Monday, September 1, 2008

25 August 2008

Lima ~

Last night after a phenomenal meal of avocados, plantains, and soy lomo, we met up with some of our crowd from Machu Picchu. We started the night by going to the highest Irish pub in the world (based on elevation). I admit that I was slightly bothered by the selection, but good people can remedy any situation. The bar was expensive (US prices) and everything was in English. While some places try to sell a fusion of Peru and the West, this place was meant to be purely Western: a reminder of where all the rich people came from. I was especially bothered that people would only speak to me in English. This is a Spanish speaking country so we should at least try to communicate initially in Spanish. I feel like I’m being racial profiled when people initially address me in English. I want to start not responding to people when they speak English. I will claim to be from some place like Iceland where you are while and speak some language that people don’t know, forcing them to communicate to me in Spanish. I will now always initially address someone (no matter what their appearance) in the country’s native tongue. I believe that any other behavior is incredibly offensive.

Anyways, after the Irish Pub, we progressed to the club next door. I’m not much of a club person, but I enjoyed myself for a few hours amidst free drinks and tourists. In the morning, we made our way to the Cuzco airport and took a very enjoyable 80 minute flight to Lima. Lima is almost perpetually overcast, and it was amazing to hit the clouds as we approached the city. For the remainder of the day, we more or less roamed around. Being a coastal city on the Pacific, we walked down to the beach. Lima stretches along the coast, but most of the coastline is occupied by squalor. There is only a small chunk that is safe during the day, and fortunately the safe place is near our neighborhood. Right on the after, we lunched at a new development that was very American suburbia. I would classify the area as Lima’s equivalent to Block E. Even though the area lacked the cultural draw of the rest of the city, the view was second to none. We lunched on a cafĂ© right on the ocean. A meal with a view like this in the states would have cost a fortune, but instead we dropped just a few bucks.

After lingering around the ocean for awhile, we returned to the streets of Lima. It is amazing the one block transformation from American suburbia to the activity of a major Latin city. I love the vibrancy of the streets, but part way through the walk, I encountered the worst smog of my life. It was rush hour, and all lanes of ramshackle, polluting old buses were idling to the extreme. As we walked, it became increasingly difficult to breathe. Soon, I felt pain in the back of my throat. I couldn’t believe this could be caused by bad air. It was awful. People were running with their mouths covered, trying to escape into fresh air. I couldn’t believe that even the locals were having difficulties. As we escaped into our hostel, I realized it’d be difficult for me to live in this city because of the air.

Our hostel has a cool look and feel, situated on the second floor overlooking the main plaza in Miraflores. The front part of the hostel has a large bar with a billiards table. At the bar sat a couple of guys who were swapping tales of the bounty they had conquered while traveling. Other then that, the place was dead. We visited the local supermarket, made some food, and then lounged around inside…safe from the pollution.

Photo Credits:
1. View from the Block E of Lima (Larcomar) where we ate dinner (photo from Flickr)

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