If you’ve been following my blog, you probably won’t be surprised to read that the 11 hour drive to Lima was pretty spectacular. We passed through incredible mountainscapes (is that a word?) and the trash that littered previous roads gave way to a verdant valley which was being farmed. It’s intriguing to see that the farming here is still all done by hand, with nary a combine harvester in sight. Truly back-breaking work in the heat. I got to ride up front with the driver and was afforded some unforgettable vistas.
Lima is the second biggest city in South America, by population, with 8.9 million inhabitants (São Paolo is the largest with 12 million) and it felt like most of them were driving into the city at the same time as us, despite it being 3pm on a Wednesday. The city is very clean and by far the most modern on the trip up to this point. We also had the luxury of staying in a centrally located hotel which, after a few nights of hostels and campsites, was most welcomed. I was happy to be sharing a room with Sebastian, one of the guys I went rock climbing with in Baños, as it was his last night with us before flying back to Germany. I now know how Take That must’ve felt when Robbie Williams left the band. We were also joined by some new passengers which resulted in us now having two trucks to accommodate the enlarged group. Unfortunately, this also meant that our original group would be split across the two vehicles which was a shame as we were just starting to really get to know each other. Now we’d have to start over again with the new people. I suppose that’s the nature of a trip of this kind though and I didn’t dwell on it too much. As it was the original group’s last night together, we had a group dinner at which some awards were given out. I was nominated ‘Party Animal’, however, given that I’d not stayed out past 2230 on any night thus far, I assumed it was ironic. S’funny how a few years ago I would’ve gotten it for the right reason.
The following day, Ian, Sebastian and I spent the morning exploring the Miraflores district and the beach. I got my first sight of a Starbucks and the taste of a soy latte after three weeks of truck-stop slop was like manna from heaven. Don’t judge me. Miraflores is a beautiful part of the city and is a strong contender for favourite place so far, although it’s heavily weighted due to the fact that the stunning, landscaped gardens are also a cat sanctuary. Thus far, South America seemed to be the domain of the stray dog, so it was nice to see some feline friends frolicking so carefree and contentedly.
Ian and I went to visit some ruins where the assigned tour guide, Jorge, imparted information with a barely concealed eyeroll. It wasn’t particularly interesting despite his antics (although I did wolf down the best mac and cheese of my life at a nearby restaurant, so it was totally worth it) and we ended up talking a lot about our respective childhoods and relationships. It was a real bonding moment and I’m glad that Ian and I will be on the same truck all the way to Buenos Aires.
On our final evening in Lima we watched a ‘Magic Light & Water Show’ in a park near the national stadium. The amount of work that must’ve gone into choreographing to music and producing the spectacle was pretty mind-boggling and it was a great way to sign off our time here. Unfortunately, a 0430 wake up call the following morning meant that we couldn’t replicate the antics from the night before, when we gatecrashed a Peruvian open-mic rock night, but with the Peruvian football team playing New Zealand in a world cup qualifier in a few days, I’m sure there will be a chance to celebrate / commiserate* with some Pisco in the days ahead.
*delete as appropriate