Linkin Park made an incredible sell out of pit tickets for their first show in Peru, and let me tell you- those three days trying to purchase just a pair of thousands were agonizing. My stress and near breakdown is documented on Twitter for your entertainment. I can laugh at it now, but trust that the pain was real at the time.
Having never been to South America, and having kept my feet and passport on the ground for over a year, Peru was an immediate ‘I know this is going to happen,’ and after a medical and personal scare in February that nearly cancelled it- I took off from Los Angeles to Lima, Peru May 6.
I landed in Lima late May 7 and took some days to actually really do anything; we were tired, excited, stressed, bummed we weren’t going to be on the barricade. Did you know fans lined up since May 1st, ten days ahead? Chyeah.
But it was nice being pretty lax on how much to explore of the new city, and even more nice was the fact Linkin Park had announced the Linkin Park Ambassador program earlier in the year, so I had a new friend to meet in person after the weeks of working together with others: Cesar Rodriguez of Linkin Park Peru, one of the most enthusiastic, creative, and simply amazing group of fans.
It was with him I went to my first restaurant of the trip, and with his choosing and recommendations, we had an amazing meal which also introduced me to my newest obsessive addiction of chicha morada. You can’t possibly guess how much chicha I drank in just twenty one days. If you ever need to bribe me, do it with chicha morada.
And lomo saltado? So delicious. Cesar and four other people warned me how good Peruvian food is- and how much we’d miss it when we leave- in just three days, and they were absolutely right.
Day before the concert is when we did most of our sight-seeing for Lima, deciding to end at the venue to check out the line and where we needed to be. Our day started in Miraflores, part of their gorgeous coastline, lunch at Costazul. After lunch and a quick check in with some of the crew also exploring the city, we visited Lima’s historic center with Plaza Mayor, walking down through Plaza San Martin past Parque de la Exposición to Parque de la Reserva. There, the park has over ten beautiful fountains with lights, locals and tourists alike enjoying them. It was fun watching both kids and adults playing in the water at one of the floor fountains. In between this park and the venue next door, an open alley way with permanent food booths is where we ate and had too much Inca Kola. No regrets.
Then, the day of the concert finally comes after pestering Cesar in texts for hours when we couldn’t sleep from excitement. Even knowing I had no, shot, at, all for that barricade, we still went early, and we were still in awe.
— LPFanCorner (@LPFanCorner) May 11, 2017
— LPFanCorner (@LPFanCorner) May 11, 2017
Streets were shut down and many people were selling food and drinks along the curbs, many selling their unofficial merchandise, groups of fans playing Linkin Park loudly as they waited. There were even lines around the stadium for seats. This city was beyond ready for that night- and even then, we watched one the calmest entries to the stadium to have ever existed. No fights, no rushing, completely controlled.
It took nearly an hour of steady entry into the venue for us to finally see the end of the first line into Campo A, so we finally stepped into line, tickets out in hand, following fans of all ages into el Estadio Nacional. I waited nearly eighteen months for all this.
While sharing some clips after the show, some were quick to point out how many fans had phones, but you have to remember- this is their first time seeing Linkin Park. All too many fans I talked to, could barely even afford the concert ticket, so traveling even just a few hours out to other countries in South America that get to see them more often, it’s just not easy for them. So let them record that concert, so just a few hours later, they can already be watching them again and smiling.
And believe me; for being a crowd so diverse in ages- the much older men in front of me had a blast- it was energetic and great. Cell phone video can’t always capture the full magic.
I left that venue with fans still smiling and talking with hoarse voices from singing too much, unbelieving that concert really happened. Passed out stickers to all the little kids I could see, then went around leaving them on the floor, immediately picked up by fans. We walked and walked and walked for blocks closer to home in Lima, accompanied by those leaving the venue the whole time. It felt great.
Tired as we were, Cesar still managed to text me all the details of the Meet & Greet and you can just tell it was incredible for the lucky fans that got chosen that night. Now with the photos uploaded to LPU? Couldn’t stop smiling looking through them.
Wide awake after the concert, I packed and left for the airport some hours later heading off to Cusco, refusing to make the trip just about Linkin Park, and that show was really just the beginning; after spending our first afternoon and evening adjusting to the altitude (just standing at the airport, I felt like I had ran there instead of flying), we went out exploring that Saturday morning and fell hard for the city. We were amazingly lucky to arrive for the celebration of Señor de Ccoillorrytty, an extremely colorful and musical event.
With chicha morada tasting differently in Cusco than in Lima, I obsessed even more, tried alpaca and died with guilt at how good it was, huffed and puffed past altitude problems in the city’s inclines- which I was insane enough to jog chasing the sunset before my five trek to Machu Picchu, snapping this photo for One More Light.
My hike to Machu Picchu took me through Salkantay, an amazing beauty of a mountain covered in snow. We met her on the morning of the second day, descending through the Cloud Forest afterwards. Third day took us to Santa Teresa and hot springs- and I just might have enjoyed those springs more than any Linkin Park concert…. On the fourth day we made the three hour walk to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu’s pueblo. Falling into an actual mattress after walking thirty-five miles that involved an injury to my knee, almost sliding off the edge of the trail, getting stuck out in the dark, crossing multiple scary-as-fuck bridges that creaked and groaned under steps… that moment was better than any Linkin Park concert, ha ha.
The fifth day of my tour was sadly leaving the bed at three-thirty in the morning to line up at four-fifteen to wait until five-thirty to head up, but walking past the gates and climbing the first set of stairs, and looking out to the mountains surrounding us and out into the ancient city I couldn’t even dream of visiting… it was worth all the literal blood, sweat, and tears it took to get there. Machu Picchu. All because I chased my favorite band to Peru for a concert.
Hours in Machu Picchu was not enough, and it was bittersweet parting ways with my guide and trek group. With a few also leaving back to Cusco in the evening, we had one more meal together (and I had three pitchers of chicha morada, still no regrets) before I stepped onto a train; One More Light on my phone, ready. Halfway into the first song, however, watching the back train cars’ lights in the absolute darkness of the mountains and forest when we took curves… fell asleep for the first time in four days. I didn’t listen to the album until another four days after that.
My trip in Peru ended in Tambopata down river from Puerto Maldonado, Peru’s Amazon close to the Brazilian border. We spent five days walking through the forests and mud and mosquitoes when not enjoying the beautiful lodging, finding monkeys and birds and caimans, sadly no anaconda. It was also my first time in a canoe in one of our walks, many hours in the hammock, somehow convinced to get in a small boat in the friggin’ river AT NIGHT-.
It was an incredible, scary, beautiful adventure I needed after a hard past year, and I would do it all again- with less injuries and not almost falling to my death- if I get to come back to a sunset like this one.
Thank you for giving me the world, Linkin Park. See you in October and November!