It’s a Sunday and Avenida Lorca, the main street passing by my hostel, has been pedestrianised. Some way down is the surf school of my sister’s friend’s friend, Manuel, but since it’s closed I decide to continue on the seafront, expecting to be able to paddle in the shallows of the Pacific for the first time on the trip. There are skateboarders everywhere. You hear the grinding from a way away, and then suddenly they’re passing right by you in a thunder of tarmac and rubber, sometimes attempting a jump just as they pass you which invariably sends the skateboard flying past your legs like a truant chainsaw. They don’t apologise for almost removing your legs, instead looking at you with a mixture of sheepish guilt and determined disdain, as if they had to put on the hard face to impress their friends while trying to communicate the pretence to you, the victim.
The closer I got to the coast the more I could smell the sea. This was my second favourite thing about Lima (the first being the churros), that from time to time the wind would carry that sea smell and you could breathe in deep the salty grime. Eventually I reached the sea – well, I could see the sea. It was about 100m below me at the bottom of a cliff and on the other side of a motorway. My visions of paddling in the Pacific had been thwarted for the day. For a while I watched the waves roll up and leave behind half-moon traces on the beach.