Tuesday April 9th 2019 – Lima,, Peru – Morning
Yesterday was me being just another tourist. After getting back to civilization with a SIM card in my phone it was off to find the places that Lonely Planet tells me I will find more of my kind. The Wandering Tourist.
In past cities I can’t walk 50 feet without a taxi, truck or motorcycle honking and asking if I needed a ride. Here that doesn’t seem to work. I think standing at the side of the road with your arm in the air might work, what I found was to lurk near an intersection and wait for a red light. Then spring from the sidewalk and tap on an empty cab’’s window, and stealthy slip into the rear seat.
The taxi I found knew where I wanted to go and quoted me the tourist price (six bucks). I sighed and made the “Oh, God you are ripping me off, but I guess I’m stuck” noise. Well half an hour later, after a myriad of twists and turns, a bit of freeway driving and then some more twists and turns we got to my destination. Not exactly what I wanted but within a few blocks. I am finding that my Arabic is better than my Spanish, and I thought I understood that the street I wanted was closed, but maybe he was saying I’d over stayed my welcome.
As soon as I stepped onto the pavement was accosted by the money changers and the water sales men and women. I knew I had reached my goal, or at least the general area. The cab driver did explain that one of the street was pedestrian only so I headed down that. Lots of up scale stores and people in a hurry to get someplace else. Not panic some place else, just big city someplace else. Then the was a gaggle of people. Some gawking and some watching a single person facing them talking as they gawked behind him/her. Yes I made it, my first sight in Peru.
A wonderful carved granite fronted church. Really intricate and quite imposing. The guide book said it was where the first mass was said in Lima. I stared and took a few photos before wandering inside. There was a small Mass going on, so I tried to be respectful and not clomp or click too loudly. I really like it, it felt intimate even though it was huge. The icons and carvings were well done and the chanting and response of the congregation was soothing. But enough of peace and tranquility, I had other things to stare at and hardy understand.
So back to the no autos street and onward. Another block or two the street opened up to a huge square and across the square was a two block long building surrounded by a high metal fence. My destination. The governor’s palace. Everyday at noon there is a changing of the guard and with cops, trumpets and brass band. I had arrived about 20 minutes late, but the brass band was still playing and the trumpeters were on the steps looking like something out of King Arthur. The view through the iron bars of the fence was awful and the sidewalk was a No-Go area, enforced by police with riot shields, Glocks and compact machine guns. There was no photo op for me, so I just watched. The band Umpahed and the trumpeters honked and then everyone marched away. – then the sidewalk was accessible. But only yo the nearest crack in the concrete before the fence, about 2 feet from the cold black iron. I walked down towards the ornate gate and stood my respectful half a meter from it’s jaws and raised my Nikon and the nearby machine gunner motioned me forward to the gate to be able to slip my lend trough the bars to get an unobstructed view of the open plaza and edifice beyond. I felt honored, but honestly the picture wasn’t worth the data it took up on my memory card.
Then off to follow the red line in the Lonely Planet. My first stop was a museum that looked interesting on the outside, but I wasn’t willing to spend the money to go inside. Next was the Cathedral. Thick oak doors, studded with short spikes and protected with lion heads. Inside there was a fee. Three bucks to go to church. I thought of the doors and wondered if there was an exit fee too. I really like the previous church better than this huge prayer to cash. There was the alcove dedicated to John the Baptist. I’d seen his head in Damascus – next ! There was the alcove to Mary, I’d been to the place they lived in Cairo – next ! Then Saint Peter, Damascus again – next ! I think I’m a little jaded. Of more importance, where is the Saint John. It had been a long time since my hotel’s bathroom. I fund the toilet and suddenly the art and geegaws were much more interesting. There was a silver stick hung on the wall and people were coming up to it and placing their hands on it and praying. T had belonged to one of the church’s notables and was thought to have the power to answer prayers. – Now I’m no biblical scholar but I thought that for Christians belief in Jesus was sufficient and idolatry as forbidden. I’m so confused.
