This is what was on the other end of the long flight to Peru:
1. Reality striking that I’m here. I made it to my dream destination. The nerves and fear temporarily taking a backseat for the excitement of it all to take over. I couldn’t get off that plane fast enough.
2. This intense feeling of calm about being here. The fear of stepping outside the airport to an onslaught of taxi drivers no longer being that intimidating after all.
3. The first words of Spanish rolling off my tongue – “¿Dónde está el baño?” Epic first words, I know.
4. Daniel, my taxi driver, escorting me to his cab, surprising me at every turn with his driving prowess both in navigating the web of streets at top speeds and somehow keeping me safe despite the crazy and chaotic Lima traffic.
5. Securing a ride to the airport in the morning at…wait for it… 3:45am (paying for that one today). Gracias Daniel for waking up at that ungodly hour and to get me there.
6. Checking into my first-ever hostel, Pariwana Backpackers, in Miraflores and finding nothing but warm and entirely welcoming faces.
7. Almost finding myself back on the streets of Miraflores when it appeared my bed was double-booked. They did eventually find a bed for me in their largest coed dorm, exactly what I was trying to avoid when making my reservation. In the end, I’m glad I experienced the real hostel life. Didn’t get any sleep but met so many people I otherwise wouldn’t have.
8. Fully understanding why people stay at hostels when they travel. It amazed me how quickly and easy it was to make friends and friends from every corner of the world. Within minutes of arriving, I was talking to people from Rio, England, Scotland, Israel, Sweden, and Montreal.
9. Embarrassingly plopping down next to a group at the bar who I thought were the same faces from my dorm. They weren’t but were, once again, an example of how welcoming and inclusive the people at these hostels can be. I spent the night sipping a local beer, talking about itineraries, travels, and Montreal, all from the hostel’s cozy rooftop bar. I had to pinch myself a few times.
10. Plans coming through. Daniel, my taxi driver, greeting me with a warm smile at 3:45am to get me to the airport for my 6am flight to Arequipa.
This trip is moving beyond my expectations and biggest fears. I read a quote this morning that really captures how I’m feeling two days into this adventure: “It is in the doing that we bust through fear. It is in the action that we realize the fear was always a lie.”