Although Puno is a town of a little over 100,000 people, it often feels quite a bit smaller. I’ve made some connections with many of the loan officers I work with, but, for the most part, they are older, have families and very demanding jobs, which don’t allow for much leisure time, nor time to entertain the foreigner! Lacking much of a social network (my nice way for saying social life!), I’ve been on the constant lookout, if not search, for extra curricular activities.
It began with soccer. I saw some local kids playing at a small basketball court and thought that perhaps there were adult soccer leagues. Of course, my type A, very United States molded mind immediately assumed that for people to play a sport together there must be some sort of organized schedule. After asking around at my hotel and office I soon learned that the few women who play soccer on a regular basis are either on high school teams or simply play in their leisure time with friends. I considered trying to pose as a sixteen year old Peruvian, but decided that I was about ten years too old and ten shades too light. A little defeated, I resorted to dropping subtle hints that I would be more than willing to participate in a pick up game. To date there have been no takers.
Continuing on my quest to find something other than work and studying for the GMAT to occupy my weekends, I decided to attend the local Cathedral for Sunday morning mass, thinking I could make it a weekly activity. Although I certainly wouldn’t call myself Catholic, I figured it would be a good cultural experience, free Spanish practice and something to do! Towards the end of the mass I was feeling pretty proud of myself for understanding almost everything that was said (the words, that is, not the theories behind the sermon). When the priest instructed the congregation to salute our neighbors, I turned around to face the man behind me and promptly went in for what I thought was the customary kiss on the cheek. As the man backed away from my puckering lips and nearly fell over the pew, I realized that everyone else in the Cathedral was shaking hands! Whoops! I left the cathedral with my tail between my legs and decided that maybe I would make church
more of a monthly activity.
When I first arrived in Puno, high on my list of priorities was figuring out how I was going to get in my runs. Running as a sport isn’t exactly a generally acceptable practice in most Latin American countries, which I learned from my experiences attempting the activity while studying abroad in Chile four years ago. After asking around, I learned that I would not be looked at like a complete lunatic if I walked the half-mile to the port and ran along the walkway that borders the Lake. I had also heard from women in the office that there was a gym with all of two treadmills and some exercise bikes. After a few freezing runs at the port where I saw my life flash before my eyes as stray dogs let me know that I was in their territory, I decided to check out the gym! As you can see from the photo above, the view from the treadmill isn’t exactly enjoyable, nor entertaining, so when I learned that the gym offered aerobics classes I was instantly intrigued. After humiliating myself in a step class, where I felt like everyone there had been practicing and perfecting the routine for at least a year, I decided to give that class entitled, “Fight Do” a try, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. Equipped with ear blasting 80’s hits and timeless dance moves, including the running man, the class not only got my heart rate up, but kept me smiling throughout. “Fight Do” is now one of my much looked forward to biweekly activities.
A rock concert………….
High on life one night after an aerobics class filled with timeless eighties dance moves and Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”, remixed, and played twice, I was walking back to my hotel and noticed a large poster on the side of a store that advertised, “El Teatro de Puno” (Puno’s theater). Barely able to contain my excitement at the prospect of attending a cultural event on a Saturday night, I rushed into the store and inquired about the specifics. After about ten minutes of convincing the clerk that I wasn’t a tourist passing through Puno and that I would be in town in two weeks, she sold me a ticket to the show. The day before what I thought was going to be a play I decided to look into what it was I signed up for. I left my hotel and asked a policeman to point me in the direction of the theater, thinking there would be more informative posters there. Again, after convincing the policeman that I wasn’t looking for a hotel or hostel, but when I said “Teatro de Puno”, I meant, “Teatro de Puno”, he walked me to the theater and explained that the play I had bought a ticket for was actually a heavy metal rock concert. I couldn’t help but laugh at where my overexcitement had gotten me! Determined to not sit in my hotel another Saturday night, I went to the concert and was pleasantly surprised that Peru’s definition of heavy metal would be the equivalent of The United State’s soft rock. Although the opening acts weren’t my favorite, the main event, “Daniel F” and his acoustic guitar, was lovely.
With a little over a month left in Puno, I am starting to feel somewhat settled. I have to admit that although I miss the comforts and the activities of home, when I leave Puno I will miss the excitement of never knowing exactly what to expect out of these ventures!