You want pictures? Today, you get pictures.
We woke far too early at Casa Bella B&B. We tried sleeping in, but construction was occurring nearby, and 8:30 a.m. isn’t early for construction workers. By the time we showered and organized ourselves, breakfast had already been served. No problem. We were directed to a Starbucks a couple of blocks away. We mistakenly assumed we would find the chain all over Peru. The Starbucks near the Casa Bella B&B was the only one we encountered. Which was great until we started craving North American coffee…
At the Starbucks, My Liege whipped out his stolen English-Spanish phrasebook. From that point on, he did a most excellent job of diving into conversations with anyone and everyone. Not one ounce of trepidation, which I thought pretty cool for a middle-aged guy who didn’t take ANY languages beyond grade ten French. And he was a jock, so likely he wasn’t paying attention.
M.L. and I learned that he was better at initiating conversations while I, for some strange reason that eludes us, could decipher entire Spanish sentences spoken our direction. We believe I relied on body language and snippets of words-similar-to-what-they-are-in French and ESP and genius IQ and “Making Things Up.” Whatever, it worked. We made a great Spanish-learning team.
In the afternoon, we took a city tour organized by the B&B at our request. A guide named Gladys picked us up with a driver and a handy-dandy mini-bus that could hold, I guess, up to 20 passengers. We were 5, not counting Gladys and the driver (whose name now eludes me). The other couple were from Belgium, and then we were joined by a young woman named Nikki from Scotland who had quit her job to volunteer at a Cusco school for 10 weeks (by that I mean she paid a handsome sum of money to work at the school for 10 weeks). By a funny twist of fate, we wound up meeting her again in Cusco. We recognized her by her accent and her fear of attacking pigeons.
As you look at some of the pictures, you’ll notice Lima is cloudy. They’re not really clouds. It’s more like a haze that never burns off. Gladys the Guide told us Lima is like this 90% of the time, which begs the question why the Spaniards who conquered the Inca moved the capital of Peru from Cusco to Lima. Cusco is sunny. I guess they had other things on their minds.
We enjoyed Lima much more than we expected. I’d heard it was a place to use as a base for one’s travels, but we could have used another day enjoying the architecture (and resting). We found excellent Italian food in Lima each of the three times we stayed there. During the city tour, we stopped at some ruins inside the city that housed a big museum, but couldn’t find the time for a more extensive visit (maybe if our flight hadn’t been delayed five hours!).
The highlight of the city tour was the Convent of Saint Francis. The library of ancient books was breathtaking, and we were able to visit the catacombs. Photographs were outlawed in both places, so I bought postcards. At one point, as we surveyed the interior of the church from a balcony of sorts, I noticed birds flying around inside. Loved it!
We headed back to our B&B for a good night’s sleep. And we needed it, because we were heading to Nasca (of the famous Nasca Lines) the following day, and the only way to get there was by bus. A big bus and a long bus ride. Or car or other transport, if you’re crazy enough to want to try driving yourself out of Lima. The traffic was insane. It was like there were invisible four way stops everywhere, and the drivers somehow communicated to each other (through visual cues or aggressive vehicle maneuvers) when it was their turn to go. Peruvians have traffic down to an art form, but by North American standards it was crrrrrrrrazy. My hat is off to anyone who tries driving in Lima.