We arrived around 4:30p.m. yesterday, and after passing customs and grabbing our backpacks, we wandered outside to look for the bus. We were immediately swarmed by taxi drivers shouting “Taxi! Taxi?” and honking their horns. My cousins, although Colombian, are fair-skinned like me so as a group we are all easily mistaken for ‘gringos,’ frequently leading to these kinds of situations with lots of people trying to sell us things we don’t need, in English. It’s all part of the fun though! We walked past the hordes, saying “No gracias, no gracias” about a hundred times until finally finding where we could catch the bus.
We opted to take the bus over a taxi initially because it was naturally much cheaper, but ended up being really happy we did because it was an experience in itself. With music aboard, doors that opened and closed while the bus was in motion, and the brief yet frequent flying experiences we had at every bump, it was a memorable ride of an hour and a half.
After arriving at our hostel, Kaccla the Healing Dog Hostel, we headed out to explore the touristic centre of Lima -Miraflores. We wandered along the waterfront, getting a nice view of Lima at night and hearing the ocean we couldn’t yet see, then went further inland to find something to eat (largely due to my hangry nagging). We found a burger-sandwich joint called “La Lucha Sanguchería Criolla” that was packed with people, with a long line. Trusting of the crowds, we decided to go for it. It was delicious! My hanger was definitely resolved, and full and satisfied we rolled back to the hostel to relax before our only full day in Lima…
Which brings us to today! It was a full day of sightseeing; we headed out around 9:30am and got back at about 7:00pm. The first thing we did was head to the “Parque del Amor” – Park of Love – a really pretty park with lots of quotes about love as well as a giant statue of a couple kissing, and of course all overlooking the sea – *awww.*
We then went to join a free (tip-based) walking tour of the historic centre of Lima. The group all headed onto the bus together and then arrived at the centre to split off into Spanish groups and English groups. My cousins both know English but we went with the Spanish group so I could practice. This kind of immersion is really helping me with the language, especially when I realize I can understand without really thinking about it too much! The tour was quite long, but interesting the whole time. It included watching the changing of the guard at the presidential palace, and at the end, a Pisco tasting. Pisco is Peru’s national alcoholic drink. There is even an annual festival in its honour! Funny enough, in recent years, to celebrate this day the central fountain spouted not water, but, you guessed it, pisco – free for all to bring their cups, bottles, buckets to enjoy. “It’s on the house!” The tradition has since been suspended due to the damages caused by the pisco-drunk public, but I’m sure it was fun while it lasted.
After the tour we decided to go to some catacombs that lie underneath a nearby church. Getting there I felt a bit uneasy, as I accidentally ate a full piece of some kind of chili during lunch right before, causing a total inferno in my mouth, throat and stomach. The waiter warned us it was spicy — as I was already downing my lemonade and tearing up. a little late, man. I guess Peruvian food can be spicy! Leason learned. I felt better pretty quickly at the catacombs. I guess looking at a bunch of femur bones and craniums has a healing effect? Who knew! It was really cool, honestly – there are over 20,000 bodies buried underneath the church! Spoooooky.
After that morbid excursion we took the bus back to our area in Miraflores, but stayed on a few more stops to get to Barranco, a more Bohemian area of the city. We explored the square and some surrounding areas, all very pretty and reminiscent of Mexico City’s Coyoacan area, and then headed to the waterfront to catch the sunset. Sitting on the sand was the perfect break after a long day of touristing.
Tomorrow (or today, as it’s 12:30am), we head 3 hours south to Paracas. We’re looking forward to it but are glad we spent the time we ďid in Lima – lots say it’s not very interesting, but I disagree – between the ocean, the desert-esque surrounding hills, the beautiful historic centre, Miraflores, and Barranco, it has something for everyone and is definitely worth a visit. We’ll be back at the end of our trip to fly home but until then – goodbye Lima!
(Stay tuned, I’ll be adding more photos to this post later – my wifi right now isn’t strong enough to upload them!)