Orange electric bulbs flickered overhead and 20-metre high billboards towered above us. Along one side of the road the highway rose and fell like a roller coaster track. At first glance, Lima seemed empty and forgotten. A little bit somber. Like the black city in the opening sequence of Blade Runner.
After landing in Peru at about 12am on Sunday morning we boarded buses to the Cardinal Cushing Retreat House near Chaclacayo. We drove through the dusty and desolate streets of Lima watching the half-finished brick homes that lined the roads.
It was about 2am when we reached the centre. Jumping off the bus we were given our suitcases and lead to our rooms. The boys and girls were in separate dorms, and the under 18’s were placed in groups of three or four. We over 18’s were given the luxury of a private room that was about one metre-by-three containing a bed, side-desk and a rack to hang our clothes from. It was simple accommodation but it was comfortable.
The next morning, after spending time in communal prayer, we tucked into a hearty breakfast. On the menu were eggs scrambled with tomatoes and ham, bread rolls, butter and jam, and a very interesting method for serving espresso. A tall, thin glass tube with a globular base, the syrupy black coffee sat in its base. A blue flask contained boiling water and small jug nearby was filled with evaporated milk. You pour yourself a shot of coffee, topped it with the water and added a dash of milk for the perfect cuppa. For the tea drinkers in the room there were also bags of aniseed and (another floral herbal tea). The aniseed one tasted like fennel.
After breakfast we celebrated Mass with Bishop Anthony Fisher and the priests from the Diocese of Parramatta before heading to the city centre to visit some of the places that Peruvian Saints Rose of Lima and Martin de Porres lived and worked.
Keep reading for more stories from World Youth Day.
Happy Cooking and Keep Smiling,