On Saturday the sixth of August 2011, I began a trip 25 years in the waiting. It is a journey that I have dreamed of doing since I was a child. I'm off to South America, specifically Peru & Bolivia with a relax at the end in Buenos Aires. To say I'm excited would be an understatement.

This journey began for me in 1985 when I lived in Port Lincoln. It was a beautiful summers day, the sun a rich golden warmth that eradicated the edge that lingers in people after Christmas and New Years. Children were everywhere frolicking along the foreshore and through the waters, jumping from the Jetty and enjoying all that could be from the day. The morning drew to afternoon and my sister and her friends started to wander further than my mother wanted them to. She sent me to bring them back closer to her view.

I stepped into the blue water lapping the shore, took a few steps into the pitiful surf, and fell. Electricity shot through my body, screamed into my skull, nerves became alive like never before. I yelled, but not understanding the pain, thinking it was probably just a stubbed toe, I reached into the water and pulled my foot free and into the air. My mind went white, my voice pierced the golden joy of summer, the water darkened, staining with the rich blood pouring forth from my foot, opened like a baguette.

During my stay at the hospital where they repaired my foot as best they can, I received a gift from my Grandmother. It was a calendar with pictures of places around the world. In the calendar I found two that I had to see – The Pyramids of Giza and Macchu Pichu. I have carried a picture of Macchu Pichu with me since then, and finally on the 21st of August 2011, I will be there after having hiked through the Andes for the previous three days.

Below are the entries for the Peruvian leg of this trip.

August 08 to 10 2011 - Miraflores, Central Lima, Peru

Lima is on the western coast of Peru, the pacific ocean lapping at her edges. Miraflores is the tourist centre of town, mostly flat and easy to get around. It is a blend of old and new, truly the shape of the developing world. There doesn't seem to be much a plan to the roads as they branch at odd angles, quite the change from Adelaide's grid design. It is a metropolis bursting with life at every second. Traffic is chaos, but it flows across the multiple marked lanes, which are definitely a suggestion for where to go than a rule. Taxis swarm like ants over sugar, their horns blaring at one and all, looking for their fare. If you travel in one, make sure that you barter the fare before you get in. The city has a permanent haze from morning to night, a combination of smog and mist. Many of the city inhabitants and especially the street cleaners wear masks covering their nose and mouth.

A major feature of the the city is the parks (parques) and there are plenty of large and small green spaces. I went to quite a few on my wanderings:

  • Parque Del Amor
  • Parque Raimondo
  • Parque El Faro
  • Parque Salazar
  • Parque Domodossala
  • Parque Central (Kennedy Park)

One thing that will stand out to anyone visiting the parks is how well they are maintained. Public servants scour the parks collecting leaves and rubbish, tidying the flower plots. Another thing is that no-one walks, sits or lay on the grass.

The Parque Del Amor is on a cliff overlooking the ocean, it is two lovers embraced and kissing. The statue is simple, beautiful and entrancing. The walls around the statue are mosaic and filled with messages of love.Parque Amor

The other parks are all very nice, but none stood out like the Parque Del Amor.

There was an information booth nearby so went I went to ask why the monument was built. The young woman staffing the booth couldn't answer as it was her first day. I walked on to the next park which was a lighthouse monument, with no English signs, so I double backed passing the Parque del Amor, and along down the coast.

Peruvians, or rather, Limians, passed me by running along the coast, I passed by a small grove that had a range of bars and ignored it, thinking it merely an oddity. I came across another such park and found some people slinging ropes and rings over the bars. It dawned on me, the pairs of runners were Trainer and student and these parks were for fitness. I kept moving and soon found myself at a park with two resistance machines: A Chest Press and a modified rowing machine. I took a photo and another team ran up and started at the machines. I kept moving.

Statue in a Park, LimaThe next park was actually a shopping centre, 3 levels of stores easily recognisable regardless of nation. It is the wealthy stores, where the kids hang out looking cool. The park above had a pool of water with a rock plinth rising forth with an eagle head on top. There was an information booth nearby, so I walked over to ask the purpose of this monument. The young \man behind the desk spoke English relatively fluently. I asked my question, he asked if he could see a picture (we were barely 10 metres from the statue) so I showed him one. He looked at it, stroked his chin and said “I think it's an eagle of some kind. Sorry I don't know, it's my first day.”

I decided it must be everyone's first day and that tourism in Peru must have such a high turnover of staff because of people like me asking questions they are not used to. I thanked him for his time and began more exploring.

Statue in a Park, LimaMany may think my course of exploration strange, but it consists of moving in a grid along the streets until I have crossed every avenue, street, boulevard, lane, etcetera in an area, once the grid is done, I start again and capture the next grid. Thus, I get a feel for the area, and see the true face of where I am. Miraflores turned out to be pitted by the same faults as home – Gambling is far too readily available, a proliferation of options regarding fast food, and the poor hiding from our eyes. One thing that truly marks the difference between Australia and Lima was the proliferation of security. Seemingly every corner of Miraflores had a security officer, There was security at the banks, grocery stores, on street corners, in the parks... Everywhere someone could think of putting a security officer there was one. If it wasn't security, it was policia, or tourista security, or tourista policia. I felt incredibly safe on these streets (although I still took all the standard precautions while travelling the developed world) There was even a security officer on a Segway. The security were always smiling and bid me buenos dias or ola as we passed. It's a great difference, and one appreciated to a traveller.

