Beetle Mania

Trip Start Feb 06, 2011
Trip End Jul 24, 2011

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Flag of Peru  ,
Thursday, April 14, 2011

The journey from Cusco to Lima took us all the way from the high Andes to the coast via Peru's desert region and a very windy, sleep depriving road. We were staying in the Barranco district, not quite as upmarket as the neighbouring Miraflores with its swanky hotels and restaurants, but cool none the less with a laid back bohemian atmosphere. It was very pleasant to be near the sea with sun and hot weather so we ditched the trousers and trekking boots in favour of shorts and flip flops. Lima comes across as a really vibrant city, and much more cosmopolitan than the rest of Peru we had seen. As with every place we’ve visited Lima has its individualities; bizarrely here Volkswagen Beetles are ridiculously popular and every other car seems to be one (I’ve since discovered they were built in Brazil and imported).

As it was Amanda’s last night before heading back home we decided to see her off in style and try out some of Lima’s nightlife, especially since booze was back on the menu as the election was over! There is a huge range of really top quality food from all over the world, but we went for something suitably Peruvian, er, sushi. It was a good choice though as it equalled anything I’ve had in London, and Anna and I had been craving it for the past 3 months. From there we continued onto a couple of bars, one of which was in a massive old colonial house, complete with a selection of brightly coloured traditional dancing shorts hung over the bar. Things went a little off the rails here after I made friends with a very enthusiastic Colombian guy which led to rounds of shots at the bar. Needless to say after weeks of sober early nights we got rather drunk…

Feeling incredibly hungover the next morning we headed out to see a few of the sights including the Parque del Amor in Miraflores, complete with a rather lewd statue, and hit up some shops for Amanda to buy last minute souvenirs before saying a sad farewell. It felt rather odd for it just to be the two of us once more, and that we’d have to make conversation on our own!

The remaining time spent in Lima was spent on a slightly wild-goose chase to get hold of some anti-malarial pills (luckily we succeeded), a meal in Chinatown and checking out a recently opened exhibit of artefacts from Machu Picchu in the centre of town. When the explorer Hiram Bingham rediscovered the ruins he promptly shipped off 40,000 artefacts to Yale University for research on a 'short term’ loan basis which turned out to be a little longer than the Peruvians expected. After 100 years and a lot of pressure they have finally sent some back (although none that are actually on display in the Peabody museum, just some out of storage) that are now on display in the Presidential Palace. To be honest we had seen better artefacts in the museum in Cusco but it was great to see inside the Palace (normally closed to visitors) and even more to see the enthusiasm of the Peruvian people in their heritage.

Finally we headed off to find a sight that Anna has been talking about for our entire time in South America. In the centre of Plaza San Martin there is a statue of the liberator with a lady, Madre de la Patina on the front. Commissioned by the Spanish from local craftsmen it suffers from the word ‘llama’ having two meanings in Spanish – the South American camelid and flames. Needless to say she doesn’t have a crown of flames on her head…

From Lima we headed up the coast to the small town of Mancora to spend a few days relaxing on the beach after a few hectic weeks. We quickly found a spot on the beach with cold beers and fresh ceviche on tap and sat back to enjoy the sunshine and 35C heat. Attempts at swimming were soon called off after Anna nearly lost her bikini in the rough sea – we should have known as Mancora is known as a top surfing spot.

Despite copious amounts of SPF30 we still got burnt, and as the following day was overcast there wasn’t a huge amount to do other than read our books and write blog posts. In all honesty we were a little underwhelmed with the town itself given the rave write-up in the guidebook – it has grown quickly and is very touristy, so it wasn’t a difficult decision to bring our time in Peru to an end and see what Ecuador would have to offer.
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