After the Colca canyon trek, we returned to Arequipa for one last night before heading out to Lima. With time to kill before our the departure of our night bus, we hung out at a chocolate cafe and enjoyed dinner at Chicha.
Due to my screw up, we had to take the 10 pm night bus and sit at the back of the sleeper section next to a rattling coffee maker and loud ventilation fans. The ride took 15 hours and I drifted in and out of consciousness to the sound of a shogun ebook. The coastal area south of Lima were arid.
We rented a large penthouse apartment in the Miraflores district from a Swiss/Peruvian couple. The place occupied the entire top floor of the building. It had two large decks, three bedrooms and bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen. For photos check out the Air Bnb Listing. Miraflores is a fancy neighbourhood with tree lined streets, shopping malls, chi chi restaurants and hotels, bike paths and a park that follows the cliffs that overlook the Pacific ocean. In the centre of it all is this park called Kennedy Park which is home to a large number of stray cats.
Lima is very different from the other parts of Peru that we visited. There are no anticucho sellers or moto taxis. However, crowded buses that bring workers into the area remind you of the other Peru. We used our time in Lima to relax. We met up with Cato, our Norwegian friend from Arequipa and went out to restaurants and for beers with him. Cato has this great dry sense of humour that complemented my Jewish Montrealer familiarity and Eliot’s Colombian directness.
Eliot befriended a Peruvian restauranteur named Andres who owns two restaurants in Lima called Sr Saltado . He took Eliot, Cato and I to the beach at Baranco- a bohemian neighbourhood next to Miraflores. The beach scene was similar to Huanchaco, a happy fun loving /family crowd. There was not much in the way of eye candy and the beach itself was not beautiful. As Andres told us, Lima has its back to the Ocean. Andres then took us out for lunch to a restaurant in the market called Canta Ranita. We had ceviche with grilled octopus and leche de tigre, Causa (a shaped cold mashed potato sandwich filled with seafood and avocado). We washed it all down with chicho morada (purple corn juice) The place was a partially upscale version of the typical market restaurant. They served beer and there were buskers (see video) and lots of hip Peruvians.
Later during the week, we visited the historical centre of town. In the Cathedral, we saw the tomb of Pisarro, the Spanish Conquistador that conquered the Inca. It is funny how he is a hero in Lima but considered a murderer and invader in Cusco and Catamarca. It is kind of like the way the french and english have different opinions on Generals Wolfe and Montcalm except on a less intense scale. At the San Francisco monastary we toured the courtyard and catacombs. The area around the historical centre is a bit dingy with old dusty buildings, mixed in with large government offices. We saw a protest outside of the court house and had lunch at a sandwich restaurant that is a Lima institution like Schwartz’s.
I had to stay on in Lima for two extra days because of my Brazilian visa blues. On one of the days, I rented a bike and headed downtown along the bike path that follows Arequipa street. It was all going well until the path suddenly ended and I had to find my way through the traffic chaos. Lanes are a theoretical concept as taxis, buses and collectivos jostle for space looking for the slightest gap in which to push ahead. I got lost and had two near death experiences. The first one involved me having to cycle across 5 lanes of traffic, as I looked back and saw the buses and taxis speeding towards I had to peddle my Mary Poppins bike like a maniac to get to the safety of a traffic island. I was relieved to still be alive and doubly relieved that Eliot was not with me at the time. I then proceeded to get lost in a rough part of time and thought about the Peruvian crime shows we saw in which bandits attack people at ATM’s in Lima.
Luckily, I had my cell phone and google maps and was able to find the main square and return back in one piece. That evening I checked out of my hotel and caught an Uber to the Airport. It was the end of more than 6 weeks in Peru. It was sad to leave but we will return.
A less than chic underwear store
Historical centre and San Francisco monastery