Our eyes, the second most complex organ in the body, start to develop two weeks after we are conceived. It is estimated that our eyes are capable of processing 36,000 pieces of information per hour. And in recent years, retina scans are being used for security purposes; a fingerprint has 40 unique characteristics, but an iris has 256.
When it comes to sight, safety immediately comes to mind. Staying alerted with situational awareness is fundamental in a city like Lima, where street crime is prevalent. According to Peruvian National Police (PNP) data, assaults and robberies involving violence have been on the rise over the last five years. In addition, Peru now ranks as one of the top producers of counterfeit U.S. currency in the world. According to the Secret Service, it is considered "the finest fake money on the planet", responsible for producing and distributing an estimated 60 percent of the world’s counterfeit currency. Like the Peruvians, I am suspicious of every large bill I am given.
Credit card fraud is rampant, and many travelers have reported the theft of their card numbers while traveling in Peru. I am one of them. Two weeks after arriving in Peru, my card was duplicated and money was withdrawn. Ten days after this, my boyfriend Ben got a bouquet of flowers delivered to my home in Miraflores. He made the purchase from California and his card information was taken immediately. Lessons from this experience are no more purchases online, travel with cash only (in small amounts), withdraw from a trusted ATM, only use my card when the credit machine is brought to me and cover my code when entering it.
I am grateful for Fran and the others who keep my apartment building safe 24/7. For Jose and the other security guards at the United Nations Complex, for writing down all the license plates when we get in a cab, for always being so polite, and for keeping us safe.
To lighten up the mood, the congested yet fascinating Lima city has me entertained constantly. A morning jog on a Saturday has me leaving my apartment with headphones intact, blocking out all external sound. To my right I see a petite old lady chatting up an employee at my favorite "Italian" restaurant, Sole Mio. To my left, I see my go-to coffee shop named Arabico, opening its red doors. The city seems alive and well. As I approach the Malecon - a bike trail on the coast - overjoyed people are rollerblading, biking, running, skateboarding, and some are crossing with their surfboards. I smile as I spot a mom pushing her stroller and her husband walking their three-legged dog. The sun is flaunting its rays today. My view is filtered, it has been adjusted to high brightness. I even squint wearing my sunglasses (note to self: next time get better sunglasses). I stop at a corner to rest, I see a high-end cebicheria named Punta Sal, getting their produce delivered by a man in a station wagon.
Later in the day, I watch the city from my balcony on the 9th floor. The fog has made its grand appearance: a grim hand is reaching from the pacific ocean, slowly devouring the city. An afternoon walk reminds me that any memory of cool air has evaporated, the UV rays perforate through the fog leaving a tan line across my chest from my shoulder bag. Lima is saturated with vehicles, with no right away for its 9 million people. Staying alerted and looking both ways, multiple times, is a prerequisite when taking a stroll. The city of Miraflores is well maintained and clean. When it comes to Peruvians, It feels rather almighty since I am taller than most. Back home, my 5'1 stature often invites a joke or two. You don't need to speak the language to see that people are kind, raised with manners and welcoming of foreigners. While on a crowded bus, there will always be a younger teen or adult who gives their seat to a mom or person of age.
|Women speaking Quechua as the keep the City of Miraflores clean|
The sun is set and the city lights illuminate Miraflores. A starry night is eclipsed by a thick layer of clouds. Resting my head, unwinding as I turn on Netflix, grateful for today and its journeys. Thank you, sight, for keeping me safe in a foreign country.