Upon arrival to my latest destination in Mexico (San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas), I was absolutely thrilled with the amount of convenience and choices before me; not to mention, a comfortable bed and a vast amount of cultures and communities to connect with- but something was missing. I was back in my safety net, and to some extent, the adventure was lacking. Without any culture shock, I felt like my growth was stunted. I had plans to travel westward through Mexico and south through Central America. With only four months left on my backpacking timeline, it was time to seriously reassess myself and my plans.
If I wanted to make it to South America on this trip- now was the time. I was sad to leave my new friends in Mexico, they were some of the most wise and down-to-earth people I had met so far on my travels, but I knew I could confide in them with this dilemma that I had. There was one underlying them from everyone’s advice:
Do whatever it is that you want to do. Don’t worry about what everyone else. You have the support of your best friend who you are about to marry and that’s who matters. Don’t question yourself. Now is your time! Just go!
In retrospect, my journey across Mexico was something I had wanted to do since I was in college. It was a dream that I yearned for, and I had done it. But to be honest, I had generally taken safe moves in the beginning of my trip, starting in Puerto Rico. The truth is- I was frankly too scared to head straight to South America without having backpacked before. However, I ended up here in Mexico with good friends who taught me how to question my intentions and challenged me not to question my decisions as long as I am following my heart.
So the answer was simple: I bought the next available flight to Lima, Peru. Now I just had to run home to switch over my luggage from tropics to winter gear.
Traveling to a new continent, I had no clue what to expect. My arrival to Lima was around midnight, and the city that lit up beneath my place was immense and brilliant. I couldn’t believe that I had arrived! I really was chasing my dreams! I honestly still can’t believe that I did it!
Lima is certainly one of a kind. Most travelers are in and out of the monstrous city of 10 million within just 1-2 days. With my time frame, I felt that I owed Peru’s capital a chance- so I volunteered at a hostel as a bartender and was received as family from the get-go. I was also lucky enough to learn that one of my best friends was staying in Lima for a few weeks, so I was ecstatic to spend time with a familiar face.
That night, the city was bustling with traffic, even at 11pm on a Monday. With various tall buildings and chain restaurants, Lima certainly was the most westernized city in Latin America that I had ever seen. Granted, this was my first time in South America, so perhaps all capital cities in South America have a vibe like this? I found Lima to be a magical city, located on an enormous cliffside overlooking the Pacific Ocean, and its coast is lined with beautiful parks, para-sailers and the beautiful neighborhoods of Miraflores (where I was living) and Barranco, which also happen to be the wealthiest and safest sections of the city.
Despite it’s intimidating size and reputation for being dangerous, I immediately felt tremendously comfortable here. I have found the Peruvian accent very easy to understand, and the Peruvians’ friendliness and warmth can be very easily compared to my beloved people of Mexico. Anyone you meet is happy to meet you or help you in anyway they can. This is just one more testament to the fact that the goodness in each culture always outweighs the bad. In the end, as human beings across the world, we’re all in this together.
I’d like to dedicate this post to Ruth, Katrina, Martin, Fatima and Ann-Margaret. You guys really made a difference in my life and I am so grateful for that. Thank you for believing in me and encouraging me to chase after my dreams. I, too, believe in myself. But without you, it would have taken me much longer to get my butt down to the Southern Hemisphere, so I owe you big time! Sending all my love to you from Cusco. ❤