. We drove through the dark streets of Lima and I found that it very much was reminiscent of India for me-only a bit cleaner. Similar structures of cement and delapitated buildings, dogs running loose, billboards advertising cell phone carriers and diapers. Jose dropped me and my 1,000 lbs. of bags at the Flying Dog Hostel where I hauled monster et all up a narrow stairwell to a young man enjoying a cocktail at the check-in desk. He was friendly and a bit buzzed, and gladly showed me my room next to the check in desk. I was, at that moment, grateful that for the first time I had remembered to bring ear plugs.
I dropped my bags, checked out the place, and joined the other guests( all around the age of 20) in the lounge for a single Pilsen. It had been a long day and I was ready to put my feet up! I left the pool playing and the partying to continue on without me as I made my way to bed-earplugs lodged and doors locked-where I slept like a baby until morning.
Morning led to a bit of exploring the central area of Miraflores. My first goal was coffee, which I happily found alongside some fried eggs. Check out was at noon, so I had to hurry and gather Monster to get on to the Barranco District.
I loved Barranco
. The funky, slightly bohemian feel to the streets, my lovely hostel with a view of the Pacific, the helpful host, the great coffee shop and art gallery close by- all made me want to stay an extra day. I spent my days wandering the streets and beach, taking pictures, eating fabulous ceviche, and chatting with my fellow hostel folks. Sleep was lacking these few nights. My first night I had stumbled upon a darling Italian restaurant called La Boteca. As I sat on a pillowy couch, enjoying fantastic bruschetta and a glass of vino, people began wandering in. They all seemed to know each other- kissing and greeting each other. Slowly the bar filled with this dynamic group of international artists, writers, and theatre folks. All were gathering to celebrate Hernando, a beloved local enigma. I ended up being invited to scoot over to chat with a woman and an older gentleman. This led to hours of discussing love, marriage, and life and children, an abundance of wine was poured, salsa dancing began, and eventually the owners closed the doors to the public and we all stayed to watch the sun rise. It's been a long while since I had to sheepishly knock on a door to be let in in the wee hours of the morning( have I ever?) My poor hostess, Betty, woke from the couch and let me in, shaking her head.Yikes. Hello Peru. Thank you for the lovely welcome!
After a teary goodbye to my pup and my girl and an uneventful flight, I gathered my ginormous pack( which I have nicknamed Monster in honor of the book "Wild") and my slightly smaller bag( how in the world do you pack for 7 months and 6 countries?) onto a cart and preceded to the exit, past customs, where I scanned the masses of people and signs, looking for my scribbled name. My driver from the hostel was picking me up, and he was supposed to be there. This process is a bit like walking a pageant stage- you walk the circle of people held back behind a rope, each face looking at you with a hopeful expression and you doing the same. Each of us wondering if we are the one we are looking for. No name, no sign. Hmmm. Round two. Round three. Ah! There was Fernando. While we waited for my car, sweet Fernando tried to give me a crash course in Spanish, as it was soon painfully obvious that I had not retained much of what I had learned in high school. Jose soon arrived and I bid farewell to Fernando