Arriving in Lima turned out to be quite a shock… Winter here on the Pacific Coast really means winter, not like in Rio de Janeiro where temperatures climb up to 32 decrees Celcius during the day. Here at night temperatures fall far below 10 degrees and during the day hardly get over 15. On top of that, it is damp, which makes it so much worse AND the sky is always grey. We are basically wearing all the warm clothes we have brought…
Locals sit in windy café wearing winter coats, ponchos and heavy jackets. Doors and windows are all wide open, because inside it is even cooler. Upon Heidi´s idea & request of having a swimming pool, we had checked into the Alberque Juvenile International in Miraflores for a hefty 30 USD a night for a double room, which must indeed be a great summer location with its spacious lobby and large communal area, big garden and pool. Now beginning of September it was just cold. We even moved into a smaller room the second night hoping to warm it with body temperature … Well, that did not work!
Eventually we went to Pulvo Azules, a cheap local shopping center, to buy clothes. The idea most unsettling was: if we cannot keep warm close to sea level, what will we do up 3.000 or worse 5.000 meters? It did not help that we are both tired and Gilles has developed a severe cold, so spirits were down a bit that Sunday. The reason we went to Miraflores was that it is supposedly a lot safer, there is a lot less traffic and it has some really nice residential streets. Due to the chilly temperatures its famous nightlife was rather subdued even on a weekend!
After two nights, we eventually decided to move into the city center of Lima and checked into the most beautiful Hostel de las Artes. It is an old colonial building, very tastefully renovated. It is still cold but Heidi found a little lounge with low ceilings to spend the evening writing and Gilles went to sleep off his cold. The next morning, we could enjoy the first shower with a real water pressure since the beginning of the trip, a very pleasant luxury! And last but not least, the Hostel de las Artes costs only 18 USD a night, with a 20% discount for members of South American Explorers …
One of the things we clearly enjoyed, were the restaurants in Lima. On the one hand, you can find places in the city center that offer lunch for no more than 6,5 Soles (1,5 Euros) for starter, main dish, desert and one drink … Saturday evening, of course, we had to go to one of the better Cevichería to enjoy the local specialty, the Ceviche, row fish marinated in lime juice and sometimes with spices. We chose the Vista del Mar, a restaurant with a nice terrace and an incredible view of the Pacific Ocean and great Ceviches.
On Sunday afternoon and Monday morning, Heidi walked around the city center while Gilles slept and finally went to the hospital to get some well needed medications and antibiotics. There are really only two major sights worth visiting: Plaza de Armas and Plaza de San Martin. The pedestrian street linking the two squares was full of people and families dressed in Sundays attire shopping or exploring the many fast food places and yes, ice-cream parlors. There was a market near Plaza de Armas with Artisans shops, lots of food stalls, as well as music and dance performances.
One phenomenon that struck us right away upon arrival, were the many money-exchangers throughout the city center. They are wearing vests clearly marking them as such and are holding bundles of cash in their hands, their clients being mainly Peruvians. We still wonder how they beat the banks.
The other thing that was different to us coming from Brazil was traffic. If Brazilians cannot live without a thumb up or two signaling approval, Peruvian drivers cannot live without honking their horn. Every taxi or small bus tries to get your attention by doing so, not talking about the drivers trying to get other cars out of the way, signaling impatience with the speed of traffic or simply hinting the police person controlling traffic at an intersection that it should be their turn … Busses often trail a black cloud of exhaust fumes and are generally loud. At intersections you often find children performing acrobatic tricks hoping to get a few Centimos.
After three chilly nights here in Lima we call it a quit and move on to Nasca, the next stop in Peru, seven hours south of Lima …
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