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Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Our last day

Our last day:

On our last morning, we decided to walk through our old neighborhood in Miraflores, where we’d stayed when adopting both Max and Carolina. For Max’s adoption, we stayed, at Raul’s suggestion, at a small  hotel called Suite Services.  Last month, before we left home, Ichecked and was happy to see it was still there.  When we were here in 1988,  there had been other adopting families staying there who  also had Raul as their lawyer.

We found it, and walking toward it, also found the apartment we’d stayed at three years later. At that point,  as our family was getting larger,  a hotel room, with a toddler and an infant, wasn’t going to work as well. So Raul found us an apartment just down the street. It was in the same building as the U.S. consulate, where everyone, us included, went for their visas. So it was where I spent my very last hours in Peru, getting Carolina’s visa, before being able to head home.  The consulate is no longer located there, but our apartment building still is, recognizable with its heavy metal fence.

We walked down our old street,  and were happy to come upon the hotel. I posed in front of the building for Loring to take a picture. And then, satisfied, we began to walk on. But before we got to the corner, a woman came  out of the hotel and called to us.  I walked back and explained to her that we had stayed there thirty one years ago when we had adopted our son.  She  invited us to come inside,  In the little lobby, she explained to the woman behind the desk what I had told her. They asked if we remembered what room we had stayed in, but we didn’t. I do remember looking out the window, waiting for Raul to come with the baby, and then seeing them. We were parents!  So it was one of the higher floors front facing rooms.

They told us that Tito, the owner, would be right back. And he was.  He offered us coffee, and we had a wonderful conversation, reminiscing and telling him what wonderful memories we had of our stay there.  He seemed pleased and quite touched.  The hotel had been there for thirty four years, so was only three years old when we stayed there. He remembered Raul, of course, and said that they used to refer to the place as the “baby hotel.”  We told him we were still in touch with the Alvas and had just seen them a day or two before.

It was a wonderful way to conclude our sojourn. But there was still one more event.

 Before returning to our apartment to pack, we went to the Amano textile museum. It was somewhat different than what I remembered, and had clearly been renovated. There are still many drawers of textiles, but they are metal  cabinets rather than the wooden ones I remember. I am sure that they now are much more sophisticated in their preservation techniques. Sadly for me,  the drawers are now locked. They do offer guided tours, and so I am guessing that they pull open some of the drawers then. But otherwise, I am not sure one would even notice the drawers, or know that they held many more textiles than those on display. Nevertheless, there were enough textiles on the walls to mesmerize me, so I was not too disappointed.  But imagine being able to pull open drawer after drawer and marvel at the quantity and exquisite quality of the textiles inside. I feel so lucky to have been able to see them in earlier years. 

I had purchased some textile fragments myself when I was originally in Peru. They have sat in a box for many years, until recently,  because I was intimidated by  the advice of our friend, a Met Museum textile conservator, who gave me explicit instructions on how to properly mount and preserve them. But finally, a couple of years ago, I decided they would at least last as long as I did, since they’d lasted a thousand years already, and followed a modified version of Nancy’s instructions. And Loring made box frames for them. Now I can see and appreciate them daily.

In the city, taxis were everywhere. They slowed down as soon as you stepped out the door. We debated whether to take a cab or an Uber to the airport, and decided to try for a cab first. Many cabs drove by, none stopping. We tried to stand in front of our luggage, guessing that they didn’t want to drive to the airport, at least an hour’s drive though not far in mileage, just heavy in traffic. 

Finally a cab did stop, but declined to go to the airport. A second cab, a few minutes later, same thing. So we decided to call an Uber.  Loring activated his phone, for which we were charged $10 any day we used it. We’d only used it once during the trip. Thankfully, we were informed that about eight drivers were nearby.  I went to check the street address, to make sure the driver was coming to exactly where we were.  Loring called me over,  the car had come. We got in after Loring had checked the plate. (or thought he had.)  A few minutes later, he got a message that our Uber driver had arrived. But we were already on the road with what turned out to be a cab driver who was fine with driving to the airport!  Uber asked if we wanted to pay the Uber driver for the inconvenience of our having cancelled. We said yes, of course. It was three soles, a dollar.

Our driver spoke virtually no English but knew the roads intimately. He zigged and zagged in and out of streets and sections of the city, and delivered us with a flourish to the airport. He was so good natured.  He communicated in rudimentary English – Me, one hour, Uber, two hours!”  Even though his fee was a few dollars more than the Uber would have been, we gave him a generous tip. 
For an hour’s drive, the cost was less than $25 including the tip, and the dollar for the phantom Uber driver.

Our trip home was long but uneventful. We spent a couple of hours in Fort Lauderdale between flights,  and arrived home at about 11am after an overnight flight.  Franz and Carolina, having returned home a few days earlier, picked us up at the airport.

Right now I’ve got a ton of handicrafts spread out on the dining room table. Tomorrow I will pack them up, after choosing and letting Max andMichaela choose a couple of items. I will bring them to Partners in Development for them to sell and help even some more folks in addition to the ones I bought them from.

It’s been an emotional and rewarding trip, as all of our trips to Peru have been.  I wonder what will come next in the evolving relationship with Carolina and her birth family. One thing that's clear is that she will remain in contact, and committed to her  birth mother and newly discovered siblings. And maybe even learn some Spanish. 

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