A part of me wondered whether it was worth it or not to share a few extra pictures of the street art of Barranco in a new blog post. I don’t have too much of a story, or itinerary, or advice to go along with these few pictures, but I wanted to share them anyway.
Why you ask?
The street art of Barranco is fantastical, but, to me, the art represents something more. It represents a really important aspect of travel for me-and something that I think is essential to do on every single trip that you take. And if you don’t believe me, be assured in the knowledge that Anthony Bourdain agrees with me.
A few weeks ago, Anthony Bourdain died. I was in Peru.
His death hit me like a punch in the stomach. I admired him for his love and passion for travel and food, people, and different cultures. He taught people not to be afraid of others around the world, but rather, to respect each other and hear each other’s stories.
I began to review all of the episodes I’ve ever watched of Bourdain’s shows, and poured over old interviews. It was like watching an old friend through the screen.
In one of the interviews that I watched, Bourdain was explaining his favorite way to travel. He said,
“If you have an itinerary, nothing magical or life changing is going to happen to you…having that kind of a schedule is punishing. If I have a good base of operations, it is somewhere where I can wander from, in a neighborhood that I like…I want to find a hotel in the center, or in a neighborhood that has charm and character the kind of place I can walk and find a cafe and sit down and feel the place. You are best served in exploring a finite area. [Having an itinerary or seeing too many places in a short amount of time] keeps you in a bubble and prevents magic from happening to you. Don’t be afraid to just sit.”
Tears filled my eyes as I listened to him talk.
You see, the day before, I had spent a wonderful morning in Lima’s Barranco neighborhood. I didn’t really “do” that much as far as a “checklist” or “must-see list” for the area. I ate a lot of food, drank a lot of coffee, and did a lot of walking.
I found an area with charm and character. I walked around and admired the beautiful artwork that the people of Peru chose to decorate their city with.
I waved and took pictures of children heading off to school. I spoke Spanish to a woman at a local cafe and smiled when she understood me.
I sat in a coffee shop for an hour, enjoying my coffee and watching people walk by, on their way to work, or school, or the supermarket, or where ever they were headed.
And, somehow, that morning was one of the most magical of the trip.
Often when I travel, the most beautiful moments I experience are unplanned, unscheduled, when I wander around a neighborhood, or sit in a small cafe. And while I’m sitting or wandering, I’m soaking in everything around me, breathing different air, seeing new people-not saying anything of consequence, but just being. Just observing, enjoying the feeling of being in an unknown, unfamiliar place.
Next time you visit a new city. Try taking Bourdain’s advice. Take some time to admire the little things. And just sit. You’ll be surprised by how much you discover.