Sitting in YVR anticipating the trip, we wonder why it has taken us so long to visit South America? Sitting in the Dallas airport we wonder if we will ever get there? Bad weather had us circling Dallas for almost an hour. Many flights are delayed. Some are cancelled.
Miraculously, we leave Dallas 10 minutes ahead of schedule. It’s an overnight flight so there’s nothing to see as we fly over Central America, over places we’ve been, on our way to a continent we have not. Adventure thy name is travel.
It is 5AM when we land in Lima, barely light and drizzling. The hotel had confirmed our early check-in weeks ago, but now do not have a room. We store our bags and decamp to the Starbucks next door. A nap and a shower would have been preferable. What does one do in the rain in a foreign city at 0700?
Ok, well, it stopped raining and just stayed really foggy. We hit the streets and arrived back at the hotel 12 + hours later. Walked about 30 kms, stopped for numerous coffees to fight the fatigue, saw the major sights from the top of an open air bus.
Lima is a city of 10 million on the northwest coast of South America. Lying at just 12 degrees south of the Equator it should be tropical, particularly given that it is a sea level, but the pacific ocean currents keep it coolish and, as we are here in “winter”, it is foggy as well. We lucked out our second day here as the fog cleared and we had a sunny few hours in the afternoon, perfect for our time in the colonial heart of Lima, the “centro historico”.
It is a UNESCO world heritage site and I’m hoping the photos illustrate why. The number of colonial buildings is staggering. Dating from the 15th to 19th centuries, the many cathedrals, monasteries, convents, government buildings and palacios are the remains of Spanish conquistadores. They came in search of gold and left in 1824 after a long war of independence in which Simon Bolivar was instrumental. He was named “El Libertador” for his role in freeing much of South America from Spain. One country, Bolivia, was so grateful, it named itself after him.
The traffic is also staggering and we feel that we have wasted a few too many hours immobile in taxis and buses, craning to see why we have not moved for the past half hour!!!???!!
The locals, while they do honk their horns a lot, are fairly “tranquilo” about it all and are very friendly. We are continually greeted as we walk the streets. The guidebooks lecture that Lima is dangerous, and I suppose it is if you are out after dark in the wrong ‘hood. We are too tired at day’s end to venture too far beyond our hotel and get into trouble. The first night we stumble down to the hotel dining room and the second night we get as far as next door to the glorious Lima Country Club Hotel, where our pisco sour cocktails cost $15 each. The peanuts and potato chips accompanying the drinks are a reasonable facsimile for dinner so we don’t end up blowing our budget for the day.
Three days in Lima is perfect. We’ve read and heard bad reviews of the city and that it is not very pleasant, so maybe our expectations were low, but we have enjoyed our time here. The locals are gregarious, the architecture interesting, the food delicious, and the history fascinating … ticking all the boxes for a travel destination!