Last known location: London, England

Lightning Lima

After a couple of days relaxing amid the dunes, it was on to the Peruvian capital, Lima. We’d been warned it wasn’t particularly safe by several people we’d met along the way, as well as our guide book, so we decided to make our visit a short one! A poor populace and high unemployment make tourist muggings commonplace.

We decided to stay in the upmarket Miraflores district, a seafront area which was described by a woman we met in La Paz as Lima’s Beverly Hills! It’s also supposed to be the least dangerous area of the city, so it seemed like a good bet! Arriving mid-afternoon we spent the remaining daylight hours wandering the well-kept parks above the cliffs, eating ice cream and watching the energetic roller-bladers and paragliders. It all seemed quite American – I’ve never been to California, but Miraflores pretty well matches how i imagine it to be!

That night we went for dinner near Parque Kennedy, in the centre of the district, where there were restaurants aplenty. I finally got to try one of Peru’s national dishes – Guinea Pig. Opting to have it barbequed, it arrived pretty much whole, with head still attached, so possibly not for the squeamish (or current/former Guinea Pig owners!). It was tasty enough, a cross between chicken and rabbit, but not the meatiest creature going – I can see why it’s popularity hasn’t spread!

We had a bus ticket booked for the following afternoon, so the next day we had one morning to see the sights! An open-top bus tour seemed like the easiest way to accomplish this, and avoid becoming a crime statistic along the way, so that’s exactly what we did. The highlight was the historic centre of town, where we took in Plaza San Martin, and the beautiful Plaza de Armas, surrounded by golden buildings with unusual covered wooden balconies, as well the presidential palace and the 1746 Cathedral on two sides. We got off the bus and had a nose around the cathedral at this point, which was almost as grand as Cusco’s, and contained the remains of conquistador Francisco Pizarro.

A short walk from the square we also visited the Monasterio de San Francisco. Outside, yet another mask-based ceremony was going on – this one involved a man with a Guinea Pig mask and group of women, also in masks, dancing around a maypole. We got no explanation as to what this might be about! Below the old colonial church was the most interesting part of the tour – the catacombs where an estimated 70,000 people were buried up to the 1820’s. There are huge piles of skulls and femur bones all over the maze of tunnels and it was a slightly spooky experience! After that it was back on the bus to Miraflores for a quick supermarket lunch before we were on our way again.

Around 24 hours after arriving in Lima we boarded a coach for a 19 hour journey up the coast to Mancora. The buses in Peru are among the best we’ve had, with films, hot food and big seats, so it’s not too unbearable! We probably didn’t do the capital justice, but we saw it’s best sights, ate some traditional food, and didn’t get mugged, so we’ve no complaints!

1 Comment:
  1. Rose 19 May, 2011

    Poor little guinea pigs!! Pleased you didn’t eat one Gem!! That mosaic thing in the pics reminded me of Parc Guel in Barcelona. Are you still wearing the t-shirts I took to Thailand Gem, or have they been replaced now?


    Mum x x x

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