Living in Lima Peru (11/2010)
11/03/ 2010 (Wednesday) Sick, Then Mona and Kelly arrive
Shortly after I finished my last entry, I started coming down with the flu. I spent a miserable weekend coughing and doing other disgusting things. I started to feel like a human being again on Tuesday, just in time for Mona and Kelly’s arrival in Lima. Their flight arrived safely and on time with no hitches in the travel itinerary. After picking them up at the airport, we came back to the apartment and sat up for awhile chatting and catching up on things. It was nice hearing about all the goings on back home with my friends and their families.
Wednesday we walked down to a little corner place I enjoy and ordered a breakfast. It gave them a taste of life here in the city and what it is like being in a non-tourist area. Then, we headed back to the apartment where we met up with our ride for the day so that I could give them one of my many famous tours. We started with a walk around Barranco, showing them the points of interest that I know about. Places like the Bridge of Sighs, Victor Delfin’s house, the historic church, the Mirador, the walkway to the beach and a few others. During the visits, I told them about the miracle of how Barranco was founded, the myth of the Bridge of Sighs and pointed out the apartment they could buy me if they ever won the lottery.
From Barranco we headed along the Costa Verde into Chorrillos where we stopped for some photos near the fishing docks. We got to watch a little bikini beach volleyball while we were there also. Then it was up the little mountain to Morro Solar to get some great views of the city and take more photographs before heading down to the Cruza del Papa for even more photos and spectacular views. After all that it was time for lunch at Salto del Fraile and to watch the jumping priest dive from the cliff. We had a nice lunch and enjoyed the views of the ocean from the restaurant. Mona and Kelly also got to enjoy their first Pisco Sour, which they both enjoyed very much. From their we headed over to the ruins at Pachacamac, which included a climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun to end our day and head home. I am posting this before we head out for dinner later. Hope you all enjoy the photos.
11/04/2010 (Thursday) Mona and Kelly visit Lima Center
On Mona and Kelly’s second day of their visit we toured the historical center of Lima. After a leisurely morning with just a little sleeping in, we all got ready and headed out to catch a cab. It turned out to be a painless process since a cab was practically passing my front door when we stepped out. I agreed to his price which was very reasonable since the traffic was terrible at this time of the morning. The ride there was as I expected, slow and laborious, but eventually we arrived close enough to the Plaza de Armis to get out of the cab and walk. We had another beautiful warm sunny day to do the tour.
At the Plaza de Armis, they saw how beautiful the historical center of Lima can be. The Presidential Palace, the Cathedral and Arch-Bishop’s Palace as well as the other beautiful buildings surrounding the square stood out against the beautiful cloudless blue sky. From the square, we headed over to the San Francisco Church where they took a tour of the catacombs and church itself. As with my guests in the past, they were very impressed and enjoyed the tour very much. They didn’t finish the tour in time to see the changing of the guard at the Palace but we had plenty of other things to see. I took them to all the spots on my city tour. Casa Osambela, the Santo Domingo Convent, Casa Grau, the San Agustin Church and plenty of others. Naturally we went to the Hotel Bolivar and tasted their Pisco Sours while we sampled some of their appetizers. The hotel never fails to impress and we enjoyed the Pisco Sours. This was followed with a walk through the San Martin Plaza and lunch at Huerfanos, the oldest Italian place in Lima. A pass by another couple churches and two more historic homes took place before our last stop in Maury’s Hotel Bar to try their Pisco Sour to determine whose was the best. Hands down, the Bolivar’s won the day. We walked back to the Hotel Bolivar and caught a cab back to the apartment finishing our second day.
We have all finished packing and are ready for the trip to Cusco tomorrow. The driver will be here to pick us up at 4am so it’s early to bed for the three of us. Mona and Kelly are excited about seeing the Inca Capital and going up to Machu Picchu. It might be a couple of days before the next entry but I will try to get one in again tomorrow. Goodnight all!
