On Tuesday morning I inched my way through the sidewalk of avenida Arequipa towards my classes at buen pastor. The air was thick and moist but not yet hot. I wove my way through Limenians teetering in heels, others sauntering slowly, and block long lines at bus stops. As I get closer to Buen Pastor, the chaos of Lima settles into a quaint rhythm, like a cityscape from Dwell or like a piece of Madrid transplanted into Peru.
I neared Buen Pastor, I came to the tall cement fence guarding the Huaca. The Huaca is an ancient temple like structure made with mud bricks and straw. Where the Huaca has deteriorated over time, it looks more like a very tall pile of dirt. Celia, one of my teachers in Lima, once told me that when she was young, they would climb all over the Huaca, and sometimes would hold motor cross races on top of it. I shudder at the thought. Today, the Huaca is protected by money: a large wall surrounds it and the city holds concerts and weddings inside its gates. Along the east wall, where I pass everyday, there are several neatly kept rows of corn, young leafy plants and a small wooden corral keeping two small llamas. The corral, the garden and the llamas are all the same dusty color of the dessert, red brown, and dry. My side of the wall is unnaturally green.
On this Tuesday, I pause when I reach what appears to be the entrance to the Huaca. My attention is soon fixated on the other side of the cement fence.
Three women with wide brimmed Sunday's and modest slacks gingerly danced in a circle, around something on the ground. They hopped and swung their arms toward the sky then bellow, small little steps, and another hop on one foot. They were slow, uncoordinated and unrhythmic.
A Chinese crested hairless nipped at my heels, reminding me what side of the fence I was on, and where I needed to be going. I hurried to class pondering the Peruvian ritual.
Later I was talking to my host sister and asked her about the Peruvian ritual in Huaca.
"What?" She said.
I described it.
"Maddie," she said, "they were just doing Taichi."
What I saw wasn't some mysterious exotic and foreign cultural thing of Peru? No, just old ladies doing Taichi in a public park. I've found so far: I'm digging, expecting to be confounded at the differences between my experience of the US and the Peru that I know nothing about.
Whatever the women happened to be doing this last Tuesday morning, I had a very strong urge to join them.