Wednesday, March 17, 2010

For lack of a better title: Stage Two

Advance warning: I won't post most of the accompanying pictures to this entry until tomorrow, I think.

Well, I did it. Bruce is such a gracious host that he sought out a restaurant well off the beaten path that served, you guessed it: cuy. Imagine this, the waiter places a plate in front of you with a deep fried guinea pig with a side of fried potatoes and red onions. My opinion on cuy? It's not worth the hassle it takes to debone the stupid thing and eat it. The meat is stringy and I'm not sure if it was a result of the deep frying or if it occurs naturally, but it was greasy. The meat is not bad, but has a chewy texture at times and a very soft and slimy texture at others. Apparently I didn't eat all of my cuy, but I gave it a valient effort and did my very best. I probably won't do it again anytime in the near future, mostly because cuy is not as common in Lima or Cusco as it is in other parts of Peru. I am told that Arequipa is fond of cuy. Maybe when I am there sometime I'll have it again.

I left the hostel and moved to the five-star Melia Lima. It's definitely a huge step up from the hostel, but the only place I can get wifi is in the lobby, so I don't have the freedom of sitting on my bed and working without paying $12 a day, which is way too much, so I will content myself with sitting in the lobby for a while each evening.

The conference began tonight with a welcome dinner. Before dinner we had a group of musicians entertain us with criolla music and a dance troupe perform several traditional dances from around Peru. I didn't take my camera to dinner so I will have to ask one of the other conference goers to email me the photos they took.
I have reached the point in my travels where Spanish is flowing quite naturally once again. I expected it after about four days and I haven't had any surprises. In fact, after dinner, an elderly gentleman approached me and started speaking to me in English and it took me several seconds before I actually understood what he was saying. I answered him in Spanish, but he insisted on continuing in English, so I tried to switch to English. It was very difficult to do, so I am quite pleased. I am beginning to think that one to two weeks every year in a Spanish-speaking country would do wonders for my Spanish. I will ask my students to look for any differences in my accent when I return to class after Spring Break.
On another note, I visited the Catholic University today and was surprised and shocked at what I found. The university is at least as big as UNA if not bigger, which is surprising to me because most Latin American universities don't have a large footprint like our American universities do (at least not the ones I am familiar with.) Campus is also closed to outsiders. There's a wall around the entire complex and security guards that check ID for everyone who comes through the gate. As an invited professor, I had to sign in with ID and Alfredo had to also provide his information. We visited the office of international programs and spoke with the assistant director about the possibility of establishing a reciprocal agreement (Magellan Exchange style) between our two universities. It's incredibly promising and would provide an excellent opportunity for any students wanting to study anything UNA offers (with the exception of nursing.)
Tomorrow promises to be a pretty big day, so I'll make this post significantly shorter than the rest, and besides, I don't want to sit in the lobby all night when there's a California King-size bed waiting for me.

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