My plan on Thursday was to see some of Lima Centro and I met up with a girl named Silvia who worked close to there and had to take some classes later in the afternoon at the central offices of the bank that she works for. After some unpleasant and relatively expensive (for Peru) fast food chicken over salad at a Peruvian chain we walked around a bit and she told me about some of Lima's history. The main central plaza had been barricaded off and we had a hard time getting where we needed to go. The barricades were for a protest that was going to be coming that way later so that the police could control the protesters and protect the people. It turned out to be a peaceful demonstration by the Peruvian teachers unions demanding higher wages and I saw them marching when I left Silvia at the bank to walk around some more for a few hours until she was finished.
Central Lima is a little grittier than the areas that I had visited so far and where I was staying. The tattered remnants of past glories with their dirty facades due to such heavy exhaust pollution don't look so good under the gray winter Lima skies and a sense of gloom and depression hung in the air. The shops seemed worn and tired, the streets were filthy and the traffic oppressive in the narrower streets. I passed by little hole-in-the-wall eateries called chufas which are run by the Chinese and kinda like our Chinese carryout, with just a bit of Peruvian influence. They are known for their cheap but abundant, if not very memorable, food. A meal there can run a dollar or two so they are definitely a destination for the budget traveler.
To get an idea of the cost of things, lunch of a sandwich and soda cost me a dollar the day before, a beer costs about $2, a taxi ride a few dollars to ride about 20 minutes or so, a collectivo bus is 30 cents for a ride. A nicer meal in a restaurant for 2 can run anywhere from $10 to $25.
I saw some interesting things on my walk, including a little place with old men playing chess, a pickup street soccer game, and a street filled with bookstores peddling any kind of book you could want. One of them was hardly large enough for the woman to sit there! I had a plate of tripe with rice and a glass of Peruvian cabernet in an old corner cafe and halfway through my meal the tv was turned on to the US vs. Paraguay soccer game for the Copa America. I didn't stay to watch my home country lose to Paraguay and returned to meet Silvia who was finishing her course. Her volleyball game had been cancelled so we decided to go back to Miraflores
and have a beer while watching the Argentina game. We settled into a little pizza place called La Glorietta on what is known as "Pizza Street" because of the many Italian restaurants clustered there. It is touristy but the beer was cold, the game was entertaining and the people watching first class.