By Nicola White
July 19, 1999
LIMA, PERU--The guy behind me at the Lima airport baggage claim had warned me. "You just can't plan for anything in South America," he said.
He shared these words of wisdom in the midst of a mini airport crisis: The Lost Suitcase.
The situation snowballed as we learned that not one but every single piece of luggage on my flight had been left behind in Atlanta, leaving myself and fellow passengers clueless, baggage-less and clean underwear-less for four days.
This was my first lesson in Peruvian unpredictability.
The subsequent lessons have proved less harsh--and more hygienic--the most important of which has been unlearning seven years of textbook Spanish.
There's a big difference between drooling over novels like Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "One Hundred Years of Solitude" and actually living its magical realism in the crowded, crazy streets of Lima, where Peru's rich history oozes out of every eclectic storefront and every crumbling colonial mansion.
In the first two weeks I have been here, I have seen things I have never seen before.
The brown-clad guards decked in bullet proof vests and army boots hold tight to their automatic weapons and stand as stoic as ancient Incas.