We land in Lima and pass the baggage claim with pride. Because we are travelling CARRY ON. Just the essentials.
It’s 11:30pm and we’re a bit groggy from the flight. We step out into the foggy parking lot outside the airport and squint our eyes at the walking map that is to lead us to our nearby hotel, still outside of Lima proper, right by the airport.
A bit of wandering and “hmmmm, I think we should go that way” takes place, but eventually we find our way down an alley that is a bit darker, a bit more deserted, more covered in garbage, a bit more unwelcoming than we were hoping for…this should be leading us to our hotel. Even Léa isn’t interested by the stray dogs that begin to follow us. We need to find this place, and quick.
We find it. A sigh of relief: it’s much more welcoming than its surroundings, and it has WIFI. We can tell our loved ones we’re still alive. We fall asleep, reassured.
The next day we take a taxi from the airport all the way across Lima to one of its most southern neighborhoods, Barranco. It’s a 45 minute drive. With one stop to refuel. We learn most cars work with both petrol and, much cheaper in Peru: natural gas. We’re kindly asked to leave the car for safety reasons, and they fill up the round tank that hangs precariously in the trunk of the car.
Noticing now with more attention that the suspension is completely shot, we stare out the windows while our driver takes us through potholes, speedbumps, and aggressive maneuvers which is simply “driving” in Lima, all the while distracting us with his wonderfully cheerful personal take on Peru. He speaks with pride, as an ambassador for the country, and I for some reason see in him a resemblance with Kung Fu Panda’s father. Sorry for the obscure reference.
It’s the end of winter, and Lima is completely covered in fog. A thick, grey sky, complemented by very colorful colonial houses. Most of them are beaten up pretty badly, many are abandoned, and a few of them were enormous mansions. Barranco is full of them, and this adds a lot of flare to the neighborhood.
I’m not used to travelling so many hours while remaining in virtually the same time zone. “That’s so strange,” I say to Léa, “normally this much travel means a 9 hour time difference.” But then I remember I’ve just gone from Summer to Winter in half a day.
It slowly sinks in that we’ve landed in a new continent, and we use this landing spot to start planning our trip. You know, because it’s started.
Highlights from Lima include an amazing ceviche restaurant, which was Léa’s pick:
I’m a bit hesitant with the whole ceviche thing, because last time I had some in Venezuela, years ago, it resulted in three weeks of turista. But this looks too good to pass up, so I eat my share.
Six hours later my eyes are puffing up. Was it the ceviche? Is it all mental? I’m still not sure. Still, delicious.
Other highlights came to us while we walked all over Lima. Here is an old church, taken over by ravens, with only the skeleton of its roof left intact:
Later we make our way past a collection of Incan markets, and head over to a giant ruin, Huaca Pucllana, that rests right in the middle of the city and is completely surrounded by urban development. A tour guide tells us it was used for both rituals and administrative purposes. I start imagining the barbaric demeanor of ancient civil servants, all huddled together in a dark waiting room full of peasants holding numbered adobe bricks.
Another stop on our walk through Lima was Kennedy Park, which had a collection of ecological cartoons displayed along the paths through the park. Here are a few:
Poor little elves. Global warming is not for them.
Last but not least we visit the Larco Museum in the late afternoon. The place looks to be very well funded, with a beautiful entrance and restaurant. It houses a small, but very complete set of artifacts from the many civilizations that have existed over the years in Peru. We see many detailed figurines, many ceramic jugs, and ceremonial knives and bowls that were used to decapitate people and collect their blood as sacrificial offerings to the gods.
And appended to the main museum they have a collection of erotic Peruvian artwork. We can’t help but giggle at the sexually explicit jugs and figurines, even though we’re well aware that you’re meant to appreciate this within the context of a wholly different worldview.
After a few days in Lima spent walking around and planning our trip, we decide to head north up the coast to Trujillo, in search of sunshine.