We decided to fly one hour north to Lima from Arequipa instead of taking a 15 hour bus ride. Smart move on our part if I do say so myself. Luckily our gut issues resolved themselves in time for us to board the plane.
Lima: The Belly of a Burro
The capital of Peru sits on sandy cliffs in the desert above the Pacific Ocean. Blanketed in a heavy, gray fog much of the year, Lima is not what you’d call a city of sunshine. Herman Melville nicknamed Lima “the strangest and saddest city thou can’t see”. Other authors have likened its gray skies to the “belly of a burro”. Being from Portland you’d think we would feel right at home, but guess again. The lack of color in the sky definitely felt odd to us and made the city feel cold and dark, despite the warm temperatures.
Peru’s Seaside Desert Capital
We were in Lima for one week and had a relaxing time. A city of 10 million people, the Lima metro area is massive and sprawling. While we only explored a few pockets of the city, we feel we are in a position to give Lima the “conscientious driver” award. Instead of being practically run over by every driver on the road, we actually had a few stop and wave us across the street. Of course the bus drivers were still crazy and reckless which always makes for interesting travel.
Our hotel was in Miraflores, a 20 minute walk from bustling Kennedy Park, where at least 75 stray cats live. One day I sat down with a sandwich and was immediately surrounded by five cats begging for a bite. They seem well taken care of and honestly, after seeing nothing but stray dogs for the past five months it was pretty fun having cats around.
We did a lot of walking in Miraflores and neighboring Barranco and we were happy to have lovely 70 degree days. We enjoyed the ocean views from above the cliffs and explored the beach a few times. The Pacific was too cold for swimming, just like the Oregon coast, but the surfers didn’t seem to mind. A highlight for me was finding a Mexican restaurant. I ate a burrito with hot sauce and was in total heaven! One day we went on a walking tour of central Lima and spent the afternoon in and around the Plaza de Armas. The main square was grand and hosted several impressive churches and government buildings of varying architectural styles.
Huaca Pucllana Ruins
Only a 20 minute walk from our hotel, the ruins are located in the heart of Miraflores. This 1,500 year old temple is still in the process of being restored. It’s interesting to see the juxtaposition of the ruins adjacent to modern buildings. Imagine having a place where women and babies were sacrificed to the gods right out your door.
Lima prides itself on being the culinary capital of South America. While we really enjoy eating delicious meals (who doesn’t?), the combination of our our tight budget and backpacker wardrobe usually means seeking out cheap eats wherever we go. However, in Lima we were in for a real treat. Thanks to Harry’s niece Emma, we enjoyed a spectacular meal prepared right in front of us. Emma’s friend Felipe works in a new restaurant called “1087 Bistro” and he invited us to dinner. We were served a five course meal using only locally sourced ingredients. My vegetarian ceviche rivaled Harry’s whitefish ceviche, every dish was full of flavor and even the flowers were edible.
World Cup + Copa Cup
It was really exciting to be in South America during the Copa Cup, especially since Peru was a big contender. We watched most of their games while we were in Arequipa and cheered them on with all the locals. We watched them play in the semifinals against Chile while we were in Lima, but sadly they lost. Chile, the host country, ended up beating Argentina in the finals.
The USA women rocked the World Cup! We watched most of their games in Arequipa but we were in Lima for the finals. In fact, the reason we stayed in Lima through July 6th was so we could be in the big city to watch the final game. Yes, I scheduled our trip around the World Cup. And they won!! Wasn’t that game just incredible? As we watched them play Japan in the finals I was filled with excitement and emotion. USA!
Next Up: Volunteering in Trujillo
Over the past months we’ve been searching for another volunteer opportunity. We couldn’t wait to start volunteering with Hilo Rojo, a non-profit school for high-poverty kids living in Trujillo. We were craving a deeper connection with a community and what better way than by working with kids.