Friday, July 25, 2008

General Reflections and Lima Otra Vez

I remember my first trip abroad in Jr. High, which was a two-week choir tour through Europe with a small group of Mennonites. One of the group, Randy, took several hundred pictures, with only a handful including pictures of people. I realized as I was making my last blog that virtually every picture on here has someone from our group in it... granted, I try to give ideas of the culture, etc. through the backdrops, but the focus is always centered on us (literally too, which I´ve heard from certain Rameric sources is a sign of photographic immaturity). Photos reavel just as much about the photographer as the subjects... so I probably won´t change much about that, but just wanted to share a reflection as this blog is becoming a sort of travel journal for me.

So, anyway, we flew out of the jungly Iquitos and back into Lima where we said our goodbyes to Wes and Jenny, who were in a daze from their whirlwind tour of activities (they took a faster pace than us due to only travelling for 2 weeks) and probably got dazed even further as they intended to spend that night at the Lima airport. We grabbed a taxi into the center city and arrived at Hotel Espana, which turned out to be essentially a museum (and incidentally is how we refer to it now). This greatly appealed to 50% of our group, intrigued but frightened a superstitious 25%, and significantly unnerved 25% (understandably with all the statues staring down from everywhere, even in our bedroom). In any case, it was an excellent find at about $5 per person (although I´m biased since I was part of the 50% portion).

Everyone agreed that the jungly assortment of plants on the rooftop was fun though. I particularly enjoyed the "statue" of a turtle that suddenly got up and walked away halfway through our rooftop breakfast to everyone´s surprise. Made me wonder about the other 100 more humanesque statues in the museum. We also had a nice view of the typical colored assortment of houses on a nearby hill... (note that there are no visible people in this picture, and if there are, they certainly are not centered)

Traffic was crazy in Lima. As we careened through the streets, screeching, missing other cars by inches, and hitting bumpers in front of us as a manner of saving on brake fluid, the driver laughed and told me, ¨Si puede manejar en Lima, puede manejar in cualquier lugar en el mundo.¨ (If you can drive in Lima, you can drive anywhere in the world). Sounds like one of those typical macho things a local resident says with an eccentric pride, but in this case I actually believed him. I was more nervous than when Wes and I arrived in Calcutta and our taxi got in not one, but TWO, small accidents on the way to the train station.

So, we then began walking, until two people in a row warned us to stop walking because we were in an area of a lot of violent crime even during the day. At that point, we jumped in a local bus because we figured that, if and when we were in a wreck, we at least had a lot more momentum power. At first, it was questionable as we stood still in traffic stopped due to protests and exhaust fumes poured in the windows, permeating our pores which were open from sweat rolling off us as we stood in the crowded aisles. But enough people got fed off and got off, giving us seats, the bus took a detour to start moving again, and a typical Peruvian troupe of musicians jumped on the bus and gave us an incredible seranade (so much so that I wasn´t even offended when they repeatedly used each picture I took as an excuse to give JooYeon an extra kiss on the cheek. Hmmm... I hope that´s not a very minor form of prostitution - cheek kisses for photo opps? In any case, JooYeon loved the whole situation, so I felt good about it...)

We got off the bus where we soon ran into a crowd of people with blue noses marching around. I wondered what they could possibly be protesting, but upon asking it turned out that they were just shooting a cell phone commercial. I guess I´ll have to wait to see how blue noses would make one cell phone company preferred above others. Incidentally, we saw the leading lady on a TV show the next day, except that she was a man...

After hearing all three of my companions go on long and passionate monologues about the juiciest, most savory Korean foods that they were missing, I chased down and abrubtly stopped a couple Korean girls on the street (who nearly jumped into the road with surprise at hearing Korean in the middle of Lima) and asked them if by any chance they had found a Korean restaurant in Lima. After recovering their voices, they told me they indeed had and gave me directions which we promptly followed. If you could have only seen the look in their eyes when the food arrived on the table (actually you can because I took a picture of JooYeon two pictures down)...

There must be some sort of addictive chemicals in Korean food because everyone was in extremely high spirits after the meal as we walked along the malecon bordering the Pacific Ocean in Miraflores. Gyu was so high he decided that he wanted to live right there and even began looking longingly at apartments with ¨For Rent¨ signs on their windows.

After walking along the wall for awhile, we came across a neat little mosaic coated park entled, Parque del Amor - a great find for a couple on their honeymoon...

As the three have been learning increasing amounts of Spanish and general flow of travel, I gave them their first test by telling them to get us home from the malecon without any help at all from me. JooYeon took the lead, led us to a busy road, flagged down a few taxis, bargained, and got us a good price for the trip home. For me, watching JooYeon´s growth (much more than acquiring taxis) has made these travels especially worthwhile (although granted, there have been PLENTY of highs for myself also in these past four months of travel since leaving Korea).

I´ve also reflected on the differences between this South America trip so far and my India journey. One is that I met many more travellers and invested energy in those relationships, whereas this time, although I´ve talked with a lot of other travellers briefly, that same energy has been put more into inner group dynamics. Also, where budget was once my top priority, I find myself compromising it constantly now for safety, pleasure, better food, group happiness, wife happiness, etc. Slightly of course. I still wash my clothes by hand, eat as much local cuisine and take local transport whenever possible. Another difference is that, where I was very spiritually turbulent throughout my Asian travels, I´ve melted into a calmer stage where I observe, marginally participate, and very rarely make any doctrinal changes. What is my current ¨doctrine¨ or philosophy, you may ask... well, simply put, it is as follows...

I believe tha...aaaah... whats happening... computer screen flickering... power going down.... talk to you lat.....................................


  1. I may partly be responsible for your photograghy habits as I have verbalized more than once...Who wants to look at a bunch of pictures without people in them. Ha Mom

  2. I'm loving your blog entries Daniel! Thanks for taking time to keep us updated...please don't leave us hanging on this one though :). Love you. HS