I’ve been here before. (On Arequipa, Peru. On not knowing what the hell I’m doing.)
That’s all I could think when I entered the main square in Arequipa, Peru. Both were surrounded by walkways of arched columns where touts would constantly hassle you to book a tour, eat at their restaurant, buy some sunglasses. Both were flanked by a giant church. Both centered around a park, a fountain, where women in traditional garb tried to get you to buy traditional souvenir, eat some ice cream, or, in Arequipa’s case, take your photo with an alpaca.
It was bigger than Antigua, but so eerily familiar that I often forgot where exactly I was.
Standing in the main square, my first day in town, brought me back to last March, when I arrived in Guatemala, scared, unsure of myself, not knowing if I was in the right place. Back to a place where I wandered aimlessly not knowing what to do with myself until I finally said, “Fuck it,” and got a crepe at the crepe place or a bagel at the bagel place because I couldn’t figure out where else to go.
Sometimes I feel like a horrid traveler.
But then I realize something that snaps me out of my funk: it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter if I spent 9 days in a place and really only saw a convent. It doesn’t matter if I ate pizza for dinner because I was really craving pizza and my stomach was feeling kind of fucked. It doesn’t matter that I booked everything through my hostel because I didn’t want to shop around. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t go out of my way to find the best adobo in town. Nothing matters. You’re not being a bad traveler or a good one. You’re just being. And doing whatever you need to do at that very moment.
It’s a lesson I forget sometimes as I chastise myself for not going out of my way to do anything. As I go to the Lonely Planet recommended restaurant because no one seems to be in any restaurants so how can I tell what’s good or not. As I make ramen for dinner because I don’t feel like cooking or sitting alone in a restaurant. As I sit in the hostel common room watching a movie.
It doesn’t matter.
I spent nine nights in Arequipa, though I barely left the hostel outside of a morning at the Santa Catalina Monastery and meals.
I had this huge kick of inspiration for retooling my blog and making it more mobile friendly that all I did was hog one of the very few outlets in my hostel and stare back and forth between my laptop and my phone. Sometimes when you’re in the mood for something you just have to go with it. I did come to Peru, after all, to get shit done.
p.s. how many Alpaca sweaters do you think I will own before I leave here?