This will be an unusual blog post. I haven’t done much since my last update, what with an illness and writing stopover in Lima for eleven days after Nae left, so the section about my journey will be brief and at the bottom of this post.
However, for the last couple of months I have been working on a special project, for a VERY special person, and now… DRUMROLL… is the time for the big reveal!
Jo, I hope you have a fantastic 21st birthday. I have been thinking of you all the way along my journey, and I hope this present shares a little something extra with you on your landmark day. So, from one sister to the other, I wish you a very HAPPY 21st BIRTHDAY!
P.S. NOW you are allowed to open your envelope.
I is a Serious Writer
My week and a half in Lima, after Nae’s departure, was characterised by a fairly rapid progression into hermithood.
The initial few days were spent catching up on sleep, taking my meds regularly and watching my first television in months (and English-speaking at that), a vital activity for illness recovery, of course.
To celebrate having an apartment, I duly went about a grown-up activity appropriate to such a treat: a trip to a local, and absolutely ginormous, supermarket. It would have probably been as mundane a task as it sounds had I just arrived from the UK, but four months down the line there was so much on offer I could hardly control myself. I also organised for my beloved camera to be repaired, then settled into the apartment for several days of writing, including a stretch when I didn’t even step out of the front door for sixty hours. I was so devoid of human contact that I did indeed start talking aloud to myself, as well as to characters I was writing about, in particular, a five metre long, olive green anaconda, who proved to be excellent company.
An afternoon’s break from being a recluse was provided in the form of two uni climbing friends, Freddie and Sarah, who touched down in Lima for a few days as the start of a holiday in Peru. We wandered around the Museo de la Nación together, then went out for a meal. I excitedly chatted away, almost delirious from SIX HOURS of human interaction.
I soon got itchy feet, however, and once my camera was fixed, I booked and boarded a bus out of Lima. Seventeen hours later, including several hours towards the end which were spent driving through desert, I arrived in the northern town of Piura. A benefit of travelling alone being the lack of thinking aloud and therefore more spontaneous decisions, I found out my desired destination was, in fact, a further three hours away (the unfortunate habit of naming the capital of regions the same as the region itself means this is liable to happen with relative regularity in Peru). I was told it had a beach, which is all I needed to know, so I leapt onto another bus, this time much more local and therefore delightfully warm, and we wound out way through craggier sand formations to the coast, and the small, seaside town of Los Organos.
Crouching Crabs, Bobbing Birdlife
Having stumbled across the town during low season, I shared the entire complex of thatched bungalows where I stayed with only one couple. The weather for the next couple of days was beautifully sunny, the sea a bright blue, and the large pelicans bobbing about in the water between the sailing boats seemed to be having a great time of it.
I lounged about in the sun and walked up and down the beach. On one occasion, as I seem to frequently manage, I somehow found myself in the middle of a festival. The beach was teeming with families and covered moto-taxis, various gazebos were set up, and many pints of Peruvian beer were being drunk. I never did work out what it was in aid of, unless perhaps the love of returning to work on Monday is so keen among the locals that celebrations each Sunday are particularly exuberant.
For the first time on this journey, being vegetarian became an issue, and I was driven out of the town fairly quickly by the lack of food: low season combined with a diet almost entirely dependent on fish, as you would expect in a seaside town, meant that portions of chips, or the one place serving a vegetable risotto, were the best I could find. However, an endearing local colloquialism made up for any hard feelings felt. I was somewhat surprised to be addressed as ‘mi reina’ (my queen) at breakfast one morning. However, when it occurred multiple times from different people, I decided that I probably wasn’t as instantly enchanting as I thought.
Moving On Not So Swiftly
When my poor veggie stomach couldn’t take the lack of food anymore, I set off for the Ecuadorian border. The fairly straightforward bus journey across the border turned into a taxi/bus/double-cabin/bus/taxi combo, with a bit of waiting around in queues in between but nothing dreadful, and a mere fifteen hours later, I was curling up in a hotel bed in the town of Loja.
And so here I am, Peru behind me, the excitement of Ecuador waiting, and now the proud sister of a twenty-one year old!