You know you enter sketchy travel land when the airport pick-up you arrange via your hostel insists on providing you a password and forewarns you of con artists keen on impersonating chauffeurs to pick up unsuspecting voyagers and take them anywhere but their hotel.
Our introduction to Lima, then, feels like the stories of danger and theft we hear from fellow travelers, Graham and I hyper vigilant, password triple checked with taxi man, packs held between our knees as we shimmy and shake into Miraflores, de facto tourist destination.
Lima, it turns out, is the perfect transition city between our South American travels and upcoming reintroduction to the commercialized hustle and bustle of North America. This capital city brims with activity, well-dressed men and women cell-phone yapping and stiletto prancing while they duck in and out of avenues of discount bins, ritzy storefronts, smoothie shops, lose-yourself-for-days bookstores, and more, colonial buildings and tile-roofed homes rhythmically juxtaposed with sky-scrapers, a sort of 80s-ish Miami vibe abounds.
We make it to our hostel safe and sound, advice heeded, and lucky for us, Hostel Kusilli outlines our new playground, assuring us that so long as stay on the right side of the river, we’ll be more than safe here in Miraflores and downtown, and it’s off we go, the scent of ocean air luring us down a main corridor to a kick-ass tennis club to, finally, la playa.