I was looking forward to an 8hr flight to Peru from JFK but the reality is that, it turned into a 13hr hour journey by the time I arrived in Lima. With a partially wet backpack (Thanks! Fort Lauderdale), I arrived at the airport, breezed through immigration with ease. I decided to take a taxi despite multiple suggestions that I sleep at the airport and wait till the morning because of the ridiculous fare hikes for foreigners at night. My taxi driver was actually pretty cool, we indulged in multiple conversations as we made our way to Miraflores around 12:30 a.m. I must have won him over as he opted to charge me 50soles instead of 75soles, well technically the fare should have been 40soles max but it was night time. Since my arrival, I’ve been staying at Pariwana Backpackers in central Miraflores. The hostel is decent, with a very helpful staff and rooms full of European travelers. They offer very affordable Peruvian food and free breakfast as well… sounds like I’m writing a yelp review but my stay at the backpackers has been great as I’ve had time to explore and plan out my journey.
I’ve officially been in Peru (Lima) for a week now and Miraflores is more westernized (touristy) than I honestly expected. There are multiple American chain restaurants and department stores scattered all around (there’s a KFC on every corner) the numerous avenues. Nevertheless, there are some unique discoveries that I wasn’t really expecting. For instance, I woke up on Sunday to locals engaging in the weekly rhythmic Reggaeton workout session in the streets. Also, I learned that the local park (Kennedy Park) is home to tons of Cats who are ever willing to play with passing locals and tourists. The food is great, freshly made and very tasty (I’m yet to try Ceviche) – I’ve honestly been eating more of the vegetarian options (everyone knows I tend to avoid vegetarian food). Additionally, I have so far opted to explore on my own instead of hoping on a tour bus to explore the city and I am glad I chose that option. Lima has lots of Amazing 18th century cathedrals and colorful Spanish colonial architectures. I actually ended up playing tour guide to some old friends from high school who very kind enough to visit me in Miraflores.
Orienting myself in this environment has been pretty great as I’ve been able to decompress, make some connections before moving on to other parts of Peru. I’ve gotten a lot of funny reactions from people when I tell them my name – my favorite ones being “Nana es el nombre para las niñas (-_-)” and “Él no puede ser afroperuana , ¿puede ?”. Nevertheless, the locals and foreigners alike have been very nice and helpful despite my limited Spanish fluency. I met a local photographer who very kind enough to indulge me in the history of most of the districts in Lima as well as where to find health-related NGOs since most of them are outside of Lima. In terms of my project, I had established an arrangement with a community health NGO prior to my arrival but we ran into some timing issues and communication mishaps. Honestly I am glad to have had this learning moment because being committed to an organization would limit me from fully exploring and completing aspects of my project. As of right now, I have restructured my approach and the ways through which I want to learn about grassroots efforts. This has allowed me to establish new connections who have been very great in helping me locate areas and NGOs that would be useful to my project. I plan to leave Lima this weekend and head north to Huaraz, Ancash where there are several communities and locally initiated NGOs dealing with education, health and climate issues.