Subjectivity of Travel Experiences

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“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?

Peter

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Missing Home

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We’ve been gone for just over 3 weeks. We’re set to fly out to Lima, Peru later this evening.

And I’m experiencing my first longing for home.

As all those close to us know, we are currently void of anything we would call “home”. Our home for the past 6 years has been Kingston, Ontario. It was a modest 1 bedroom apartment, filled with old furniture donated from my parents, an old, bulky television with no cable, and a few shelves overflowing with books that we obsessively kept buying.

Despite these limitations, it was our home, and I loved coming back to it after being away – particularly when away on conference. That is when I missed our tiny apartment most.

We certainly had our share of negative experiences in that space – I can easily recall the thousands of hours we spent hunched over our respective laptops while sitting across from one another at the dining room table (on which we never dined) working on yet another pressing and all-important project.

Both of us experienced too many sleepless nights to count. The stress of graduate school can be overwhelming – my cornucopia of meds for sleep disturbance and anxiety can attest to that.

But we also had many good times in our little apartment.

Sunday mornings, cuddling up on our ripping-at-the-seams leather couch while watching mindless reality television I remember fondly (despite not having cable, we got MuchMusic and all the terrible shows it hosts). I also recall Saturday mornings, when Marina always stayed in bed longer than I could handle. On these occasions, if the weather was good, I would make some tea, grab a book and spend the morning on our balcony half reading half observing the drama that unfolded between the numerous pigeons across the parking lot behind our building.

But now our home is just a memory.

We sold off most of our belongings, with the exception of books, my guitars, and our laptops. Then we moved out of Kingston at the end of April, when our lease was up.

Here I am, sitting at the Traveller’s Inn in Quito, Ecuador, typing these words while Marina watches some Robin Williams movie in Spanish. Despite being on our way to yet another exciting country, all I want in this moment is to be back in our tiny, poorly furnished apartment watching Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab.

More than the physical space of our apartment, I miss the few but great friends we left behind.

When we first left, I swore we would not be coming back to Kingston, and had strong doubts about settling down in Ontario, or Canada for that matter. Now, only 3 weeks into our adventure, and already I am starting to see things differently.

I hope all our friends and family back home are doing well.

We miss you all.

Peter

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