Adventure Plaza A detailed account of buying groceries in Arequipa, Peru


I started by leaving the house. When I left the house I noticed there was a security guard at the gate, so I talked to him for a bit.

“Good evening,” I said, “My name is Mark Wetzler, first of his name, and I’ll be staying here for a week.”

He didn’t understand “Mark” but when I spelled it for him he said, “Marcos,” confirmed I’d be staying a week, and said, “OK.” I then exited the community and turned left on Paseo de la Cultura. My final destination: A mall called Aventura Plaza.

After a few minutes of walking I passed a park in a different gated community where I’d done exercise earlier. I did pull-ups. I’ve been doing pull-ups for over a week now, and have the pecs to prove it. My lower back is firm and it’s now more comfortable for me to sit with good posture than to slouch. I didn’t think doing pull-ups could change my life in so many ways, but it has. My IQ has also gone up.

I then walked down a long alleyway. This is a secret road taxis use to avoid traffic and construction. It’s also a non-secret road used by walkers to not have to walk as far. Then came the main road, which was under construction. It was dirt. The cars were traveling slow and you could see the dust kicked up by the cars in the headlights. There were quite a few people out, strolling about, heading home. I wondered if any of them were heading to the Adventure Plaza. Could it be? Were we all on our way to some kind of adventure? I was eager to find out.

I got a bit lost trying to take a shortcut. I saw what looked like a park and thought, God, I love parks. I’m going to go to it. But then when I got there the streets were significantly darker, so I asked some passersby if I could get to the Adventure Plaza through here. They looked at me like I was daft. “The Adventure Plaza,” I said, “I want to have an adventure. I want to buy some churros.”

“Ahhh,” they said. “No, you have to go back to the main road.”

Within five minute I had the entrance to the Adventure Plaza in my sights. The glow from the stairs illuminated the parking lot and leaked out onto the main road. So many people were walking towards the mall. So many people on their way to have an adventure. I was one of many.

When I got close to the mall I noticed people carrying Starbucks cups. Wow, a Starbucks, I thought. This is a fancy mall. There was the department store Falabella looming in the distance. There was the Entel store. And there was a stand selling churros.

My particular adventure began with entering Tottus, the massive grocery store that’s like a nicer version of Wal-Mart. I walked by the computers first, allowing myself to be swept-up by the space age technology. The flat screens. The curved screens. The TV screens. Bigger and bigger and bigger. And then I got to the bakery and there was freshly baked bread and throngs of people scrambling to get their hands on it. I joined the river of humanity and when the opportunity arose lunged at a pair of ciabattas, put them in a bag, and brought them over to be weighed. Then I looked at eggs. Free-range, close range, on the range. There was a buffet that had soups and purees and cured meats. There was a produce section with mangos and papayas and carrots the size of my index finger. There were apples — oh, the variety of apples — and I stood looking at them, not daring to move lest I wake up from the dream that was having so many apples in front of me.

Finally I decided on my various wares. I had eggs, bread, butter, a carrot, an onion, and some sunflower seed oil. I walked around the store a little more, not wanting the adventure to end. There were some girls giving out wine samples. There was a girl giving out sausage samples, and I ran after her to try one. “Can I try your sausages?” I said, out of breath.

“Welcome to Adventure Plaza,” she said, and handed me a pair.

Then it was time to check out, and I was sad. The adventure was coming to an end. I put a chocolate bar on the moving belt in front of the cashier, and she rang me up.

“You look sad,” she said.

“The adventure is over,” I said.

“Was it everything you wanted?”

“It was…” I gasped. “It was so beautiful.”

She handed me my receipt and my bag of goods and said have a nice night and when she said this it was as if a spell had been broken. The adventure truly was over. I was just in a mall in some random city in Peru. I’d just bought groceries and now I had to walk home along a dirt road.

On my way out I passed some people on the way to the Adventure Plaza. They had a glint in their eyes. They didn’t seem to be present. They were excited.

If only they knew, I thought. But they will.


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Sunday Night Thoughts #11 Arequipa, Arequipa, A--

I’m in Arequipa. I survived the 18 hour bus ride, which actually turned out to be 16 hours. And I say “survived” because there were a few times last night where we took some turns and I thought, This bus is going to tip over. This is bus is going to tip over and we’re going to go careening down a 500 foot embankment, and I’m going to be OK because I’ve got my seatbelt on. Because I did have my seatbelt on. I was probably the only one, lying there completely flat, as we careened around these turns, with my seatbelt on.

I slept about eight hours which meant I was only conscious for eight hours of the bus trip. And for the first two hours I was completely absorbed in the novelty of being on one of Peru’s nicest buses, the Cruz del Sur Confort Suites, a bus dedicated entirely to first-class, VIP bus seats. These seats lie down completely flat. You get two meals. And granted, the breakfast this morning was probably the closest I’ll ever come to being in prison, but it was food.

For hours two through five I was absorbed in my dinner, cold chicken and rice, and also the movie Thank You For Your Service. I also watched the movie Paris Can Wait, and tried to extract from it what women really want out of a relationship, and came to the following conclusions: They want impromptu picnics by the river with Frenchmen, dining out, being ushered around the French countryside, and chocolate.

Then this morning about about 10:30am we rolled into Arequipa, and I had a distinct thought: I want to keep going to Chile. But of course I can’t, because I’ve already booked an Airbnb for the week, and I have classes to teach, and the real reason I want to go to Chile is because I feel comfortable there and I keep going back to Chile and I’ll probably always keep going back to Chile until one day I marry a Chilena and we live in the woods. Her name will be Josefina or Penelope and we’ll keep sheep and goats and chickens and tend to the land and make 15 babies and forget about modern society, especially things like Instagram and assault weapons. Why does her name have to be Josefina or Penelope? Well, it doesn’t have to Josefina, but it definitely has to be one of the two.

The Airbnb where I’m staying in Arequipa is far from the center and only rents out one room, which means I’m the only one here, which means I’m chilling in the cavernous living room in the semi-darkness, typing away on my laptop, not thinking about what I’m going to do tomorrow. Not even thinking about what I’m going to do tonight, or what I’m going to do in the next 15 minutes, or 10 minutes, or five minutes. Not thinking about what I’m doing right now. Just breathing and sipping tea.

But mostly thinking a ton.

Look at This F@#king Alpaca

magdalena del mar

And the street is called Jirón Arica. The address is 131. I’m on the couch. I’m about to drink black tea mixed with a small amount of sugar.

look at this fucking vicuñua (alpaca???)

Look at this f#@king vicuña (alpaca???). Look at the way it extracts sumptuous morsels of biomatter from an otherwise barren landscape. Look at Misti in the background, in all of her nearly 6,000 meters of glory. Look at this alpaca’s (vicuña’s????) fur and imagine yourself wearing a shawl made from it. Imagine yourself naked in said shawl. Imagine yourself itching.

Seventeen and a half hours. That’s how long the bus is supposed to take. Of course, I’m hoping the driver has a bit of lead in his soles and we make it there in 17 hours and 20 minutes.

Also on this map you can see: My proposed route for after Arequipa, going up to Puno, by Lake Titicaca, into Bolivia, and then down into Northern Argentina (aka “The Inland Route”). You can also see the ALTERNATE ROUTE, which would take me directly into the heart of darkness, aka Paraguay (aka “The Alternate Route”). You can also see some black lines I drew on Chile, just because it looks kinda cool, and some pink polka dots on Brazil, for the same reason.

So that’s the plan. If the bus has WiFi I will try to post a blog from the bus, since that would be novel. I’m also going to try to read a novel.

Any recommendations?


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