In the United States, February 14th has become a strange phenomenon, a day when prices at restaurants triple, when the pressure is on to be romantic, a day that singles dread. It's almost a perversion of it's original significance. The love that we ought to celebrate on Saint Valentine's day is not only romantic, eros love, but the love of friends and the love of Christ, unconditional agape love.
In Peru, Saint Valentine's day has several names. For some, it is El Dia de San Valentin, but I have rarely heard it called this. Others call it El Dia del Amor. But most simply refer to the day as El Dia de la Amistad. The Day of Friendship.
Today, Carlos and I decided to spend the day together, enjoying our friendship, getting to know each other better, taking a break from ministry, resting. We left the apartment early and set out for Chorrillos. We used the Muni system to get to the coast where we climbed a hill to see another large cross. We then walked along the ridge, the ocean below on our right, and the city on our left, to El Cristo Pacifico. This giant Jesus was a gift from Brazil to Peru several years ago, and he stands at the crest of the hill, looking out of Chorrillos towards Lima, arms opened wide.
After taking pictures with Jesus, we walked back to the cross and down the hill. We made our way down to the beach, and worked through the throngs of people on vacation. Apparently the Peruvian President declared today a national holiday so he could take his wife out to dinner. On the beach we were surrounded by colorful umbrellas, kids running around in their underwear, splashing in the water and throwing mud. We walked all the way along the beach from Chorrillos to Mira Flores, and then climbed the cliffs to look for lunch.
When we got back to the apartment, Christen and Christian were home. We shared an iced coffee and an afternoon together upstairs. Then, as we started to talk about leaving for our five day vacation tomorrow, we realized that Carlos has never been to Machu Picchu or Cuzco. So, we offered to change Christian's ticket to Carlos's name.
We made a few phone calls and sent a few emails, and thought we could make the change for $17.70. But when Christian and Carlos went to the airport to finalize it, the office was closed because the President was on a date. They were sent to another travel office across town. There, they were told that the change would cost $100.00, not $17.70. But, finally, we made the change. Tomorrow, I leave with Carlos for Cuzco. We plan to spending the first day acclimating to the altitude in La Plaza de Armas, and then travel to Machu Picchu later in the week.
Carlos is very excited. He just ran across the street to start packing--at 10:00 pm. Our plane leaves at 5:00 am, and I still have clothes drying on the roof. But, we'll wake up early, finish packing, and head out on our adventure together.
On this Dia de la Amistad, I am very thankful for his friendship, for his support during my time here. Without him on this trip, I'm not sure where I would be. He has been such a blessing during these past few weeks, and I'm glad that I get to share these next few days with him in Cuzco.
I am also very thankful for my friends and family back home who have supported me during this trip, who have spent time praying for me, who have sent encouragement through emails, who love me so well. Without you, this trip would have been impossible. There is no way I am here alone. Thank you for being with me constantly. And feliz Dia de la Amistad.