Dec 312011

Lima, Peru

My face hurts (I smiled too much) and my legs hurt (from having to go down to reach the Peruvians). Feeling very happy though!

Free hugs! Isn’t that what everybody wants? I’m so tired of paying for them…

Since my last post I had a very nice dinner, drinks and talk with someone I met last time I was in Lima (this was yesterday evening) This morning I mostly spent my time uploading a whole load of photos to facebook, replying to some E-mails (and still have a lot more to do…) and arranging for some stuff to take with me on the new years camping trip (like a tent. I could rent one, but I found one that was cheaper to buy than the rental. So now I own a tent… And once you own something it becomes so much more difficult to depart with it again. Stuff keeps cluttering up my life).
This afternoon, checking on the Couch Surfing website what exactly the plans are for the big New Years party / camping trip. Get up early, bring beer… I guess I can do that…

Reading through some older posts I see that there will be a free hugs event in Lima. Today. In 15 minutes. Ok, that’s a bit short… And quite far away (Lima is HUGE! It’s more than 3 hours to get from one side to the other. Might have something to do with congestion, but it’s still huge)… But I’m quite sure that if a Peruvian writes something starts at 16.00, it will be more like 16.30, perhaps even 17.00…

16.55, met up 15 minutes ago with the two great girls from Couch Surfing who are organizing this event. Waiting for more people, unsure who is to show up. A fourth person does show arrive and we decide that it’s time to put a smile on Lima’s face. It’s 17.00 exactly…

Armed with pieces of cardboard saying Abrazos Gratis (free hugs) we dive into the shopping heart of Lima’s old center. The beginning is a bit tough, the locals don’t seem to care for a hug from some gringo who is at least a head taller than them. After the first few people quickly walking away, a little girl comes up to me with her arms stretched out wide. I guess she is used to everybody being taller than her, so what does another 20 cm matter? She smiles happily and wishes me a “feliz ano” (happy (new) year). I smile back and feel happy.

After that things get easier, and old lady, a giggle of girls (on the Machu Picchu trek I had a very interesting conversation about the names of groups of animals in English. Some of my favorites are: “An unkindness of ravens”, “a leap of leopards” and “a charm of butterflies”. See here for a full list. We decided that this could be generalized to human groups as well: “A lot of parking attendants”, “a board of teachers” and “a bit of programmers”), a bunch of friends pushing each other forward (and in the end accepting hugs all around).

Some people come running for a free hug, some get pushed by their friends, some just can’t resist a pair of outstretched arms. It doesn’t matter, after the hug everybody has a smile on their face (including myself).

I must have hugged over a hundred people in the span of 2 hours. Over a hundred hugs and smiles (and a lot of happy new years) given and returned.

It can be so easy and so much fun to make the world a slightly better place!

Now for a bit of sleep, to give my facial muscles and legs a bit of rest… Why are those Peruvians so damned short?

  2 Responses to “Free hugs”

  1. Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!!!!!!!!!!! Groetjes uit Coevorden.

  2. […] Reinink presents: Free hugs posted at Perpetual […]

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