Erik MH:

blog entry

In which I set out for sal­chipapas, fail to order Bel­gian waffles, and eat a butifarrón

“You know,” said Arthur, “it’s at times like this, when I’m trapped in a Vogon airlock with a man from Betelgeuse, and about to die of asphyxiation in deep space that I really wish I’d listened to what my mother told me when I was young.” “Why, what did she tell you?” “I don't know, I didn’t listen.” 1 Douglas Adams. The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, chapter 7

“Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so.” 2 ibid., chapter 2

While most days in Peru have been lovely, there have been a few like this one.

Since I was being very productive in the flat this morning, I decided to take only a short lunch break. The plan was to fetch salchipapas and an extra order of papas amarillas from the take-away a few blocks from here, taking the quiet, shady, one-block-longer route.

I delayed my departure until 11:50, knowing they opened at 11:30 or 12:00. I arrived at 12:02, but the wicket was still mostly closed, and the worker outside told me they weren’t going to open until 2:00p.m. I double-checked that he had said “2:00” and not “in two minutes”; sadly, he had.

Oxa Bur­ger (photo I took in January)

By this point, I was about an hour late for “first lunch.” In my it-still-seems-new-to-me stomachless state, an hour’s delay is an eternity.

Did I learn from previous experiences? Did I stop myself cold and create a new plan? I did not, no. I decided to walk down Av. Almirante Miguel Grau towards the main square and either take away or find a nice place to eat.

This never works well, since my decision-making brain is the first thing to go when I get hungry.

When I found myself at the main square (about eight blocks further than my original destination), I realized my mistake, and decided to go to Rue — a little pricy, but top-drawer food and a wonderful atmosphere.

Mau at Rue (photo I took in January)

I checked in with one of the waitstaff and showed her where I wanted to sit, outside. She brought a menu almost immediately.

A minute or two later, I was ready to order. At this point, it was about 12:35. I waited. I waited. I switched chairs so that, even though I would be sitting in the sun, at least I’d be able to see the waitress and flag her down. I waited.

At about 12:48, I stood up and put my head into the open window, so that I could catch someone’s attention inside. At 12:50, someone saw me, gave me an apologetic look, and came right outside to take my order.

I ordered the Belgian waffles with fruit and honey. She politely told me that they weren’t serving breakfast anymore, and that I had to choose a dinner. I pointed at the “después de la 1:00” on the dinners and at the “hasta la 1:00” on the breakfasts, and at my watch that said “12:51.”

She reiterated that, since it was after 1:00, they couldn’t serve me breakfast. I pointed out that I’d been waiting to order for 15 minutes. She shrugged, and pointed at her phone (which agreed that the time was 12:51) and said that breakfast was not available after 1:00.

I left, and had an agreeable lunch a block away at La Bodega Verde, even if the meal wasn’t what I had wanted at all.

Camer­on & me at La Bodega Verde (photo I took in February)

I totally get that there’s a more relaxed attitude to time here. And that you never go to a restaurant if you’re in a hurry. I truly do! But you can’t have it both ways: if it’s going to take 15 minutes before someone takes my order, they should at least allow me to order a meal eight minutes before its cut-off time — and hopefully 15 minutes after.

I finally finished lunch at the other place, but couldn’t get anyone to give me the bill. I had to ask for it at the cashier’s station — a good 15 minutes after I’d wanted to pay.

It was then a full mile back to the flat. I arrived at 2:20.

I could have just waited two hours to order the salchipapas at the very first place. 🙄