(Well, so much for me NOT promoting stereotypes of the Middle East with that title…right?)
Oh well. I updated less than 24 hours ago and I know after today I’m going to have a whole lot more to write about, but I was actually SOCIAL last night (gasp! At last it happens!) and it’s put me in such a good mood that I wanted to be sure last night didn’t get overlooked by the excitement of today.
Anyway, when I was at Ali Baba’s on Friday, the Iraqi cook (whom I have now determined is the owner) told me to come back the next night around 11 and after he was finished working we could go hangout and talk some more in Arabic. I was a wee bit hesitant on the one hand, because it was a little vague, but on the other I was pretty pumped to keep using those rusty, squeaky Arabic skills. So last night I showed up at 11.
My new friend was actually still working, and stayed that way until about 1 AM. However, as he had mentioned, a lot of his Arabic friends had popped in to do what Arabs do best-have a bite to eat, tea/coffee (and admittedly in this case, beer) to drink, and talk. There were a group of 4 men by the end-2 brothers from Palestine, another Iraqi, and a Jordanian. (!) All of whom were rather shocked that I spoke Arabic. (Or, you know, could muddle my way through a broken Arabic conversation.) They were all extremely welcoming and so I sat and got to talk with them for several hours. It was mostly in Arabic, with Spanish to aid my lack of understanding as all of them had lived in Peru for years. (One of them 14 years, I think!) Topics ranged from my studies, the Arabic food I liked, their families and work, etc etc.
Just fyi, I asked them all what they thought of the food, and they said it was good but not necessarily like the food back home (the Jordanian especially) which makes me feel pretty pleased with my review. Take that world, I kind of know what I’m talking about! The two Palestinian brothers also have their own restaurants situated in several areas throughout Lima, so hopefully I’ll get to visit them sometime!
Finally the owner got off of work, and so while the others went home we went to go hangout a bit more and chat. He originally made me a hair nervous once again because his first choice of location was literally the ONE place people have told me I SHOULDN’T go in Miraflores–the infamous Calle de las Pizzas. Depending on who you ask, people will give you different definitions of what this place is. I mean, it’s actually one of the most picturesque little alleyways in Miraflores lined with pizza shops and (once you get further down) clubs and whatnot, which is why a lot of people probably end up there unintentionally, lulled in by the atmosphere and also the 23099042 restaurant workers trying to recruit you to their locales for the evening. From what I understand the street used to just be kind of a crazy party street, but nowadays you can also find drugs and prostitution. However, I’ve decided based on my short tour last night that it’s probably no worse than any bar scene in the USA, just need to be smart. Not that I plan on going back, really. Anyway, our first stop was some nightclub where a friend of my friend works, but it was too crowded and loud to really stay. Which was frankly fine by me because it was reaaaally not my scene. (AKA, I was apparently wearing too much clothing. Oh jeez.)
So after that we relocated to the very beginning of the street to a small restaurant whose name I didn’t write down nor photos did I take. (Late night is really not the time to be whipping out a nice camera in Lima.) There we pretty much just sat and talked, and my Iraqi friend experienced his first ever round of onion rings because the restaurant was out of some other appetizer he wanted. It was amusing…I’m not sure he was crazy about them, but then, I’m normally not so much either. We talked about all kinds of things from his plans to move to the USA (because he’s unhappy in Peru without his family) and how in Iraq he was actually a carpenter, not a restaurant owner (despite having 3 here!) and really wants to go back to that-he feels like it’s an art, as opposed to cooking which he sees more as work. (He’s not wrong, fyi…Arabic food involves a LOT of manual labor). I more or less made him promise to teach me how to cook sometime though, so yay for that!
At the end of the evening we walked back to my apartment (not exactly wise to roam alone late at night, even in my neck of the woods) and I was pretty thrilled with all of the Arabic use I’d gotten in during the evening. I have to say the restaurant owner is literally the hardest to understand of all of them because of his accent and speed of speech, so having a one-on-one conversation with him involved me kinda smiling an nodding more than once, but in general I was pleased with how much came back to me.
And, really, that I had gotten to finally hangout with people outside of the university for the first time in a couple of weeks. Huzzah! All of these guys were a good bit older than me, so I doubt we’ll be bro-ing it up every day, but I will definitely make a habit of dropping in to Ali Baba’s in the future for tea, conversation, and Arabic hospitality.
As for now, little children…time to go prepare for a feast of a day!