2003-02-11 - 2:13 p.m.
I woke up with a mission - that today would be better than yesterday. Yesterday wasn't horrible - it was just unfocused, and I wandered around aimlessly and smoked too many cigarettes, and I forgot to bring my cameras to the Santa Catalina Convent, which was beautiful, really beautiful, and cheered me up to no end, with the walls painted bright orange and blue and white, and my guided tour in English, although I saw no nuns. But I decided I had to take pictures, so I could write a nice entry, and compare this convent with the one that Sans lives in, and I spoke to the guard about letting me back in with the same ticket, and he agreed, as long as I came back today, today, he repeated about three or four times, writing the date in thick black marker on my ticket. Yes, today, I said. I will promise to come back today. So I got my cameras, and then had lunch, and then had another cigarette in the plaza but then it was cloudy and my cameras don't really take good pictures when it's cloudy, so I decided to check my email again and wait it out, but then it started raining, and I just knew I was not going to get any pictures of that convent. So I went back to my hotel and lay on my bed for a while, and finally made it out to Deja Vu, a restaurant nearby that plays movies, even though the movie they were playing was Swordfish, which didn't sound that appealing, but actually wasn't that bad. And I smoked two more cigarettes (and can I say how bad these cigarettes are? really bad, even though they're Marlboro Lights, and I persist is smoking them simply because I have them), but before I left, I surreptitiously left the half-empty pack on the couch in front of me. I had tried to get rid of them the same way the previous night, at the same restaurant (Charlotte Gray was playing that time), but I left them on my table instead, as a sort of extra tip for the waiter, who was kind enough to come racing out after me halfway down the street to return them. I didn't have the heart to tell him I didn't want them.
But today I had a plan. I woke up early, and had a nice breakfast (with real coffee and possibly the best bread in Arequipa). I visited no less than four travel agencies, for information on a two day/one night tour to the Colca Canyon (which may or may not be deeper than the Grand Canyon, depending on who you talk to), and went to the Museo Santuarios Andinos, where they have frozen mummies, in temperature-controlled glass cases, that were found buried on top of the mountains surrounding Arequipa - offerings to the gods. This afternoon, I will take a walk, to just outside of town, where there are said to be amazing views of Arequipa, and the surrounding volcanoes. It is nice to be back in Peru, where the money is small enough to fit in the change purse I bought in Lima, and stubbornly insisted on using in Bolivia and in Chile, although the money was too big, and stuck out one end.
I checked email after breakfast on purpose, in case it was bad news, but there was an email from my grandfather, who said my grandmother finally had her surgery yesterday - a double bypass instead of a triple, because her heart was too damaged for a triple, apparently. I don't know what that means, really, and his emails are so brief, but I do find it amazing that my grandfather is choosing to communicate with everyone this way. It was only a short while ago that he wrote all his emails in capital letters. But when I started my new parent- and grandparent-friendly site, my grandparents were among the first to sign up on the NotifyList.
But his emails don't answer any of the questions that I have (has she regained consciousness at all? is she in pain? should I come home? should I come home? should I come home?), and I get most of my information from AIM conversations with my sister, who talks to my brother, who talks to my dad, who talks to my grandfather. I think.
It's strange to think of my strong, independent grandmother lying on a bed, with tubes coming out of her. We keep on making jokes, all of us - can't help it, I suppose, and none of us quite knows how to deal with this. My dad told me over the phone how awful Grandma looks. I said, "Well, you know Grandma without her makeup..." I said I deserved everything Grandma said about me missing my Grandpa's 80th birthday party to go travel in South America. My dad said that she probably engineered this on purpose, to make me feel more guilty (my grandmother was always one to fulfill all the stereotypes of the typical Jewish grandmother). Erin asked a coworker if a massive heart attack was the worst kind of heart attack one could have. Her coworker said she thought a fatal heart attack was probably the worst one. Erin: "I hope they call it that after the fact. That would suck to overhear someone saying you had just had a fatal heart attack."
So tomorrow I go to Colca Canyon, to see the condors, and I will be without email access for two days, but will probably call home, if I can, just in case. Grandma is stable, and there is nothing to do but wait, which is all I'm doing here. I'm waiting for things to get worse, and trying to mentally prepare myself, steering up my courage every time I go to check email, but Grandma is surprising us all. So strong, she is, for someone that small.