My parents leaving blew the wind out of my sails somewhat. I had been within a bubble of love and familiarity and care for three weeks while they’d been here and I’d grown accustomed to it. They were so very encouraging about the trip – supporting and understanding my need to do this and expressed their positivity for the journey. It wasn’t that – it was the saying goodbye to them, it was the immensity of the journey ahead, and the wide open plain before me.
But there was nowhere else I’d rather be, and like many things on this adventure, it wasn’t logic that was making me feel as I did, it was simply my feelings and emotions, and these things I need to learn to keep in check. One of the many things I need to learn. I was in Lima and I couldn’t quite summon the strength to move: from Lima, from Barranco where I was staying, and even from the cave of my hotel room. The first day I slept and went down the road to Canta Rana, my new favourite restaurant, for some ceviche. It’s such a wonderful, bustling place and I’d taken to writing in my diary alone there, feeling enveloped in invisibility and anonymity which I enjoy more than I’d ever thought I would, being able to watch the other patrons there and reflect on where I was going.
The second day, I contacted Sebastian, the handsome Liman, who I’d met when I first arrived. We went for lunch, we went for a drink, we sang along to One Headlight by the Wallflowers – funny how American pop music seems to transcend cultural boundaries - and we chatted about life and travels. The third day I focussed on the freelance writing work I had to deliver and went down to Canta Rana again and experienced – yes, experienced, because it was that good - Apaltado con chicarron calamari. You can read about all the amazing food places I went to in Lima here. I heard “Australia!” and one of the locals who I’d met the first day I went was there greeting me. The table next to mine had noticed I didn’t look like I was from around there and struck up a conversation. It ended up with them sharing their food with me after I told them I couldn’t get past the ceviche – so octopus from Canta Rana is quite delicious too. That day seemed to be the final break to my self-imposed solitude.
I knew I had to leave where I´d been staying – it was too expensive – so I found a room at the Limawari hostel. It was cheap, I had a room to myself – I couldn’t quite face dorms again for a bit – and it was close to the centre of Barranco. I used that as my base to plan the next part of my Peruvian adventure. Such a good place and over breakfast, I met a Welsh engineer, who, after I told him I was writing, shared about 50 poems he had written. They weren’t bad. And I spent a lot of time with Sebastian – he made me try anticuchos (beef hearts, a Peruvian delicacy, and quite delicious – more on this here) and we went to a street festival in the Barranco Park and drank cheap beers at Juanitos before dancing till late at Cala by the Pacific. I vaguely imagined myself staying, but with my Peruvian visa running out in a month’s time and having not gone to Machu Pichu, I felt my time was running out and I had to keep moving.
My lovely friends from London, Jen and Brayton, were in town, having just come from Cusco after travelling through central and south America for a few months too. And so we caught up - such lovely souls and so very good to see them and share stories from our travels. We wandered around Barranco, of course going to Canta Rana and then Juanitos for beers before heading off to Sofar Sounds Lima. I had come across Sofar a few years ago in London and absolutely fell in love with the concept. Basically, you sign up for a session and if you’re one of the lucky ones to get a spot, you get an address, typically a stranger’s home, and hear some amazing live, acoustic music. Joy on many levels. Jen, Brayton and I headed to the given address in Miraflores with some beers and watched a local artist work some spray paint magic on a blank canvas in the backyard while waiting for the music to begin. We were the only gringos in a family home and it was good to feel a little local. Albeit with not excellente espanol. We huddled together in the living room with the 30 or so other guests and enjoyed the acts that played – a girl, Lara, with a folky, beautiful voice; an experimental group, Mario Maywa, with Peruvian instruments and challenging but interesting sounds; and the boy band Vicuña Toy with four-way harmonies and catchy choruses. It was a great night, ending in dinner and coffees at La Cafeteria. So great to spend time with them.
It was a lovely way to end my time in Lima and, despite thinking I may stay another few days, I got home that night, packed my things, found a bus route to Paracas and by midday the next day, I was on my way.