After more than five months’ travelling, I still couldn’t get used to it. Leaving places. And, most of all, people. How you feel in a given place has much to do with the person keeping you company. But traveling as I was doing it, each time I started to feel comfortable, I had to move on to the next place. Luckily, there are always some new great encounters around the corner, so that the journey remains exciting and soothes the pain of the previous departure. So it was with Lima and Edu. The first Limeño I had met upon arrival was a bit of a weirdo, so it was a relief to see this was rather the exception than the rule.
As I arrived in the morning and Edu was working, I had some time to kill in the city centre. And who says “city centre” says “Plaza de Armas”. As I came to realize, for me, “Plaza de Armas” also means “surprising encounters”. As I was looking around and taking some pictures, I heard music playing and realized it was the Changing of the Guard in front of the Presidential Palace. So I went in that direction, hoping to get a glance of it. Not that I am very fond of anything military or am sensible to the prestige of the uniform… I think it has more to do with the fact that they succeed in creating order into human movement. I am rather messy so order and structure fascinate me. I see it as something unachievable for me. But I didn’t get the chance to give way to this little weakness of mine. As I was about to reach the gate, a man overtook me and asked me what time it was. As it took me some time to find my phone without answering, I realized he became impatient and was about to leave. And I should probably have let him go. Obviously, asking for the time was merely an excuse to start a conversation. I have to admit that, at the very beginning, he seemed like an interesting conversation partner. But it very soon appeared that he liked nothing better than listening to himself. You know. The kind of person that loves talking to others so that they would realize how smart they really are. But didn’t I just mention that I had some time to kill? So I listened patiently. Until my patience got worn out. Part of what he said was interesting, as it was related to many of the things I had read and experienced already in South America, especially the exploiting of the soil by the Western world. I guess I just got bored because of the way he was saying it. He knew certain things because he was a geologist. And he knew other things because he had lived in Europe. And, basically, it came down to the fact that we, Westerners, were racists and pretty much ignorant of the effect of our behaviour on other continents. I’m not saying that this is total bullshit. But after one hour of listening to what was one long complaint, without even having a chance to express an opinion, I just pretended I had to meet someone and fled. Although I still had about two or three hours to kill. I do agree that everyone needs to do some introspection and recognize his errors but that guy’s babblings I experienced as mere prejudice, tarring everyone with the same brush. And to whomever it is directed, that is just insufferable.
Edu, on the other hand, was delightful company for a chat, a beer… and about the best guide in town to discover all the culinary treasures of the country. The first person with whom I shared a meal, however, was… my boss. He had planned a business trip to Latin America a few months since and we had agreed to meet in Lima at the end of October. After so many months being completely disconnected from work, it felt a bit weird to meet him right there.
We were supposed to meet for lunch on Thursday but I got a call from him in the late afternoon on Wednesday to know if we could make it a dinner on that same day.
– “They managed to arrange a lunch-event with the President, you see. Of course, you have priority but if you can reschedule, it would be great to have the opportunity to do both.”
Boy that man knows how to flatter my ego. But could I decently say I couldn’t adapt my plans when I had been on holiday for the last 5 months? Could I?
If it sounded funny to me, who am accustomed to my boss meeting with the top of the crop, imagine how I must have sounded to my host.
– “We can meet for a drink but I’ll have to make it quick. I had to meet with my boss tomorrow but we rescheduled because he’s meeting the President instead.”
I heard a laugh. Being a couchsurfer, on a scale of 10, this statement puts your credibility at approximately 1.5.