The best cheapest one-way flight to Porto Alegre from Los Angeles meandered from LAX to San Salvador, El Salvador to Lima, Peru before arriving in Porto Alegre 24 hours later. This meant two red-eye flights within the space of one day. But, it also meant a quick jaunt into Peru. Thoughts of ceviche and vinyl records of chicha and psychedelic rock and Peruvian proto-punk flooded my head.
A taciturn taxi driver roped me into his services at the airport. I told him I wanted to buy records. After a couple of false starts and investigatory questioning at a CD shop in a “mall” filled with Xerox shops and computer game stalls, we drove into the center of town. “Close your window,” my taxi driver glumly asked. Tinted windows made gray-sky Lima even grayer.
Galeria Quilca opened into stalls of mostly Peruvian, Colombian, Brazilian, and U.S. records, cassettes, and a handful of CDs. Dusty technology. On the second floor, at the very back I found the first vendor, who did not try to catch my attention. After finishing his conversation with someone who looked like he was on his lunch break from his law firm, the record-salesman asked me what I wanted to hear.
He played me chicha, cumbia, and Peruvian rock and punk. We talked, and Dante Alor Reyna told me that he started helping out at his cousin’s record store when he was 15.
From his five hard drives (adding up to a terabyte), he kept digitized copies of the records that came through this stand. After listening to music and talking together an hour or two, Dante told me he thought he knew what I would like.
Besides records, I bought CDs, which he played, mixed, and burned for me as he told me stories of punk rock during a dictatorship.