Family Reunion. Reunión de la Familia.
In Peru, I spent most of the first week in Lima. My father lives in a section of the city only a few blocks from the ocean called Miraflores. This is a more “beautiful” and “safe” part of the city where lots of young people and backpackers spend their time. There is a heavy marine layer that covers the city of Lima in a gray, cool dampness in the winter. I was lucky enough to have a few days of sunlight while I was in the city. At night a thin mist covers everything, bringing on the kind of chill that gets into your bones. The weather, however, was a pleasant change of pace from the hot, humid days in NYC. I arrived at about midnight in Lima and by the time I got back to my father’s house it was near 2am. At that point my father and I sat down for a glass of wine which turned into a bottle of wine as we talked till almost 7am. It is difficult for me to remember the details of that first conversation, which now feels like years ago, but it was one where I feel like we were introducing ourselves and our world-views to each other for the first time. Since both of us really only knew each other through pictures (and for him memories of a little girl) we had a lot to catch up on. More than that, I felt (and still continue to feel) that I have to help my father see me grow-up. I needed to make the picture of the 6 year-old girl turn into one of a 24 year-old woman, no easy task for one night or even a couple of weeks.
As luck would have it, I lost my father one morning while he was out driving. While waiting for him outside of his building I managed to befriend some of his young skater-artist neighbors. During the week I was in the city I spent some time with them, the most memorable of which was a few concerts downtown that both happened to be ‘underground’ (as the kids named it). I was a bit intimidated at ringing the buzzer to my dad’s apartment at 4 or 6am when I came home–adolescence all over again! The shows were great, and it was a nice change of pace to dance and drink, experiencing Lima with people who have grown up there and are a part of a rich cultural scene that is developing in the city.
One of my favorite things from my time in Lima was this installation piece I saw at the Lima Art Museum. It was a model city that was a blank canvass for people write their visions of Lima onto. It is called ‘MALI in Situ: http://www.mali.pe/expo-actual-3.shtml
Paint, wheat-pastings, and stencils covered the city model with words and images of love, criticism, and art. This would be an amazing project to bring to any city in the US. I think the best part was seeing 3 year-olds paint designs on the walls next to groups of 20-somethings who were plastering nearby walls with posters about socialist organizing. How democratic, I thought. Who has the right to this city?
Urban visions aside, I did manage to get out of the city and into some of the amazing sites of Peru. I spent some time in Paracus, south of Lima, out on the ocean watching birds, penguins, and sea lions bask in the ocean sunlight. Afterwards I was serenaded by an old Peruvian man with skin that looked as tough as leather, singing old latin songs on his classical guitar that had a chunk taken out of the side of it. My father even decided to join in on the festive singing. It was a beautiful day. Later on that week my father and I took off on the long journey from Lima to Machu Picchu. The 20 hour bus ride to Cuzco went by with surprising ease, although I thought I was going to lose my stomach on some of the hairpin curves and turns that the bus took. At 7am when the morning light was shining brightly through the bus windows, I saw the magical green mountains that make up the first part of the journey out of the high desert of Peru’s coast into the heights of Cuzco and the beginnings of the Sierras of the Andes. It was quite a site. We somehow managed to get on a train to Aguas Caliente, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, and then took a few days to explore the ancient ruins and take it the beautiful warm weather of the mountains. We were lucky to have plenty of sunlight for the days we were up there. It is a truly stunning sight. The forces of human innovation and the natural world come together in an elegant exchange up in the mountains. It was simply dazzling.
After coming back down from Machu Picchu we spent the day at a local village festival in Moray and explored, what I found to be fascinating, the Salinas de Maras (salt pans). All of this was in the middle of I do not know where between Machu Picchu and Cuzco. The photographs might offer more succinct commentary than I can provide here (since this email is already getting a tad bit long). Photo link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/51561292@N07/
Once back in Lima we had about 12 hours till we took off (at 2am) for Santiago de Chile. I spent the last few hours of my time in Lima wandering Miraflores with some Limeños that I befriended, than headed to the airport for the 3 1/2 hour flight to Chile. I think I will end this email with that, since I could probably write a book about meeting my Chilean family. Here is a link to some of the photos I have uploaded so far of Lima and Peru. Hopefully my ramblings did not bore you all. I’ll be on my way to Brazil tomorrow and will probably check in again at some point over there. I hope this finds everyone well and enjoying the beginnings of your August.