Arrival and First Impressions
Last night was a whirlwind: after a 7 hour flight from Atlanta to Lima, Lauren, Briana and I gathered our bags and took a taxi from the airport to our hostel in Miraflores. The route took us onto a major road bounded by the Pacific Ocean on one side and rocky outcroppings on the other – gorgeous despite our exhaustion. We arrived at the hostel around 1AM and fell asleep soon after.
Today was a day of exploration. We attempted to contact ASPAT in the morning and afternoon to coordinate our plans but were unsuccessful. At first it was frustrating, but we chalked the radio silence up to their busyness and decided to take the opportunity to investigate Miraflores. It’s a relatively touristy neighborhood of Lima, abound with shopping centers and a set of ruins in the north. We received a map from the hostel and walked around for several hours in the afternoon and evening. Among the highlights of the day: many, many cats in Park Kennedy, a WiFi-enabled green space close to our hostel.
Colorful houses and cars on the side of the road.
Multiple grand churches and squares, such as this one.
At first, I was surprised by the level of development and affluence we were surrounded by in Miraflores and San Isidro, one neighborhood to the north of where we were staying. I guess my previous impressions of Peru stemmed solely from my knowledge of ASPAT, who needs our financial assistance, and what I had heard about internationally-renowned cultural sites such as Macchu Picchu. Basically, I had never realized that Lima was just as vibrant a city as Chicago, and it was humbling to understand that I still held such close-minded assumptions about South America. Peru is not, to put it bluntly, a collection of cultural sites and the impoverished, even though sightseeing and humanitarian missions seem to be the two main avenues of interaction college students have with much of South America. Lima is a bustling and vibrant metropolis, with its own gorgeous parks, churches and boutiques jostling for room with McDonald’s and Starbucks. I think today set a good context for our future work with ASPAT, by plugging us into their world and forcing us to leave behind our own. So even though I was disappointed this morning that we didn’t hit the ground running, now I am grateful for the day to relax, consolidate and explore.
Melecio emailed us in the evening and said that he and the entire ASPAT team had been in various meetings throughout the day and would be in meetings tomorrow morning as well. Afterwards, he’ll be picking us up from the hostel tomorrow afternoon at 1PM and escorting us to ASPAT’s offices in Callao! Stay tuned.