I wandered the streets for hours, tracing everything back to my hostel. There were commercial streets, dining, gaming, drinking, accommodation, residential. If there was a street for it, it was here. Around 8pm I found the place I wanted to dine (I skipped lunch because I wasn't hungry). It was an expensive place, but o the menu it had Guinea Pig and Alpaca. I knew I needed to eat here. I ordered:

  • Pisco Sour (National Drink Of Peru) – Pisco served with lemon juice, egg white and cinnamon.
  • Lomitas de Alpaca serrana – Loin of Alpaca flambeed in Pisco served on a bed of Sweet Potato with onions on top.

The waiter brought my drink with a bowl of corn kernals lightly fried but not to the point of popping, then lightly salted. As a pre-dinner snack they were excellent.

The Pisco was beautiful, sweet, sour and creamy. Pisco is Peruvian brandy.

Alpaca is initially dry on the palate, but smooth and rich with pepper. The onions were flambéed with the alpaca until just tender. The sweet potato is just that, beautiful and smooth – butter and cream. Individually each part is quite tasty, but together they are exquisite Each ingredient complimenting the other, the textures complimenting each other throughout the entire mastication. This is rare in western food. Food snobs have taken the simple flavours and ingredients and turned them into something no longer attainable, turning the home cook into an untrained version of the pompous Master Chef.

Parque Amor at NightAfter that scrumptious dinner, I made my way to a Ca. San Ramas, to get a feel for this rather crazy stretch of night-life It is maybe 100 metres long,lined on both sides with restaurants and bars. The staff waiting outside literally beg for your business offering free drinks to get you to enter. One even offered me a free Zumba party and cocktail with my dinner.

Instead I made my way back to Parque Del Amor to get a picture of it at night, then back to the hostel for a nightcap and strangely enough meeting a member of my troop for the next month.

The next day I wandered west of the area I had previously explored (it is a big suburb) for a few hours and saw the chaos of peak hour for the first time; minibuses laden with people swerving in and out of traffic to get the most fares and to get the destination first. To Australians it will seem like the most insane way to operate a public transport system. There are literally dozens of buses coming and going, many with the same suburb following before diverting paths. I wanted to get into Central, so I caught one of these crazy buses packed to the gills with people (Sol$1.5) from Calle Arequippa to Ave Tacna. From there I wandered the streets visiting:

  • Monastery Santa Domingo
  • Cathedral Santa Francisco
  • Plaza De Mayor
  • Palacio Arzobispal
  • Palicio De Gobierno
Lima, PeruLima, PeruLima, Peru

Lima, Peru


The Monastery Santa Domingo was excellent. It is home to the first black saint and the first saint of the Americas. It also has two other saints. It was built in 1604 and has some beautiful chapels to the saints and a library that I would kill for. Books here date from prior to the construction through to modern day as it is still a fully functional monastery. I was guided through the monastery for an hour and met a nice Canadian couple.

Lima, PeruThe Canadians and I then made our was to the Cathedral Santa Francisco to tour the catacombs. There are thousands of bodies in the catacombs, most buried in mass graves. There are tunnels liking the other cathedrals and monasteries, all blocked now. The Cathedral was offering a mass to a recently deceased monk who is to be the first person interred in the catacombs in a decade or more. It was quite a momentous occasion.

Lima, PeruI spent hours walking Central through the Plazas and parques, enjoying the bustling city. At 5:45pm I realised that I needed to be back at my hotel to meet with the tour group an go to dinner. I made my way to one of the bus stops looking for a bus to Miraflores. I found one in the mad scramble and jumped aboard, flesh pressed with flesh, the minibus was tight, peak hour traffic swarmed like midges and I truly wonder how it is I survived. It took me an hour to get back to my hotel, winding through strange suburbs and seeing a different Lima than I had previously. This Lima was more run down, there were damaged buildings and unfinished constructions, but the Limians seemed happy gathering outside a cafe or restaurant. The Peruvians are a very interesting people.

When I returned to the hotel, I found my group already into the introductions. We drank a Pisco Sour together and made our way to our first dinner... at the same restaurant I had eaten at the night before. It was a tough decision as to what I should eat, having already had the alpaca. I was about to choose the guinea pig when Alem (our tour guide) told me that the best guinea pig is in Puno. So I had the goat stew instead and more Pisco. The meal finished early and everyone retired. I stayed up and watched some Spanish TV - Justified season two, dubbed. It was strange to see a show I know dubbed into another language and I can't help but feel that they got the voice actors wrong. None of them seemed to have the red-neck qualities of the original.

I woke early and hit the street again, we would be leaving at midday, so I stuck local and walked to a pyramid excavation and restoration of Huaca Pucllana. Sadly it was closed, so I made my way around the perimeter trying to get a look at it. I couldn't see much but it looked like it would be great in a few years. I may just have to return here to see it again. Back to the Hotel for breakfast where I met up with Paul and Nathan. Breakfast today consisted of a variety of fruits: pineapple, rock melon, watermelon, grapes, bananas (10cms long, very small), and olives, ham, haloumi, scrambled eggs, boiled eggs, a range of breads, and polenta in a banana leaf. We ate and introduced ourselves then went and bought supplies from the local Supermarket. Upon returning again to the hotel, we all packed up our bags and loaded them into the private bus that would take us to the bus station then by public bus to Pisco.


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