Peru welcomed me with open arms a few nights ago, and I have been enjoying an incredible experience! My brother, his host brother and host cousin met me at the airport in Lima and brought me to their home in Lince: a very spacious, two-story house on a colorful street that seems to always have people running in and out, greeting the family, joining us for tea. Eduar, the host dad, is an exuberant man that expresses himself without reserve and has already taken me salsa dancing this week. Doris, the host mom, loves to love on us and has told me on many occasions how much she relishes having a “daughter” for the first time.
The family owns a spa in Lince, so when I casually mentioned that I was planning to cut my hair when I got back to the States, Doris very eagerly invited me to have my hair cut there. I agreed the first day out of politeness, but when day two came and I still hadn’t gone, and she anxiously asked again if I still wanted to go, I decided to truly take her up on the offer.
As we walked the eight or so blocks to her spa, Doris shared with me the story of how it came to be. It was once a simple peluquería (hair salon) with three staff in a small space that Doris rented twenty-six years ago. Later, it expanded to a slightly larger rented shop — still only one floor — and welcomed two nail experts to the staff. Now, it’s a bustling family business that Eduar quit his bank job to help run: one floor boasts a staff of about twelve hair stylists, manicurists and pedicurists, with a beautiful fountain in the back and complimentary coffee during an appointment; another floor offers massage, sauna, waxing, chiropractic care, and colon cleaning. This is an impressive venture! As I sat with Eduar after having my hair cut into lovely layers and my nails styled in a French manicure with tiny, intricate daisies painted onto each one, he proudly showed me a photo album documenting their years growing with the spa, which bears the name Jeldec: José Luis, their first son; César Enrique, their second; Eduar; and Doris. All of their initials are included in the name of a family legacy. (It’s also adorable and beautiful to mention that, every time a picture of Doris appeared in the photo album, Eduar would pause to point to her and say, “And see? There’s Doris. Doesn’t she look beautiful?” This is after thirty-one years of marriage — how often do you see such contentment?)
It was a happy day for Doris, introducing me to the women and men that work with her and seeing the smile on my face throughout the afternoon. I wouldn’t normally have chosen a spa when I had all of Lima waiting for me, but this family opened their home to me, and I wanted to show my support and share something unique with them, and it was definitely worth it.
This might be revisiting an old topic, but that idea of the journey being not just about the places to discover but the people to spend the journey with? That has absolutely defined my experience here in Lima. Sure, I’ve been to Miraflores once and visited a popular shopping center called Polvos Azules (blue dust), but most of my time here has been spent with the family, sharing my culture and my dreams with them, letting them serve me more food than I could possibly eat, and passing an afternoon at the family spa.