It’s been several months since your uncles at OB have traveled. Our last trip to Denver was “lit” as the kids are saying, but we were long overdue for “another one”. In picking a place to travel there were several things that we had to consider. For us it was important to travel someplace that we had never been before. Somewhere with a different culture entirely. And most importantly somewhere with extraordinary views for Instagram. Bitches love views.
Some other things that we needed to consider was our less than extended time off. Sadly our swagger-less day jobs don’t allow us to take that much time for vacation. We thought about doing South America because we could hit several countries. Europe has a similar draw, but everybody goes to Europe. Here at objectively black we are different… and we also like salsa. Initially the plan was to hit Brazil, Columbia and Peru. But at the time of booking, Brazil was too hot. There were ridiculous stories coming out about Brazil and we didn’t want to fuck with that since Spanish was already a struggle and we knew zero Portuguese whatsoever. We did meet several people during the journey who didn’t speak Spanish and got along just fine. But I suggest that if you can, learn some of the language of your destinations or fly with someone who knows it. It just makes everything easier.
I should mention now that we traveled with a buddy who was from the Dominican Republic and was fluent in ‘Spanish’. He really was responsible for what we thought was an authentic experience. We didn’t want to be some gringos in SA. So we finally decided on Peru for 4 nights and Cartagena, Columbia for another 4 nights. We’re going to break each stop on the trip into 2 separate articles. This is part 1.
Our first stop was in Lima Peru. The plan was to stay one night in Lima and fly out to Cusco the next day. We flew Avianca Airlines which was pretty dope. The flight was broken in 2 with a layover in Bogota. The connecting flight to Lima was delayed for 5 hours but that kind of thing happens when you travel overseas. Expect it and go with the flow. After we landed in Lima we took an airport Taxi to an Airbnb we booked that was 15 minutes away from the airport. Our plan being to see some sites around the area and still be very close to the airport in case we got drunk and need to sleep in. Driving through the city of Lima right outside of the airport was a bit surreal but also familiar. The born-and-bred in New York City side of me found it a bit foreign naturally. The streets were dark and the buildings or houses all looked a little run down. There were huge piles of trash on the median’s, and the driver had me nervous. These drivers were aggressive to say the least. The Nigerian American in me, the guy who’s been to West Africa a few times, to me this felt familiar as fuck. We were officially in the 3rd world. And I was nervously loving it already.
The nervousness got real once we arrived at our Airbnb. To say the least we weren’t in as comfortable a location as I would have liked. I had to reach out to some friends back in the States to point me in the right direction. They instructed me to change my Airbnb from a place in San Amadeo De Garagay to a hostel in Miraflores. So that’s what we did. After a 40 minute Uber it was like we were in a completely different country. Miraflores was “gorgeous gorgeous”. It’s also where all the tourists were in Lima. I should be clear though that these tourists weren’t just American. We met Brits, Spaniards, Brazilians and Dutch peoples in just in a couple of hours at the hostel.
We stayed at two hostels during our time in South America. Depending on what kind of trip you are looking for, your noise tolerance, and your age you may want to stay clear of certain hostels. You don’t have to worry about Selina hostel in Miraflores, which was safe for all. Even though we booked it that same night we were able to secure a private room for cheap (by US standards). It was quiet, they had a nice bar with good food, and the bartender was super helpful. We asked him if there was anything to do on Sunday night and he pointed us in the direction of Calle de los Pizza. Sadly, because it was a Sunday night this strip wasn’t popping. Do we say popping anymore? Still we were able to find a couple of clubs that are open. We decided on Son de Cuba after a little encouragement by what seemed like the manager of the spot. The next day we walked the streets of Miraflores. The weather in Lima was pretty comfortable at about 60 degrees, with constant cloud cover, so we just walked around in t-shirts. The streets are filled with beautiful artwork and the architecture reminded us of the Art Deco structures in Miami. The people stared a bit but I may have been the blackest tallest person they had ever seen in life. We made sure to eat a good meal of Lomo Saltado and see a few nearby sights like Larcomar and Huaca Pucllana before our flight to Cusco.
Cusco was a different beast all together. Firstly, the flight up there was only an hour but we were warned about the turbulence. So in natural fashion for me I made peace with my God and prepared for whatever might come next. I also left specific instructions with my family that if the worst should happen, i’d like to be buried with all $523.24 of my checking + savings account (Shout out Drake). Needless to say the flight went fine with very little turbulence. When we landed we called and Uber to take us to our 2nd hostel. Wild Rover. Remember that short warning about hostels? Well Wild Rover is one that you may want to research a bit before booking. It honestly wasn’t that bad, but I am a very light sleeper so it just wasn’t for your boy. Still the people were very nice and we did have some fun at the onsite bar for the 1 night we stayed there.
Cusco is an amazing city just visually. The streets are cobblestone and the entire city is on a hills/mountains sides. Not only that, but the city itself is surrounded by mountains. So anywhere you look you see breathtaking views. Be sure to have some of that coca leaves tea because you will want to walk, and that altitude will get your ass. After our first night we hit the ground running with Laguna Humante which we booked through one of the several tour companies with offices across the city.
We had to get up 4:00am to get on a bus that stopped right outside of Wild Rover’s gates. We got on the bus and finished our sleep but awoke to some next level views of the sun rise. Seriously the back of your neck is gonna get toned from looking up all the damn time during this trip. But it will all be worth it. Now if the sun doesn’t wake you up, then the driver whipping that bus around those tight turns to the base of that mountain will. Anyway, after a meal and a bit more driving you are face to face with the base of the mountain looking up at what will be a 1.5-2 hour trek up at 4,200 meters in elevation. Don’t worry though. If you aren’t in shape and aren’t willing to suffer a heart attack on the side of a mountain in Peru, you can take a horse. I am not in shape but I am certainly willing to stress my own heart instead of these senoritas doing it for a change. So we climbed…
And it sucked.
But it was worth it.
On the last day in Peru we took a train to Machu Picchu on the PeruRail. If you aren’t doing the 4-day hike to Machu Picchu, then this has to be the 2nd best option. The train is equipped with huge windows on the sides and the top of cars allowing you to see the whole 360 view of all the surrounding mountains. The conductor stopped the train at certain points and on the loudspeaker you can hear an explanation of historical significance of the spots along the way. Also they serve beer. This was also the point when we realized how shitty our work-life balance is. On the trip up to Machu Picchu sat across from 2 young Australian ladies. They were both on the tail end of a 5-week trip across South America. We were lucky we got a week!
Anyway, they were cool and wanted to hang out after the tour so we never talked to them again. More on the train though. After the tour we got in one of the first class train cabins and were treated to a fashion show as well as what can only be described as Peru’s version of a Jester. A dude dressed up in masks and danced around the train for our amusement. I just wonder what other first class experiences I’ve been missing my whole life. In short Machu Picchu was dope. I’m not a historian and I couldn’t do our tour guide Percy any justice, but I hope this pictures will suffice.
By the end of Peru, we did not want to leave. The experience we had was definitely life changing. Seeing how other people live and being around so much beauty everyday is something I could definitely get used to. But sadly it was time to hit the next spot on our journey, Columbia. I can guarantee that I’ll be back to Peru. I’ma try to do that 4-day hike to Machu Picchu and I’ma eat all the Lomo Saltado I possibly can until I go back.