Saturday, February 7, 2009

Peruvian Adventures: Day 1

COBFTNG, long dormant is being woken up from its slumber for an important update; I just got back from 12 days in Peru. Well, not exactly, I got back last Saturday morning, but have just been too lazy and busy to get around to posting anything about the trip until now. Martha and I traveled, explored, got lost, found our way again and ate a ton of great Peruvian food. We also took a ton of pictures, only half of which are accessible at the moment bc of memory card issues, that I will be sharing with all of you unwaveringly loyal COBFTNG readers. I'm going to try to get a post up for each day of our trip accompanied by whatever pictures I have available.

Sunday 1/18- We fly to Lima, Peru from Newark, NJ.

This is only the second time I’ve traveled outside of the country and the first time that I’ve gone on one that I organized myself. So, Martha and I had been thinking about and planning this little Peruvian excursion for a number of months. We had both been itching to travel and explore foreign parts of the world, particularly South America, and after much debate and research we settled on Peru, for the following reasons:

1) It seemed relatively affordable. The plane tickets to Peru were roughly half of what it would be to Argentina, Chile or Uruguay.

2) It had a number of things that we wanted to see and do (Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, the Andes, Lima, etc…)

3) From what we could tell, it seemed like a relatively tourist friendly/ safe country that wouldn’t place us in any unnecessarily dangerous situations.

I’m nervous for a number of reasons, the primary one being that neither of us really speaks Spanish all that well. I took it throughout high school and for a year in college to fulfill requirements but never put that much effort into really trying to learn it and speak it well. I can say that for most of the classes that I took in college, I wish I had applied myself more, but that’s a lament for another time… I have been trying to brush up on my Spanish, but its apparent that I’m not going to be engaging in any in depth conversations in my second tongue, which is unfortunate. I am fairly confident that through a combination of weak Spanglish and hand gestures/ body language I’ll be able to communicate my most basic thoughts and needs.

We wake up and do our final packing of our new gringo backpacks from EMS courtesy of Martha. We try our best to pack light since we know we aren’t going to want to be lugging everything we own around Peru. We want to be sleek and easily maneuverable yet still have everything we are going to need for both the mountains/ hiking and also spending a few days at the beach at the end of our trip.

The actual journey and flight to Lima is relatively uneventful. I haven’t flown anywhere in over two years and am a little nervous about taking such a long trip to a foreign and unknown country, but everything works out smoothly. We land in Lima, exchange some money and find our driver, a tiny, happy man named Lito, who is proudly holding up a sign bearing our names. As we follow him outside into the warm Lima night, we breath deeply of the fresh, balmy air of South America. We are finally here! After months of planning, saving and waiting, we are actually standing on Peruvian soil, seeing billboards written in Spanish, ready to take on any adventures and experiences that come our way. We hop nervously into the back of his huge, creaky van and head off into the night.

It is on this ride to our hotel that we get our first taste of typical Peruvian driving. They rely not on any sort of formal rules of the road but on a unique shared vision of how to navigate their crazy roadways. Each driver is hell bent on getting to his/her destination in the absolute shortest amount of time possible, regardless of any obstacles that might be in the way. What ends up happening is a cluster fuck at every intersection with every single vehicle beeping and honking until their wrists get sore from pounding the wheel. To say that Peruvian drivers use their horns liberally would be a gross exaggeration. Drivers down there use their horns as frequently as your typical New Yorker uses his or her blackberry, in other words at every possible opportunity and in between every possible opportunity.

Despite this, we get to the hotel Sunday night, not before getting pulled over by one of Lima’s finest Police officers because our man Lito ran through about 5 red lights while rationalizing his actions by honking through each one. Day one complete. Much more ahead.

(Unfortunately we don't have any pictures from this first day, but I've been starting to post pictures from the trip here if you are interested.


Andy McKenzie said...

Damn hella pumped for day 2 :)

Erik said...

glad to see your blog has awoken from its deep slumber...

enjoyed the post. sounds like Peruvian drivers could give Cameroonians a challenge.

your awakening has inspired me to post once again.

one question, wtf is cobftng?