Time flies. “No kidding,” you’ll say. But it really does. And I can’t stop it. I’ve been in Peru for two weeks now. I have two months left. I’ve traveled to Lima on an extended solo trip to obtain a Diploma in Peruvian Cuisine at the international culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu. There are so many things I want to do, see, taste, experience, learn while I’m in Peru, and I’m afraid time is getting away from me – already. Yet, I’m trying to take advantage of every minute, so I’ll have no regrets later.

My School: Le Cordon Bleu, Miraflores (Lima)

The last couple of weeks have been awesome. I’ve reconnected with my family, spent time eating with them, talking, drinking, walking around Lima, particularly Miraflores, my grandmother’s neighborhood. But everyone’s gone back to their routines now, and the reason why I’m here, in Lima, has begun. Culinary school it is! But… Who am I kidding? This is also an opportunity for personal introspection, to get to know myself a bit better. And I will not waste it.

On sunny days, I walk to the culinary school 🙂 These are the views

Aside from getting used to the school, I’m also getting used to this City that used to be mine… Lima was my home many moons ago. I’ve definitely visited throughout the years, but my stays were always short. This city feels like home – and yet it doesn’t. It’s hard to explain. Locals can tell I’m not from here, probably because of my accent and mannerisms; and I’ve become accustomed to a different lifestyle in the US. Alas, for now, looking and acting like a local is a work in progress.

The neighborhood

Parque Kennedy. One of my favorites just a few blocks away from my grandma’s

Anyway, I’ve settled in nicely at my grandma’s house. My few belongings fit perfectly in one room – My grandma’s old room. It’s very nostalgic to be staying at her house – the only place in the world that still connects me to my past – the few years of my childhood and the few as a teenager that I spent in Lima. I’ve never lived in a place long enough to develop roots because my family and I traveled around so much growing up. My old and temporary homes are spread out in three different continents. But my grandma’s place is different. She’s always been there. Her home has always been there. Every time I’ve come to Lima, I know that I’m going home – to my grandma’s.

Grandma’s apt. It’s changed colors through the years, but it’s always “home”

My grandmother is 99 as we speak. She is still mobile and with a very good disposition, but she can no longer safely walk up and down the three flight of stairs to her apartment, something she did until very recently. So, she’s now lives with her youngest daughter.

Grandma @ 99

I’m staying at my grandma’s place nonetheless. Her room – my room for the next couple of months – is comfortable, with a full bed, two night tables, a cushioned little sofa chair, another chair where I’ve been hanging my chef’s apron, and an armoire. It also has big window and faces the street. The room is bright and also very noisy. The windows are paper thin with no insulation. It’s just part of being in Lima. 

View from my bedroom window, facing a busy Avenue

Before my arrival, my aunt had cleared out the closet and all the drawers for me (¡Gracias, Tata!). The first thing I did was to unpack my clothes, set up my books and notebooks in the dining room (for all the studying I was going to do), and put my cooking utensils away in the kitchen. (Yes, I brought all sorts of things with me – my favorite knives, my wooden-handled fish spatula, my little whisk, my stainless steel super-sharp peeler… etc. My uncle saw me putting the stuff away, and he thought I was crazy!).

So… I’m still trying to find my groove, both at culinary school and as a Lima dweller. I’m a home cook with some skills, but I feel like I’ve been thrown into a fighting ring without gloves. The course is a bit advanced if you don’t have previous training in a kitchen, but most of the Chef Instructors are willing to explain what you don’t know. Yet, I’m having a blast cooking, learning – and eating.

One of the classes, Le Cordon Bleu, Lima, Peru

As far as living in Lima… Well, that’s another story; don’t get me wrong, it’s not a difficult task to get used to this amazing city with its beautiful spots here and there, the outstanding food, the stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, which is only a few blocks away from my grandma’s – and the interest and attention of my family, who is always keeping tabs on me to make sure I’m OK. 

My grandma’s ‘backyard’

In the meantime, I leave you with a quote that I read the other day about traveling and personal discovery, which really hit home:

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”

__ Sir Terry Pratchett is a writer born in the U.K. He created a series of books known as the Discworld series. Two of his books are written for children and have won the Carnegie Medal.

My grandma, Celia, and I – just a few years ago.