Back outside, a bottle of water from a disabled woman and a stroll down a couple streets. A glance at the ruins of the old city walls and I’d had about as much fun as I could stand. It was hot and the sun was high, time to head back to Casa Radisson. The taxi was the same price as before, I am glad I had my phone, to show him the hotel’s web page for the address. Again the language barrier got grossly in the way. Why doesn’t everyone here speak English ? I mean, come on ! We are I the same time zone for chrissy sakes !
Back at the hotel a power nap and a little soap and water and life was again worth living.
The restaurant I wanted to eat at only had a two month waiting list for reservations, so it was out. The concierge suggested one a two block walk away. Well, fine ! Well, fine, it was indeed. Jammed full of people, fresh fish, attentive service. Ceviche like I fell from Heaven. Sweet, spicy, fresh and attractive. It was the best thing I had eaten in a month. I tried a Pesco, the local booze. I was advised to avoid the ice and to avoid the whipped egg white garnish for biological reasons. The drink was nice, and I don’t feel that it was lacking anything by omitting those ingredients. It was a wonderful dinner. The price ? About the same as breakfast for two back home at the local diner.
Back towards the hotel it was a bit more wobbly that it was going. That drink surprised me. Safe in my room, I finished the last few pages in my e-book. Turned out the lights and slept soundly until my normal wake up time. Morning routine and breakfast and ready to it the streets for more looking and walking.
According to the bell man the beach is just a short walk away, short walk for him. He isn’t old and overweight. We’ll see. --- Seems he is right. What was to be 2 blocks was more like 5 but basically he as right. I found myself on a high bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Down below was a long pier and bobbing in the water were the morning surfers. It seemed as good a place to stop, I mean I did already walk five blocks, don’’t you know ? Nice little coffee stand with n reason to be there except there was a view. The Americano espresso was passable and the view was impeccable. Heck they even has a water station for the dogs. How could they be more welcoming. Sitting and sipping I exchanged instant messages with a friend back home. Take a photo, and it is there in a minute or two. I am in awe of this electronic marvel called the internet.
After coffee it took a walk south, I had a goal in mind, but it was very flexible. Past the shoperia with names that you would see in any upscale mall in any where in the world. The bike rental station was near. A couple dollars an hour for some well maintained bikes seemed a fair deal. Since I am afraid of the tap water I haven’t been drinking as much as I should. There what should I spy but a little stand with fresh fruit and bottles of water. I got a small water and then found out what I had been warned about. No one has change. He had to dig into several boxes and pockets and a bag to even find a close approximation of the 2 dollar (10 Soles) bill I gave him. Well that taught me, when you have a chance to get a bill broken do it.
Half an hour later I realized I was going in the wrong direction. I supposed to cross the bridge at the dog water cafe, not walk away from the bridge. A simple U-turn past most of the same vendors I had declined previously. When I got to the shopperia, they must have a public toilet. Shoppers have to pee too. Well of course thy do. After that chore lunch seemed like a good idea. Mango Restaurant smelled like a good choice. It was. There was a buffet and an Ala Carte menu. I took the Ala Carte path, with another ceviche choice. This one with an Asian theme. Nice fish marinated in a sweet soy and ginger sauce, served on half an Avocado. It was really good, not as good as last night’s Civeche with Coconut milk, but certainly in the running. I watched the waves, and the Para-gliders soar and had a really nice lunch.
Back on the trail, past the dog cafe and across the bridge and here was the para-glider’s airport. I found a shady bench and watched them take off and land for the next hour. Tandem and solo fliers flew gracefully in the sky. I came to Peru to see the birds, I didn’t plan of watching human birds. The passenger would raise their feet, the pilot would take a step towards the cliff edge and one step on earth and the next in air. I don’’t know how long a fight was, but I had the feeling that the riders got their money’s worth. The two men next to me, cheered the take offs and squealed at the close call landings. They were as much fun to watch as the fliers.