Trip Start Sep 03, 2011
Trip End Jun 04, 2012

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Where I stayed
Malecon Las Colinas

Flag of Peru  , Lima,
Monday, January 16, 2012

22 hours on the bus from Cusco to Lima, when one of those hours is spent watching the Smurf movie (in Spanish) you can count it as 24.

It was a loooonnnnng and uncomfortable ride that had a promising start until we realised that only some of the movies would have English subtitles, dinner service was a packet of Ritz crackers, a questionable muffin and a peach juice popper and that the reclining chairs were incapable of being COMFORTABLE. 

Upside: I didn't get motion sickness, though Andrew had to pop an anti-emetic tablet, (a tummy full of processed sugar and hydrogenated vegetable oil). Once we got down out of the Andes and closer to the coast the hills were huge sandy dune hills. It was dry and dusty and did I mention it was long?  But once again the scenery was pretty incredible. We stopped in Ica and ate a  hot breakfast: a pork chop, rice and bread roll and fresh papaya juice. It was reminiscent of bus travel in Australia between Sydney and Brisbane and the meal stops. 

We arrived back in Lima at about 2pm Wednesday and headed to the Inka Lodge hostel in Miraflores. Miraflores in Lima is the tourist/gringo area only blocks away from the beaches and it was good to be close to amenities again, like the supermarket, banks and post office even though I couldn't find one to buy stamps and try and send some of our excess stuff home. I don't know whether the Postal services here in South America is not as big an agency as in Australia or if they are just elusive and hiding from me because I can never find them easily (actually I also had trouble locating them in the US and China too!). It makes me appreciate Australia Post and how recognizable and accessible it is, I love you and miss you Australia Post!!!

The next day we checked out the archeological site up the road from where we were staying, Parque Tahuantinsuyo Huaca Juliana, an adobe pyramid of the Lima  culture from 400AD. They are still excavating/digging, but alot of it is is visible from the road. It is enclosed with 6 foot cement posts and is in the middle of the suburbs surrounded by apartment blocks and commercial buildings.  It was an amazing sight in the middle of  Lima city. We decided a walk around was sufficient and that we would save ourselves the $7admission fee. We then made our way down the cliffs to the waterfront where we found pebble beaches, Limeņos (natives or residents of Lima) learning to surf, swimming and of course stalls and sellers offering drinks, snacks, meals, beachwear, ice creams and ice blocks, sun protection items and accessories. We found a spot to sit on the pebbles and watched the boys roll into the surf down the steep  pebble shore. It was hilarious and loud, as the waves crashed in then the sound of the pebbles being tumbled in the surf along with the boys. I should explain that the "pebbles" were the size of oranges, though most of them were flattish. It was strangely comfortable to sit or lay upon. I guess because the layer of pebbles was so deep it seemed to shift and move to accommodate our 'unconventional' shapes.  I was just reading in the lonely planet South America guide about Lima beaches and something about pollution warnings, great!  20/20 hindsight.

Forty kilometres in the north of Lima we found a bungalow with ocean views for a reasonable price. So last Thursday 6th Jan, we set off in 2 taxis from Miraflores towards Ancon, starting along the coastline then back on the dry dusty Pan American highway. I love the the way locals drive in developing nations along their highways. There are the "rules" and then there is the unwritten rules ie:

1. when there is a holdup in the traffic, dirt shoulder roads are for creating three extra lanes of traffic to bypass the hold up
2. When returning back to the main road after the holdup just edge as close as you can to the vehicles beside and in front of you and fold in your side mirrors if you can and push your way through, because waiting is over-rated!
3: the horn can be an offensive as well as defensive weapon

 It was a real treat like something out of "Canonball Run".

We arrived at our accomodation to find this cute bungalow circa 1960s/70s with a view out to the water and big sandy hills behind us. We are staying up on the esplanade in the hills above the water and the town, Ancon is a short 20 min. walk either along the Ramblas or the esplanade. The Ramblas is lined with apartments, private beaches, pool areas and  a yacht club for the Peruvian middle and upper classes who maintain these accomodations for their weekend getaway/holiday homes. The other Peruvians arrive in droves by buses and taxis into Ancon  and then pick a beach and spot to stay for the day with the Ancon municipality keeping an eye out for any untoward beach activities that could disrupt the area, ie alcohol, loud music. The area seems to be maintained for the Peruvian elite, but the others are allowed into the public access areas. It is interesting to see the divide. As far as we can work out this is a mid-range community as there are bigger mansions up the road protected by high fences and a guarded gate. They wouldn't even let us dusty-footed gringos in when we were trying to find the access road to the local lighthouse. But strolling along the Ramblas last night, with all the rules, security patrols and municipal  care the area is very safe and child friendly. The middle class Peruvians are quite happy to let their children out on the Ramblas till after dark while the general population continue to drift back to their mode of transport to return to their homes without hassle or raucous teenagers or drunkards, very pleasant.

We have spent the last week walking, swimming, sunning, shopping down at the local mercado and bakeries. We have also been riding the motor taxis and tri-shaws with our shopping and supplies. We are now a bit darker and trimmer and the local Peruvians keep thinking I am Peruvian. Out of the South American countries we have been to I think that the indigenous Peruvians look the most Polynesian. Some of them look like my auntys and uncles, so cute! 

The one thing we haven't been able to find is a laundromat here in Ancon or Lima. In Lima I only found a laundry service which I should have just used as the price was reasonable but here in Ancon there is nothing but  a service that charges per item. I did try and get my family to wash and rinse by hand their own clothes but they seemed unmotivated by the prospect of no clean clothes. Our accomodation owner Carolina offered to get her maid to pick it up but then put us onto the apartment handyman Mr Jose's daughter, but after a mix up she turned up and she ended up washing them by hand for 50 soles, I felt terrible that she had to wash them by hand but the 50 soles seemed to be a fair trade. I should have made friends with a middle class Peruvian so I could have used their washing machine!

Making friends at the local markets and supermarkets has always been a bonus wherever we have gone. Ancon has been no different.  We have  had plenty of fruit and veges at great prices. As to be expected we searched for and asked for a supermarket on arrival only to be taken to the local market area under one roof with small stall/shop owners. Our first day on asking at this market if there was a supermarket the ladies burst into a giggles and I imagined they said that "this was the supermercado" of Ancon as their hands gestured that this was the spot. Each day we have walked down to the mercado, the girls Fanny and Violetta have always had a smile and something to say and I just politely smile and try very hard to catch a word or two in order to reply. Another little character was a little old lady who would always come down to the stalls I would stop at before hers and try and help me. The last few days I have remembered to wait and get my veges from her. Today with my limited "Espaņol " I told her that it would be my last day at the market as we were leaving on Monday. She seemed to understand and then proceeded in Espaņol, we hugged and she was so cute. The other 2 characters were the sauce ladies. Andrew, always in search of flavours and spices for our food found these 2 and he would entertain them with his queries of how hot the sauces were and his facial expressions describing how hot.

This morning we were picked up by our prearranged taxi driver Juan and his punk rock music selection of "the exploits" and the specials at 6am. We are now awaiting our flight to La Paz, Bolivia. New place, new adventure. We leave though knowing we are to return back to Lima in 3 weeks, so we will finish exploring Lima then.

Ciao Lima.
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