The first thing was that long line for money. Endless.
I didn’t have any Peruvian cash, and there were two ATMs in the airport terminal. It was hot, and the two enormous ceiling fans cooled nobody. They spun in slow motion thirty feet above as our queue inched forward even slower. The disgruntled tourists were of varying levels of sweat and tan. There were orange white people, there were black brown people, some sun-kissed, copper, pale and all other things draped in hats, tanks, and slippers of every bright color.
The people were getting upset. Eyes were being rolled.
I was muy cansado.
I remember standing in that line almost two hours and promising myself I’d request bills at home next time. From a bank long before departure next time. And next time I’d be a better man damnit!
Come on now, I thought next, don’t start a journey of self-discovery by bullshitting yourself. You know this isn’t the last high-surcharge cash machine line you’ll see.
I got outside and took immediate offense to the fares taxi drivers quoted me. I mean, the fares were barely out these cabbies’ mouths and I was irate and throwing my hands up. Insult!!
This was all part of my plan to hyper-localize. My hair was slicked back to remove any trace of South Indian curls. My playlist was 100% Latin. My hope was my terrible Spanish only suggested that I was unable to string a sentence together because I was so upset about Diego Rosales trying to charge me the max suggested fare.
My mustache accompanies me to the negotiation. It protects me from the onslaught of arrows reserved for tourists con fannypacks. Not me, commandante. El ‘Stache seems to habla just fine and we find the hermano to drive us forth to Lima.
The cabbie pulls up to my door. It’s very dark and a residential area. It’s uncannily, exactly what I love most in a neighbourhood. Leafy. Airy. Lagoons overlook city lights and some clean and modern, black and white graffiti. Lima is illuminated. I hear some European girls above me singing Cyndi Lauper. They just wanna. They just wanna.
Oops. It’s not my hotel, they say. Wrong place. El Mix-up. I’m walking round Lima at 1AM with my bags, yes I’m stuck outside-a-Barranco-with-the-Lima-blues-again. I see one of those places that does the new type of ice cream that is cut very fine and scraped off onto a cracker. Done. You just made the list.
I find my room, it is at the top of a black spiral staircase about four floors tall. I’m greeted by a delightful host, I am forgetting his name but we had a semi-long chat despite the hour, my Spanish and me being completely zapped. I was chomping at the bit to use the Spanish I had studied on a clearly chill native Spanish speaker, but I soon discovered Amigo was from Brazil, and spoke Portuguese. He was letting the stories come forth more boldly now after each sip of beer, language be damned as long as we could find a glimmer of understanding.
It was one of those moments when I wished my energy matched my excitement. However, it didn’t – and I had decided to be strategic about that and trust the energy.
I hung up my jacket, plugged in my charger. Somebody had left a black Cowboy hat in my closet. I hit the bed hard. I was so exhausted my eyes closed themselves shut as I debated napping and going out in an hour.
I woke, hit the lights and I set my alarm for 20 minutes before the Complimentary Breakfast ends the next morning.
I fall asleep wondering how many others did the same thing and if that’s the worst time to go to breakfast.