16.11.2012 - 18.11.2012
When deciding what to do my vacation time for 2012, I was torn between taking a trip home to Australia, or to take a “proper” holiday and go travel. As nice as it is to go home, to me it doesn’t count as a holiday. There isn’t really any exploring, just lots of running around and co-ordinating get togethers with friends and fam. Aside from Australia, I hadn’t been overseas in over a year, and I was itching to travel. Machu Picchu has been on my list for a while, so Peru it was.
When planning the trip, I felt I needed to do the trip on my own. I was so excited in the planning of the trip, I didn’t really think about the fact that I was traveling on my own to a country where I didn’t speak the language. It wasn’t until I was in Miami waiting for my flight to Lima that the reality suddenly hit me – I don’t speak Spanish. It’s a developing country and I was probably going to experience some culture shock. All the guide books, US and Australian Government travel advice was to “Exercise a high degree of caution” in Peru. The “Women travelers” section in the Lonely Planet guide didn’t paint a very pretty picture of Peru either. Then it was like I had my grandma sitting my shoulder, planting little doubts in my mind by listing all the things that could go wrong. [Insert irrational panic]. I reassured myself by thinking that all the travel advice is over cautious, and that I’d be fine. I’ve done a lot of travel on my own and I was always fine – go about with confidence, and people will leave you alone, right? Go with that. I boarded the plane, replacing my nerves with excitement.
When I arrived in Lima, the hotel was meant to send a taxi, but it wasn't there. The nerves returned – I'd read about being careful about which taxis to take because you could get kidnapped (perhaps I read too much…). But I remembered I’d also read that there were official taxis that you could get from going to the information desk. I managed to find it and arrived at my accommodation in one piece.
Lima, to me, is just another big city – bad traffic, lots of restaurants and shops, and people bustling on the streets. I had one night when I first arrived, and another two nights before I flew back to Chicago. I could have done with just two nights. I stayed in the touristy neighbourhood near the water called Miraflores (pictured above). On my first day, I was sitting and enjoying the view whilst looking in the Lonely Planet guide. I was thinking there wasn’t much in Lima that I wanted to see, when a guy came up and asked, “Does it have any good suggestions?” It was Charles, from Seattle but currently living in Shanghai. He spoke Spanish, which came in very handy. (He also spoke better Mandarin than I, after only being there for 4 months, putting my 13 years of Chinese school to shame). I had to giggle at myself because my magnetism for gay men seemed to work abroad as well as in Chicago. We did a city tour that took us the San Francisco church (shown below) that had catacombs in the basement. I’ve never seen human bones like this and it made me feel a bit squirmish. We learnt about all the earthquakes that Peru has endured, being on a fault line, and a bit of the history of Lima. I parted ways with my new friend after the tour, knowing we’d cross paths again somewhere around the world.