Wednesday, 31 December 2008

First days no disappointment.

As I ventured out to walk down Av. Arequipa I immediately noticed the pleasant 23 degrees, bright sunshine, palm tree lined avenue and pleasant sea breeze – sorry! I headed in the direction of the centre of Miraflores which is a peaceful outer suburb between Lima and the Pacific. Many of the houses are grand ex-colonial buildings interspersed with newer office developments with residential districts surrounding the main area. Off to the right are some pyramid ruins which I will visit soon but I headed for the plaza which is laid out with grass and flowers and shady trees. Artists were setting up easels to sell paintings and people were in the process of attending mass in the large Catholic church at the end of the Plaza. I watched the participants each kissing the foot of baby Jesus and there was a carefully crafted nativity tableau. On this Sunday after Christmas it seemed a well-attended and joyous celebration and one of many scheduled throughout the morning.

Later I met Stuart my contact in Lima. He moved here following gaining a First in Computer science and married a Peruvian girl with whom he corresponded on the Internet. Stuart runs a website called enperu (see front page link) where he blogs super-interestingly about life in Peru but particularly about its relics and history. He took me on a super fast walk round the district and we went to the beach and Larco Mar which is a large and brash commercial complex given over to Western attractions including every kind of fast food outlet, so much later I caught up on my emails while sitting in Starbucks. I also had a very nice lunch of Lomo Saltado which is basically sauted beef - Interestingly the the restaurant above us, McDonalds had free wifi so I was able to have a skype chat with my family.

My second day in Lima was supposed to be given over to all kinds of practical objectives but I was agreeably sidetracked by some charming young Peruvians who I met in South American Explorers. If you don't know of it this is a very useful organisation with several offices from where you can (see front page link) plan trips, use the Internet or just chill out. They offer advice and have worked out discounts with hostals and travel agencies. On this day there was a free Spanish class which I joined. Unfortunately he teacher called in sick but his 3 students, myself and 2 young women, one each from Holland and Texas were entertained by 3 Peruvian volunteers and we chatted for nearly 2 hours.

After this we went and had an inexpensive lunch and then headed for the beach. The journey to the beach included crossing a busy 3 lane highway 3 times. Our guides didn't see this as unusual or particularly dangerous but it was somewhat harrowing and had to be negotiated on the way back too. So we now continued to chat, by now mostly in English and although the beach wasn't pristine it was sandy and fairly well-used by the mainly younger set on the long summer break vacation. Eventually we went back and I got to see my first Pacific sunset for 35 years. On the route back we we befriended by a municipal motor cycle security Policeman who told us he would escort us along the road to stop us from being robbed – I rather felt this an improbable outcome given there were 6 of us in broad daylight so maybe he was just a bit bored.

I did manage to achieve some of my more mundane objectives and bought a replacement set of glasses for abut 35 pounds and a Sim card for 3pounds. Hopefully I can now use my mobile. Back at the Hostal the staff team were having an early new year party so the place seemed more festive than usual with a bit of dancing, but by 11pm it had subsided and I slept well after a couple of beers. This morning I noticed a group of runners pass by my window at around 6.30 am so perhaps I will stir myself to follow suit but today is a full day of visiting central Lima and my friend Stuart has promised to share with me its beauty and marbled historical past.


eleena said...

Too bad you didn't shoot any video crossing the three lanes of traffic three times. :) And what was the deal with the rent-a-cop that offered to accompany you? Was he expecting to earn a little cash in return for his moonlighting? That just seems weird.

malarkey said...

I think he was boored or liked the look of the pretty western girls, but you do get spontaneous offers of kindness here and maybe with our Western eyes one can read too much into it. We´ll never know!