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.


Other Peru Articles:

August 07 2011 - The Longest Day

The biggest day is the one that gets you rolling. It starts early and bends time until at the very last you need to re-acclimate to a new time code. All times listed are local time.

Sunday 05:45 Sydney

Alarm (sweet jazz so as not to startle too much after the 3 ½ 4 hours of sleep), then shower, then hugs farewell to awesome friends.

06:15 Sydney

A quick stroll to the tram-line to reverse the journey of yesterday. The sun rises early with the suburbs filled with light. The trams run every 15 minutes from 06:00 but with a note saying to expect delays at the start of the day. The tram arrives (AU$4.40) and it's quick into Central, to catch the airport train (AU$15) out to the International terminal.

06:50 Sydney

The train from Central arrives. There's quite a few people making their way out for mid morning flights the check in, customs check and wait. 07:15 Sydney International Airport Stand in line and await your turn to check-in. Slowly making your way through the line to the counter. Checking in is easy, you hand over your e-ticket, place your bag on the luggage rack and make the request that your luggage get shifted to the next Airline after the flight.

07:30 Sydney International Airport

You wander around the terminal looking at Duty Free and make the last call in Australia for a while. The call is to your companion who more often than not travels with you. You chat and it's almost as if you are close by. 

08:15 Customs

It's a strange formality where you check your boarding pass, they scan your passport and make sure that you're not trying to take anything out of the country you shouldn't. Smiles are given and cheery banter follows.

08:30 Duty Free

Past Customs is a warehouse of duty free. It's everywhere, filling your every sight and sound. Here, most everything is for sale without the import duty. Although if you are looking for cigarettes you need to go to the blank white wall and follow it through to the hidden area beyond. Cigarettes are apparently the ultimate in social Fubars and as such the purchases cannot be witnessed by the masses.

09:00 Sydney International Concourse

Board LAN Chile flight to Auckland.

09:25 LAN Airbus A340

LAN is a pretty clean airline and the food is not too bad, although it does seem that the pilot likes to talk, as several times throughout the trip he cut through the intercom to wish us a good trip. 3 ½ hours later...

14:40 Auckland International Airport

I'm supposed to transfer here from LAN to Aerolineas Argentinas for the flight to Buenos Aires. I flow through customs and head to International transfer services who tell me that my luggage is has been put into the domestic terminal. So, I head back through international transfer customs and down the duty free hall (how much of this stuff do they want you to buy anyway?) to Domestic Customs. I fill out the paperwork, present my Passport and the customs officer asks:

How long are you planning to stay in New Zealand?

Probably about an hour. I just have to get my luggage and check in on my next flight.

She looked at me slightly wary LAN flight from Sydney?


You're not the first, welcome to New Zealand.

I collected my bag, and made my way through the second customs check, told my story again and they laughed, made my way down the hall and approached the airline counter for Aerolineas Argentinas. It wasn't open, and wouldn't be until 3:45. So, what's a traveller to do? I made my way to a bar and ordered a pint of MAC's. I sat and drank, biding my time, then went to check in.

15:45 Auckland International Airport

The line up at Aerolineas was long. It looked as though a New Zealand sports team was heading out today as well and they constituted half of the line, the other half were tourists or people returning home. I scanned the crowd with their luggage trolleys and surmised that the average number of bags was three. It was amazing. One of the people in front of me had six very large bags.

16:50 Auckland customs Again, but the other side

Where are you travelling today Mr Eglinton?

Argentina, then onto Peru

Have you enjoyed your time in New Zealand?

The hour and a half was good. MAC's is a pretty decent beer.

A sidelong look, LAN or Jetstar out of Sydney?


Seems there were quite a few of you today.

It's not so bad, I love New Zealand. Normally I'd spend a week or two out of the airport though.

A quick laugh and I'm through. Another Metal Detector and into another giant Duty Free. I find a quiet spot to wait the hour and ten until boarding my next flight.

18:00 Auckland International Airport

I make my way to gate 1, where the plane should be boarding. The area is full. People occupy every seat, some are curled in corners napping, others against the window looking skyward. I find a spot to perch and wait and meet Isaac, a GIS researcher from Ghana on his way to Brazil for eight days. We chat a while and wait. This is my waiting room friend.