11/05/2010 (Friday) Off to Cusco
It was up at 4am to get ready for our pickup to the airport. Mona and I had a hard time sleeping the night before but Kelly managed to get a few good hours in before our wakeup. A quick run through the bano and a couple pieces of fruit to eat and I was ready for the driver to arrive. Alberto, our driver from the day before, arrived right on time so we piled into the van and headed out. Checking in with Starperu was a pleasant experience and we were soon sitting at the gate waiting for our flight.
The flight to Cusco was uneventful. The plane ended up only being half full and I got a whole row to myself for the entire flight. The flight was only an hour so, it really wasn’t that big a deal. The van from the Hostal was waiting for us on arrival so we loaded up and were in our rooms in no time at all. The rooms are very nice and the beds very comfortable. There are also nice large bathrooms with hot showers in each room. We threw our stuff in the rooms, went to the little dining room and had several cups of coca tea before resting for an hour and then heading out to do a little exploring. I also arranged for our Sacred Valley Tour and taxi to Poroy to catch the train to Machu Picchu.
First we headed the few blocks to the Plaza de Armis to snap some photos, look at the churches and scout for souvenirs. We wandered up to one of the large mercados and checked things out and then came back to the square for a quick lunch. Then it was back to the mean streets of Cusco to look for a quick present for a couple of friends. I bought a small piece for my apartment but that was the only purchase today. It felt really late (like 4 or 5pm) and we headed back to the hostal to rest before going out to dinner this evening. Naturally it turned out to only be about 1:30pm so I used some of the time to take a nap, work on some photos and update my facebook page. I think we will head out to eat about 6pm so you will know more about all this tomorrow evening after we get back from the Sacred Valley Tour.
11/09/2010 (Tuesday) The Sacred Valley, Train to Aguas Calientes, Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu
We were us early Saturday morning to head out for our tour of the Sacred Valley. The tour company sent someone by the hostal to pick us up and walk us to the Plaza de Armis where the bus came and got us. The bus wasn’t full and Mona, Kelly and I had the whole back row to ourselves. The tour hasn’t changed much since the last two times I took it. I still think they should call it the Sacred Shopping Tour and Mona agrees with me. We headed out of Cusco, heading over the mountain past the statue of Christ and the ruins of Sachawayman, then down the mountain with a couple of stops for photo and shopping opportunities till we came to Pisac where the really large market is. Mona bought some stuff and even I broke down and bought a couple of little souvenirs for myself. The drive through the valley was beautiful always and you could hardly see any of the destruction caused by the floods this past spring. We stopped for lunch at a beautiful hacienda called “Tupunas.” The food was just average (buffet) but the views of the river and countryside were amazing. After lunch it was off to Ollantaytambo to visit the ruins there. These ruins are some of the most spectacular in the valley with lots of water works and fountains. After dropping a bunch of people off at hotels we headed up to Chinchero to see the old church. By then it was getting dark and it was starting to rain. We made it back to Cusco just fine though and decided to hit the sack as we had to get up early to catch our train to Aguas Calientes the next day.
Sunday morning the ordered Taxi arrived on time and we were off to Poroy to catch the train. It was about a 20 minute ride and very uneventful. We were a little early but our train was at the platform on time and ready to go. Four beautiful hours later we were at the station in Aguas Calientes. The scenery on the way was breathtaking but you could easily tell the areas where the track had been destroyed and rebuilt. I didn’t get to sit with Mona and Kelly so I got to talk with a couple of nice young ladies from England and another one from Austin Texas. It helped pass the time and it was nice hearing about all their adventures. After arriving and checking into the hotel (The Presidente) we decided to walk around the town and do some exploring. Let me say, the hotel was magnificent. I had a room with a balcony overlooking the river. Totally amazing. The town was so interesting that we decided to just explore and only visit Machu Picchu on Monday. Aguas Calientes is an interesting little town. There is only one street where traffic is allowed and that is the buses that take you up to Machu Picchu. If you want tto see anything else it involves walking and some climbing. It’s worth exploring though with several walk bridges that cross one of the tributary rivers. We had a late dinner at a small restaurant close to the hotel and then went to bed for our early day on Monday.
