Sunday, 9 February 2014

1) Arriving in Peru

A strange man once text me saying "The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step". I deleted the number.

So I've been recording bits and bobs in a book for the past few days when it struck me; who the hell writes by hand any more? I realise I'm a bit behind and I won't flood you with the past 10 days worth in one go so will do 3 or so days at a time until I've caught up.

Day 1/2
Trip gets off to a great start with a nutty old woman at the bus station preaching the bible to a group of asians who clearly cannot understand her. Heathrow is crazy, big enough to be its own city! Flight to Madrid is delayed.
Flight finally arrived an hour late and I have to say I thought I'd died and been sent to Hell. It was maddeningly cramped, painfully so, and roughly 1000 degrees centigrade inside. We arrived with about 45 mins till the next flight was due to leave and I panicked that my luggage might not make it to the next plane in time, but I was hot, tired and justy happy to be on a plane without feeling like a sweaty sardine.
The flight was long and uneventful; the chap next to me could probably speak as much English as I could Spanish, and we had an unspoken agreement not to attempt communication. I ate a chicken curry type thing and a cheese omlette garnished with a slice of ham whilst I watched Pacific Rim, which was frankly, terrible.
Arriving at the airport and finding it was already 20deg at 7.30am was a little disheartening as I was wearing most of my clothes to save room, and my luggage took ages to arrive after getting through immigration where they also did not speak English.
Victor (I think) was waiting in amongst a huge crowd of people all screaming TAXI at you. We had a lovely chat on the journey to the hostel, not that I understood much more than the occassional "Señor Thomas", but either way we got onto a famous Peruvian pianist, whose music accompanied the rest of the journey. We got to the hostel at roughly 9am and the manager gave me my keys, waffled on in Spanish, and left me to it. The room was basic, but it had a sink and a toilet so I was over the moon. After cleaning myself and letting mummy know I'd made it alive, I asked badly where the nearest supermarket was, and went for a wander.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF LIMA - Brown. Everything is brown. There is lots of run down colonial grandeur and it's quite weird. Nobody speaks English, and it's very obvious I'm a gringo, as I am the only thing not brown and the only one actually melting.

I managed to misplace myself, but eventually found the supermarket some 2 hours later, 3 streets across from my hostel. They aren't exciting, pretty much the same as ours. I returned with my goods, washed again and napped! Later on I left for round two, (map in hand this time) with fewer layers on although still sweating profusely. I found Plaza Francis Bolognesi, which is a pretty epic monument in the centre of a crazy busy roundabout amongst more shanty colonial buildings, and ambled over to a resturant called "Pasion Chiclayana". After browsing the totally incoherent menu, I thought "Fuck it" and asked the fellow at the door for a table for one. I tried asking for something small and he pointed out the "Filete frito con zarsa criolla", before coming back with a small dish of what I think was partially popped corn, and a glass of something that looked like Baileys with bits in. I assume he wanted me to drink it because I did and it made him happy and I did ask a few times what it was called but can't for the life of me remember.
An interesting first meal!
I ordered a beer, and it came out along side a plate with a rosti type thing and some beans and salad on it. I thought "Well I know I asked for something small but this is a disappointment", but it was nice. Just as I was browsing desserts, out came another plate laden with fish stacked on potatoes with a mountain of rice and salad. It was very good, and the jolly guy was quick to remind me that it was fresh too.
With my belly full, I wandered around Breña, (the area I was staying in) and stumbled upon the glorious looking Italian Art Museum, in a big park where I sat in the sun and watched people dance. I guess it was family activity day or something. I also found a totally western shopping centre called Real Plaza, which included a Subway and a Pizza Hut and a Debenhams type shop! It was utterly mad, all white marble and big brands and even Nicki Minaj blasting out over the tannoy; a capitalist island metropolis sitting in a sea of squalor.
I took the scenic route (lost again) back to the hostel and awkwardly interrupted the family dinner that was going on in reception, before finding the gem that was the roof terrace tucked away (on the roof).
I finished up by watching some Family Guy in spanish, and hit the hay, feeling a mix of emotions about the journey so far.

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