Saturday, December 15, 2007

El presente es un regalo

Day 1 – Lima, Elevation 10 ft.

The smells are the first thing that hit you when you arrive. They’re what remind you that you’re somewhere foreign. It’s not just Lima, it’s not even South Amercia, it’s just not-North America. The combination of the massive amount of diesel-based pollution held into place by poverty, desperation and love. It assaulted my nose and it made me feel….real. It’s not that I love the smell, but it always reminds me of where I’m at and what I’m doing. The smell makes me realize that I’m one of the lucky ones, one of the people who desire to get out, to see the world for what it really is and realize that there is not way to describe it to people who have not been there.

This is the first day of my two week trip. This is the first page of my new journal. Lima, Peru. Elevation 0 feet, 0 meters. Sea level. Not that it matters today, but at some point it may. If your country has a border that touches an ocean, t

hen it has at least one spot with an elevation of zero, that place is about six blocks from where I’m sitting now. It doesn’t matter if there’s mountains, you must start at zero. That’s what I’m trying to do. Start at zero. The real zero. Empty my mind. Zero. Empty my head, my heart, my inhibitions. Zero. Zero. Zero.

So now I’m sitting in my hotel room in Miraflores, Lima, Peru, sitting on a small bed, typing on my computer which is resting

on a chair and listening to SonyTV in the background wondering how the next couple weeks will play out. I have a horrible sore throat from the flight and it is the middle of the night. I am attempting to take the Common route and just Be. Be here, mind, body and soul. There are too many distractions waiting for me back home at the moment and I will not let them pull any part of my being away from this experience. Louis Pasteur is famous for his work with milk, but in the scientific world, his discovery is of secondary importance to the quote that all biologists learn on the first day of class – “Chance favors the prepared mind.” Mind, body, soul. Be here. Be.

Day 2

I’m in a small hotel in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima. My throat was hurting this morning, even worse than last night, but other than that I feel fine. I forced myself to sleep in until 7:30 even though the anxiety is killing me. I’ve got the whole day to myself, until about 2:00 when I meet my traveling companions. According posting on the bulletin board downstairs, there will be six of us. Myself and another guy and four girls.

Breakfasts in South America are great. Ever since becoming more and more active, my appetite has been voracious. If I don’t eat at least four or five times a day, it’s Bad Newsville. Dressed in my Sean John’s and Puma slippers, I crept downstairs with my Jules Verne book and ate a plate of various cheeses and breakfast meats with several cups of Nescafe instant coffee. It always takes a day or two to get used to the coffee and I can never understand how these countries that make the best coffee can serve such shit. It must all go to North America.

Because I had the day, I decided to venture down to the Lima Plaza Mayor to haunt and take pictures for the morning. Here’s a free tip to traveling in a place where you don’t know the language: Always keep a business card for your hotel in your pocket, no matter what. Show it to a taxi driver & he’ll get you home, safe, sound and properly price gouged.

The weather here is great; mid-70’s, sunny and happy. I took, what seemed like, several hundred pictures before heading back to the hotel to rest and meet my cohorts. When I got back to the room, I had a brief heart attack when I couldn’t find my camera charger, but it was buried in the bottom of my Kelty. That would have been bad.

For some reason, I was in the mood to drink, not get drunk, but to have some alcohol in my system, relax me a bit. Over lunch, I had three glasses of wine and felt great, despite my sore throat.

At 2:00 pm, I had the chance to meet the tour leader and the people who will be accompanying me on my trip. I really didn’t know what to expect and in fact, I really didn’t know all the details of the trip. I’m trying something new and unlike me on this trip, and that is to let go of control. I’m not going to worry about what day of the week it is, or where I’ll be tomorrow. I just want to let the people handle the details whose job it is.

Elard is our tour leader and we chatted while we waited on the others to finish eating lunch. He’s 25 and has been w/ the company for 2 years and seems pretty cool. His English is good and we probably have a lot in common.

Four of the six of us consist of a family; mom, dad and two sisters. Maurice (dad), Christine (mom), Emma (15 year old daughter) and Channel (12 year old daughter) are from around Toronto, Canada. This is the beginning of a 2+ month vacation for them that will end in Costa Rica in February.

Our sixth companion, Sharon, wasn’t around as her flight wasn’t due to get into Lima until the middle of the night.

After discussing the details of the trip and toasting with a round of pisco sours, we arranged to meet in the morning at 7:00 am, when we would eat breakfast and head to the airport to catch our flight to Cusco, where the remainder of our trip will be based out of.

After firing off a couple emails and looking at my pictures from the day, I decided to catch a taxi to Larcomar. My previous trip to Peru was centered around the area and I wanted to see it again, plus if you’re within a mile of the beach, you really must see it.

It was strange, I ate dinner at the same restaurant, walked by the same club and picked up a taxi at the same place I kissed Gisella before leaving the city and it was just…comfortable. Tomorrow is really the beginning of the trip, and it felt good to find some sort of familiarity in the area before jumping off the cliff into the unknown. I just feel peaceful, no need to talk, no need to frown, no reason to worry. Relax my muscles, my mind and smile.

1 comment:

Skippy Sanchez said...

Bravo. Bien hecho! Verte más adelante...Portate bien.