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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