Saturday, 1 March 2014

2) Day 3

I awoke after a solid 11 hours sleep and sorted out my things before heading down for breakfast. Breakfast was a decent, if a little awkward affair, consisting of just me sat at the family table in reception whilst the portly guy on the desk layed out various silverware infornt of me. Coffee was a cup of hot water and a milk jug of espresso paste but was damn fine with the two peices of bread and jam I had. He told me check out was at 12 so I figured I'd go for another wander before it got too hot.
It was already too hot. I walked around Plaza Real again and then somehow ended up in the "Parque de la Exposicion" by telling the army man on the gate "I'm sorry, I don't understand" in decent spanish (I didn't understand). The park really was amazing,and I now understand why all American households require a latin american gardener. I'm fairly sure he'd been telling me that I wasn't allowed in, because apart from myself, there were about 10 other people, mostly consisting of gardeners and cleaners. I'll try attach some photos at some point because it was very stunning and serine, in stark contrast to the rest of Lima.
Hidden gem in Lima
I pressed on further south in search of the Magic Fountains, curious to know what made them magical, before losing hope later on in the increasing heat and heading back. I got to the hostel, grabbed a beer and sat in the sun reading before having another awful shower and packing to check out. After paying my 50 soles (about 13 pounds), the bloke could tell that I wanted something, and helped me book a taxi and dump my stuff in the store room.
Off I went again, this time in search of the centre of Lima. It was so hot! I had to keep stopping in shade, but on the plus side, found a tourist information centre, predictably small, out of the way, and empty apart from the two women that work there. I asked for a map in Spanish, but she reverted to English thank God.
I left with a map, directions to the centre, and a stark warning not to go any further than that if I valued my life which was nice.
The centre is a lot more dodgy than Breña, but gone were the rundown buildings, replaced with grand churches, and well kept town houses and shops of the commercial centre. There are two huge plazas, both ornately decorated, though I didn't stop to appreciate them due to the heavy human traffic and the warning of the guide reverberating in my mind. I pushed on in more or less a straight line for half an hour or so, passing two "Norkys" (their answer to Nandos) on the way, before sitting outside a lavish colonial cathedral to watch the world go by. There was an old woman sat next to me who looked proper native, and she called out "Gelatina" a few times, causing a little girl to rush over with a polystyrene box and sell her what looked like a mini milk, but in a bag instead of on a stick. These vendors are literally everywhere in Lima, I don't think I was more than 10 meters from one at any point.
I stopped heading in that direction and turned round because it was boiling and I was tired of being offered drugs or tattoos by shifty individuals. I headed back to the park I'd sat in yesterday and pitched up in the shade. My boots had just come off when the sprinklers came on, and I was whistled at by a park attendant asking me to move, as if I'd planned to just sit there and get soaked. My map of Breña had a resturant on it labelled "meat and pasta" so I headed that way. Most "Resturantes" consist of a door in the side of a building with a white board out front with the menu scrawled on, and room for roughly 10 people inside what is essentially someone's kitchen, but this place was more of a shit diner. Nonetheless, I sat myself upstairs where I could watch the winter olympics on their retro tv, and ordered. It wasn't long before the miserable waiter returned with my chicken and chips, and to my utter amazement, the chips were EXACTLY akin to chip shop chips at home, save the salt and vinegar. I ate slowly and felt full quickly, even quicker when I noticed the bleeding part of the chicken, but I needed to drag out my stay because there were still 4 hours till my taxi to the bus station. I drank my beer at a snail's pace, and ordered an icecream (badly). When I began to feel I'd outstayed my welcome, I ambled back to the hostel with 3 hours to spare. The guy on desk let me in without question, having not been present when I handed my keys over earlier, and I figured I'd check if  the terrace was open (the keys consist of one for the room and one for the terrace). Luckily enough it was! I met an old man there who I'd seen around a couple of times and assumed he was Peruvian, like everyone else in the hostel. We got chatting and it turned out John came from my neck of the woods. The first fellow gringo I encounter and he's from down the road! Turns out he was 86 and has spent the last 50 years just doing whatever the fuck he wants, travelling all around the globe solo on his massive stockpiles of cash. (He went on to say that somebody had copied his card and robbed him of 40 grand but he wasn't fussed). I wondered for a moment if he thought I'd be some sort of travelling rent boy companion, and with all his money I gave it some consideration, but thankfully he left without mentioning it.

Taxi time, and I thanked the owners for my stay and jumped in the back (first checking for any unwanted passengers like I had been warned). Being a passenger, or being on the roads at all in Lima, is not something for the faint hearted. A few times on the way I would have voiced my concern through the medium of screaming, had we been driving like this in England, but here it phased neither the taxi driver nor the other road users. Also, the green man, despite being animated into a slow motion run, is wasting his time in Lima. He knows it, I know it, and every cunt on the road knows it the most.
That aside, I made it to the bus station alive, if a little more religious than when I left, and that too was chaotic. Some signs were thankfully in English, e.g Baggage drop, waiting room, but there was literally no indication of what to do and all the information signs were only in Spanish. There was a help desk and a quick "Hablas Ingles?" proved the woman fluent in the Queen's. The bus station worked like so:
Get a ticket with a letter and some numbers
Wait for the letter and numbers you have to come up on a screen
You may then go and collect your ticket, once you have given them every bit of information about yourself
You then go to baggage drop and check in your luggage like at the airport
Then, listen carefully for the place you are going (Huaraz in my case) to be called out with a gate number (in Spanish).
Get out your passport and ticket, and you may then board.
The coach was not what I was expecting at all. For Megabus money, the double decker had large arm chair style seats with ample room to recline without compromising the circulation of the person behind you. We were also supplied with a cushion and blanket, a packed lunch (rank), and drink. There were some more gringos on the bus, and I got talking to a couple from Jack's way, that were 5/6 months into their trip around the continent. Pete and Jen were very friendly and had obviously missed all the flooding back home, so I gave them the Western Daily Press I had in my bag from home to gawp at for a while, then went to sleep in comfort for most of the journey, ready for the coming day when I'd arrive in Huaraz.

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