Peru vs. Bolivia for Copa America - In department store
Finally leaving Mexico and starting my "real" trip was a huge relief. Apart from the fact that I didn´t feel good in Mexico City I was anxious to get to my base for the first part of my trip. Mexico City was immense, crowded, frenetic, loud, filthy and dangerous and I couldn´t wait to leave. Our plane was late leaving but I settled in for the 6 hour night flight and was able to get some sleep, waking up only a half hour before landing. Lima was chilly and humid when I arrived, with uniformily gray skies, but I had expected it as all the guide books had said it was common for Lima in winter. The first day I put on a t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweater and fleece and I was warm, although it was in the high 40s outside and misting.
I was told later that the high 40s is as cold as it ever gets and they said that it was VERY cold for them. Ha ha, little do they know of northern US winters! Their eyes get wide when I tell them about the ice and snow that are common for us. The mist went away later that day but the skies were still gray. Except for some sun yesterday afternoon, the gray has remained constant.
My taxi driver was very nice and I was proud of myself for turning down several offers from taxi drivers before one accepted my price. I was cold, tired and jet-lagged, but still on my toes. We talked a bit on the way to the place I was staying and we drove along the ocean for part of the drive. Lima hugs the cliff over the ocean and many of the neighborhoods have beach and ocean access.
Larcomar on the ocean in Miraflores
The nicer parts of town are San Isidro, Miraflores
and Barranco and the later was where I had made reservations to stay. My bed and breakfast or "hospedaje" has only 4 rooms and is run by a nice elderly couple and their son. They welcomed me and gave me some hot coffee and I went out for a walk until my room was ready. Barranco is considered the Bohemian area of Lima, and was once a popular resort back in the day. The evidence of that is still there in the charming resort-style houses and graceful plazas, avenues and places to eat and make merry. Barranco is quiet during the day and much busier at night as people come from outside to experience the vibrant nightlife.
Miraflores, just to the north along the ocean as well, is much bigger and busier. Here is where the most hotels, shopping, restaurants, cafes, parks and office buildings are located. If I were to rent an apartment I would probably choose this area or Barranco.
After getting some sleep I struck out to do some exploring and to meet up with a girl I had met and talked with before I left Cleveland. I met Rosita and her sister at their office and they told me they had forgotten that it was their mother´s birthday and that they couldn´t spend the evening. I accompanied them to a shopping district and they bought their mom a blender, and then I went back myself to Miraflores and met up with another girl and her cousin. I had also talked to them for months before I came here and it was nice to finally meet in person.
Patty, Andrew & Sandra
The meeting spot was the famous Larcomar, a shopping and entertainmant complex built into the cliff wall above the ocean with tremendous views along the coast in both directions and a view directly down very far to the ocean. We had some traditional Peruvian fast food at a place called Pollo something or other where the specialty is roast chicken with special Peruvian seasonings. They dared me to eat the other specialty and didn´t think that I knew what it was, but I explained that "corazon de res" or Beef Hearts sounded pretty good to me. In fact, it was simply delicious. We talked and laughed for a few hours before my tiredness set in and it was time to go home. Sandra and Patty had chicha morada, which is an infusion of red corn and other flavorings into water and I sampled Peruvian Cabernet Sauvignon for the first time and it was fair, not bad, but not great either. Unfortunately I woke up with a sulfite headache the next morning but it wasn´t too bad and it wore off quickly.
Impressions of Peru to come....