It’s about noon when I take my first stroll out of the hotel. There is no destination until later in the day when I must procure a SIM card and stockpile some food at the groceria to keep expenses down. I’m absorbing the sounds. A car slowly pulls into the hotel’s adjacent parking lot; a single woman walks out of the gym and, judging by her attire, back to her professional job; a young man talks quietly on the phone while riding his old-fashioned bike toward the residences on the next street; the doorman bids ‘Buenos Dias’ to all who pass his way; a truck with a delapidated muffler labors down the main thoroughfare on the opposite side of the hotel.
A few puffs into my L&M Blue cigarette and a curiously designed house at the end of the block toward the more residential side of my hotel’s street grabs my attention.
Two fine wooden doors welcome guests to this building, which appears to be two residences, if I’m to understand the difference between the slatted and the paneled doors. These doors are tall like a Medieval King’s throne chair and block the views of what’s surely a driveway and parking spaces for two or three cars. The next possible visage is of the second story where large windows reveal the inhabitants’ piquing design sense. Later that day when the hazy day has grown somewhat darker I will see that behind the bay window of one residence is a major candy apple red wall trimmed in white and bearing a large Asian art canvas. Above that wall however is another aperture that seems didn’t fully evolve into a window. For days I will contemplate that void.
It resides in such contrast to the staircase seen at the forefront of the artful window and the openness of the pergola immediately beside it on the duplex’s other half. There a glass-enclosed patio, bedecked with plants and indoor trees invites. This embrace of the outdoors becomes more apparent as I walk around the house and along the streets surrounding the hotel: Peruvians like outdoors spaces designed within their buildings through which they can optimize the sunlight, air, and weather.
With the contrast of the inviting and the restricted elements of the residence, I walk to see its side facade. A couple of minor yet visually appealing windows lend mystery. What’s behind the long ribbon windows of the top story, and who are these residents who prefer tight, short vases of tight, white flowers visible on the second story’s rectangular window?
I continue to ponder the house as I make my way back to the Doubletree El Pardo Hotel here in exclusive neighborhood of Miraflores in Lima, Peru. An ambulance van rushes by, evaporating my contemplative thoughts when a voice over a loudspeaker directs pedestrians and traffic away in Spanish. Its cheap, unrefined gasoline punctures the air momentarily until fading into the overcast day. I’ve returned to the hotel. It’s time to change from my tie-dye tee, Birks, and brown yoga pants into something a bit more professional to commence my first shopping experience in Peru.
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