iguazu falls
8th July
written by Ilana

Today is the first day of the rest of our lives.  And by lives, I mean approximately a year, but if you know me you know I like to speak with hyperbole, so as I was saying, the first day of our trip is here and it’s cold and bleak.  I’m not trying to be a downer, but seriously, I am so cold and the sky was whitish-gray all day, and we spent most of our time wandering the streets wondering if there was more to Lima than ginormous KFC’s and stinky cars.  The sad answer is, not really.  From what I can tell, Lima is pretty lame.  We even thought about booking out of here tomorrow morning and spending shabbos elsewhere, but we decided against it, since, while Lima may not be so cool, they do have a shul and people who will feed us, so that is making us stay until Sunday morning.

Our flights here were long, but shockingly not so miserable.  Even though Spirit Air does not feed you and makes you pay for drinks and has no TV’s, etc, I kind of respect them for being honest about the fact that they’re cheap.  American Airlines tried to charge me to use a blanket (a blanket!), yet they pretend like they care about their customers and they’re awesome, etc.  I prefer Spirit Air.  At least they’re honest.

Anyway, we arrived at the airport, and we knew that a guy named Carlos was supposed to pick us up and bring us to our hostel.  I was surprised when I saw a lady holding a sign with my name.  She was definitely not Carlos.  Bloom and I had read some lonely planet on the plane and it kept reminding us that in Lima there are all kinds of scams with taxi drivers and you need to be extremely careful because people will try to kidnap you.  After being adequately scared out of our minds, we decided that we would ask the alleged Carlos to tell us his name before getting in the car with him.  I was a little worried when I saw that Carlos was a woman, but then she introduced us to a man.  It was kind of amazing when Bloom said to him “What’s your name?” in an aggressive tone.  The guy told us he was friends with Carlos, which we accepted warily, and followed them out of the airport.  After 5 minutes of walking through a parking lot while being followed by taxi drivers trying to get us into their cars, I realized that I make a terrible backpacker, since my back was killing me!  I was seriously hurting, and I wasn’t even out of the parking lot!  I was trying not to lose Carlos’s friends or Bloom, while also trying not to think about my back and ignore all the taxi drivers and children who kept trying to sell us things.  We finally all got into a taxi and what followed felt like nothing less than a police car chase.  Carlos’s friends nervously laughed about the psychotic driving and tried to make conversation with me.

This is when I had a sad realization about the next two months:  I do not know Spanish.  I sort of thought that I would be able to make it here with my tidbits of Spanish that I picked up from Sesame Street and the maintenance guys at Heschel, but alas, that is just not going to cut it.  Carlos’s friend asked me questions and I really tried to figure out a way to integrate donde esta or agua or banos into a conversation, but it was a total fail.  I even said all three of those things at once to show Carlos’s friend that I knew some Spanish words.  He actually seemed pretty weirded out by me saying “where is…water…bathroom…” and then smiling proudly at myself.

Outside our barricaded hostel

Today we wandered around trying to find the chabad and at least one vegetarian restaurant.  Two crucial places.  We found both, but realized they were both really far from us, which was sad.  When we were at the restaurant we overheard people speaking in English about plans for Shabbat, so Bloom went over to them and found out about Lima and where to go for Shabbos.  The girl made two references to “people your age,” when talking to us.  1.  When talking about the rabbi of the local shul she said, “He’s really young for a rabbi, maybe like your age”  Ok…  2.  Then she told us about how Cuzco is awesome and there were 300 Israelis at Chabad when she was there a few weeks ago.  She then said “but they might be too young for you guys, they’re all like backpackers”


To make matters worse, tonight we met an Israeli guy at our hostel (Bloom is actually out at the grocery store with him now.  Quite the playdate), and he mentioned that he was 23, but one of his friends is 26.  I think he was trying to make us feel better about our age, by telling us he has friends kind of close to our age.

Freezing and trying to avoid feeling like I was wrapped in mildewy towels

Are we too old for this?  I guess we’ll find out soon enough.  I’m just hoping to stop being so cold and maybe pick up some Spanish on the way.


  1. Rachie and Arielle

    ILANA WE MISS YOU!!! the picture of you in blankets is adorable.
    with love,
    rachie and arielle

  2. sarah

    I’m so loving the blanket picture. definitely agreeing with rachie & arielle.

  3. Becky B

    Hey Gleichblooms — So, yeah, those S. American Jews are pretty serious… I hope they were still nice to you even though you were Derelict (Zoolander?). I am glad you are giving us the unvarnished truth about your experience, but I wouldn’t expect otherwise 🙂 Have fun!!! PS – do you have an english/spanish dictionary or phrasebook????

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