First Impressions of Lima

Oh, hello dear readers. I will be your faithful and humble narrator for the next week. We have already spent three days in Peru but as you’ll come to learn, I am not dependable or particularly punctual when it comes to keeping a diary so I should begin with a quick recap of how things went.

Travel:
– Don’t fly out of Dulles
– Especially at 8am
– Even if the ticket is absurdly cheap
– I went from Washington to Houston, where I spent 5 hours watching a two hour movie and praying desperately for someone to text me. It was Mother’s Day, so I got out of brunch, but I had to FaceTime my mom in the airport and she did that thing where she says ‘I love you’ to me with the full knowledge that I’m in public and a little reticent to outwardly reciprocate, but she had that look on her face that only a Jewish mother could conjure that screamed ‘you’re crossing the equator on mother’s day…no, fine…you don’t have to say it back’, so I had to say it and then this couple stared at me like I was a dork as opposed to a good son
– Don’t eat Panda Express before an intercontinental flight
– Some of my fellow CAPmates wound up in Houston taking the same flight to Lima so we coalesced into a group before the flight
– Try to remember to call your bank to clear up any international transactions BEFORE you’re in the skywalk entering the plane because that’s when I remembered and I had a bad time
– Luckily the plane was jammed up with some mechanical failure that necessitated long waiting and eventually changing planes, so I had a half hour in my seat to fix it, which I did
– The flight is easy, the food was terrible, the movies were so-so (though Top Gun appreciates in value when you’re watching it on an actual plane, roiling through actual turbulence)

Arrival:
– Damn, Peru is foggy
– Every airport that I’ve ever been to across 3 continents and several countries looks and feels exactly the same. The only way you can distinguish the country in which you landed is by the language on the invariable and ubiquitous bank advertisements that immediately greet you upon deplaning
– The first foray into any country is usually the drive from the airport to the first destination and it’s always a quiet trip. The car brims with the silent reverence of its passengers, and then someone shatters that silence by announcing ‘hey, they have Burger King!’
– Four of my colleagues accompanied me in the trip from airport to hotel and we all independently took it upon ourselves to note the marketing strategies at play along the billboards
– Our work started immediately as we all observed the overall sense of Peru’s business presence, particularly the presence of our client, Ripley, and her competitor, Saga Fallabella
– I entered my hotel room at 2am, immediately waking up my roommate who had been attempting to sleep off the multitude of pisco sours he had consumed prior to my arrival
– I slept the sleep of the dead for the brief span of 5 hours before waking up for our first full day

DAY 1:

The day began with a quick lecture about the nature of business in Peru from McKinsey’s Lino Abran. Oh wait, there was a free breakfast before that. Listen, free food is going to be mentioned often in this blog, especially when the meal includes an omelette bar. Mr. Abran’s introduction was a great way to start off the business side of things following the meal. He broke down the culture, the industries, and the changes that all come to define Peru in 2013.

Following the introduction, our tour guides from the Austral group gave us some tips and tricks (and a laminated card replete with key Spanish phrases, though instructions for ordering beer were conspicuously absent) and we were on our way…to a brief nap…and then a free lunch that was just as good as breakfast. Then we had a tour!

The tour was yet another superb introduction to Peru, but this time we were on the roads and in the streets causing all manner of ruckus. Here are some brief outlines. Maybe if I can figure out how to upload pictures and videos I will do that but you should probably count on me being real late on that promise. Don’t say I didn’t warn you; it’s up in the first paragraph.

– Peru’s older architecture is the bastard spawn of European and Arab design, as per Spain’s Moorish history (thanks Seinfeld!). That means ornate exteriors and detailing, coupled with gorgeous wood-carved balconies that hang off of the side of buildings, fully enclosed but riveted with slats and carvings to allow in the light
– The city’s bustling streetways and packed urban areas are casually interspersed with ancient ruins because why not accidentally build an apartment complex over an Incan burial ground, right?
– We visited the Peruvian equivalent of the White House and walked through the city a bit
– We visited an old Franciscan church which housed an extremely old library and a charnel house in the basement full of bones and burial plots for the long-dead. So basically the set of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

After the tour a couple of us went to the gym to keep in fighting shape and then we all went out to eat together. Almost everyone ordered steak, which was good, and some more pisco sours, which I will eternally condone.

Cheers for now my lovely readers.

Next Up: Day 2, maybe Day 3, and the free food I continue to find.

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