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Published: August 26th 2015
Hello family and friends! I am now in Santiago, but am still posting about all my adventures through Peru the past two weeks. I haven't had much time or wifi to post as I traveled, but as of today I will begin settling down in Chile. I hope you're all well, I miss you.
We arrive in Lima at 10 pm. Our hostel sends a car to pick us up, and I get my first taste of Peruvian Spanish from the drivers Omar and Denis. They talk over one another telling us about Peru’s jewels--the Nazca lines etched into the desert by aliens or some strange race of us, Cusco the beloved capital of Andean culture, Machu Picchu the pride of the country. Denis tells of a seaside town south of Lima, where orbs of light fly from the sea to the mountains every night. The people there are used to the mystery, he says.
Our night is lit by a two-story high six-pack of Coca-Cola bottles. Coke, KFC, Papa John’s, Starbucks are all there to greet us, even in this place of old wonder.
The hostel is a bright lime front in a neighborhood of industrial
gray. We pay $8 for the night, and I feel suddenly young as I sign the guest ledger--my nineteen years is the youngest in the age column. We share a room with 14 bunkbeds and backpackers from the UK and California.
The next morning we take a bus to the historic downtown. It is the first of many rides in which we hop on and hope we’re on the right route, then rely on friendly passengers to direct us. A mother sitting behind us seems to sense our confusion; while she gives us directions a man turns around with a hand-drawn map for us. They are both excited we are from California-- “I have a sister in New Jersey!” “I have a brother in San Francisco!”--and the man does an impression of the Terminator in a thick Peruvian accent. When we get to our stop, the mother and her daughter get off with us, walk us a block, and leave us with kisses and hugs.
Peru has already proved itself beautiful! We spend the day exploring the touristy historic downtown before wandering into the surrounding neighborhoods and markets. Lima feels gray and hectic. Dozens of buses pull up
to the sidewalk every three minutes, pedestrians dodge and weave through the traffic, the sidewalks are chaotic with vendors. The frenetic industry is sometimes saddening and always exhausting to pass through; an old man stretches his hand out with nothing to sell but a dozen tin rulers. People survive somehow by selling plastic oven decals and self-wringing mops. But Lima is also graceful in its pauses. Over a hundred people crowd a park’s amphitheater midday to watch a comedy troupe, and the audience is warm in supporting the actors with donations. Tyler, standing in the back with a baseball cap and lost-in-translation grin, attracts the spotlight of the comedians’ attention.
We end the day with five hours of lostness on public transportation. Our hostel is in Callao, a dicey neighborhood at night, and again we are completely dependent on the kindness of the bus passengers and driver to get us safely in for the night.
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