So I did it. I survived my first day of international solo travel. It was a very strange day.
Last night I said goodbye to my favorite shantytown of Huaycan by climbing a mountain, then promptly shoveling my face with food for the rest of the evening. Notable edibles included: choufa, Peru’s version of Chinese fried rice; two churros; a fruit salad which had fruit AND yogurt AND ice cream AND cereal; and two Pisco Sours, the Peruvian drink of choice. It was sad to say goodbye to my favorite shantytown, especially because at night it looks like the city in Blade Runner with less rain and more dust.
This morning I said goodbye to the other volunteers and to LLI and hit the road to Barranco.
After a long hot shower and a long nap, I set out to wander the city with a map and my camera. I stopped at a restaurant that was noted on my map because they had a Peruvian buffet and I chowed down. Nobody in the restaurant spoke English so communication was difficult, but I managed to get their wifi password and look up some cool stuff to do in the area.
I walked a block down to a photography exhibit by Mario Testino which was a series of photographs of traditional Andean attire. It was an amazing exhibit.
On my way back, I wanted to hit up the electricity museum but it was closed. I asked the security guard what the hours were and he shook my hand and wouldn’t let go. After an awkward two minute long handshake, I pulled my hand away and thanked him for whatever information he had given me that I couldn’t understand.
I decided to walk along the beach for a bit, and on my way I met a guy named Jeremy who excitedly stopped me and asked me where I was from. We had a little chat and he asked me to come listen to him play trumpet at this club we were conveniently a block away from. After he hugged me and kissed my face about three times each I finally managed to convince him I was due back elsewhere but would hopefully run into him later to listen to him play the trumpet.
I’m not sure if people are exceptionally friendly here or if these are circumstances I should be cautious of. Obviously today I played the cautious card, but learning the difference between opportunities and scams is something I’ll have to work on. I know in this place specifically, gringas are a bit of a commodity, so I’ll chalk it all up to that.
After a loooong walk, I made it back to my hostel without getting lost once. I had a lot riding on how today was going to go, and I’m glad it ended up the way it did. It was an excellent day.