Foggy Lima Town
11.02.2013 27 °C
After our 3am arrival we didn't get much sleep before having to get up for breakfast, so when we were given scrambled eggs and strawberry jam (not for eating together!), it made us feel better about being awake. We also had to start taking anti-sickness tablets this morning in preparation for being at altitude in Ollantaytambo and Cusco and throughout Peru and Bolivia...it should be interesting to see whether or how we react.
We only had one day in Lima so we got up and out, only to find that there was thick fog and mist rolling in from the sea, which meant you couldn't even see the top of a ten storey building.
We walked towards the sea, but we have no idea what the view out was like?!The Miraflores area in Lima seems built for tourism, an area where visitors can feel safe in a city that doesn't have the best reputation. There were police and street cleaners everywhere, a nice promenade with sculptures, flowers and paved walkways.
We walked down some steep steps in the cliff to get down to the sea. There were enormous birds in the water, alongside so many surfers, and we sat and watched for a while.
A surfer guy told us it would be a good day for us to learn surf as we wouldn't burn our skin...obviously the Buenos Aires tan, if ever there was one, has faded! Down the opposite end was a pier, just like at the English seaside, but unfortunately they don't just take anyone on their Peruvian piers - Andrew was turned away for wearing shorts.
So we tackled the long walk back up some more enormous steps in the cliff side and out of breath and sweaty, we headed to a shopping centre to cool down. Inside was a big supermarket, so we had a wander round and saw this, which made us giggle:
We had lunch of falafel and chicken pittas and iced lemonade at a Turkish cafe called Tarboush and had a look in the shops. Around the square they have clothes shops that look like jumble sales, piles and piles of non-descript cheap clothing. Andrew was looking for another vest as it had been so hot, so he rummaged through the piles for ages pulling out women's vest after women's vest, to find nothing! I think he was a bit addicted in the end, trying to find a cheap deal.
Back at the hostel we had an email to say that in Ollantaytambo, the town we were supposed to be staying in when we flew into Cusco the next day, there had been a flood that had knocked out all the water to the hostel and some of the electric and communications. This was the first time we had to juggle our plans and we were worried we wouldn't be able to change our hostels around, but luckily it was a simple swap - we'd go to Cusco first and then Ollantaytambo to see Machu Picchu. I was concerned about the altitude as it would be worse for us starting off in Cusco, being higher than Ollantaytambo, and I was sad we couldn't go to Machu Picchu on Valentine's Day as planned, but obviously these were very minor things in comparison to the poor people of Ollantaytambo having their town and homes wrecked by floods!
That night we went for dinner at a Chifa restaurant in the square. This is a type of Chinese cooking in Peru that apparently uses Peruvian ingredients as substitute for those originally used in China that can't be found here. I didn't notice a great deal of difference taste-wise to be honest and I would have thought any traditional cuisine of another country in a new country would have to substitute some ingredients? So I assume I have oversimplified the description of Chifa! Anyway, we had steamed dumplings to start, I had an enormous three roast noodle dish and Andrew had a massive pork and rice dish. With drinks, the bill came to £15 - the start of the cheap food in our South American adventure.
We didn't make the most of Lima, mainly because we were tired, so after a walk around the tiny market in the square, we headed back to the hostel. On the way, we went down a street packed with bars and restaurants with people shouting and pestering for you to come in - it felt like being on the strip in touristy Spain or (closer to home for me, from my 'getting people into bars' days!) Ayia Napa, the only difference was instead of young men and women it was just old men. I think maybe they need a trip to Europe to see what works, or better, maybe just lose it altogether?