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Bad timing, chats with drivers, and being Venezuelan
Journal Entry #1: Dec 12th 2022, Lima Peru
Hola and welcome to Where on Planet Earth! In case you got here by accident and are not yet a subscriber, here you go:
We have been traveling full time since July and I have been posting short travel stories and recommendations since then. However, I have been thinking that posting something informal, raw, frequent, and real-time might be fun. We are experiencing so much every single day! I try to share and keep up with IG stories, but there is a limit to how much you can share on a little vertical image. Hence, I will start sending you journal entries every Monday. Don’t expect it to be very pretty, but it will be real and unfiltered. The every other week posts will remain as well. Feedback is always welcomed!
A quick summary of our year long trip so far:
I (Carla) started in June visiting my parents in Thailand, and then traveling with them to Singapore and Malaysia. Yes, my parents live in Thailand! And they love it there.
Then I met up with Alan and we traveled for short stints to Western Europe to visit friends and do other very specific things, such as getting a tattoo and attending a travel writing workshop. We went to Spain, Germany, Sweden, and France.
Then the “real” adventure began with 2 months in Greece followed by Turkey, Georgia, and Armenia. Once it started to get cold we jumped the pond to South America, and have traveled through Ecuador and Peru so far, with plans for Brazil and Colombia next
Ok, back to the present, we are in Lima! We arrived here last Thursday, the day following the Presidents attempt to dissolve congress, declare a state of emergency, and impose a new government… only for him to end up arrested because, well, everything he tried to do was unconstitutional and dictatorial.
For a second we hesitated, should we even going to Lima? We have been in unstable political situations in our own countries and would rather avoid them in foreign countries, when possible. But, I realize that the more we travel the more we will experience some not-ideal situations, like when we visited Santiago de Chile while massive protests happened outside our Airbnb… tear gas entered through our balcony, the sound of smashed windows ringed outside.
Anyways, we were really excited about Lima and didn’t want to skip it… so we asked around and it seemed like things were “back to normal”. At least the state of emergency never went into effect, which would have made sightseeing an impossibility.
In addition, hundreds of pelicans have been found dead around Lima’s coast recently, due to the highly contagious H5N1 avian flu virus. In summary, timing couldn’t have been more retched. But, on the plus side, I find that being in a country when something major is happening - something that everyone is talking about - is incredible interesting, like when we were in Colombia for a very contested presidential election. The excitement is palpable and the vibe is electric, there is only one topic in peoples minds and at the tip of their tongues, and they are ready to spit it to whoever will listen. And we will listen, always. Being an outsider in such situations is like watching something unfold from high in the sky, you have a panoramic view, you can take in the big picture and understand things that others too engrossed in the details - too passionate about it - sometimes miss.
We considered other options for a hot second, mostly going to La Paz in Bolivia instead, as we were right across the border in Lake Titicaca, and then we got on the plane.
Landing in Lima - as it always is when arriving on a big city after spending a long time in small towns - was a shock to the senses. There was so much commotion at the airport; a big group of passengers were screaming and filming an airport crew (I am still wondering about what might have happened), hundreds of people screamed “TAXI” in your face, the air felt heavy.
Eventually, we were in our car on our way to our Airbnb. Why is it that some of the most interesting conversations - and also some of the most intense fighting - happen with taxi drivers? Or is it just me? Once I fought - literally to tears - with an Uber driver in San Francisco because he liked Bolsanaro (the EX president of Brazil). Yes, I might have been a bit tipsy, but still, I think it was absolutely warranted, that guy is a monster.
On our way we chatted with the driver about the political situation. Some people are protesting the new president (the former vice president before the president tried a self coup and failed miserably) - feelings like “she is a traitor to the president” or “she is still a lefty!” or simply “we want new elections” - but overall things seem calm in the city. “Life goes on”, our driver says, “Asi son las cosas en Peru”.
But, what sticks most with me about this convo is what he says about crime after we ask if he had his windows tinted because of crime. “Yes, it has become worse because of the Venezuelans”. My heart sinks. There are days - most days - when I am incredible proud to be Venezuelan, I will scream it to the world. I have an Italian and an American passport but you will never hear me say I am either as a starter. And then there are days - like when listening to the driver - that I feel ashamed. He continued, “Before you could get mugged, but never killed. Now they don’t care”, and so much comes back to me about how I felt living back home, always aware that you could be shot for a pair of sneakers.
Sorry this journal entry has taken such a dark turn. But I guess that is what journals are for, to share how you feel. Usually with oneself, but now with you.
More on the wonderful place Lima has been next week.
Gracias por leerme / Thanks for reading ❤️