I was going to make my way through the central highlands to Tingo María, hopping from small town to small town but as I sat at the bus station in Andahuaylas at stupid o’ clock in the morning, waiting for it to get light so I could safely walk through town and find a place to stay, on my own, in a town where I was the only gringo, in a single room in a dirty hotel with no chance at all of meeting fellow travellers, it occurred to me that actually, this was a really shit idea. So in a last minute decision I gapped it to Lima, the nation’s capital.
It’s not a bad place to kill some time. There were a couple of things I wanted to check out here but instead of bee-lining to Miraflores, the posh, seaside suburb, I stayed central where the cheap accommodation, local eats and affordable beer was and ended up staying in a place called Hotel España. It’s fabulous! Home to a slightly grouchy receptionist, a ridiculous amount of Statues of David, countless reproduction artworks, a large, red parrot who lives on one of aforementioned statues on the roof terrace and wakes the hotel up in the morning in between nibbling on poor Dave’s tackle, and a small, green parrot who bids you a shy “hola” before attempting to eat your fingers.
Of course no trip to Lima is complete without heading on over to the coast to find out what all the fuss is about, if only to get away from the constant, blaring car horns and the exhaust fumes. It’s enough to drive one to suicide or homicide or whatever kind of cide my already shaky sanity was rapidly heading towards. Lima isn’t exactly renowned for its beach weather. It was overcast when me and Robert, the German guy in my room caught the bus to Miraflores, it was overcast as we roamed the streets of the suburb trying to find a cheap beer, it was still overcast as we emerged from a bar having paid double the central prices for a drink and it remained overcast as we strolled to one of Miraflores’ points of interest; Parque del Amor.
I say points of interest, it’s only of any interest if you want to watch people slobbering over each other. It’s where couples come to stick their tongues down each others’ throats with an ocean view and it’s all but impossible to get a good photograph of the mosaic wall without soft-core pornography going on in the background. Don’t forget the sick bags. Ah I exaggerate, I’m all for PDAs but you might have noticed by now, I wasn’t at my emotional best at the moment. No idea why either.
Anyway, I was mainly hanging around Lima because my mate Valerie of Baños fame was volunteering with those small, irritating creatures I have an inherent dislike for about an hour north of the city and I was waiting to catch up with her for a few drinks on Saturday before I met the kids she helped look after on the Sunday. I killed a couple of days wandering around with S/.1 sandwiches stuffed in my gob and wondering what possessed the powers that be to paint the buildings in colours that wouldn’t look out of place in a primary school. The sandwiches though, let’s just go back to those for a minute because they are life itself. In the morning as the city commutes there are people with carts roaming the streets selling these sandwiches and they are wonderful. Jamon y queso is my go-to. I could live off this shit, and in fact did for a couple of days.
So the weekend rolled around. Saturday night in Peru. We could have gone to a polleria for chicken, chips and rice then spent the evening in a bar listening to traditional music and sipping pisco sours until we couldn’t walk. Instead we spent the evening drinking Cusqueña beer in a large hall listening to traditional Bavarian music, dancing with an oversized guinea pig dressed in lederhosen and building pyramids out of plastic cups. Welcome to Lima’s Oktoberfest.
Not exactly a typical Peruvian night out but shit it was fun. The lads that my mate Valerie was volunteering with were German and my room mate at the hostal was also German so it seemed fitting, despite Robert’s insistence that he would never attend the event in Germany because, “Only Bavarians and foreigners go to that!” It was a brilliant night though and we definitely built the biggest beer cup pyramid in the place. Ok ok, it was Valerie’s work but victorious by association, right?
The following morning we hauled ourselves out of bed and after a hangover beating brekky of S/.1 egg sandwiches and fruit juice we missioned it out to the kids’ shelter where Valerie worked. Oh christ. Kids. I couldn’t handle kids at the best of times, never mind when my brain felt like it had swollen to three times its usual size. The second I walked onto the grounds I could feel the stares. These kids had never seen anyone with this many piercings and tattoos, certainly not a chick, and most definitely not a chick with short hair who dressed like a dude. They were on me in minutes wanting to know everything about the metal. The usual questions. Valerie translated for me but they couldn’t seem to get their head around the fact I didn’t speak Spanish either. You know some people have nightmares about being surrounded by zombies or sharks or clowns whatever else strikes terror into their hearts? Well this was my worst nightmare; Children surrounding me.
But I was here because Valerie had an idea to turn an old bus into a movie theatre and I wanted to help. I couldn’t help financially but as I was in the area I was keen to help start cleaning it out and it did amuse me that the only way that they could get the kids to stand by the bus for a photo was to send me over to the bus. I think I held it together pretty well. I even managed a smile… or is that a grimace? It was good to catch up with Valerie again even if it did mean being mauled by sprogs and the bus is gonna be awesome when it’s finished.
Oh, also I finally sorted out my flights back to Europe, I officially leave South America on the 20th of December and I’ll get to Lanarca in Cyprus where I shall be shacking up under the loving care of my parental unit. That’s not that far away y’know and I still have so much I want to see on this trip. In fact I’ve barely scratched the surface, I have to come back to every country on the continent and have another look apart from Venezuela until it gets less scary. It also means I have to sort out something like a vague itinerary. I suck at itineraries. They all look fine on paper but I’m far to easily distracted by shiny things. I’m like, “Yeah, I’ll do three days here and two days here and four days here and oooh… pretty…” But I’ll sort something out anyway, cut things out if I have to an all that.
So anyway, today is some kind of religious festival where everyone dresses in purple and apparently Lima has the biggest parade for this event in the world. I could hang around for that or I could accept DEET as my lord and saviour and fuck off to la selva… Not gonna need a coin toss to decide that one.
Stayed at: Hotel España