One last off-kilter day in Lima
I couldn’t find a child. I’ve never had that problem before. Of course, I’d never had this particular mission either, but it was an irregular day.
After MPicchu, I had just enough time in Cuzco to marvel at the mess of the girl in the dorm (who leaves a shoe insole, a chopped up water bottle, and a blizzard of shredded paper in a shared space?) before flying back to Lima. Outside the terminal I stepped in a swirl of taxi drivers, police, questions unanswered and documents unproduced, followed by ejections among exclamations as the officer declared my ride illegal. The next driver had an unmarked car and instructed “If the police ask, just tell them I came to collect you from your hotel.”
Wait, what? Maybe I shouldn’t… Too late.
He didn’t murder me, which is always appreciated, and the whole ride I kept my window down, eyes searching in vain for street kids.
The hostel wouldn’t let me wash my own clothes, and the laundry’s minimum charge was for three kilograms, so I dropped off every article of clothing besides the ones I had on, 2.4 kilos, and prayed she’d return it. She did, and with a clean sweatshirt in hand I went looking for a child.
I’d met and adored a bunch of them on the coast, but those had already gotten some help (details down the road). I was looking for one still in the thick of it. My flip flops flapped for block after block, but apparently street children are not allowed in Miraflores, the tourist/wealthy section of Lima.
A friend in California gave me the sweatshirt to use in Cusco then pass on to one of the street kids who had drawn me to Peru. Maybe in the park. But in Parque Kennedy, since all the world worships the idea of a US president with morals instead of just business acumen, I found the park full of well-off park-goers.
Felines in the flowers, paws on the paths, kitties crapping in the hedgerows. Lima had decided that street children are offensive to moneyed individuals and thrown them out. Instead the park was home to fifty cats. Well-fed, healthy, protected cats.
In the end, I left the sweatshirt in the hostel, since perhaps a backpacker is the next best thing to a child in need? Pale consolation.
I would have liked to stay another day, search out the street kids, perhaps save them with my wealthy western concern, paternalistic messiah, but the people I’ll tell you about soon know how to do it better than my bumbling flicks at charity.
Besides, I had an appointment in the next nation, an unclear event of unknown interest, experience, and danger. And a sweatshirt wouldn’t protect me.