lima. That church was closed, but the courtyard was open very shortly until we were kicked out. In our brief time there, we saw the poso, or well, for you non Spanish speakers. Everyone writes on a piece of paper their wishes and throws it into the well. Then the worker guy came and kicked everyone out. He said it would reopen at 5. But like sir, why are you closing??
After Saint Rose, we went to the church of Saint Martin de Porres. That church was closed for restoration. So we saw the entrance and hallway. Ok, we also saw a small chapel. Sonia did some investigating and found out that this church has a soup kitchen for elderly people. They serve 120 people every day. It’s all run by volunteers. This soup kitchen has been taking place since Martin de Porres started it. AMAZING. Saint Martin de Porres’ parents were slaves, and because of this when he became a priest they gave him the worst jobs. He was also known for being kind to animals and feeding mice.
While walking to another church, we came across tons of stores that sell different saints, rosarys, candles, images, etc. Basically, every Catholics dream store. I wanted to buy a little tiny statue of Saint Martin de Porres for my priest AKA my boss. What??? No, I’m not sucking up at all. The first shop we went into the lady told Sonya it was 10 soles. I went to buy it and she told me 25 soles! Sonia told her, “no, you told me 10.” To which the lady was like “what? Who told you that???” And Sonia was like “ok, bye girlfriend!” Ok, not really. She was more so like ok bye we are going somewhere else. You go, Sonia! Way to advocate for us dumb tourists who get taken advantage of. No, really I appreciate her. From then on out, we hid outside the store or around corners and Sonia would go in and ask prices. Then, we would pop up and get the local price. Teamwork makes the dream work people. Am I right or am I right? Shout out to Sonia. I love her. We found a different store that was selling the statue for 10 soles. Success.
One thing Peruvians believe in is wearing little image like pin of saints when traveling. This is to protect you while traveling. Well, just so happens I found my gift for my high school youth group. Cue me on the street picking out 36 of these little things. My kids better appreciate me. Each one only cost 1 sole, which is like .33 cents in the US. Super cheap, and super great gift if I do say so myself.
It was a great idea until all the other street lady vendors started bombarding me asking me to buy off their boards. Seriously, at one point we were enclosed in a circle by them. I was causing a lot of attention on the street- something I like the least. I am a very sensitive person and I felt really bad I couldn’t buy from these other ladies. I wanted to buy one from each, but for the sake of time, and my company, I had to be tough and stick to the task at hand: picking out 36 little images from one lucky lady.
We were going to visit the church, Señor de los Milagros (Lord of Miracles), buttttttt the line was SUPER long. Like, two hours long type of line. So, add that to the list of churches we didn’t see. The reason the line was so long is that this month, October, is the month of Señor de los Milagros. The whole month is dedicated to Him. The color for the month is purple. There is even a special cake they use to celebrate the month! It’s called Turron. Some of the stores were offering samples of this delicious pastry. We may have tried it a couple times… it’s good, ok?! Anyways, Lima goes all out for the Lord of Miracles. There is a day in the beginning of the month where the streets are closed, and there is a huge procession down the main street. Apparently, it is super packed and everyone is throwing flowers at the men carrying the statue of Señor de los Milagros. I would love to see it sometime. It reminds me of the processions in Spain.
Sonia took us to the center of Lima. She called it the corazón de Lima. The heart of Lima. There were tons of souvenir shops around. I think my mom bought the whole city. JK MOM LOVE YOU. We had a great time looking in all the stores. We planned on entering the Cathedral, BUT you had to pay to enter. Can you believe that?! Only free on weekends. Strike four on seeing inside a church.
We ate lunch at the famous chain restaurant that serves chicken a la brasa. I’m not sure what that translates to in English. Sorry. And I forget the name of the chain restaurant. Sorry again. Anyways, it was nice to sit down after all our walking we had been doing. I pulled out my gifts to look at them. Well, it appeared that a series of unfortunate events had taken place. Remember that tiny statue I bought earlier of San Martín for only 10 soles? Yeah, well, somehow his head during our walking journey got decapitated and was floating next to his body in the little plastic bag. Dios mío. Sonia reassured me that we could glue it back on.
Sonia and Jacqueline are both beautiful people. Sonia was telling us how much she was enjoying herself with us. She said it’s the first day she’s had off in a long time. And it’s the first day in a long time she’s had to herself to hang out with friends and have fun. She started crying. My heart could not handle it. She also told us that these memories she’s making with us today are special and memories she will always keep with her. She said it has been a great experience and she will take so much away from our day together. She also said that she will always hold a piece of us in her heart. Gah. Why are the people here so sweet?? She said it much more beautifully than that, and it was in Spanish, which always makes it more beautiful.
After our short lunch break, we were back on the streets of Lima to do some more shopping. This is what we did the rest of the day. Folks, I am worn the heck out. Shopping is exhausting. My mom and I passed a local street artist. Uh oh. We always have to buy from local artists wherever we travel. It’s just our thing, and maybe it’s becoming a problem. I really tried to haggle with him on the price. He wasn’t taking it. He gave us two and knocked 10 soles off the final price. Fine, whatever. You’re a poor artist. I get it. My mom feels for him because she is an artist too. The paintings were done with water color. They are amazing.
They also took us through Chinatown. Let me tell you, there was a ton of people. It was chaos. Absolute chaos. People were rushing around in a hurry and others were stopping to look at things. There were tons of individuals on the street selling clothes, food, you name it. I have no words, really. I’m still in shock.
It was 6:30 and it was time to go home. We had been out since 11:30 am! Talk about a long day. And Jacqueline still had to go to class at 7. Poor girl. It was so kind of her to be with us all day. The taxi dropped her off at her university and then took us back to the casa of the sisters. We all sat around the kitchen table, Sonia included, and had our tea and snacks. We swapped our stories from the day. It was nice. I love being here.
After Sonia left, my mom and I had show and tell with the sisters of all the things we bought. They loved it all.
I showed them the statue of San Martin de Porres. Sister Julie got the glue out right away to glue the head back on the body. Julie kills me. She is absolutely hilarious. We are always laughing at things she does or says. Anyways, we got the head glued on. Then we noticed a little chip around his collar. We searched the tiny plastic back he was in and found the small black piece of paint! Yay! But then we lost it on the table. But then we found it again! We got the glue back out and glued the super tiny piece back on. This statue has a little halo that I don’t think is supposed to come off. Well, Julie yanked it off like she knew what she was doing. We all just stared at her and were appalled. She told me to leave it off when I travel on the plane. We were like what are you doing?!? She reassured us that it just stuck back in and demonstrated by shoving the halo prongs back into their respected holes. We were like ok all is well. Until Julie said, uh oh, I’m sorry. We were like what?! She turned San Martin around, and there around his back where the halo goes, was a noticeable size area of where the paint had been chipped. We all just died laughing. We got the glue back out and glued this tiny piece back on. We laughed for about a good 10 minutes. I still laugh when I think about it. Then Julie said she had an idea for how to protect San Martin when we traveled home. She went to the other room and came back with a toilet paper roll. She placed this over San Martin. But it only went half way down. We were rolling. All of us had tears coming down our faces. We told Julie to just stop touching the statue and leave it alone. Julie asked me to let them know how the statue is when we get home. Oh goodness gracious. It was a great way to end the night.
Tomorrow, Jacqueline and Sonya are taking us to Lima again to see a different part. We are going to see some Inca ruins that are apparently older than Machu Picchu. Be jealous.
Buenas noches, Lizzy
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