Subjectivity of Travel Experiences


“Chicas in Brasil? Ohh, muy beautiful. Nice titties, nice ass.”

Marina and I nod along awkwardly, as the disheveled man who sat down beside us at Kennedy park in Lima, continues to give us travel advice on South America, while people walking by look at the unnatural interaction with apprehension.

“Muy beautiful. But be careful!”

“Why is that?” I respond.

“Nice titties… nice ass… A little cerveza (beer)… a little salsa (dance) – muy bien! Then you take chica home do a little fucky-fucky, and wow…”

“Big dick!” he yells, as he illustrates by the spread of his hands the exact proportions of said member.

“Chica is a gay! Brasilia – so many gay!”

“Ahh, I think I should be alright – I have a girl with me” I quickly rebut while nervously hugging Marina in an effort to end the offensive travel advice spewing out of our new Peruvian friend’s mouth.

Thus, tonight we learned that transvestites are extremely common in Brazil.

According, to this interesting character, anyways.

But such is the advice one commonly gets from others while travelling. That is, very subjective and biased.

For example, before coming to Lima, most of the fellow travelers we met in Ecuador spoke very poorly of Lima. Many would recoil in horror when we announced we’d be staying in the city for 4 nights.

“Oh no! One night is all you will want to spend there” was the typical response.

Many people warned us about how dirty, unsafe, and generally unsavoury this city was.

Only one woman, Ruth, a teacher from Colorado, spoke favorably of Lima; she had apparently extended her stay here during recent travels.

Alas, Ruth was in the minority.

As you might imagine, we arrived in Lima with severe reservations as to what we would encounter. How much worse could it be than Quito?

If you read yesterday, you know that we are already quite enamored with Lima.

We have explored both the Miraflores and Barranco districts of Lima – sure, the 2 places where new money and old money rule, respectively – but both of these places have been immaculately clean. We saw numerous people cleaning the sidewalks, sweeping any garbage, etc.

In terms of general safety, police presence is abundant throughout the Miraflores area. Today, on a weekday, the population at the seaside mall comprised of approximately 2 police officers for every shopper. We both feel generally much safer here than in Quito, Ecuador.

And such is the subjective experience of traveling, and thus the advice one receives.

Because of this subjectivity, I remain doubtful of the notion that all the beautiful chicas in Brazil actually have “big dicks”, as our sketchy new friend suggested.

Lima or southern California with a rocky beach?


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Crying over a latte in Lima


“I think I’m going to cry”

And then I did, just a bit.

The single tear was shed while sipping a vanilla latte and having the first satisfying breakfast in 3 weeks, sitting at the outdoor patio at Starbucks in the Miraflores district of Lima, Peru.

Only 30 minutes ago, at about 8 am, we were walking around in search of different accommodations for the next couple of nights after a dodgy first night in Lima. As we walked in search of a decent looking hostel, my trained eyes spotted the familiar green Starbucks logo from a few hundred meters away.

“There’s a Starbucks!” I exclaimed excitedly, while pointing in the general direction.

Marina looked at me, and I could tell she completely shared in my excitement in finding something familiar after not seeing anything of the sort for 3 weeks in Ecuador.

Like 2 children that just found out they are going to Disneyland, in the middle of the sidewalk, in front of some of the bypassing locals, we high fived and hugged each other.

A bypassing Peruvian man who witnessed our ridiculousness made a face that was only too clear to read:

“Damn these idiot Gringos and their obsessive brand loyalty…”

While it is almost embarrassing to admit it, it is true: we are absolute slaves to a familiar North American brand.

Immediately upon entering that familiar espresso-scented space, whatever home-sickness I was experiencing yesterday in Quito, completely vanished.

To make matters even better, this Starbucks had free WiFi.

I was in heaven.

Marina had to pry me away from the comfortable and familiar outdoor patio so that I saw Lima beyond the doors of Starbucks.

Apparently, as much as I had wished I would be capable of living an isolated existence in a hut on some beach, I am not.

While I hate to admit it, I’ve grown accustomed to some of the comforts and regularities of North American life.

Having said that, Lima is the first place we have stayed thus far in which I could see myself living.

It is absolutely beautiful here.

Essentially, the Miraflores district of Lima feels just like southern California (specifically La Jolla) – an area of the US Marina and I adore.

Both have a colony of surfers riding the ocean waves.

Both have a fantastic selection of restaurants (in fact, Lima appears to be superior in that respect).

Both have a wonderful waterfront, which is frequented by families, couples, and exercisers.

Both have great shopping (this is more of an issue for Marina).

Both have a Gold’s Gym (at least the original Gold’s gym exists on Venice Beach, California)

The major difference – the cost of living.

In Lima, a brand new waterfront condo, with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, a block away from the super-posh sea side mall, goes for approximately $90,000 USD.

In La Jolla, I would guess a similar property would be about $1.5 million, if not more.

The lifestyle we desperately want for less than 1/15th the cost.



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