Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lima. Finalmente

Getting to Lima was an adventure on its own. After missing the flight the day prior, I got to the airport at 6:30am to get on the list for the morning flights. All booked. I was starting to get really annoyed at the false hope they were giving me. If it's no, just say so and let me go do something better with my day then.

As instructed, I went back in an hour to try the next flight. Turned out that one was full too. However, they found that there was only one seat left on the first, 8:15am, flight. It was 8:05. So imagine the guy behind the ticket counter and me racing through the packed airport, shoving aside grumpy French travelers so that I could zip through security and make it just before they closed the door. It was yet another reenactment from the movie Home Alone. I could easily identify my seat on board, as the only empty one, and I buckled my seat belt, still out of breath.

When I arrived in Lima, before looking for my bag, I saw this sign on the wall:

"Worry less, everything will be fine."

It was the perfect message to read at the perfect time. My bag was waiting for me, I showed up at the hostel, and although they didn't have a private room for me, when I asked for a female dorm, they took one of their empty dorm rooms and let me have it entirely to myself. All this is without any prior reservations made. I met another solo traveler from Germany and the two of us set out for the day together.

Lima is such a strange part of Peru. It's the least like any of the cities I've been. I'm seeing no culture, some history, hardly anyone here even looks Peruvian. It almost feels like I'm in a weird part of Europe, and not in Peru.

Central Lima is a total dump. Aside from the few plazas and monuments, all the surrounding areas remind me of parts of the Bronx or Queens. Really not attractive nor safe. In fact, while asking for directions in pursuit of a recommended restaurant, a stranger strongly advised us not to wander through that part of town. Ok... So we stuck to the touristy areas.

There's a main pedestrian street that links the two plazas to each other, which is lined with cheap chain stores and bad/cheap/chain restaurants. There is just nothing to be seen here.

But I will say that I'm in love with Lima's candy colored architecture. The city has such a vibrant selection of buildings, it's hard no to appreciate them. It's like old meets new, which is my favorite type of design, so I'm really appreciating it here.

And this is also true for miraflores, the neighborhood in which I'm staying. This is the kind of neighborhood I'd live in. Its abundant selection of restaurants, boutiques and beautiful buildings is the reason why I chose to stay here (luckily) over touristy central Lima. I emphasize lucky because even lonely planet advises you not to stay out in central Lima at night. Phew. And can I just say that this hostel is awesome!? I highly recommend anyone in Lima to stay at the hitchhikers hostel.

Since I have no desire to see churches and I'm museum'd and sites'd out, my time in Lima is to wander around the good parts and really, more importantly, eat. I ate all things Peruvian in my last 2 days, and ill say, Peruvians know how to eat. Yum.

On my last day, I took a tour at some ruins from 400 AD and walked through a park. As I was walking through and daydreaming, I stubbed my toe on a stone paver so badly, it was gushing blood. That took me 30 minutes to recover.

Way to end on a high note. Now get me home.

Todos son deliciosos


Pollo Brasada:

Beef Ribs:

Choclo con Queso:

Spinach and Quinoa Ravioli with Andean cheese:

Asparagus Gratin with Andean Cheese:

Sopa de gallina:

Pollo a la brasa con papas:

Alpaca steak with Creamed Quinoa:

Anticucho (beef heart skewers):

Cuy (Ginea pig):


Chicha (purple corn juice) y Cancha (roasted corn kernels):

Potato chips and nuts:

Mate de Coca:


Inka Cola, stuff of Inca priests:

Pisco Sour:


Queso Helado (cheese ice cream):


Passion fruit tart:

Churros con chocolate:

Tres Leches:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Earth balance

Ok, everything in life is supposed to be balanced. There's good and there's bad, there are pros and cons, there are good days and there are bad days.

Well there was a catch to having all the luck I had yesterday. It meant today was going to suck.

I got to the airport at 9am for my 11am flight. It was delayed. Ok no problem, ill sit in the lounge, have breakfast, wifi, not a problem.

Noon comes, we board, we sit for 45 minutes. Lima is having problems and we won't leave until 4pm. Ok. We deboard and I very clearly let them know I was going back to the lounge, which for whatever reason was before security, so I'd be going back to the first floor. No problem, ill have free lunch and snacks, and In the meantime, what I thought would be an advantage to having wifi to chat with friends wasn't. Ending up getting into an argument with a close friend.

