Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
19Trip End Apr 29, 2011
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Arriving in Lima (population 9m) a bit of a culture shock after chilled out Rapa Nui. Lima is anything but. Crossing the road or getting into a taxi are officially classified as extreme sports. Although some things are the same everywhere, as we realised when standing behind 4 Peruvian teenagers (sharing one ID) coppering up for bottle of wine and a packet of fags at the late night petrol station.
Stayed our first two nights in Miraflores, one of the wealthier suburbs. We´d heard and read lots about Lima being unsafe, especially at night, so were slightly apprehensive, but without cause as it turned out. Miraflores was very safe and, despite all the houses having barbed wire and electric fences around them walking back to the hostel at night seemed fine to us. The main thing you noticed was the almost constant cacophany of noise of car horns. As far as we could tell the general practice was to pip your horn if you were turning, carrying on, changing lanes, stopping, inviting business as a taxi, saying hi to a friend, attracting the attention of a young lady, or just bored
We had our first taste of ceviche (raw fish in lemon juice, chilli and raw onion) and inca kola (a bit like irn bru, with added tartrazine), though disappointed to discover it is now made by Coca Cola.
We visited a big archeological site just up the road from our hostel called Huaca Pucllana. It´s small by Peruvian standards, but still takes up several city blocks. It is one of 40+ temple complexes dating from 200 to 700 AD in the Lima area, and is the smallest. It was waste land 30 years ago, but aquired by the government to restore, and they have since unearthed an adobe pyramid and many other strucutres. Our guide, Alejandro told us how he had played games with his friends on the mound when he was a child, unaware what was underneath. Although built from mud bricks, it survivies because there is so little rain in Lima - 8mm a year. It was also built with the bricks placed vertically rather than horizontally, with spaces in between to make it more flexible, and therefore earthquake resistant. The main pyramid is a series of rooms filled with offerings or used as tombs, which, once full, were built on top of to form the pyramid structure. There was evidence of the offerings, as well as a number of human sacrifice skeletons. The site also had a small kitchen garden and farm area, with alapacas (good wool, don´t spit, can´t carry anything), llamas (less good wool, do spit, can carry 15-20kg loads), guinea pigs (Cuy) for eating, huge ducks, and an ancient breed of Peruvian dog without any hair
We the transferred to our pick-up hotel for our tour in central Lima. We pulled up at a hotel with a very solid looking cage around the door and the doorman had our bags out of the boot and into the hotel before we´d un-buckled our seatbelts. We´d read reviews of this hotel before setting off which were anything but good, but, the cage experience apart, it seemed OK to us, though the view from our room was somewhat lacking in aesthetic beauty. We met out tour leader, Fabio, and the other members of our group (Tracey and Krystal from Brisbane and Kapeli from Sydney, though originally Samoa). We headed out for dinner in central Lima, and then for Pisco Sours (at the Cathedral of Pisco Sours).
The next day it was an early start (leaving at 6.15) to head to the jungle...