Monday morning my alarm went off at 5am and I called M & K’s room to get them up. Thirty minutes later I met them in the dining room for breakfast. We wanted to catch an early bus to see the sunrise on Machu Picchu. After eating we checked out of the hotel and stored our luggage and caught the bus up. About half way up I realized that I had left my camera in the room and would have to take the bus right back down to get it. So I had to pay another round trip fare up to Machu Picchu. Thank goodness the trip is cheap and quick. I got the camera and made it back up fine but missed the sun coming over the mountain. The good news is that I would have missed it anyway according to Mona and Kelly. There was plenty of beautiful light for my photographs so I am happy with what I did get. We spent a total of 4 – 5 hours touring the site before deciding to head back down the mountain. It was getting crowded and hot with the blazing noon day sun. So we headed back down to Aguas Calientess to pick up our luggage, have a lunch and wait for the time our train left. At 5:03 the train pulled out of the station and took us back to Cusco. The ride back was long and boring; most people were tired and tried to sleep without much success. It was 10pm before we made it back to the hotel in Cusco. They had our rooms ready so we quickly crawled into bed to get some sleep.
Tuesday morning (Happy Birthday to me), we were up early for breakfast, a quick walk around Cuscco for last minute souvenirs, packing and heading to the airport to return to Lima. That’s where we are right now and I am finishing this up so that I can post it when we get back to the apartment. In two days we will be off to Iquitos. BTW, you need bug spray at Machu Picchu also!
11/10/2010 (Wednesday) Huaca Pucllana, Café Z, LarcoMar
After a good night’s sleep, we got up this morning, headed into Miraflores to have breakfast at Café Z. Mona had the pancakes, Kelly the waffles, and of course I had one of their special omelet’s. The delicious breakfast there did not disappoint us and we left with very full bellies. From Café Z we walked over to Huaca Pucllana and took the tour again. Mona and Kelly really enjoyed it and particularly enjoyed the shopping in their small gift shop. The items they have for sale are a good deal, even compared to the prices you get in Cusco. Then Steve arrived with the car and we headed over to the Atlantic Casino so Kelly could do some gambling. Unfortunately, the dice tables do not open till 6pm so he had to wait till this evening to go. From the casino we walked down to LarcoMar (the mall) and had a small treat in Mangos, while Mona and Steve window shopped. As always it was a great way to spend a little time before we headed out to lunch. We took them to a typical Arequipan restaurant so that Kelly could try the Cuy (guinea pig). Although he didn’t mind the taste, he was disappointed with the amount of meat. For dessert we had a Queso Helado (cheese ice cream) which reminded me of the snow ice cream my grandmother used to make. Now we are back at the apartment packing for the trip to Iquitos and the jungle. Our pick up is for 8am tomorrow. More will follow on our adventures then.
We were up at 6am getting ready for the flight. Some coffee and last minute packing and we were ready to head out. Our driver arrived a few minutes early so we lugged our suitcases down and headed out. The traffic was horrendous and I had a serious fear that we would arrive late and have to rush like madmen to get to the gate on time. My fear was groundless though ass our driver (Luis) really knew his way around and got us to the airport in the hour that I allotted. We did get to see some areas of Lima that I had never been through before. There was no line at Star Peru but security had a fairly long one as well as the airport tax line. Fortunately, they are very efficient and it all went very quickly. Now we are waiting for our flight and having a coffee. More later today after we arrive in Iquitos.
After a long delay due to weather in Tarapoto, we arrived in Iquitos 5 ½ hours late. Our driver was there to pick us up and take us to the hotel though. As a result we arrived after dark and didn’t really get to see the city of Iquitos itself. We checked in and went immediately to the hotel’s restaurant for dinner and then back to our rooms to get some sleep before our early morning pick up the next day. The hotel was nice but we didn’t have hot water in the morning for our showers. It was warm and humid so it didn’t bother me. At 8am our Explorama Lodge guide showed up to pick us up and take us to the boat that would deliver us to Cieba Tops. The ride down the Amazon lasted about 90 minutes with lots of green to see on the way. It was very cloudy and a little chilly for Mona on the boat ride to the lodge.
