"Lima es loco"

Trip Start Jun 16, 2007
Trip End Nov 13, 2007

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Saturday 16th June - Tuesday 19th June

Arrived safely in Lima at about 5:30pm local time - and then we had scariest taxi ride to the hostel as driver exclaimed ´Lima es loco´whilst waving his hands in the air!  We gathered this meant crazy!  Roads are mad with every vehicle worse than those seen banger racing, belching smoke and constanatly beeping horns. 

On arrival our hostel resembled a prison with scary electric fence and security cameras in every corner.  Before putting bags down we had to have our mug shots taken and surrender passport numbers!
The hostel´s security system!
However, once security checks over, it was actually a really nice hostel run by lovely people. En suite bathroom and lovely breakfasts all for 15 quid per night for both of us.   The owner Francis was a legend and took us and other travellers on a day trip to an old Inca settlement and ruins of an Inca city squashed by a landslide. 
Lima tour, Inca city squashed by landslide
We also saw how approx 60% of the 12 million population lived in the surrounding favelas with no running water or electricity. Lima - favelas
We later visited down town Lima where we saw the stunning colonial buildings, including the government building and presidents home.
Central Lima
The touristy area we actually stayed in was much like any other large European city - just a bit of a loco one!  Security guards and police everywhere and so appeared safe, and we haven´t yet been mugged! fingers crossed

After 2 days in Lima  with its damp coastal fog, and polluted air, we were ready to move on, but glad to have taken time to see Lima. 

Decided to head south to colonial city of Arequipa, and debated whether or not to stop off en route down the pan American highway to visit another sight.  However, loads to do around Arequipa (including colca canyon) and so decided to head straight there for a week.  Bus leaves at 4:30pm on Tuesday 19th June, arriving 6:00am (subject to delays!) the next morning.  Bought tickets for most expensive and safe coach in Peru after my mistake of googling ´bus crash in Peru´before we left! 

On delivery of our bus tickets, the travel agent then tells us that there is actaully a strike over the price of petrol in Arequippa on the day we arrive, and that this means no vehicles can run on the road, and if they do, they will be stoned by protestors!  Great timing!  Francis rang our next hostel and reassured us all okay, just a one day strike and our bus would arrive before the protest begins so we decided to proceed with plan....

Security at bus station very high, armed guards at all entrances, metal detectors scaned over our bags, and as we entered bus to take seats we were filmed all the way by a man with a cam recorder. Worst nightmare as found our seats were on top deck right at front of bus - that made it two out of the three lonely planet no´s for buses - "avoid traevelling at night and sitting at front of bus!"  The soothing film then shown on the trip was United Flight 93 !  (To ressure parents and grandmothers, there are 2 drivers on these buses and they switch every 4 hours.  They also have scanners on front of bus which detect objects in the road 200m ahead, loads of headlights and satelite tracking systems!)

All turned out fine, bus really comfy with blankets, pillows and food and a fun trip!    Now in Arequipa, 2300m, and will write more soon....

Hope you all well x
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