3:45 comes along, I go back upstairs to get ready to board, the plane left without me 10 minutes prior. With my bag. Next plane is 8am the next morning. Great. I have no clothes, no toothbrush, no place to stay.

I go back into Cuzco, have dinner, get ripped off. I go back to a cheap hostel, no more rooms. I go back to another, they don't have change for a 100 soles bill. Why this country has 100 soles bills is beyond me bc not a damn person can ever break them. I go to about 6 shops, finally one has change. She doesn't believe my bill is real. I go back to the hostel, I'm locked out.

I know it's just a bad day, and I know I had a fabulous day yesterday and I know Lima will be wonderful, but right now, I really just miss home.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Machu Picchu

People flock to Peru to visit these amazing Inca ruins every year. I was no exception.

Machu Picchu is one of the only Inca sites undiscovered, and thereby untouched by the Spanish conquistadores. The site wasn't actually "discovered" until 1911 by Hiram Bingham, who cleaned it up and made it accessible for us to visit now. There are really only 3 ways to visit the site. Either you hike the inca trail, you take the Perurail train, or you drive, but even then at some point you need to take a train.

My trip to Peru revolved around my visit to Machu Picchu. I started in Arequipa and Puno to allow myself to acclimate to the altitude so that I'd be ready for it. I stayed in Cuzco for 6 days for the same reason, and to be able to pick a beautiful day to go. Everyday that I've been in Cuzco, I've been hit by thunderstorms. Everyday on the forecast, there was nothing but rain. And when I bought my train ticket, I had no choice on the date, she sold me the only ticket available to visit, on my last day in Cuzco. All week I'd been very anxious about my visit and the weather, but there was nothing I could do but make the best of it.

Two days before, forecast called for perfect weather. And every day after, rain.

There's a little travel angel that sits on my shoulder to give me great weather on important visits-- just like when I went to the Taj Mahal and the Great Wall.

The train ride is nearly 4 hours long, but it's cute and travels along the most scenic, beautiful path to the overpriced town of Aguas Calientes sitting right at the base of Machu Picchu. On the way there and back I sat with very nice middle-aged travelers from Germany, Canada, Peru and Argentina. Everyone had some interesting stories to tell.

From there, I took a bus up to the site- which by the way, is very scary. There is a very narrow path winding all the way up the side of the mountain with nothing to keep you from falling over. These drivers go back and forth so many times a day that care isn't exactly a consideration.

When I got there, not only was it sunny with perfect blue skies, but it was so warm and beautiful (I got a pretty bad sunburn). When I saw Machu Picchu, I giggled like a little school girl and i think i took about 400 pictures. It is just incredible. Really awe inspiring. How the hell did they get those stones up there? Why?

I spent 4 hours hiking through the site and all the nearby remains. But every time I stopped to look at the mountain top, it just took my breath away. It is so spectacular, and it is such a treat to find something undestroyed and in beautiful condition. There's so much to see. Just amazing. 2400m, 8,000ft up. And the scenery of the mountains surrounding you is so dramatic and stunning.

I signed their "control" book and it felt so official, so amazing. My name is in a book that proves that I was there. So cool!!

Just as I was finishing up my visit and getting on the bus to leave, guess what? A thunderstorm came in. Am I lucky or what??

I visited Machu Picchu. Because of how difficult this past week has been, and how physically challenging it is to visit Peru, this visit is much more significant than any other to me.

It's so crazy!!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

7 chakras of women

On my way to the bus station the other day, I passed a cute little woman on the street selling jewelry with her son Mauricio hanging on her back. Everytime I said "como estas Mauricio?" He would throw his head back and laugh, such a cutie pie. Anyway, his adorable 4' talk mom was showing me some of her jewelry, none if which I was looking to buy, because I'm not interested in "indigenous" designs so much as I am interested in "ethnic" designs.

But then she showed me this one that is the symbol of the 7 chakras of women. I haven't at all gotten into shamanism which is big here, and I couldn't find anything online that remotely resembled what she told me. So if she bullshitted me and this is completely untrue, tell me.

So she began to explain, from what I understood, that the 7 chakras are:

1. La cabeza - the head
2. La intelligencia - intelligence
3. La boca - the mouth, for communication
4. The throat? Didn't get this part
5. El corazon - the heart for sentimentality
6. The belly and womb for reproduction
7. Don't remember the 7th?? I think it was the legs or feet to be strong for your family.

Even though I only understood 3/4 of what she said, I thought these had a beautiful meaning so I took 2! I'll take anything in support of women, to support women!!