Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Peru!

The first thing I did when I landed in Lima, after I exchanged my money for soles, was barter for a taxi. Luckily, my Spanish professor had warned me of the unregulated taxis, and I was prepared to drive a hard bargain. When I finally got the price down to 40 soles (from 60), I decided it was probably good enough and headed out into the heart of the city.

We wound our way through the dusty streets, the poverty level more apparent here than in Santiago (or maybe I had merely gotten used to the poverty in Santiago). I began to quiz the taxi driver on the city. I had heard there were only two classes in Peru--no middle class--but the taxi driver insisted there were four: rich, middle, poor, and super poor. He placed himself in the poor category and said the super poor lived on the hills. I saw the hills later. They were overrun with shacks, some of which didn't even have the basic running water and electricity. What I decided later is that Peru is like a strange mix between South Beach, Miami and Tiajuana.

I was staying in Miraflores, the most upscale section of Lima (the South Beach side), the place filled with fancy restaurants and hip bars. After finding my hostel, I walked down to a plaza for dinner and just fell in love. Miraflores was beautiful.

However, the next day, I was not feeling the Lima love. Montezuma's revenge had struck! Oddly enough, all the pain I felt was in my back. I could barely stand. But it wasn't terrible enough to stay in my room all day. I decided to take a tour of the city in the hopes that the walking would be minimal.

That's where I found the vultures.


I don't exactly remember the details of this section of town since I was so captured by the images of the vultures on the roof of this church.

After the tour, I explored more of town (in between bouts of back pain).


This woman to me was quintessential Peru. Also part of quintessential Peru is the cab you can see behind the stand. I have never seen so many taxis in my life! And because I was a Gringa and they hoped I had money for a taxi ride, every single taxi that passed honked its horn at me. I'm not exaggerating. I think it averaged a honk every five seconds. It was one of the most annoying things ever and almost ruined the Lima glow for me. But the Lima greatness prevailed.



In the surf behind me are four or five surfers still riding waves. Off to my right, out of the picture were paragliders enjoying the wind.

So, even with the back pain and yuckiness, I really loved Lima. I was already having more fun in Lima than I had had in Cajon de Maipo. It made me laugh because it meant that I preferred traveler's diarhea and debilitating back pain over loneliness. I guess I really hate being lonely.

When I woke up the next day, I was as good as new! I decided I would see if I could swing a airplane ticket to Cusco. Everyone had told me it was a must-see. But when I checked there weren't any for the days I wanted. Of course, because now I couldn't easily go, I wanted to go even more.

Just as I decided to try going to the airport and seeing if Icould fly standby, I was waylaid by a sales woman advertising trips to Cusco. They were selling bus trips. Suddenly, the fates had stepped in. I weighed my options. Get on a bus today, save money not having to stay in a hostel since it would be traveling overnight, and guarantee arrival in Cusco the next day for very little money...or risk not getting there at all.

I got on the bus at 3pm that day. It was the best decision I made on the trip. The buses in South America are like airplanes in the States. There was a bus attendant (stewardess?) helping us with anything we needed, a dinner was provided, and I saw four pirated movies throughout the evening. I also got to see Peru. The coast was desert, dry, huge mountains of dirt.


As we wound our way up the mountains, it got foggy and wet.

And I actually slept, which was a miracle. 22 hours later, I arrived in Cusco.
Cusco reminded me of a European town with cobblestone streets and Spanish-tiled roofs. The people though, were all Peruvian.

A girl in the traditional Peruvian outfit.

This is the Plaza de Armas.

Plaza de Armas at night.

A market nearby offering all kinds of wares to tourists.

A boy and his donkey.

Now all I had to do was buy a train ticket to Machu Pichu. I only had two days of wiggle room before I was scheduled to head home. No problem!!!
To be continued...

1 comment:

TAD said...

You AMAZE me!! I love that you are all out and about advernture girl! I have friends that raved about Cusco and MP - so glad you went!!