So much for overcoming jetlag! We woke up at 6.30am with aching necks from our pillows made of stone! We had the day to explore Lima and looked forward to the sights but what we hadn´t been told was Peruvian people speak SPANISH and only Spanish which would become apparent as we ordered Churros (sugar coated doughnuts filled with caramel) for breakfast. The waitress had no clue what we were asking for despite our frantic pointing at the churros and finally she proceeded to give us our 20p breakfast!
We met Priya and Jason and flagged the most dangerous cab known to man. After being in the taxi for 5 minutes we realised why the 30 minute journey was so cheap (1.80 between 4 of us) we would be lucky to make it there alive! Peru is possibly the most dangerous city for driving in the world there are no such things as lanes, indication or breaking leading to an interesting journey whereby the driver simply honks continuously when you are about to crash! 30 minutes later we rolled out of the cab, happy to be alive and ready to look around. Emma began snapping away with her camera immediately at random buildings not fully knowing what they were but knowing they had some sort of relevance to Lima!
We visited an ornate cathedral, the main one in Lima. After reminding Emma of the nativity story (Jewish School for you!) she began singing hymns to prove her extensive knowledge! We were surprised to find a box of skulls on display, they did not really fit in with the images of Jesus and Mary everywhere else!
On leaving the Cathedral we heard on the other side of the main square, the Plaza de Mayor, the changing of the guard ceremony was about to begin outside the palace. 20 minutes later and after an orchestral symphony and a choreographed march and flag display by the soliders we couldn´t understand why the guards still remained the same! After the procession a VIP entered the palace flanked by bodyguards and we were convinced now the changing would occur, but alas, it did not!
Walking along a side street en route to the Museum of Catacombs San Francisco, Jason stumbled upon a shop selling Peruvian hats that he had been on the lookout for all morning. After trying on every hat in the shop we came away with 3 except for Laura who decided she looked bald in this creation thanks to her new shortened hair!
Walking past a small park, Emma was mobbed by a class of schoolchildren desperate to talk to her and have their photographs with her. She was definately a favourite amongst the children who would not leave until she began shouting ME LLAMA EMMA to an eruption of applause and giggling.
Arriving at the Museum of Catacombs we took an english tour around the tunnels of open graves where a mass of bones was displayed in individual grates, some with around 25 bodies in. 25,000 poor people were buried there and Jason, in his attempt to be respectful crouching over the open graves to take a closer look, accidently dropped his chewing gum onto a mountain of skulls below sending the 4 of us into a hysterical fit! No photographs were allowed in the catacombs except for Emma, who decided she no longer understood english, continuing to happily snap away at the dead!
Having seen the sights and it being lunchtime, we walked down the main pedestrian road but much to Laura´s dismay found only fast food restaurants and whole animals on a spit. Luckily, we managed to find the poshest restaurant in all of Peru, filled with local businessmen and decided this would be our best opportunity for a rustic meal. Here the language barrier truly became apparent as the waiter spent a good half an hour attempting to explain every item on the menu in spanish to us. No idea what we had ordered, 2 bowls of fish soup arrived with floating virtually live prawns much to the horror of everyone including Priya who, allergic to everything, was convinced she was about to die. Suffice to say, we all enjoyed the next course of chicken nuggets and chips and the typical drink refresco of hot sugar tea-water.
Not wanting to return to where we were staying just yet and convinced there must be more to see in Lima despite being forewarned only to stay in the "safe area" between two squares, we found an art gallery where a Japanese woman featured on every piece of modern Inca artwork. Upstairs was an exhibition but what with the whole thing being in Spanish, we could not begin to explain to anyone its relevance to life!
We wrote this blog yesterday sitting in an internet cafe close to our hotel when we were about to meet our group for the first time. As we were in a rush we forgot to post it and therefore it was deleted! It did end with wish us luck but now we know we will be fine, having met our group and going out for dinner with 6 others to the most awful pizzeria EVER.
We were wrong about the Watford Grammar girls not being on our tour, turns out they are! Also we were quite surprised with the intelligence level of our group, out of 15 people we have 2 Oxford graduates, a strucural engineer, a medic, a geologist, 3 law students, a teacher, an Aussie, 2 psychologists and Laura, a drama student!
This morning we have eaten our daily churros breakfast and at 2pm will be leaving for our first stop - Pisco. Laura has already had to have her padlock cut off her case as it became wedged (sorry Dad) but the good news is our bags are already becoming lighter thanks to a hair wash and 2 whole warm showers!