August 15, 2002  |  Arrived in Lima

Nothing to complain about, quite a lot to like. I feel a sense of relaxation, a relief really, of being in a developing country again, a place that reminds me of China, and all developing countries in their mundane details remind me of China. The streets are dusty but otherwise clean, the traffic fills all available space in the street, the buses with conductors hanging out and yelling about their route, the street vendors selling everything under the sun, even the typist with his tool. I'm meeting nice people everywhere... need fresh questions in Spanish to ask cabbies. Transportation across town plus English lesson for $2, not so bad.

The first full day here has been more than full. I pass up the opportunity to travel with a big group of brits, nice as they are, as the size of the group bring a conspicuousness that's not my style, let alone such slowness. I chose the company of anonymous Limenos instead, who have been some of the nicest people I've come to know. With every cabdriver, every shopgirl, every cop you meet on the street, there has been an exchange of warmth and humanness. We all know what an incredible and precious thing this is. (Especially after Europe.) There is more positive energy here, if one were to take "Celestine Prophesies" more to heart.

The public places are full of young lovers, as in all Latin cities. (Brendan this is for you...) The woman and girls are of a natural beauty, with flowing shiny hair, dark and lively eyes, natural curves. Coastal fog covers Lima all of winter, so unfortunately the sweet young things are under covers as well rather than in revealing summer finery. But the Peruvians are a down-to-earth people, and I sense the young people rarely get so hip as the youth of developed nations to have their natural beauty coverd by artificial glamour. Only once did I see someone absolutely striking. With wavy long hair oiled and pulled back into a pony tail, he had decorated the two strands closest to his face with beads of carved silver. The face they framed is angular and handsome, a high straight nose, with skin that seemed polished--one is reminded of an Indian warrior. I felt the urge... to ask to take a picture of him, a portrait, I had black/white film in my camera which was perfect. But it was a busy street corner with a lot of people waiting for the taxi collectivos, and shyness got to me, though all I wanted was a picture. I regret this now... such an Adonis probably lived for pictures and public attention.

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