Jul 6, 2014

Living Large in Lima...

'Stepping out of your comfort zone' is my personal definition of the word 'adventure'. Adventure means different things to different people because 'your comfort zone' is, by its very definition a personal boundary. On Thursday morning I found myself 'stepping out of my comfort zone' as I stepped on my flight to Lima, Peru...  For the first time in a long time I felt as though I was on a grand adventure -  stepping out of my comfort zone and being a guest in a new country, a new city, experiencing a new culture, meeting new people, trying new foods... It was the whole package.... the deluxe version, in fact. The very prospect of being out of my comfort zone made me feel incredibly alive. 

Landing in Lima about 13 hours later, I was suddenly more committed to the 'adventure' as I leapt out of my comfort zone with an almighty stride - Spanish instructions boomed over the airport intercom, baggage trolleys jammed haphazardly around the luggage belts, travellers from all around the world converging in a babel of cultural idiosyncrasies under the buzzing fluorescent lights... I felt lost but in a strange way, felt as though I was exactly where I was supposed to be. My sense of sight suddenly seemed clearer, my sense of smell sharper and my hearing seemed to pick up the occasional recognisable phrase in the midst of the cacophony of noise. It could have been scary and I could have worried about a million other things but for the first time in a long time I just 'let go' and let the adventure take me. I felt free... even though I was lugging around about 40kgs of baggage.

One of the initial 'ambassadors' to adventure in a new city is often a local taxi driver. Sometimes they speak English, sometimes they don't... either way, to me, the privilege of being driven around a 'new city' and having the opportunity to reflect on first impressions is intensely satisfying. I had no idea what to expect from Lima. My first impressions were that it was a lot cooler than I expected (about 17 degrees), that the traffic was chaotic (7.30pm 'rush hour), and that there seemed to be an abundance of hair dressers, casinos and gyms built into the box-like buildings generally built no higher than 4 stories. I learned later that this is because Lima sits right on a fault line and the last earthquake, a 4.8, occurred only just last week. 

My hotel, located in the Milaflores district was quaint, clean and quiet and provided the perfect stepping stone for exploring the city. A short walk away was the Pacific Ocean and a commercial hub with everything from Starbucks and TGI Fridays to local alpaca arts and crafts shops.  

As the formal part of my expedition wasn't due to start until Sunday morning with an 8-hour drive to the mountain village of Huaraz, I had two full days to see as much of Lima as time (and jet lag) would permit. Two key highlights stand out - stepping on a hideously fluorescent and touristy yellow 'Turibus' and secondly, participating in the world cup festivities (watching Holland make it into the semi finals... barely)

I was able to join the 'Turibus' near to the hotel... The first stop was in the bohemian district of Barranco (adjacent to the Miraflores district). Here I learned that the locals of this especially affluent district pay 43% tax for the privilege of their stunning ocean front views and high-end services and shops. The bus then continued on for 5.5 kms into the city centre where we visited The San Martin Square, the Main Square and the Convent of San Francisco and its Catacombs in which 70,000 people have been buried. The open topped bus not only provided a transient way to 'dip in and out' of the city's rich history, it also provided me with enough cold air and stimulus to combat waves of jet-lag.

The second highlight of my time in Lima was the World Cup. Knowing smiles were exchanged between strangers who were seen to support the same team. There was a man on my Turibus tour who was dressed head-to-toe in Brazilian colours and carried a replica World Cup into the catacombs. The priests and nobility buried there would have turned in their graves. And then there was the game itself. THE game. With my head of blond hair, fair skin and big nose I tried to look as inconspicuous as possible supporting Holland in a pub that was RAMMED full of Costa Rican supporters. Only the waiter shared my secret and kept offering me drinks that seemed to get cheaper and cheaper as the goalless minutes ticked by. To save my nerves I decided to leave the pub when the game went to penalty kicks and instead caught the winning 'goal' through a window looking onto the television. I celebrated with a smile and a local drink, a pisco sour. It was a good day.

My Lima adventure was a thoroughly enjoyable one and provided the perfect prelude to what I think will be a fantastic two weeks in the mountains climbing Alpamayo. I am so excited to meet faces new and familiar and to enter deeper into this adventure as I discover more and more about this stunning country and its people. Tomorrow begins the second chapter of this new adventure and I can't wait to go even further to the precipice of my comfort zone. Bring it on.


Post a Comment