I wake up with the light in my small hostel room, the others are stirring and clicking phones and lights, taking showers and getting ready for the day in a new and strange country.
There is a beautiful white fluffy cat in the room now that is soaking up the attention from one of the Dominican girls. The three others from the hostel leave on a plane today to Cusco. I am stuck here in the city and need to find something to do today. I know I need to eat and I know I need water. I also need to find a pharmacy or market in case I need some more food or some medicine if I get sick.
I also want to find a museum or park to go to and I’m wondering if I should just walk around or if I need to get a bus or taxi. Bus is probably the cheapest but might be harder to figure out, bus routes are hard enough to figure out in English but I guess it couldn’t be that much more difficult. Writing everything down helps me to sort out my thoughts as if I’m talking to somebody. The others speak both English and Spanish and I’m trying to keep up but it’s harder. Some Spanish is just popping into my head now and sometimes out of my mouth which is awesome I hope it continues!
It’s 7 am and breakfast is at 8 but I’m not that hungry and I’m still so worried about getting sick that I don’t want to eat anything I didn’t prepare myself but that isn’t a long term strategy… I’m here for two more months. Maybe I should just give in and eat whatever and be adventurous and oh well if I get sick early, maybe I will get my body used to the strange Peruvian bacteria that will be everywhere.
I met the son of the owners of the hostel, Alfredo. He seemed to be about my age and just came back from Switzerland where he worked in IT but he didn’t like it so he quit to go explore South America and Peru some more. He was in Cusco with his girlfriend who is in town for another week. He is moving back to Switzerland sometime around December he said. We chatted for a minute about life. He spoke very good English and I didn’t broach the subject: what is the point of it all? What’s it all about? The mystery is undeniable. Who are we and where did we come from?
I started to feel a little uneasy but I think it’s just in my mind. I’m preparing myself mentally and physically to get ill sometime soon but maybe it won’t happen I’ve been really careful so far. I drank some mate de coca, coca leaf tea and it made me feel okay I think but I’m ready for some more.
Men and women walk up and down the highway selling packaged snacks and bottles of water. My taxi is at a standstill in morning Lima traffic. Bricks of apartment buildings crumble and clotheslines run from rooftop to rooftop. The traffic on the main highway to plaza mayor is quite bad and this short trip into the center of town is taking about 30 minutes.
Abandoned brick buildings line the highway, covered in billboards for products I can’t quite understand. The windows in the taxi are down and it’s cool but not cold and the air smells like diesel.
A lot of folks are jammed onto buses, standing room only. A moped speeds by cutting between a bus and my car, riding on the dotted line between us with almost zero margin for error. I would do it on a bicycle but never on a highway.
I’m headed to the historical center of the city, there are hills all around the air is gray and thick and everything is kind of brown and dirty. My uber driver won’t say anything to me, I think he doesn’t speak any English. And my Spanish is still garbage.
After walking around the central plaza for a while I find an Uber to my hostel in the touristy part of town near the coast.
I found the beach and it’s beautiful. The sun came out and there is an overlook with paragliders and clay tennis courts built into the side of the cliffs that line the coastal highway. Off in the distance are rock formations and surfers fill the waves. I settle into my new home for the next few days.