So I've been in Peru for a week now and I'm starting to figure things out. I found the place where I enjoy staying (Pariwana). This is huge, because traveling alone makes staying in a hotel a social challenge. At Pariwana it is fun and social and easy to figure out travel needs etc.
Lima is an impressive city. It is large and metropolitan and due to the terrorist group in the 90s that scared away Peru's tourism they have made an obvious commitment to security. There are several (no exaggeration) cops ever block. They don't seem intimidating. There is more of a sense that they are there for my protection. Because I'm in somewhat of a posh area of Lima (although this city seems pretty put together) the prices aren't so cheap, but they are still below what I would pay at home. I know this is somewhat of a clinical account of my experiences to date, but I've had internet trouble, which I think I've solved...at least for now. The beer is pretty good (way better than in Costa Rica). So far I haven't done much here except try to explore the city, both walking and touring. Yesterday I went on a tour that was seemed sponsored by the Catholic church although it was a really good tour and took me back to my days in Germany and all of the churches that I visited. In the catacombs of the monastery was the remains of an ossuary and there were thousands of bones (mostly femurs and sculls it seemed) that remained from the days when people felt the need to be buried in the church or not go to heaven.
The Gran Hotel Boliviar (where Switters stayed) was as fancy as expected, modeled after the Waldorf Astoria with the additional attraction of a KFC in the front....nothing says class like fried chicken in a bucket. The lobby also displayed a mint condition Model T Ford. It was hard not to get inside and mess around, but no tocar!
One major disappointment is that trip will not include a beach chapter. In order to really get to where the beaches don't require a wet suit and a hard core desire to catch waves, I would have to venture to Ecuador and that's just not in the cards this trip. So I will take smaller trips to explore ancient sacrifice alters and ruins until Dylan gets here (I can't wait for Dylan to get here) I have booked a trip for him and me to to explore the south of Peru for 18 days. We will go sand surfing, nature viewing, canyon exploring, biking, hiking, hot-springing, flying over the Nazca lines, whitewater rafting, trekking that will climax in Machu Picchu. I spent hours and hours back home trying to piece together a trip like this and it seemed impossible. The magic of Pariwana made it not only possible, but for much less than I was expecting to pay. Winning.
My Spanish is improving in all ways. But there is this stress that happens right before a conversation begins. Even if it surrounds vocabulary that I am comfortable with. Part of the stress actually comes from wondering whether the conversation will be in Spanish or English. Once that's established I seem to be able to relax and allow my ability or inability to speak and understand to take over. I think relaxing and not panicking is the key to practicing the language. There are large holes in what I know, but I also know a lot, so with some creativity and patience speaking becomes possible.
I love staying at Pariwana. It is so much more friendly and helpful than the hotel where I was at first (not to mention less expensive). However, there are a handful of travelers that approach my age. The rest are around college student age. I like this because there is a lot of energy but I can't help but feel a little like the creepy old guy. That's just another reason I can't wait for Dylan to get here. He will love this scene and to some extent alleviate my sense that I'm out of place...like that baseball coach who doesn't have a son on the team....generally not the guy you want your kid playing for.
Although the weather isn't really summer/surfing weather, it is constantly nice. It's never cold or hot. Sometimes a heavier shirt is more comfortable than a t-shirt, but shorts seem just fine. The air is nice on my skin. There is a light humidity that lubricates the air but doesn't oppress. Apparently it rains very little here. To the point where they don't have drainages in the streets or gabled houses (unless they had they're house built somewhere else, deconstructed, moved to Peru and reassembled (which happened)). I've seen virtually no sun so far. There is a constant backdrop of grey. It is not a smog, although it is clear that the exhaust standards on the cars is lower than in the US that is something you can taste but it doesn't seem to be the cause of the haze. It's interesting to have this grey backdrop in such a vivid place.
Mostly I'm beginning to feel at ease in this large city. The confusion of the beginning is to be expected, but non-the-less a challenge. Now that our trip is planned out and I know that I will be functioning primarily from Lima until Dylan's arrival, I can relax and enjoy this chapter.