Lima Travel Blog› entry 1 of 36 › view all entries
I spent 3 nights in a fantastic hostel called Miraflores House, run by a jovial man called Francis. Despite my initial misgivings about Lima (it´s a big city of some several million people, many who are poor, and there are areas where you really shouldn´t go), I had no troubles there at all. Let´s hope this continues through the rest of my trip! The taxi drivers are willing to talk and not many people speak English so it was a good (but hard) way to get right into my Spanish. Miraflores is a suburb by the beach, where the upper class limeños live, so it´s safe to walk around by yourself. Apart from the ridiculously crazy traffic, it wasn´t too different from any suburb back home, except the architecture of some of the houses was beautiful and there is a ruin sitting about 5 blocks down the road (it was really just a big dusty brown mound with some rocks on it, but it looked cool).
The hostel: was decorated with maps, random objects, trinkets, etc. and had a central lounge room with lots of couches and a small area to eat. Having one central area is a good way to get to know all the people staying at the hostel, and free breakfast is another way. I made friends with an English girl and her Belgian travelling buddy, a Norwegian couple, an American missionary and others. On my second night there, Francis bought a huge, huge bottle of Pisco, the local alcohol (sort of like rum); mixed with Coke and lime, it´s pretty yummy. Needless to say we all got super drunk, and because some of us had planned to go down to Barranco (where the clubs and bars are) we still went, probably a bad idea. I think it was fun.
The food: We ate at a restaurant that supposedly serves the ¨best chicken in Peru¨ according to Francis, and indeed it was good (tender), plus they serve the chips with three types of sauces - garlicy, creamy, and spicy. In central Lima, where food (and everything else) is much much cheaper, we tried ceviche which is a seafood specialtÿ: only slighty cooked (it can be mixed, fish, squid, etc) served with spanish onion, chilli, pepper, a slightly creamy tomato-y sauce and lots and lots of lemon. It was delicious. Other dishes: potatoes with huancaina sauce (a buttery, slightly cheesy sauce), surprisingly served cold; and a liquidy, creamy jelly, surprisingly served warm. But the best meal was anticuchos de corazon - beef heart skewers. Who thought heart could be so tender and tasty (and good for you)? Trout is also popular here, except deep fried seems the way to go... hmm.
Lima central: is a busy, bustling, crowded area, with stores and pedestrian malls, people selling stuff in the street, lots of ice-cream stalls. As always there´s a central plaza which was huge, with the cathedral and town hall making up two sides of the plaza. With the mountains in the background, it´s quite a nice view except my camera ran out of film and I didn´t have any extra in my bag. The day we spent out in the city it was some sort of celebration, so we saw processions of people carrying a litter, filled with flowers and pictures of Jesus, singing and playing songs. We also came across limeños decorating a sort of mural on the ground, with flower petals (no joke; bags and bags of different coloured flower petals to scatter in various sections, making up a picture of, for example, a man and woman in a field). I´m waiting for my hostelmate to send me her photos.
Other things: Well, I can now say I have thrown up on a Peruvian bus. The day after drinking Pisco, when I finally got up and about and went to catch a bus into town, I caught the wrong bus (well, actually the right bus, going in the wrong direction) so I ended up in a nice suburban area called Mochilla. I found some food and relaxed for awhile before catching a bus back to Miraflores, but on the way I started to feel progressively sicker. And you know you can´t really stop yourself from throwing up. I could have jumped off the bus but there was an old woman next to me and I wasn´t quite sure where I was, so I ended up throwing up on the floor (it was mostly liquid). No one seemed to notice, except the woman, who was very sympathetic.
David, the missionary, took us to visit a middle-class Peruvian family he´d come to know through his ex-girlfriend. It was a nice experience, to see their house and talk to the mother (who was curious about Tasmanian devils, one of the things she´d seen about Australia on National Geographic). He´d been working in an orphanage in Trujillo up north, for 10 months, and had been robbed 3 times in that period, once at gunpoint, another with a knife. He gave us the useful advice to always turn around when you hear running footsteps behind you and look someone in the eye if you think they´re following you. Then again, he sort of stands out as a gringo with red hair, glasses and a big cross around his neck...
Verdict: If there has to be one, I enjoyed my time in Lima but I think I can attribute most of that to the hostel and people I met there. But I also don´t think of Lima as a big, dangerous city, just a normal big city where you have to watch where you go. The people were friendly if you spoke to them, as Peruvians are quite shy. I wouldn´t mind a few more days to spend there but it´s no loss if I don´t return.