19:00 Auckland International Airport

We board, an hour late, but still we are boarding. I'm thankful for the layover on the Argentinean end of the journey otherwise I might have been in trouble. I find my seat and stow my carry on. I've an aisle seat.

19:20 Aerolineas Argentinas A340

We take off into the great beyond for an 11:50 flight, but I'm in luck, the only other seat in my aisle is a guy at the other end which means no cramped flight. There's a slight hitch with this trip though, it seems the entertainment system is broken in my area, so no movie, no music. I meditate a while, then sleep an hour before dinner arrives, small portion but tasty. I sleep some more, wake up, wander the aisles, do some push ups, squats, sit-ups to get the blood flowing. Go to the toilet and spray saline solution into my nostrils clearing the flight congestion, then go back to sleep again. When I wake up, the three seats beside me are filled by a woman curled up and sleeping. The man has vacated his seat and moved across the other aisle. Strange, I relax and try to sleep again. Failing that I control my breathing and clear my mind, rinse repeat. Hours later we approach Buenos Aires, and the woman has awoken. Her name is Maritza, she's from Sydney but only for 5 months, she's originally Peruvian and on her way home to see her parents. This is my second one-time friend. We chat until we land in BA.

16:35 Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini

The hour delay in Auckland means there is only a 2 hour layover here. The first thing I do is go and check with the International transfers people that my luggage has been put on the flight to Lima, for while I am returning to Buenos Aires in a month, I'd rather not have to pay the entry fee, collect my luggage and check in again. Thankfully it's all OK. With time to spare, I wander the airport meeting with Maritza again and some friends of hers from Lima. I wander through yet another duty free. Buenos Aires airport is half old and half new and it's huge. One thing I notice is that this duty free has Scotch for the same price (if not more) than what I pay for it back home in a bottle shop. The wing for my departure is all new but you have to walk unfinished corridors to get there. There are two duty free sections, one in each direction from International Transit. Thankfully the new wing of the airport is decked out with very comfortable chairs in a wide open space. A nice place to chill out, relax and use the free wi-fi.

18:30 Buenos Aires Ministro Pistarini

Board the flight to Lima. The plane is old. It's like the ones I used to catch in the 80's. There is no in-flight entertainment system. I hope I haven't slept too much already.

19:00 Aerolineas Argentinas Boeing 737

We take off. I'm sitting in the middle seat on the right hand of the plane over the wing, a little girl on my right and her mother to my left. The mother only speaks Portuguese and everyone else seems only to speak Spanish. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only English speaker here, but it sure feels like it. I decide to sleep but failing that, meditate again. This is going to be a long flight. Dinner came and it was most disappointing: A ham & cheese sandwich with a chocolate cookie with caramel filling (quite possibly the most artificial thing I have eaten in years). So, to occupy myself on this entertainmentless flight, I pulled out he laptop and started to read an ebook, then an hour and half before the end of the flight I ran out of power. Loss, horror shock. Oh well, Rinse repeat, it's almost over. 05:25 hours in the air.

22:30 Lima

We land at Lima. Everyone jumps up and starts grabbing their things even though we are still taxiing to the dock. I wait it out until it's easy to move freely. Out the aeroplane, down the hall, a very long hall at that, cutting across passengers boarding other flights until we get to the end, make our way through customs (no-one speaks English at customs) then through another Duty Free. I make my way through into the melee that is customs, with 10 planes of passengers all trying to get out at once. Then comes the explosive compression of the airport hundreds of taxi drivers and chauffeurs with name cards trying to get their fares.

23:30 Lima

I find my driver, and we make our way into Miraflores. It takes me five minutes on the road to decide that I would not drive in this city. The roads are well marked but it seems more of a suggestion than a rule as to where you need to be, roads change from bi-directional to one-way repeatedly, and horns are the language of choice.

00:00 Che Lagarto, Lima

I make it to my Hostel. Drop my bags, shower and change. What a day. Time to have a beer (or a few), send a few emails and Skype to let people know I'm OK, then get to know the locals.

 Bed at Che Lagarto

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