Miraflores smells like fresh baked bread in the morning. The streets of this Lima neighborhood are filled with suited men and women walking to work while construction workers jackhammer away at the sides of buildings. Not knowing the language very well is a gift, I can finally walk among other humans without being disgusted by their small talk. But it’s lonely as well. Isolated in a desert except for some Australians in the hostel.
Even the roasted and salted peanuts taste and smell different.
Daniella de Venezuela helped me use the stove today, she is living and working at the hostel and staying in Lima indefinitely because of the political turmoil back home. She is sweet and she wished me a tasty meal, she microwaved her meal — some arroz y papas. I’ve met a few others from Venezuela who are on the run from there home country. I bet that feels weird, maybe I will be that person too someday when the fucking nazis take over the US.
I’m starting to lose my English inclination and my first thoughts are how to phrase what I feel in Spanish except my vocabulary is terrible I’m realizing. Of course I knew it all along but it’s still fun meeting new people and trying to speak with them. In line at a café I almost passed as a Spanish speaker, but it’s easy to order coffee and leave. It’s much harder when somebody just assumes I speak perfect Spanish and then starts speaking quickly to me…ay. Más despacio por favor, poco a poco…
This morning I woke up after almost everyone else in our right person bunk room, I think most of them had to leave today though which would explain it. I walked up to the open fourth floor of the hostel where there is a bar that Daniela works at along with some other of the guests. A woman prepared breakfast, cooking eggs and other items to order that cost extra but for free is some bread with butter and jam, some watermelon and coffee and tea. I just had a cup of coffee then some coca tea.
I bought some more socks, cheap walking shoes and some groceries in the late morning. I cooked rice and beans and ate my lunch on the party rooftop where everyone else was playing beer pong and taking shots and drinking pisco sours all night long. The music from the nearby bars and clubs blared through the open windows right next to my head as I tried to fall asleep but luckily I had some earplugs that worked like a charm.
I also bought some ramen and avocados from the store, it’s time to settle in and get to the business of living. I’m here for so long I’m going to run out of money if I keep spending it like I’m on vacation….two months?!
I’ve deliberately set myself apart from everything and everyone I know and now my goal is to finish this trek and make it back to them.
I just met Henrique and his friend Victor, both from São Paulo, Brasil and he told me to visit there during the carnival which is around the 20 of February. They speak Portuguese in Brazil which I almost forgot but now I know. Of course my Spanish was terrible but now I know why it wasn’t working. The Portuguese they are speaking to each other is beautiful and we chatted for a while about what to do around the hostel and if they were going to go out and party tonight. They didn’t know. They are nice guys, probably late 20s.
The Papa Johns down the street smells exactly the same as home somehow.
I love the Peruvian men that hang out of the doors of the small combi buses that fly by expediting the boarding and disembarking and yelling something I don’t quite understand but I imagine it means hurry the fuck up. Cars and other larger buses on schedules honk as if it will help. The men sometimes hold signs up indicating where they are driving, but often not. The buses look old and dirty and are painted strangely sometimes and all have decals with names on them, the different stops they make or the different neighborhoods they operate in
Every grocery store had lots of delicious smelling rolls and breads and pastries, similar styles at each, small round loaves and everyone seems to live on the bread. Chifles and Inkacola line the aisles of every store. Chips and snacks and sodas and sugar dominate the center aisles just like in the US. Peanut butter is really expensive but I want it so bad. I don’t buy this time…duraznos, peaches, take up most of the canned fruit aisle that is strange why are there no other options?? Eggs sit out, unrefridgerated, at every store.
Waiting in line for papas at the lucha sandwich shop where everyone is restless and impatient and the cooks and servers all wearing white outfits and just getting destroyed and I learned about “salsa golf” — it’s just ketchup and mayo mixed together.
Met the other Mike finally. He is from San Antonio, Texas and is a manager for an alcohol distribution company and manages 30 or so millenials. He isn’t married and said he’s proud of where he is in his career but that he works too much. We have a lot in common though I think his life is filled with a lot more responsibility than mine. We may spend the same amount of hours working but his seems to consume his life and we talked about our friends who are married and have kids and how they are jealous of us for being able to take random trips but also how we are kind of jealous of them and their families and kids that trap them in their work life.
Mike said he wants to travel to change his perspective on life that’s why he loved Japan so much because it’s such a totally different culture and a different way of looking at the world and viewing life which although he seems very vanilla I really respected. He works too hard and is outside smoking a cigarette right now and he said he spent a day meditating in Kyoto which he loved and I think now that I need to get some people together to go there.
I should just start telling people that I’m a writer and am working on a travel blog but of course they will ask to see it. I should say I’m a freelance journalist. Which maybe I am. Do you have to sell a story to be a freelance journalist??
Two Peruvian dudes are playing the shit out of foosball table next to me, the one wearing a wife beater keeps sniffling like he’s done some coke and is flinching every time he flips the handle. They yell and take shots of pisco sour at the bar with the bartender, an Irish guy that Debbie knows. The ball suddenly flies through the air and smacks me on the side and I smile like I do with everything else.
Debbie from Scotland has been traveling for half a year and has seen more of the United States than I have I think. She drove around in a car from coast to coast then flew down to Columbia and now Peru. I met her on the fourth floor rooftop bar and she loves to travel but I forgot to ask her why she travels. Hostel culture is interesting everyone is here for a reason, boredom or adventure or perspective or culture. It’s not an accident to end up this far away from home, it’s more than deliberate. But the reasons vary from person to person and I bet even from day to day or hour to hour for each person. I’m gonna start asking people why they travel. I want a real answer though not some canned bullshit. I hope that if somebody asks me a question like that then I have a good enough answer to give them instead of just some planned answer. I want to treat everyone as an individual, it’s like the “suchness” that Thich Nhat Hanh talked about in Understanding Our Minds. It’s different than my projections about who somebody is or why they are here. I’m ready to stop projecting and see the world for the truth that it really is.
It’s 10:30 now and the upstairs bar is filling up with people and there are girls dancing at the bar and the music is blasting and everyone is drinking and dancing and playing it really is quite a scene but I’m bored with it already. Life is fun and this is a great place to meet people and I love to dance but also I like a good quiet place to chat I think that I’m more of a morning person because of that.
Hostels are awesome and this one is a party and now my earplugs are my best friends because the stereos and dance music are jamming from like 6 different places outside our open window right now, one of which is on the roof of this building just two floors up. But now it’s 11 pm and I am exhausted so signing off now. Adios, hasta mañana amigos.