Today was our third day in Peru but really the first day on our own! We have been spoiled by our host family, the Lopez, whose youngest daughter, Evita, is Thomas´former coworker´s current coworker! Evita learned that we were traveling to Peru for the first time and insisted that we stay with her family in Lima. What´s more amazing is that her older sister, Zara, is a travel agent and can speak really great English. She was waiting for us with a ¨Thomas Vuong¨ sign as we exited the baggage area. When we got to her van, she immediately said: ¨I have to go pay for parking. Please have a seat. It´s your car!¨ That totally took me off my feet because there I was, standing in front of a woman who I had never met or talked to before in my life and she was so nice to Thomas and I.
We received the same kind of warm welcoming when we walked into their well-maintained home equiped with all the modern American amenities. Lunch and dinner were made and brought to the table for us by Christina, the mom, and Gianina, the 29-year-old niece. No matter how hard we tried, they would not let us help them with the cooking or cleaning. In addition to the meals, we were given our own room (I later found out that the little brother, Benjamin, had to temporarily stay in the same room with Gianina so we could enjoy that luxury). All our other needs were well attended to and I felt so spoiled.
Zara spent the whole day off work on July 13 to accompany us on our tour of the city that she had planned with us the night before. Moreover, she refused to let us pay for the admissions fee to the San Francisco Monastary, the Cathedral and the Gold Museum and the expensive parking fees in different locations. I felt better when she did not resist letting us pay for a splurge in the ocean-front restaurant, Mango, for lunch in Miraflores.
The hospitality topped off with her waking up before four in the morning to drive us through the un-policed (dangerous) road to the airport. She also insisted on escorting us to the gate, but luckily, we managed to send her home before too long because of our five hour delay on the flight to Cuzco with TACA.
I don´t know how we can ever repay the Lopez family! Their hospitality, while well-received, leaves me feeling really uneasy.