A Peru travel experience: Seaside yoga with vendor girls in Paracas


Little by little, I moved all my fries to a small plate with the corn nuts, closer to her. She slowly ate each fry, and the corn nuts, as we chit chatted.

In a little bit, her friend, 10-year-old Fiorela came by. As Fiorela saw I had no more interest in my food, she asked me if she could eat the rest of my appetizer, “¿no me invitas a tu ceviche?” She slowly ate all that was left on my salad plate: sweet potato, lemon juice and all. I liked the beaded bracelets that she carried. Strung with Amazonian beans and nuts, mixed with a few colored beads, these were different from her friend’s. She said they brought good luck. Jokingly, I asked which brings a boyfriend. I bought one with blue beads that contrasted with the dark brown natural seeds. She told me she makes them herself, in about two hours. I paid the $1.50 asking price without dreaming of bargaining as I’m prone to do.

Then the younger girl took some flashcards out of a blue and pink bag her mother had crocheted. I asked her to show me the letters for her name. Fiorela defended the younger girl saying she doesn’t know her letters, but her name is Kamila with a K. The girls made nice company for me. Granted, I probably felt a tinge of guilt knowing how privileged a life my own daughter had in comparison to theirs. I remembered a new canvas tote from Lima I had in my backpack which I didn’t need. I get way too many freebie bags than I can use. I showed it to the girls and asked if one of them wanted it. They both did, but I gave it to Kamila. Maybe I chose Kamila because she was my first table buddy, or maybe it was because I hadn’t purchased her beads. To balance things out, I found a lilac scented antibacterial hand wash for Fiorela in my bag. I showed her how to use it. Neither of the girls had seen rinse-free soap before.

The ritzy side of Paracas.

After a while, we went our own ways. I strolled up the promenade and read a Dan Brown book on a bench in the sun, facing the shore. The restless person that I am, between chapters I did yoga stretches on the bench, or next to it. About 40 pages and plenty of stretches and twists later, I saw Kamila with another friend. They approached me and asked me to show them what I was doing. I led them in a few simple toe touches when a French female backpacker asked if I was doing yoga. Here, on the hard patterned cement block beachfront walkway, the young girls and I in our jeans, and the hippie European in flowing earthy wear went East Indian. I taught them cobra, down dog, cat and cow, fish, pyramid, triangle, reverse side angle, all the marichyasana and dandasana variations, and plenty more. All the while, I instructed them to breathe deeply and fill their lungs with air.

When I thought it was about time for me to head to the bus station for my return to Lima, I felt the normal refreshment and calm after a yoga session. But this was slightly different. Yoga means union. This impromptu practice united me with girls of very different ages, cultures and lifestyles. Together, we laughed as we enjoyed the fresh air, the salt water mist, sound of the strong Humboldt currents and unusual ways we could bend our bodies and relax on the malecón.

Deborah Charnes has worked in the US Hispanic and Latin American communications field for 25 years. She is an avid traveler and travel writer and has visited Peru five times.

Read her recent articles about Tambo Colorado and Paracas.