Lima Travel Blog

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Lima - a city of 10 million people, famous for its ugliness and pollution.  However, if travelling in Peru there is no way to avoid it.  We stayed in a district called Miraflores which although out of the centre is the new social hub for the capital and therefore where all the backpackers go. 

Although not pretty, Lima is a very cosmopolitan city and I quite like it - apart from the 1st sightings of McDonalds, Burger King and Pizza Hut.  The tuk tuks of Piura, replaced by Daewoo Ticos in Trujillo have become minibus taxis in Lima and rule the roads.

  With 10 million people, the roads are predictably insane and make the Arc de Triomphe in Paris look positively tranquil.  However there are traffic police on every corner constantly whistling to stop and start the traffic which somehow works.  The pedestrian crossings are manned by other traffic wardens with face paint to look like clowns.  When the traffic is stopped, there are breakdancers on hand to jump in the road, perform for the stopped traffic before asking for money for the performance.

Passed a couple of nice plazas en route to the main Plaza de Armas.  Plazas de Armas containing the presidential palace and cathedral are similarly not particularly eye catching but still impressive in their grandeur. Both and also the central fountain are all over 400 years old.

  We made it in time for the daily changing of the guard (not specifically intentional !) - they need more practise.  The river behind the palace was more fitting with the preconceived images of Lima with a dried up riverbed with diggers driving around and a shanty town on the hill behind.

Went back to Miraflores to spend a little time at the water front.  Quite average but watched the parasailing before a friendly local guy latched onto us.  Spent half an hour chatting about travelling before telling us about his work as a teacher helping disadvantaged kids learn skills to make a living (conveniently he was armed with photos and examples of their work). Really nice guy and we still cant work out whether it was another scam.  Refusing a contribution towards his work, Dave was soft enough to buy a traditional Peruvian woolly hat.

  I got away with a free Coca tea bag to help with altitude sickness.

Dave determined to find a vegetarian for dinner which was surprisingly elusive, gave up and we agreed to follow a street tout called Marcos to his restaurant who promised to make us whatever we wanted.  After walking off the main street for 2 minutes, we both thought better of it and turned to leave him when he pointed out his place.  As soon as we sat down, we were quickly joined by Marcos and two others (Pedro (an old trumpet player in a band) and Anna Marie (his 19 year old daughter, also in the band) - we knew something was up but we sat tight.  Marcos ordered the food and the beers and we had a really nice meal having got exactly what we wanted, if a little disconcerting by how flirty Anna Marie was with both of us going out of her way to put our hands pretty much everywhere !!  All was fine until the bill was asked for which came back at 250 soles (about $80).  I challenged it straight away with the waiter who backed down within a minute giving us the real bill of 120 soles.  Pedro who had followed me to the desk then returned saying that he had covered the other 130 and that we should pay the remainder and go.  Obviously a lie and backed up by the itemised bill.  Nice Marcos turned into bad Marcos shouting and threatening, Pedro went from trumpet extraordinaire to old man with no money and Anne Marie went from flirtatious babe to the crying innocent victim.  A very good act but we werent budging and an hour stand off ensued.  Marcos eventually stormed off.  We persuaded the waited to accept 80 off us and left Pedro and Anna Marie with the remainder.  We might have been scammed again but we looked back thinking we got off quite lightly had we accepted the weed or coke offered earlier (in possession of drugs = screwed), just arrived in South America and believed the price was realistic, or easily intimidated and backed off for an easier get out.  I´m sure the act was fine tuned and performed 100 times in the past and many others wouldn´t have got away so cheaply.  All part of the fun in South America and the meal ended up being only slightly more than normal.  Finished the night treating ourselves to a couple of half litre glasses of Cristal lager to laugh off another eventful day.

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photo by: rsvpme