|Hola amigos! ¿Que tal? ¿Que hora es?
Cuando cuesta? Ohhhhh, es demasiado caro para mi!!!!
Hello friends. How's it going? What time is it?
Hopw much is it? Ohhhhh, that's too expensive for me!!!
So, now that we've been in South America for more than a week, my Spanish is improving, no??? That's about all I know how to say other than numbers and letters. Just enough to get by...
As you can see we are on a whistlestop tour of South America. We had a great time in Chile, but 5 days was just not long enough.
But we had to move on to "Frahnsh bread, Frahnsh dressing, Frahnsh fries.... and Peru!!!!"
Lawrence to Aimee: "It's chilly here!"
Aimee to Lawrence: "No, silly, it's Peru!" Hee hee hee hee!
OK, a bit slaphappy after 6 months of travel. Now for the stories.
We arrived in Lima early in the morning and checked into the Doubletree Hotel in the Mira Flores region of Lima (yes, using points so it was free). We promptly took a long enough nap to get adjusted to another new time zone and to catch up on sleep.
Then we walked and walked and walked, which was a nice change from being in a camper van all day long.
More than a third of Peru's population lives in Lima (about 9 million) We expected more of a trashy, frenetic city. But, in fact, Lima is quite clean and civilized. Sure our lungs were in jeopardy from the pollution in the air, but we did not see as much as a cigarette on the ground and little grafitti. We also expected to see loads of scooters on the streets but we saw none - most people travel by buses, which have someone stationed by the door shouting where the bus is going. They'll stop in the middle of the street to pick up/drop off passengers as well.
The taxis are a piece of work. They see westerners on the sidewalk and toot their horn lightly to get you to look. When you don't get in the taxi, they hover and drive alongside you for a few seconds - hoping you will change your mind - before they finally get the hint that it ain't gonna happen. We were summoned every few mintues.
We walked towards the center of town, which had your typical park with church and street market. Only this market was different. It was entirely laid out on connected blankets in the pedestrian street. The Peruvian ladies dressed in the native colorful panchos and top hats sat in the middle of the blankets to sell their crafts. Mostly blankets, panchos, belts, dolls etc. All colorful as well. The women were not imposing, which was nice. We were able to browse without the usual begging or haggling. And there did not appear to be much competition between balnkets despite the fact they were all selling the same thing.
We then moved on and looked at the artwork set up Jackson Square-style on the sidewalk around the park. We both saw a painting we liked but passed on the opportunity to buy it. We slept on it, though, and both agreed the next day we had to go back and buy it. It's a silhouette of Peruvian men on horseback, perfect color combination for our future dining or living room. We met the artist and his mother who remembered us from the day before and were anxious for us to produce the cash. After a bit of haggling, we managed to knock 80 pesos off the price which saved us about $40 USD. We were pleased.
That night we ate at a cafe near the park. Lawrence had cebiche, which is raw fish marinated in lemon, sour cream and onions - the mixture actually cooks the fish despite it never touching an oven or pan. It's a Peruvian delicacy and very yummy. My chicken was delicious but nothing you've never tried before.
While we're on the subject of food, the next day we ate a late lunch after a long morning of more walking. A sandwich in the window of one of the cafes we passed caught my eye as I had never seen anything so, um, tall! I decided we had to eat there so I could order one. Turns out this huge sandwich was appropriately called "The Olympico." It was three stories high, each story had 2 pieces of bread. It was stacked with chicken, asparagus, beets, cooked carrots, egg, sliced avocado, hearts of palm, ham, cheese and tomato. Mmmmmmmm. So big I had to lay it on its side and eat it in bits with a fork! I was well stuffed.
We then walked all the way to the edge of the city, which led to the Pacific coast. We didn't realize the city was actually high above sea level til we looked over the rail down onto the ocean crashing against the beach. Yet another Kodak moment.
Back to the hotel that night to meet with the representative from GAP Adventures, the company that we were going to travel through Peru with for the next week. We thought the tour would have several people on it, but turned out there were only 3 in total. The other person joining us was Andrew, a 27 year old Chicano from L.A.
The woman explained our itinerary for the next week then left us. We had a couple of drinks with Andrew and then he went to bed as we had a 6:30 wake up call. I went to bed soon after. The husband, however, got talking to 2 girls at the bar who had just walked the Inca Trail. He told me he would be right behind me. I figured he would stay up a bit longer -- he said he turned in at 4am!!!