He decidido: tres años después de la primera vez, todavía me encanta Peru.
(Translation) I have decided: three years after the first time, I still love Peru.
I want to write about everything, but there is so much to say. It feels like I have been here much longer than 4 days. Why is that always the case when traveling abroad?
I want to say one thing first, and that is this. These past four days have reminded me that life is indeed kind. Not always, but not never, either. In fact, sometimes life is kinder than we deserve. That is how these past few days have felt.
My first few minutes in Peru didn’t go so well – I reached the baggage area, spotted my backpack on the carousel, and navigated my way through the crowd (like the seasoned traveler I imagine myself to be) to retrieve my bag in one swift movement… except the drawstring cord at the top of my backpack had ripped and one end of it was stuck between the moving plates of the baggage carousel. I yanked, I pulled, but I couldn’t dislodge it, and so I chased it frantically around the carousel, probably elbowing old ladies in the face, trying to yank it free, but to no avail. When I am frantic, my spanish is worse than usual, and I yelled in panicked spanglish at a couple of airport personnel, trying to ask them if they had scissors, a knife, anything. When it became clear from their blank stares and dismissive gestures that no one was interested in helping me troubleshoot my situation, I chased after my bag, gave it one final tug, and finally, to my relief, yanked it free.
A few other mishaps followed – a misunderstanding about my customs declaration and the search for my prearranged taxi driver in a sea of people holding name signs. Finally, I spotted my name. I called out to the man holding the sign, and he gestured for me to walk around the gate between us and meet him at the edge of the crowd. I searched for him once again, and finally found him by recognizing his forest green sweater. His face broke into a wide smile, he leaned forward to offer a traditional Peruvian kiss on the cheek, and introduced himself as Juan Carlos. He was several inches shorter than me, but he relieved me of my heavy backpack and gestured for me to follow him to the car. Just moments ago, I had been frantic, but Juan Carlos’ warm greeting reminded me that life is kind, Peruvians are kind, and everything is going to be fine.
I have more to say about the city, the food, my classmates, the family I am staying with, the weather, the lovely parks overlooking the sea, and the traffic that continues to terrify me. But for now I will just share this one last thing: today, I ate a churro FILLED WITH CARAMEL, and it made me so happy.