Days 338-341 (July 1-4, 2017):
We arrived in Lima, the capital of Peru and our last stop with our friend Smo. We had heard some not-so-nice things about some parts of Lima, so we decided to book a hostel in the affluent neighborhood of Miraflores. We got a cab to the main square and checked in to the Pariwana Hostel. After a quick shower and nap, we were ready to get some food and see some of the sights. Our first stop was dinner at a small place around the corner from the hostel. They have a pedestrian street there that is completely lined with restaurants. The restaurant owners are all out on the street making offers of discounted menu items and free drinks in hopes of luring in tourists who come by. We found ourselves lured in by the promise of a free Pisco Sour and two free beers each with our dinner. It is kind of fun to play the restaurants against each other to get a better deal. We drank our spoils and feasted on ceviche, causa (a Peruvian potato dish), and calamari. After dinner, we decided to check out a fountain park I had read about in a blog. When we got there, we were super surprised by how busy it was. We paid our $2 admission each and entered the park only to find that they were having a fountain light show to celebrate their anniversary celebration. It was called the Circuito Magico del Agua. We watched the big presentation complete with laser show, helio-displays, colorful fountain routines, and music at the main fountain before continuing through the park. The park was really neat with fountains of all shapes, sizes, and colors. We especially enjoyed the ones that were interactive. We watched groups of people at one of the fountains try and make it into the center and back out without getting wet, dodging the random sprays from beneath their feet. We saw more than one person get drenched as they crossed the parts of the fountain just as the water came up. We also played around in one of the fountains that created a thick mist, perfect for silhouette pictures. Needless to say, we all left just a little bit more wet than we came.
The next morning, we were all pretty tired. We decided to make it a low-key day at the hostel. We relaxed on the deck, played ping-pong, drank some beers, and watched one of the World Cup-qualifying soccer matches. That evening we made friends with some of the other hostel guests and joined in on beer pong and flip cup games. It was a nice and relaxing day.
Having lazed around the day before, we spent the next day in a flurry of activity. We started out by heading into the city center. We wandered around, taking in the sites including the Plaza Mayor, Monastery of San Francisco, Larco Museum, Cathedral Basilica of Saint John the Apostle, Archbishop’s Palace, Torre Tagle Palace, and the President’s Palace. They had really nice tourist police out and about in the square on Segway’s who will provide you with a map and recommendations on places to visit and restaurants to eat at nearby. We took about a million pictures as we walked around. We also sampled some chocolate and pisco at a few shops and spent some time searching for souvenirs. Around midday, we stopped for lunch at a small restaurant, once again enjoying free pisco sours and ceviche (I could not get enough!!!). Our last stop before heading back to the hostel was a walk through Chinatown, which provided quite a different atmosphere when next to the typical Peruvian places we had seen in Lima so far. Back at the hostel we ran into our good friend Alex who had journeyed to Machu Picchu with us and his friend. We spent the evening partying with them and catching up on what we had been doing since last we spoke.
Our last full-day in Lima, we went out in search of ruins. We walked from our hostel to Huaca Pucllana or Huaca Juliana. It is a great adobe and clay pyramid located in Miraflores, which served as an important ceremonial and administrative center for the advancement of the Lima Culture, a society that developed in the Peruvian Central Coast between the years of 200 AD and 700 AD. When we got there, we were disappointed to discover that the site was actually closed to visitors (on a Tuesday…..who would have thought). So, I pulled up the Wikipedia page on my phone and presented the information to Smo and Adam in my best tour guide voice as we walked around the outside of the pyramid, snapping pictures as we went. After our nice walk back, we met up with Alex and his friend and headed down to the beach. We were going to try our hand at surfing. Adam was particularly excited since our plans to learn to surf had been foiled in Bali due to weather and strange national holidays. Now, seeing as Alex and I were both broken as a result of mishaps on our downhill mountain-biking adventure (me with a fractured shoulder and him with a torn MCL), we decided to sit it out and watch the others give it a go. If you are interested in surfing, just walk down to the beach and haggle for lessons with one of the many surf instructors set up in tents along the beach. Do NOT pay for lessons through your hostel or hotel as they easily charge two or three times as much. Anyways, Alex and I found a bar on a dock over the water where we could watch the others and decided to sit on the deck and enjoy some cold Peruvian beer as a consolation prize. Smo, Adam, and Alex’s friend (I should know his name but I honestly cannot remember right now- sorry!) did some quick drills on the beach before heading out into the water in their wet suits. We watched as they paddled out, turned and tried to catch some of the waves coming in. They did rather well actually, all of them getting up and riding the waves several times. But there were also some epic falls we found amusing. As the day would down, we collected them on the beach and made our way back to the hostel. We enjoyed one last meal and several more beers together, exchanging contact information before going to sleep. Smo’s adventure was now over, but Adam and I would be continuing on, rounding out our travels in Mexico.