Full circle

Trip Start May 18, 2007
Trip End Jul 28, 2007

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, July 27, 2007

It's all over but the crying now...

Yep, I'm back in Lima, and getting ready to fly out to Toronto late tonight. Two and a half months ago, on May 19 to be precise, I arrived here eager, excited, and a little intimidated at the prospect of travelling through South America until the end of July.

It's been an absolute blast! I've been lucky - I haven't lost anything (well, one t-shirt and one sock...), I haven't had any immigration trouble along the way, no mugging or pick-pocketing, and no lost luggage. Not bad, considering I've taken a total of 8 flights in the last two months, a few buses, not too mention the porters, and donkeys, who also carried my gear, and I've visited a number of towns and cities, big and small.

This isn't yet the last entry - I'll save the Epilogue for when I get home. So I'll just wrap up the events of the last 24 hours.

After writing about Iguazu, Mate, and El Che yesterday, I met up with Ashley and Steve again, in front of Cafe Tortoni on Av. de Mayo in Buenos Aires. We ended up going to another cafe nearby (Tortoni's not that keen on backpack-toting, smelly tourists who've just spent 18 hours on a bus...), and catching up on our respective adventures of the last few days. Ashley is coming to Toronto in a month, so we also made arrangements to connect.

We said good-bye around 4pm, and I headed back to the youth hostel to collect my other big bag (KE duffel with a bunch of souvenirs and books in it...). I re-organized my gear again, tried to balance the weight between the two big bags - not bad, in the end.

While waiting for a cab, I chatted with front-desk employee Pablo, who turned out to be very nice. Although his English is great, we chatted in Spanish about Argentine politics and the current economic situation, and about Canada (for some reason, everyone in Argentina knows that Canada is bilingual - something I haven't really encountered anywhere else in the world, not even south of the border...). This Pablo was the third "Pablo" I've met during my trip, and all three have stood out as people I'll remember for their kindness and friendliness (one was my student in Arequipa). So there - Pablo in Buenos Aires offered great service at the youth hostel, I can't deny it!

The taxi showed up, and I lucked out again. The driver was super-friendly, and we chatted the whole way. I took the opportunity to ask the one question that had become very urgent, just before leaving Argentina: how do you make mate???  I still hadn't heard the process described, and it seemed an important thing to find out, before exiting Argentina. Thanks to the driver (whose name I don't know - possibly Pablo?), I am now somewhat knowledgeable in the art of making mate. Note that this knowledge is as of yet untested...

Ezeiza Airport, in BA, is rather unimpressive -- except for one thing: shopping! I got a bottle of Malbec wine (Malbec is a grape that is fairly unique to Argentina), some Dulce de Leche (hmmm!), and then hung out in the huge Duty Free area, successfully resisting the purchase of several more appealing things that I really don't need.

The GOL flight to Lima (via Santiago) was a bit delayed, but otherwise uneventful. Though - my neighbour had clearly never flown before, and she needed help to figure out the reading light, the "layover without getting off the plane" in Santiago, and... the seat belt once we landed in Lima. Not being judgmental or anything, but - come on...

I got my "TaxiGreen" ride out of Lima airport (glad I had figured this out last week!), and was driven, through a cold drizzle, to my hotel in Miraflores. It took about 10 minutes for the hotel clerk to open the door at 2:30am (the taxi driver was kind enough to stay with me), but eventually, I was able to take an almost-hot shower (the last one had been in Iguazu, two days ago...) and get into a nice, comfy bed.

Breakfast today at the hotel was a disaster: a bit of bread, followed by tepid coffee, then a bowl of fruit 20 minutes later; I gave up and left, and the waiter said, "But wait! Aren't you staying for the soup?".  Huh... no! So I left to go back to LarcoMar, which has probably become my favourite Lima hangout, commercial as it may be. I finished my breakfast at Starbucks.

I bought (more) books and some Iberica chocolate (a specialty of Arequipa), then discovered a little museum that displayed phenomenal pictures, and a great exhibit of "Oro" -- ie, similar to the gold museum, with some history of pre-inca cultures. I got a private tour which was fantastic. The pictures I took turned out well, but this computer isn't modern enough to let me upload them... Later!

I was really happy to visit this museum - it was a great wrap on my cultural education in Peru, before heading home. Great way to come full circle in Lima.

My last remaining activities before the trip to the airport? A last meal of Cebiche and Cusqueña beer!

Ahhh, Peru, I will miss you!
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