We landed at 1:45 am, got to the gate by 2 am, were waved into the priority line (white hair?) and through immigration by 2:15 am. Our luggage showed up at 3 am. Fortunately, we’d decided to stay overnight in the Lima airport hotel, and we were in bed by 3:30 am. A long day of travel concluded successfully.
In the morning, Carlos collected us in our car, and we set off on a shopping trip to Wong, our mega-grocery of choice, filled the back seat with groceries, and headed for Barranca. As we drove down the hill to the beach, the sun was out after a mostly overcast day, lighting the ocean like a postcard. Our freshly painted facade looked quite nice, and we pulled into the back parking area to see blooming hollyhock, geraniums, and other flowers. What a welcome! The back yard is in spring bloom with the trees leafing out again, flowers, and birds twittering. Daily temperatures hover in the high 60s, and the sun is in and out depending on the breeze and coastal mist.
We arrived around 5 pm, to the crazed running around of the two dogs, and greetings from Fernando and Dalmira, our caretaker couple. It is good to be back.
The next day, as we were still shaking off the effects of travel, we took our usual stroll to the opposite end of the beach and back, noticing the new fish sculpture and construction that grew up during the pandemic. People kept busy by building a room here and a room there. Next door, a second floor has appeared.
Our neighbor Miguel is finishing up the beach’s biggest new development, a four-story apartment building, with eleven units looking over the water, and many more with the “garden” view. He is almost ready for people to move in, though the real estate market here is not as hot as in the US.
We are both surprised and amused to see a new cafe serving acai bowls here–so trendy.
We visit the market, still a very busy place, with 99% of people wearing masks. Many people in Peru wear double masks in stores, and the market is indoor-outdoor, with good air circulation. The number of vendors has decreased, the remainder spaced slightly farther apart. We bump fists or salute the people we recognize, asking after family members and the business.
A notable casualty of the Covid pandemic is our grocery store. Only a few years ago, there were no supermarkets at all in Barranca, and we purchased most of our dry goods at a store much like people did a century ago in the US. Standing at a counter, we read a list and the sales person collected each item from a shelf or somewhere in the back. The opening of a Metro supermarket was a landmark for us, bringing contemporary shopping to Barranca. The pandemic seems to have done it in, however. Metro, just as we arrive, is shifting its inventory to be a warehouse store. No membership, as in Sam’s Club, but no small packages, and very limited selection. The items we went to Metro to obtain are gone (freshly baked sesame rolls, peanut butter, cheese and deli meat, pickles), and instead there are ten pound bags of sugar, rice, and flour, gallon jugs of cooking oil, and loaves of white bread. For the majority of shoppers this may be useful, but not for us.
We return to our bodega of choice, Marlene’s, which has weathered the rise and fall of the Metro in Barranca, and we shop as we did twenty years ago when we first arrived. The good news is that they have some of the items we are looking for. Somehow, it takes the entire morning to visit the market, Metro, Marlene’s, and the hardware store, and by the time we get home again, I think it’s a good thing Jonathan enjoys shopping enough to go out and do it without me. I will eat anything he chooses to fix.
The streets of Barranca are as crowded as ever. Congestion reached new heights during the pandemic, and two the main streets have been converted to one way. In general, it’s an improvement, though it takes a bit longer to get to specific places. The city is bustling as usual.