What’s a Typical Day?

My days vary a lot – if I’m traveling for work, my daily routine looks much different than if I’m in Lima developing research plans. Even in Lima, I may trek out to Hospital Dos De Mayo one day, up to Universidad Cayetano Heredia (where we have our lab) the next, and then go to Pampas, which is our shantytown fieldsite, on the third. But lately, I’ve mostly been working out of my flat in Miraflores.

Yesterday was papaya for breakfast, then hours on the couch (wearing scrubs, of course), staring at a literature review for a new project we’re developing. Miraflores is a busy neighborhood, and I could hear the combis coming and going, the angry horns of cabs as they were cut off in traffic, the hawkers crying out their fruit wares. At noon, I nipped over to Multimart to pick up some empanadas for lunch. Although usually people here don’t eat until 1 or 2, I’ve learned that if I want my favorite mushroom pies, I need to be there early. It was already crowded with people sitting at the counter, drinking coffee, and packed into the corner, waiting for their lunches-to-go. I snagged an extra empanada for Señora Monica, who arrived to clean the flat just as I was leaving. Then I was back to the couch, with a two hour break to do some tutoring via skype.

Late in the afternoon, I packed up some articles that needed editing, grabbed a red pen,and headed to the park. There’s a tiny amphitheater set into the ground, and people were spread across it. It’s perfectly round, and there’s one very sketchy power point. Sometimes, street performers plug their music in, other times, people are charging laptops or phones. (The park has free wi-fi.) Maybe 60 people sat on one of the four levels; I was one of four gringos. Across from me, an abuelito has fallen asleep and behind me, a four year old spills his popcorn. There are young couples, a few skateboarders, mothers with kids, business people, and three tourists. One of them is next to me, and he looks mildly startled when one of the park’s resident cats climbs into his lap and starts purring.

As I wended my way along the four minute walk home, I stopped at La Lucha, which is my favorite sandwich shop. After starting my juice, helado, sin azucar, the counter girl asked, “Where do you live? It must be close! You’re here all the time.” Whoops. Busted. She and I chatted while my juice was blending, and then I headed off, promising to return soon. (Which I will. I always do.)

Back at my flat, I switched to a third project and began outlining a research plan. I gave that a good two hours of work, and gorged myself on cold roasted zucchini and goat cheese. Then it was off to Pirqa for a couple hours. My new words for the day were esguince (sprain) and conmoción cerebral (concussion) as I explained why I was taking it easy. The next question (after “Why are you taking it easy?” – “I have a concussion and a few sprains” and “Why?” – “I was hit by a drunk driver”) was “Why are you even here then?” and the answer was “Because I can’t run, as it hurts my head too much, and I’m going absolutely crazy sitting in my flat.”

I got home around 11pm, and went back to the day’s first project, which was not any more fun at 11pm than it had been at 11am. After an hour of skyping with my parents, I finished the day with some Spanish practice and threw the towel in, deciding the two hours of work I still needed to do could wait 8 hours.

And that’s a day in the life.

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