Friday, December 18, 2009

Not in Saskatchewan

by Shelley

We arrived in Lima at 0100 hrs. Only 1/2 hour late. But by the time we got through customs, waited an inordinate amount of time for our luggage, and got to our hotel it was just after 3 a.m. A whirring mind (still thinking about work), a too fat pillow, chirping birds, and being over tired made it difficult to get to sleep.

As we drove from the airport I was vaguely disappointed. Large, new modern buildings, casinos, big Toyota and Hyundai dealerships, Starbucks and Scotiabank made it seem like we'd hardly left home. But the rows of shops with metal garage overhead doors, the cement shell of buildings almost falling down, and the warm humid air blowing through the open windows of the taxi reassured me that "Yes Shelley, you're not in Saskatchewan anymore!" And if there was any lingering doubt, a number of things over the past two days sealed the deal: crowded streets and the overpowering smell of exhaust fumes; excessive amounts of graffiti; excessive numbers of police in riot gear with an armored tank; standard shift, very small taxis that rattle as if parts will fall off at any moment; taxis with no meters; the feeling that you're getting ripped off by drivers of said taxis with no meters; thanking God that you managed to survive a ride with said taxi drivers; roof top gardens; laundry hanging from rooftop clothes lines and balconies; big glasses of fresh fruit juices at ridiculously low prices; and . . . bougainvillea!

Our hotel is Villa Ponciana. A very small (6 rooms) and out of the way place run by a very friendly Peruvian man named Harry who has been extremely helpful with suggestions on where to go, places to eat, what to do and see. Yesterday we wandered in the older Central part of Lima and just happened to arrive for the changing of the guards at the palace. Also a quiet lunch at an out of the way museum and tour of the museum. Today we went to the zoo which was quite large, had some interesting animals, but was not the greatest in terms of making animal habitats that were the best for the animals. We also went for a walk along the ocean front; lots of parks and walkways on the clifftops overlooking the water. Beautiful!

Tomorrow to Cusco...

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