The day finally came that I would leave Central America and head for South America, which was my original plan from the beginning. But now there isn’t so much time anymore, around six weeks, which is enough for one or two countries. I decided to go to Peru, since this country always fascinated me. I could even find a Couchsurfer who would host me for a few days and so I left my hostel in Panama City for an eventful day.
I found two other guys, who also wanted to go to the airport and so we could split the price of the taxi which was $25. The other had to go earlier however, that’s why I was much too early at the airport and moreover I forgot my beloved towel at the hostel At least the Tocumen Airport had free wireless and so I could spend the time more or less useful.
The plane left on time for Bogota, where I had a connecting flight to Lima. In Bogota I had to wait 2.5h plus an extra hour for a delay. This was even more bad for my arrival time … instead of 1am, I would arrive at 2am in the morning. At least the flights were quiet pleasant and little free snacks/meals were delivered by Avianca airline.
When I arrived in Lima, the procedure at the airport went quickly. I was surprised not to pay a departure tax in Panama by the way, but probably it’s been alreadyincluded in the price of the flight.
People were offering me a ride into the city, but the first offer was something like $60 which I immediately neglected. The other one was around $20 and since it was night and that taxi driver seemed to be a registered one, I took that offer. You are always warned not to trust in all cars that proclaim to be a taxi, especially after sunset.
It took us around 40 minutes to the apartment of Mayte at the other side of the city, but only because of the empty streets. Some parts reminded me of a city from the States, with its separated big restaurants, spreaded at the edge of the city. Lima looked totally flat, since the surroundings mountains hid in the veil of darkness.
The driver had problems to find the correct place to drop me off, but patiently he asked around and fount it finally. A doorman took from then on care of me. He brought me to the apartment of Mayte inside the complex. The next half an hour I spent with ringing the doorbell, while nobody seemed to hear it. Expecting that her sleep was too deep I returned to the doorman, where I wanted to spend some time. He however tried to ring the phone inside her apartment. After two minutes it was finally answered and I went back to the apartment.
The door was opened, but not by Mayte as I recognized soon. With my broken Spanish I tried to explain and convince to this girl, that I was a guest of Mayte. She didn’t seem to know anything about me, but she let me inside, pointing to the couch where I could sleep. She said something about two other chicos, but I was too tired to ask for more details, which wasn’t really easy.
Half an hour later the door opened again and I heard voices and laughter, recognizing a contrite voice. It was Mayte with another guy coming back from a disco. With many excusations she welcomed me and confessed that she had forgotten me, already fearing a negative couchsurfing reference But without talking much, everybody went to bed.
The night was disturbed again. Since only one chico arrived with Mayte, at least another one was missing. So some time later there was a big noise on the door for a long time. I was in that state of sleep where I didn’t mind nothing and sensed everything less. I don’t know for how long the door was tortured until somebody opened it, the late guests I got to know not before the next morning. I already was asleep, welcoming myself to Peru.
When I woke up the next morning, many different voices could be heard. I was surprised about it since I wasn’t expecting other couchsurfers at he same time, but the house was full of it. Three other guys from Brazil, France and England established a hostel like feeling.
There was another one in the house I was surprised of, the girl, who opened the door for me the night before. Her name was Ester and she was the maid. She cleaned the house and the dishes and cooked the meal. I wasn’t used to it and it felt like slavery, that she cleaned up after ourselves. It was her job, however I felt sorry for her several times …
Having breakfast we got to know to each other better. Nobody was in a hurry and the hours passed quickly, so that I felt obligated to leave the group to see something of Lima. I was brought to a place where several mini buses passed by Mayte. The I took one that should bring me to Miraflores, one of the nicer places of Lima.
It took a while until I reached the Kennedy Park, which is a good starting point in Miraflores. In the morning I already phoned with a friend of Mayte I was to meet later that day there. I was hungry and quickly found a nice cheap place to eat by avoiding McDonalds and other chains. Many tourists shops attracted me afterwards, offering typical Peruan stuff probably overpriced. The shop owners were very eager to sell their stuff and I had funny talks with them, promising to come back … promises I would break.
Something that caught my eye was a guitar like instrument called Charango. That was what I exactly was looking for, however I didn’t know how much to spend for this 5×2 stringed instrument and so I avoided any purchase. Prices varied in Lima between $60 and $100, but I was still hoping to get one at a more special place somewhere on the countryside.
I walked along the interesting streets of Miraflores going south towards the sea. There was a shopping mall, Larcomar, directly built into the coast line. It was a fantastic view from there and later I had a little snack in a cafe there with a view on the beach and the approaching and retreating waves.
I called Luz, the friend of Mayte and we met at an agreed spot. However she let me wait for forty minutes, since something was detaining her. We went to her family’s place where I got to know to some of her relatives. She was also visited by her cousins from Canada, who joined us the night. I spoke a lot with Luz’s mother about Peru and places to visit. It was very interesting and I was surprised about having such an intensive conversation already and being able to express myself in Spanish.
Later that night we went to Larcomar with the cousins and Mayte and some friends. There was a disco where we spent the whole night. It was nice, although the music wasn’t really the one I like. Really tired we got back to the apartment at 6am.
Since I needed some sleep, half of the following day already was over. I had lunch with Alex, the guy from England and in the late afternoon I paid a visit to the Museo de la Nation. There wasn’t so much time for the museum, but more than half of the museum was under renovation, leaving only a little part accessible. Interesting was the exhibition in the upper floor, telling the history of the party, called “Shining Path”, which terrorized people from the 1980s.
After museums I always feel a bit hungry and like places where I can relax. I looked around the area and already wabted to give up any hope, until I found the familar sign of Starbucks. Of course I would have prefered something more local, but since the culture of coffee drinking isn’t as developed as in Europe for example, it’s almost impossible to find an alternative to Starbucks. I enjoyed the time there and moreover they offered free wireless, not like at home where you have to pay for it. The same is at McDonalds by the way.
Another day I spent in the Lima center. I walked a lot that day, trying to find the recognizable streets full of tourists. It took me a long time until I got to the Plaza de Armas, which is the main square. On this way I passed not very interesting but polluted places. Strange was to go along streets that seemed to be dedicated to one kind of profession, like copy shops almost on every meter, but nothing else. Another street was selling only glasses … boring in my opinion.
The plaza de Armas was indeed as touristy as you would expect and a pedestrian zone lead to the Plaza San Martin. I passed several cinemas and I wanted to watch a movie. I let Mayte know, who also wanted to join with some friends. When we finally met up, we bought tickets for “Se Busca” or better known as “Wanted” and went to a place to have dinner and cocktails before. That was as nice as the movie was
I also visited some churches and catacombes (Cathedral San Francisco) that included a tour. When you already saw the catacombes below Paris however, you aren’t that impressed anymore. The house of the inquisition had a free tour but in Spanish and I didn’t get much out of it.
I already spent five days in Mayte’s house and I thought it would be time to leave. I enjoyed staying there and talking with her or her friends as Alex, another couchsurfer, too. I had the feeling to be able to spend there many more days, to loose track of time, and didn’t really see much in the end, but however have fun. That actually happened to Alex, who probably never get away from there
I went to buy a bus ticket to Huaraz, which seemed to be a beautiful spot among mountains, but plans changed slightly as you will find out soon!