Seeing Peru through Tourist’s Eyes
Shortly after classes ended in the beginning of July, my parents flew down to Lima to visit me and my husband for two weeks. Prior to their arrival in this great city, we frantically rushed around town trying to get everything in order—food and snacks, domestic flights, hotel reservations, activities, and more. But while we were organizing everything so that my parents could have a smooth vacation, we could no longer see Lima as our home; rather, we had to see the city through the eyes of a tourist. This change in perception, although small, drastically changed our view of the city so that we could appreciate it to its fullest.
Things that had become so common to us—fresh fruit, terrible traffic, grey clouds, and beautiful plants—were brought to the forefront of our attention once my parents arrived. While we have all of these things at home in Illinois, they are not so prevalent as they are in Lima. And since Lima was our home, we didn’t consider these things very much.
However, my parents would comment on them endlessly. While walking on the street, we were stopped several times by my mother, as she wanted to take a picture of an interesting flower. Other times, they would look up at the sky with a dismal frown and begrudgingly ask when the sun would reveal itself. When we told them never, their expressions fell even more, until we walked by a fresh fruit stand selling all kinds of tropical fruits—avocados, passionfruit, mandarins, etc. Living in Central Illinois is not conducive to tasty tropical fruit.
These sorts of comments, although small and insignificant, allowed my husband and I to appreciate the city in a different light. We found a new appreciation for some of the things that we struggled with the most—the supermarket (they sell wonderful produce), traffic (primetime for people watching), and the informal attitude of Peruvian culture (we could buy medicine and other necessities with ease).
And although my husband and I like to avoid the super-touristy parts of Lima, allowing ourselves to be tourists along with my parents was a wonderful experience. We were able to see the city as a source of wonder and mystery, rather than one of blunder and misery. The magic of the city was presented before us once again.
Many times throughout my stay in Peru, I grew increasingly frustrated with certain elements of Peruvian culture, particularly the informal aspects, as no one ever seemed to know anything. However, it was this very element of informality that allowed us to appreciate Lima and Peru as a whole on a completely different level. Yes, Lima has its problems and its quirks, but those can be found in any culture. They are the same elements that we will miss once we return to the States.
Informality, although sometimes very bothersome, allowed my family to have a wonderful trip. It allowed them to stay in a fancy hotel for a cheap price, it allowed us to purchase a full-size bakery cake last-minute for my dad’s birthday, it allowed us to move throughout the city with ease, it allowed us to try wonderful foods, and more.
Sometimes the very things that bother us the most can be the things that are the most beneficial to us. And if we only remain open and humble, we can utilize these characteristics to our advantage.