I have now been in Lima for a week, and it is amazing how fast the time has passed. In some respects, it feels like I never left; many aspects of the city appear to be exactly the same, and my friends have welcomed me back with open arms. I easily remember how to navigate the city, although there have been some changes to transportation options, including dedicated, protected bike paths throughout Miraflores! On the other hand, I have been realizing that I definitely went back to being very “American” after a year in Boston, and I am hoping that my time here in Lima helps bring me back to my more “flexible” South American attitude!
After a hectic holiday week followed by two relaxing days in Boston, I was ready to finally get on my way. My flight left bright and early in the morning, which meant I got to watch a beautiful sunrise from Logan Airport.
I had a layover in Panama, a country I had never visited. As we approached, I saw the boats heading through the Panama Canal. After hearing so many stories about its construction in childhood history classes, I really enjoyed seeing how giant the canal actually is.
I was particularly surprised by the sprawling city of Panama, with its towering skyscrapers lining the coastline.
Soon, the city gives way to the green of the tropical countryside.
Upon seeing the lush green foliage as we descended into Aeropuerto Internacional de Tocumen, I was completely smitten. I definitely want to go back to Panama and explore this tropical country for myself! (See my joyful post on Instagram!)
Finally, after a long day of travel, I arrived in Lima, passed quickly through immigration and customs, and headed to my friend’s house. Here, I was reunited with her lovely cats, whom I’d gotten to know while staying with her before leaving Lima. Her cats are rescues from Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, and while they are skittish around humans after being mistreated by their original owners, they are adorable and slowly have grown to trust me.
The next day was New Year’s Eve! I tagged along with my friends’ plan to head to their rented beach house in Pulpos, one of the most desirable beach locations along Lima’s southern coast.
As it turned out, several of my friends and acquaintances from my time in Lima were attending the party, and it was awesome to reconnect with the lovely people who made my life here in 2012-2013 that much better.
I was surprised and delighted by the New Year’s Eve tradition of filling the sky with fireworks at midnight. Although this photo only shows the tail end of the spectacle, at midnight, there were fireworks all over the beach, brightening the night sky.
Even though it is technically summer here in Lima, which usually means clear blue skies and lots of sunshine, the sun has been reluctant over the past week, leading to grey skies over the beach on New Year’s Day, so we did not actually spend any time sunbathing. Instead, we enjoyed a large barbecue dinner with lots of wine and great conversation. I love this aspect of South American culture, lingering over the table, talking about everything and anything under the sun.
Later that day, we headed back to Lima, and I was excited to see the sun finally come out from hiding. I decided to go for a long walk along the Malecón of Miraflores, one of my favorite things to do.
This was also a way to reconnect with the “me” of 2013 and process the multiple feelings of confusion, loss, and joy I have been going through as I’ve realized what I’ve missed while gone, what has changed and what has stayed the same, and as I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with my friends and my former home.
Unfortunately, I forgot to bring along my sunblock on this long, leisurely walk, and I realized I was getting really burned. I decided to detour down a street with more shade, and spotted this lovely mural. The quote reads, “If you look for harmony inside yourself, happily you’ll pray to the music inside of you and outside of you.” This quote pretty much illustrates what I am trying to do while here!
I took another detour along Av. José Pardo and decided to head to El Enano, one of my favorite restaurants, to drink a delicious jugo (juice) made from grapes and tuna, or prickly pear, both in season at the moment. This was a great way to honor my health after the inevitable indulgence during the New Year’s festivities!
We returned to Pulpos the next day to enjoy the sunshine and some relaxing time at the beach and amongst friends. Because of the mix of sun and clouds, I was able to enjoy these beautiful clouds at sunset.
After an enjoyable long weekend filled with friends and time to relax, everyone had to return to their regularly scheduled lives this week. I even decided to continue tutoring my students through English with Kim, and was happy to find that the sometimes spotty internet connection stayed consistent during my lessons.
Yesterday, I decided to wander through Miraflores some more, return to my favorite vegetarian restaurant, Sabor y Vida, and spend more time enjoying the Malecón. The strong breeze meant it was a perfect day for paragliding, and lots of people were watching the many parachutes floating through the sky.
This was also a great opportunity to try out my new cell phone’s camera, and I have to admit I am very happy with the photos I managed to capture. Of course, I wished I had brought my SLR, but I have some great memories of this gorgeous afternoon and the amazing sunset afterwards.
While waiting for the sunset to arrive, I pulled out my brand new travel journal and began capturing my experience here, finally back in South America in 2015.
Sunset over the Malecón, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
Finally, after retracing my steps, I ended up at Larcomar, the luxury shopping mall built into the seacliff at the end of Av. Larco in Miraflores. It was interesting to contrast the colors of dusk with the bright lights of the commercial center
I have also been surprised to see that Christmas decorations remain up, even though we are well into January. Throughout Miraflores, you can see Christmas lights all over buildings and throughout the public parks!
Last night, I went to the salsa night at Sargento Pimienta in Barranco, one of my old haunts. While I was disappointed to find that the ambiance has changed and they no longer have live music, it was nice to realize that my dance skills really have improved over the past year!
As you can see, it has been a lovely week of reconnecting with this city that I loved. While it has become clear to me that my life is no longer here, I am making an effort to rekindle the important connections I have with Peru. To this end, I am taking a short trip to Casma tomorrow to visit the ruins of Sechín, planning for a couple of nights out with friends and a little more time at the beach, and visiting Huaycán to see some of the kids I worked with and experience the changes in the developing community for myself.
Next Friday, I leave Peru for Chile, where a whole other adventure awaits me. Already, there are clear signals that things are not going to go as planned, but I am going to do my best to learn from the uncertainty and throw myself into it as best I can! This year, my goal is to be present while moving forward, and the past week is only the beginning of putting that into practice!
(P.S. – I’m starting to get more active on Instagram now that I have a smartphone, so make sure to follow me and keep up with my adventures in real time!)