Proof! Yep, we made it to Lima. After a full day of airplanes and airports, we arrived in Lima just 11 hours after leaving Adelaide (go time travel!).
In our first few days we a.) slept off the jet lag, and b.) explored.
Our first major expedition was a one kilometer walk from our friends’ house to the local shops and the atm. Alright, it may not seem like a major expedition but we were struggling with the humid heat, adjusting to the time difference and recovering from being awake for all the flights from Australia. Thirteen years ago, I lived in this neighbourhood. I suppose I had it in my head that I would still know my way around and still feel at home.
Walking along my old avenue, everything felt strange and foreign; the local park is now surrounded by a high fence and guarded by security, not exactly relaxing; none of the small shop fronts along the way were familiar; and, when we reached the final junction I couldn’t even remember if the supermarkets were to the left or right. I know it sounds petty, but since I was 18 I always thought of this as my home away from home; that concept just kind of blew away like dust, in one walk.
Just behind the suburb where we are staying are ancient ruins from a pre-incan civilisation. The houses go right up to the border of the ruins, a soccer pitch has been built within the grounds, and right now a freeway tunnel is being dug through the previously unexcavated northern edge. Purochuco was small but good. The site has a museum and archeologists have reconstructed a section so you can see what it was like. Most of the site is still under investigation though, so visitors can’t see it.
The ruins are in the foothills. When I think ‘hills’, I imagine flowing slopes of green grass and trees; something off an English postcard. The hills of Lima are grey and dead. Grey rocks, grey dirt, grey dust on everything. It’s a desolate landscape in the middle of the desert. I can’t imagine how a civilisation thrived here.
On one day of exploring we walked through San Isidro, took a friendly taxi to Miraflores, the gringo suburb, walked from there to Larcomar, a strip mall built into the cliffs over hanging the ocean, walked to Barranco then caught a bus to the historic centre of Lima. Did I mention how hot and humid the day was?
We arrived at the centre square, the Plaza de Armas, just as the palacial marching band were performing for the changing of the guard.
Since my last visit 13 years ago, the city centre feels so much safer, or maybe I’m just older and wiser. There is a strong police presence…
And everything feels cleaner and more geared towards tourists. From there we went on a tour of the nearby Franciscan monestry, with its morbid catacombs. Michael will tell you more about that in a separate post, I’m sure.
That’s my summary of the most interesting things we have done so far, but we’re only a couple of days in, I’ll keep you posted.