Peru, Day 3: Lima

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.

Finally, piccies! First, above, we have a nifty mosaic wall at El Parque del Amour (Park of Love) overlooking the ocean. If the sky were blue, I could have snapped some excellent photos.

"The Kiss" by Peruvian artist Victor Delphin, in the Park of Love. Another typical white sky in Lima. I'm including this photo because it's related to the B&B we stayed in upon our return to Lima a few days later. (Yes, you WILL be tested).

Balconies were plentiful around the Plaza de Armas (city square) in Lima. The colonial architecture was beautiful. I took this shot through the mini-bus window, and it still turned out great.

More balconies!

Our mini-bus was stuck in traffic in a narrow street, when this man walking by opened a small door in the wall and started talking to someone inside. Small doors in walls always lead somewhere interesting in Peru. In Cusco, I glanced inside such a doorway (okay, a little wider) and 20 cars were inside a huge courtyard waiting to be washed. Never underestimate what's behind a doorway in Peru! The composition of this shot intrigued me. Again, I took it through the bus window, but because I was shooting directly out the window you can see some glare off the glass. Thus began my obsession with photographing Peruvian doorways.

The doorway of the church connected to the Convent of Saint Francis. I love how it looks as if the woman is knocking but can't get in.

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.

7 Responses to “Peru, Day 3: Lima”

  1. Edie Ramer Says:

    Gorgeous photos! Peru sounds really interesting. I haven’t had an urge to go there, but after reading your blog, I want to go.

  2. Cindy Says:

    Thanks! I’ll have to shorten up the vertical pictures. They’re long!

    Edie, Peru is worth the trip. There’s only one area we wanted to visit that we didn’t get a chance to – Arequipa and the Colca Canyon. We had to choose between that and the second leg of our four-leg trip (a 12-hour train trip into the mountains). We decided on the train trip because it was closed for nearly 20 years and is now open again twice a month (weekend trips up and down). When we booked, it was only running once a month. We decided on somewhere a little less traveled, and after experincing “Peruvian Disneyland” in some areas we visited, I’m glad we chose the train. It provided a different perspective than you get if you stick to Cusco-Machu Picchu-Puno.

    But that’s all coming in another week or so! First, we have to get through Nasca, which wasn’t as toursity as I expected.

  3. Gail Fuller Says:

    Love the pictures, Cindy! They’re bringing back memories. 🙂 We walked to that park by the water from our hotel. I loved the view of the coastline. Also, the church was beautiful, but I’ll never forget the smell of the catacmbs. I found it very eerie walking by the many arrangements of bones. I kept thinking I was disturbing the dead.

    This morning as I was watching the news and was reminded that we were on our Lima bus tour when we’d heard that Michael Jackson had died. The tour guide had received a call on her cell and passed the news along.

    Keep the posts coming! 🙂 Great job!

  4. Cindy Says:

    I didn’t find the catacombs eerie at all, Gail. But then bones have never bothered me. Rotting flesh, yes, that would bother me. But bones and mummies? No (we saw mummies in Nasca). In fact, bones and mummies fascinate me. Before I realized I was lousy in every science except biology, I wanted to be a pathologist, LOL! I always loved dissecting organs and the fetal pig in high school. Not sure how I would feel about dissecting a human body, though… So it’s probably a good thing that chemistry and physics and math proved too great a challenge!

    We visitied catacombs in Rome when we backpacked through Europe as university studnets. Those I found a bit eerie because I feel squidgy when I’m underground. I didn’t feel that way in Lima, because we very much had the sense that the church was just above us. In Rome, it wasn’t that way at all, at the catacombs we visited. They were much more primitive.

    Ronald Reagan was shot when my dh and I were in Paris once on that same trip. I remember the hotel guy telling us as we were having breakfast. He thought we would be so upset. We had to explain that we weren’t American so he wasn’t “our President.” In 1981, that often took a lot more explaining than we expected! We were often told that being from North America was the same thing. Um, not. We do have our own prime minister, after all. 🙂

  5. Cindy Says:

    I have to add that I hate walking through cemeteries. Am okay with it during the day (as long as I’m not stepping on graves), but NOT at night. So I doubt I would enjoy the Lima catacombs at night. During the day, no problem.

  6. Avery Beck Says:

    I’m enjoying living vicariously through these posts. I have no desire to travel outside of North America, or out of the country, really, except for…wait for it…Canada. lol

    Glad you and the dh had such a once-in-a-lifetime experience for your 25th!

  7. Cindy Says:

    Avery, honestly? No desire to travel out of North America? Say it isn’t so! How about Mexico? Growing up with parents who were world travelers, I can’t imagine not stepping outside North America my whole life. Also, backpacking through Europe when I was 21 gave me the bug. But we had kids to raise first.

    And, yes, Canada rocks. You’re welcome any time!