As we took off from San Francisco, I looked out the window at the hills. The houses pasted to bone-dry hillside looked a lot like Lima. We arrived in Peru on Tuesday morning and went straight from the airport to Barranca. Tired from the overnight flight, we didn’t notice much other than that the weather was similar to what we just left in San Francisco, overcast and cool.
The early morning air didn’t have the same bite in Lima as in the US, because summer is just beginning in South America, while California is heading into winter.
The next day, the sun came out by noon and the beach warmed up. Each day the sun came out earlier and the day warmed further. By Saturday, the bright sun was out by ten am and families began coming down the hill from town on foot, or parking along the sidewalk. By 1 pm, it was summer and the beach was rocking. Restauranteurs on the beach believe that the louder they play music, the more likely they are to attract clients. The music was loud. The seasonal restaurant on our next door neighbor’s terrace opened for the season. They’ve put up a volleyball net on the sand across the street, in hopes that players will stop in after working up a thirst. It seems to be working. From quiet and empty on Wednesday to raucous and crowded on the weekend, it was a quick transition.
We went for a walk down the beach past all the seasonal places that suddenly appeared from behind closed windows and doors . Almost every house is now a store or restaurant, cevicheria, bar, resto-bar, snack bar, or cremolada stand. We threaded through the people on the sidewalk. Mid-afternoon on Saturday and some were already deeply into their multi-packs of beer, or swigging from a depleted whisky bottle. A favorite technique is to put music on one’s car radio or player, open the door facing the beach and turn up the volume. Every 10 or 15 feet you walk past a different car playing different tunes.
People bring their dogs, and their children, though often not their bathing suits, and end up swimming in their clothes. When we reached the far end of the beach by the fishing boats, we walked back along the sand, watching children run into and away from the water, dig pits and canals, and lie in the sand soaking up the warm sun. Dogs paced the edges of the soccer and volleyball games, ran around or sat by their families. A few people fished, but the weekend is mostly given over to water play. We strolled down the beach, nodding to the occasional fisherman we recognized from less crowded moments, until back to our starting point, happy to head indoors where the noise doesn’t penetrate. If the crowd dies down during the late afternoon, we sit on our front porch to play cards and watch the sunset. Jonathan’s genius idea years ago to put casters on easy chairs lets us wheel out comfy chairs every evening.
Strange that summer pretty much arrived during the week that we have done our final packing. We arrived on Tuesday, applied for the last form we needed before closing on the sale of our house, and settled in for the week. I would have said that all our personal items were gone after our visit in August, when we packed four full suitcases after realizing that shipping household goods to the US was a bad idea.
This week, I found another four suitcases full of stuff on shelves and in drawers that I believed were empty! By Saturday, I had filled three of our four suitcases, leaving only one for Jonathan. I still spent an entire day putting things in and taking things out. Late in the afternoon I looked around and saw that we’d stripped the house of decoration, leaving it akin to another empty Airbnb on the day of departure.
We visited with neighbors to say our goodbyes, gave away things that couldn’t be packed and that the new owner didn’t want, and braced ourselves for Monday morning. The morning arrived with bright sun, summer in full flow. We stowed our big suitcases and our carry-ons in the car and set off for Lima and our new home in California.