After enjoying another plate of delicious Lomo Saltado, a traditional Peruvian dish, for breakfast we booked ourselves a three hour tour of the city on a double decker bus.
I think the last time I went on one of those was 10 years ago in Hong Kong. I rarely do guided tours, but I really appreciate the information you can acquire and it’s a great way to see a city if you’re short on time.
A whopping 10 million people are living in the capital city, of Peru. That’s nearly half the population of all of Holland, in just this city; Now that’s a mind blow. In Miraflores, the district we were staying in, you don’t feel that large population around you.
Lima Central is where you start to feel the numbers. Getting into the bigger streets with the chaotic traffic, people flow like rivers down the narrow market alleys where, I was flabbergasted to learn that 277,000 of the vehicles on the road are legal taxies. I consciously started looking around and almost every car is a taxi.
To give you something to compare this to is that, the 10 million population of New York, famous for it’s yellow taxies, only has 44,000 (all these facts and figures are according to our city tour).
Peru has 60 different types of corn and 3,800 potatoes … who even knew there WERE that many types!? Even more impressive, Peru has the biggest productions of gold in Latin America and the largest silver reserves world wide. There are very few skyscrapers in Lima because the city sits on the ring of fire which causes constant tremors, about 200 annually. Understandable, not many people want to take the risk of investing in a tall building with such unstable conditions.
I could write a post just about the streets in Lima with its double decker buses, local buses, tuk-tuks, pedestrians, combi minibuses, motorcycles, bicycles, three-wheeled bike wagons, the destroyed cars mixed right in with the super expensive unscathed ones.
Surprisingly, despite how beat up and wrecked the cars were I don’t think I saw a single smashed windshield, whereas in Africa there was a huge percent of the destroyed windshields. I remember our good friend Keita who is from Guinea, West Africa, imported a lovely red jeep for his family to use and within the FIRST day there were three cracks in the windshield.
The vendors on the streets in their tiny box shops with and without wheels selling newspapers, magazines, drinks, snacks and more always brings me back to the good old days of traveling with the family. With the constant honking of car horns I feel pressured to be in a mad dash to get everywhere at once and I’m so excited to be part of it.
Citizens of all statuses sit to have their shoe’s polished on the sidewalk and buy a newspaper from one of the many vendors selling a variety of items. Money changers accosting like prostitutes on their designated street corners.
Fruit stalls with new species to discover and try. Our latest was the sweet version of passion fruit, cactus fruit (have had this before but forget where) and a strange one that was a bit like a mix of guava and kiwi.
The most amazing part of all this was the lack of hassle, the freedom we had to just walk in the streets without unwanted whistling or remarks from passing men, stares or aggressive vendors and everywhere seems to be extremely clean. This could have a LOT to do with the area we were staying in, but I feel Lima is a lot more comparable with Paramaribo, the capital of Suriname in these aspects and is nothing like a major city in, say, India or Egypt.
It was nice to learn about the history and see the impact left behind by the Spanish with their beautiful architecture, its a drastic contrast with the offensively large signs of modern brands like Subway, Starbucks, Banana Republic and the rundown shops and homes of Peru today. Our only stop on the tour was at Monastery of San Francisco which was one of the two highlights I wanted to see while here, the other one is the Torture Museum of the Spanish Inquisition which I find horrifyingly educational and will have to see on our return visit.
After all the special requests from both our mothers to take care of each other on our trip, Kees held my hand the entire time in Lima.
He never let me go and always kept me in sight almost… One time I turn around to admire a giant painting of the last supper, with a kind of hidden man within the painting that the guide said is Satan, and the thought of Kees not being there crossed my mind. When I turned around I almost couldn’t believe my own intuition. That dang turkey was gone!
When the guide saw me looking around baffled, she told me to go on ahead and look for him. Leaving the group, I found myself in the next segment of the tour all alone, ducking into the claustrophobic, dark catacombs with coffin-like buckets full of human bones. Enclosed by death, my imagination running wild and all alone, I had to wonder if this was him giving me a sign. I mean, how much more ghoulish of a place could he ditch me, right?!
Searching like a lost lamb, I navigated my way through the dimly lit catacombs, unable to leave without sneaking at least a couple of pictures. With no Kees to be found, I returned to my group. After a while Kees magically reappeared at my elbow in the most gorgeous old library I’ve ever seen. He’d somehow managed to walk off with a Spanish guided tour that crossed paths with ours.
Luckily, I’m not too irresponsible and I could have found my way back to the hotel in Lima after the tour and waited for him there. But I’m seriously not a solo-traveller, and all kinds of things cross your mind, especially when your face is two inches away from a gazillion bones in a foreign country.
Ps. We managed to counter attack our ant problem by wrapping everything in plastic and hanging it from the door. Yeah, there are those travel skills kickin’ in. Ant infested pizza…okay. Ant infested soggy, two day old, unrefrigerated Subway….not so okay.
Stay tuned for my birthday adventures, coming up next!
Categories: Savannah Grace