Letters from the Americas 2005 (part 4) - Peru
I knew there was a jungle in Peru, but I didn't realise it stretched from the airport to Lima city centre! Pandemonium and bedlam everywhere and that was just in the arrivals hall. So Pandemonium took our bags and Bedlam showed us to the cab (fnarr, fnarr).
The basic Rules of the Road in Lima are as follows:
-Drive as frantically as possible
-Speed is your friend
-Traffic lights are just a suggestion
-Change lanes erratically preferably in a constant zig zag pattern
-Cars must be on their last legs, dilapidation is the key
-and most importantly, blow your horn like the cavalry is a-comin
The best thing about Peru is the people, they seem to always have these jaw breaking smiles pinned to their mugs. They love chatting to the 'gringos' and would bend over backwards for you. Salt of the earth I tell ya, Irish Mammys the lot of them.
Lima is known as the City of Kings...I'm not so sure. It's a disheveled city, there are grand squares and impressive colonial buildings which unfortunately are for the most part terribly run down, merely hinting at a glorious past. Miraflores seemed to be the 'posh' area and I've heard people rave about it, it struck me as mainly about shopping and drinking coffee (each to their own). We like to just randomly explore cities so we spent time in, erm, less salubrious parts of town, not necessarily by design. Felt a sense of people having tough lives making the best of things. I didn't spend enough time there to comment confidently but I wonder is Lima a divided city - the well to do and the struggling and not much in between.
The Monastery of San Francisco is definitely worth a visit, it's part of a world heritage site and has catacombs (one of my favourite things - hhmm, does that make me weird, probably). There are tons and tons of skulls and bones all laid out in perfect symmetry. I couldn't peel my eyes off them, Dom had to drag me away.
We stayed centrally in a famous American hotel chain (you'll probably work out which one if you go to Lima), if I'm really honest, the people were perfectly nice but the hotel was not necessarily of the calibre I'd expected from that chain. For example the sheets had been washed but you could still see the old stain of what looked like wine or blood (nice!). The hotel restaurant was very pricey for what you got. I feel terrible saying that, the hotel staff were nice and it could have just been a random bad meal/sheet?! I'm sure future guests had a wonderful (stain free) visit.
However, we weren't sad to move on to Cusco, now that's a beautiful spot.