I’m walking down yet another wrought-iron gate-lined block. It looks exactly the same as the one before it. No wait, the spikes at the top of the gate are a little pointier on this block, and the rust is a slightly different hue.
This is my 7th day in Lima. I was only supposed to be here for 3 days, but a transportation strike has stranded me here in the Miraflores district, the most tourist-ridden part of town.
Across the street is a McDonald’s and a Starbucks.
Next door is a Pizza Hut and a Burger King.
There’s a Dunkin Donuts ’round the corner.
Ah, the magic of travel.
I’m wandering the streets of Lima with a friend from Detroit that I made at the hostel where I’m staying. We’re looking for a massage studio that may or may not exist. We turn a corner, following the directions we acquired from a street vendor several blocks back. We look around.
Nope. No studio. Damn.
“Best. Day. EVER!” my friend declares dramatically.
She’s caught on and gotten into the groove of things.
The first time I said that phrase was several days previous, when a Thai restaurant we read about online ended up being closed when we arrived.
The second time was the next night when the same restaurant was supposed to be open but wasn’t.
The third was when we realized that it was closed for good. Damn economy. Damn Lima. “Best. Day. EVER!”
After that, every bad thing that would happen warranted the declaration. Nothing was too big or too small. It all fit under the undeclared umbrella of Lima-suckage.
I got punched in the face at a gay dance club.
We had to change rooms in the hostel.
We both had stomach issues because of the food/water.
It was impossible to sleep because of a noisy game that took place every night outside our room.
“Every day in Lima is the Best Day Ever!”
This phrase was magical in many ways. It’s primary function was to give us both a way to vent that was psychologically productive. When something bad would happen, we’d have a header to file it under…of course something would go wrong, because our Lima experience is x, y, and z.
Saying something positive when something bad happens, even jokingly, can have a wonderful effect on your mood. Suddenly, each and every little bad moment became an inside joke and we would start laughing: just one more funny little occurrence to tell people about later, not something intrinsically bad.
Making fun of negative moments also allows you to take the power away from said moment. It can be intimidating when it seems like the world is against you, but if you can laugh at the situation, then you’re back in control, leaving you open for all the good experiences that you otherwise would have missed out on because you were moping about the bad stuff.
There were a lot of really positive aspects of Lima, but the ironic thing is this: the parts that I really remember fondly are the ones that made every day in Lima the Best Day Ever.
Update: December 11, 2016
There’s a hint of Stoicism in this. It’s an approach to life that a lot of travelers adopt, because if you don’t, chances are the discomforts inherent in travel will get you down, and you’ll move on to some other lifestyle.
Also, to this day, I am more likely to laugh and say something along the lines of “Well, that could have been worse,” when something negative happens. I find I immediately think about how much worse things could have been, and that makes the situation I’m currently in, bad as it might be, seem hilarious, and even positive.