Lima is crazy - in the best possible South American way.
Upon arrival two taxis flat out refused to take me. The third was asking for 25 soles, when the price should be 7-10 soles, so I told him where to go. I may be a 'gringo' and a girl traveling alone but I'm not dumb or to be taken advantage of. Anyhow the forth taxi driver agreed to take me and for the right price. It was a truly authentic South American taxi ride. The taxi driver pretended to know where he was going - he didn't and I had to direct him to my hostel, the car was falling apart and he had to restart the car many times including once on the motorway.
On my first afternoon here after a shower, I thought a walk around Miraflores (the area where I'm staying) would be nice. It's a pretty area but I could soon tell it's a place for tourists and people with money who want the western lifestyle. I didn't come to South America to drink Starbucks, eat McDonalds and shop at Payless Shoes. I'm looking for something a little more real. At this point I decided to walk into the city and see some of the sights. I the map I estimated it to be a 30-45 minute walk. Shows you how good I am at estimation, because two and a half hours later I still was walking. At this point I should mention that due to the warm weather and humidity I was wearing a black tshirt dress and because it's a little low cut, I chucked on a scarf. Well, I have never received so much male attention in my life. The men here openly ogle you, blow kisses, wink, call you 'muy linda/guapa/bonita' and make really cheeky comments. Two particular incidents of this walk stand out. Once in the city I headed to the main square which is lovely in itself and then has a gorgeous building on each side to make it all the more stunning. In the main square a guy walked up and started speaking to me. I thought I could get away easy by saying, "Lo siento pero no hablo español". But of course he spoke English. Only he didn't articulate so 80% of the time I had no idea what he was saying. It was clear however that he definitely was having a good go at picking me up. He was telling me about all the sports he plays in a way that was obviously meant to impress me. Then he told me about his job, said I should come in and he would design me a tattoo, again trying to impress me with his 'skills'. Lastly he flat out asked me to go salsa dancing with him and was gently trying to lead me to walk with him. I made up an excuse about meeting friends for dinner and off I went but not before five more minutes of confusing conversation, the address of the salsa party and an instruction to come and him trying to add me on Facebook. Then only a few minutes later some guy literally bent down on one knee, brushed the pavement and motioned with his arm for the "la chica más linda" to come past. I humoured h and smiled, and ten steps later collapsed into a fit of laughter. I mean really?! After wandering the city for a little longer (and having more street food) I thought I should head back as it was twilight and starting to get dark. The walk back was nowhere near as fun and not even halfway I decided to hop on a local bus back to Miraflores. It was my first experience of taking any kind of public transport (intercity buses non-withstanding) in South America. It cost me 1 sole (about 37 cents) for the ride. Amazing!
The next morning I bumped into Angela and Scott who I had met in La Paz. I went out for a few hours to see the fountain park (closed) and Huaca Pullcana, an Inca ruin. Then I was on a mission to find the TAME office to book a flight. Google maps led me astray and there was no TAME office there, nor was I at the right address. I walked down the street to number 170, the supposed address and still no TAME office. At this point it had been almost an hour of frustrated walking so I gave up and headed back to the hostel for Australia Day celebrations.
Like true Aussies we sat out in the sun (under umbrellas) on the rooftop and drank a few beers before the BBQ. Thankfully an Argentinian guy was doing the BBQing so I knew everything would be cooked to perfection. It was the perfect Australia Day meal. After a few more beers and a couple of vodka slushies my earlier craving for ice cream returned. A few of us ventured out and while we didn't find a local joint, there was pinkberry and it was delicious. The hostel bar was packed that night and throughout the festivities I met heaps of cool people. There was an opportunity to get up to some serious South American shenanigans but in my drunken state I didn't think it wise and I'm glad for that today.
You'll all be pleased to know that I have showered everyday here but honestly it's so humid and sticky, you have to. After a week or so in cooler climates the heat is hitting me hard and really tiring me out.
Today is my last day in Lima before I head off to Cuzco. The morning was spent walking the beach in the beating sun. Just like the south of France their beaches are not sandy but pebbled. So weird. Just above the beach there are parks constantly lining the street which has a great lookout of the shore. I've noticed people in Miraflores are really into their exercise and dotted along the park are little stations with exercise gear - bars for pull ups, seats for sit ups etc. Along the shore I wanted something cold. Not ice cream, it's too hot for that but an icy pole or cold drink. In comes the snow cone stand. Sold. But unlike at home where it's shaved ice with syrup poured over, this was shaved ice with freshly blended strawberries. I'll never be able to have an Australian snow cone again.
And to end my lovely time here I sat up on the rooftop in the sun and farewelled new friends.
Nationalities I've met the most...