Another Day

Trip Start Dec 15, 2009
Trip End Aug 27, 2010

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Where I stayed
Kusillus Hostel

Flag of Peru  ,
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

We arrived at Quito airport early for our flight, so early that they hadn't even opened check-in. Now, for anyone who knows Derek, arriving early is a highly unusual and noteworthy occurrence, particularly since this was a flight time and not a tee time? Our flight was smooth and uneventful, if only the same could be said for the taxi ride that followed.

We had pre-arranged our transfer from the airport to the hostel due to a warning of aggressive taxi-vultures in Lima. We settled into the taxi, and felt very comfortable with the driver who even bought some candy whilst in a traffic jam to share with us. Little did we know the sugar fix was more likely for him than us. Our flight had arrived in Lima after 10pm, and after the early start at the market, the kids were tired and were soon dozing off to sleep in the car. As the traffic eased, the speed increased as did the liberties our driver was taking with the neighbouring traffic and the traffic signs. Apparently, it’s okay for two taxis to share a lane side-by-side on the highway, and it really doesn’t matter which lane you’re in to turn at an intersection??? Our concerns were temporarily alleviated when we realized that it wasn’t just our driver, everybody seems to drive this way, and it’s his job so he does this every day etc. So he’s sure to avoid that central meridian we’re approaching at full speed, right? Wrong! Fortunately the existing suspension was only loosely associated with the car anyway, so we took the scenic route for a block or so… despite being a little shaken everyone was okay, but needless to say, we were wide awake and white-knuckled for the remainder of the journey.

The next day we spent exploring the area of Miraflores where we are staying at Kusillus Hostal; A very pleasant hostel in a great location for us i.e. near to everything Miraflores has to offer without having any nightclubs nearby (yep, we’re gettin’ old….). One of Peru’s specialties is "Cebiche", fresh fish that is served cold and has not been cooked per se but has been marinated in either lemon or lime juice and is mixed with various spices and seasonings. The marinating breaks down the protein in much the same way that cooking does. So, our first full day in Peru, we splashed out on an expensive lunch and went to one of the best cebicherias in Miraflores. We had two different types of cebiche, which were fantastic, washed down with the same purple drink that everybody else was drinking….Chicha morado, a juice made from corn which tastes somewhat like sangria without the alcohol.

We awoke on Monday morning to find that all ground transportation staff in Peru had started a strike, putting our plans to take a bus to Nazca on Wednesday into jeopardy. It was too early to change travel plans, so we headed into the centre of Lima where they were celebrating Lima’s birthday with a Peruvian food festival (rather like a “Taste of Edmonton” for our Albertan friends) where we had more excellent cebiche and an “imperial plate” which seemed to be Chinese food??? Derek had to work for a while, so Sarah and the kids wandered around the historical part of Lima and were lucky enough to catch the changing of the guard at the “Government Palace” which really couldn't be taken seriously as it was more like the ministry of silly walks than an official institution!

All together again, we toured the “Convent of St Francisco” a Spanish Imperial creation. It was very impressive on the outside with it's lemon meringe vista, but the highlight of the tour was a visit to the catacombs, the first public burial site in Lima containing the bones of approximately 25,000 people, most still visible… nice of the Spanish to tidy up after themselves! In the plaza in front of the convent a nice tourist policeman (they have such a thing) was kind enough to point us in the direction of a nearby amusement park for the kids, but not before he asked to practice his english skills by telling us a dirty joke! (Was actually quite funny as it happens).

With the ground transportation strike still active, we spent much of the following day reviewing and changing our travel arrangements. Instead of catching a bus to Nazca, we will spend another day in Lima before flying to Cusco.

As a point of interest, the voltage in Peru is 240V not 110V. Now if you ever find yourself traveling like this you could simply look up such a fact in any guide book, then plan ahead accordingly… or you could just start plugging in your appliances to see what happens. Well, we chose the latter approach and do you know what happens when you plug in a 110V Nintendo DS charger into a 240V circuit? Well, not much happens… no zap, bang or smoke… and no charging whatsoever… “fried” is the technical term I think.  Now there was smoke and plenty of electricity coming from Alex when he realized the implications, so Wednesday morning Sarah and the kids set off in hunt of a new charger for the DS, while Derek flexed his muscles at the local gym across the street. As it turns out Nintendo have not penetrated every corner of the civilized World and, although this is comforting in a way, the thought of 10 hour bus rides without the DS is inconceivable at this point. With perseverance, and ridiculous hand gestures (think “air Mario”) we were eventually successful. The new charger works at all voltages, so we don’t even have to learn from our mistake!

Later that day we took advantage of sunny skies and walked the short distance to, and along, the coast at Miraflores. We didn't actually get to the beach as it was a few hundred feet below Lima's spectacular cliffs, athough there were many surfers down there taking advantage of the decent swells. There is much to see and do in this area and we had a leisurely stroll through some beautiful parks and welcome play areas, even stopping to admire the bird-like paragliders catching the ample thermals, and it appears that Alex may have got up to some mischief too!

We enjoyed our extra day in Lima/Miraflores, and on Thursday we fly to Cusco, where we will stop overnight before heading onwards to the lost Incan city of Machu Picchu…
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