I was thinking of the places in the world I would like to visit (Yes, I do this often. Yes, it’s a long list. No, it’s not getting any shorter.) when I remembered an email I once received from my Dad who was visiting Lima at the time. He has this habit of gallivanting across the countryside (and further afield, like South America). Nobody’s told him he’s my Dad and old and stuff… Anyway, I was really quite jealous of his adventure and wrote this little piece about it.
I did not go to Lima. My Dad did and that is perhaps why I am writing this. He jetted off for four weeks of travel and adventure in South America. Of course, he had to suffer through 30+ hours of aircraft and airports before his great journey could truly begin. I was very excited for my Dad. I was also very jealous. Not that I ever wanted to go to Lima (I couldn’t find it on a map if you payed me to) but because it was his first step toward Machu Pichu – and THAT is a place I have always wanted to vist. Ever since I first watched the Mysterious Cities of Gold (a cartoon TV series that ran a single time in the early Eighties) I have had a romantic facination with the place and I hope to one day visit there. And I hope that when I do, I go via Lima.
Lima sounds like an incredible place, from my Father’s accounts, filled with rustic buildings (doesn’t that just mean “poorly maintained”?), chaotic street festivals and armed gunmen. In his first email home (two days after he arrived because it took that long to find a wifi connection), Dad tried, in as few words as possible, to describe the city. Amongst all his evocative description the phrase that sticks with me is “Lots of uniforms and guns”. Noise, dilapidated buildings, uniforms and guns? Who would have thought that Lima was just like where I worked – high school? (I’m kidding. Honest. Please don’t fire me.)
But Dad also spoke of the warm and friendly locals; of getting caught up in a street festival on his first night in the city; of eating three course meals for less than the price of a cup of coffee; of the incredible poverty; and an overall vibe (don’t you love that word?) just not possible to capture with words on a page. I get a sense he has had his breath stolen by this unexpectedly engaging place. Finally, after so much preparation, worrying about leaving Mum behind, and not really knowing what he was getting into, Dad is having the time of his life. He has mentioned the need for another memory card for the digital camera. What a wonderful opportunity for a person to have; to explore the world, connect with new cultures and become (for however brief a time) a part of a place.
Dad has left Lima by now, by truck (NOT bus), on his way down the coast of whatever country he is in (I jest, it’s Peru… Right?). He’s said goodbye to the noise, exotic carnivales, strange food and gunfire. I imagine that there will be more stories when he returns home, and I am sure that each will further reinforce my own desire to explore this amazing place.
Have you visited Peru, or Lima in particular? Have you got some tips for when I (one day) visit?What are your thoughts on Machu Pichu – do you want to go as much as I do?