The lodge itself is beautiful and sits on top a cliff overlooking the Amazon River. The rooms are spread out and you get plenty of privacy. The pool and Jacuzzi are beautiful as is the restaurant and bar area. There are plenty of beautiful flowers and hummingbirds, as well as stately palms. For now my only complaint is that there is no sun and it has been raining off and on. What can you expect though; it is the rainy season here. Mona and Kelly decided to go for a dip in the Jacuzzi and I went for a walk along a jungle trail. It was a good walk and I got a lot of nice photos of the plant life. Mona and Kelly enjoyed their swim and then it was time for lunch. It was a great buffet and the food was delicious. We then had a 2 hour break before we headed out to see a village of the Yagua tribe.
It was back on a small boat to take us down river to see the village and walk through some of the jungle. Quite a muddy walk I might add, since it has rained so much recently. Entering the village we were greeted by the tribe dressed in traditional costume. Our guide gave us a lecture on their traditions and then they performed some of their ceremonial dances for us. This was followed by a blowgun demonstration in which some of the group participated. Some were also asked to join in the ceremonial dances, by that I mean me. It was all fascinating and then time to head back up the river to the lodge. Now we are waiting for dinner and then an early night to bed. Tomorrow morning we will be going on another nature walk and some more adventures. Stay tuned everyone. We are having a great time!
We got up Saturday morning and had a very nice breakfast. Then a little rest and it was time to join up with our guide for the nature walk. Our guide is a local man and he obviously loves the area he comes from and is quite knowledgeable about the local flora and fauna. We walked through the jungle, both old and new growth, for a couple of hours while he pointed out various flowers, plants, trees and wildlife. The sun was shining so it made for a long hot and humid walk. Afterwards we immediately headed for the pool to cool off before time for lunch.
Lunch was once again delicious (the food here is great) and then it was time for our river ride to see the famous pink dolphin and fish for piranha. We got to see plenty of the dolphins but it was impossible to get a photo of them. We also stopped to fish for piranha but had no luck in catching any. A few people caught small catfish (Mona got the biggest one) but that was it. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful ride on the river which culminated in a couple of stunning rainbows. In the evening we had another very nice dinner and afterwards the kids from a local village put on a floor show for us of their native dances. The most interesting dance was an interpretation of a local myth about a woman from a lake and an anaconda. A live snake was used in the dance. The dances were interspersed with music performed by a band made up of some of the guides and other locals. All were really quite good.
Saturday morning I slept in and just barely made it for breakfast. I must say that for buffet food, the meals here are quite good. After breakfast we hopped on the big boat again for a trip downriver to the small town (pop 3000) of Indiana. Our guide actually grew up in this village so it was interesting to have him walk us through it and explain his childhood there. The village is very poor but the people seem happy and we bought a couple of small trinkets from the local kids. Shopping done we boarded the boat and headed back to the lodge for lunch. Mona and Kelly used the opportunity to take another dip in the pool before eating. After lunch it was time to board the special speed boat they had arranged for us and head back to Iquitos to catch our plane back to Lima. We are in the Iquitos airport right now waiting for our plane. I will post all this as soon as we are back in my apartment in Lima. I hope your weekend was as educational and exciting as mine.
11/16/2010 (Tuesday) Mona and Kelly’s Last Day
The flight back to Lima from Iquitos was smooth as silk. The views from the plane of northern Peru as the terrain changed from jungle to mountains to costal desert were amazing. The three of us tried to work a crossword puzzle in a Peruvian newspaper after we reached altitude. It was a lot of fun and we did pretty well for three gringos whose grasp of Spanish is limited to say the least. We were back in the apartment by 7:30pm and after unpacking and a short rest we headed up to my favorite Chifa for some take out Chinese food. After eating, it was off to bed so we could get up early for Mona and Kelly’s last day here in Peru.
The next morning we got up, had coffee and sat around talking about our adventures over the last two weeks. Kelly enjoyed the jungle the most but both agreed that the visit to Machu Picchu alone was worth the trip. Afterwards we got ready and headed into Miraflores to Café Z for breakfast. They had pancakes and waffles again while I went with a fruit salad. Then it was off to the Malecon for a nice long walk. We started out at the Love Park and the statue of the Kiss. To get there we passed by the Clinica Good Hope and they were able to see where I had my health insurance. From the Love Park we walked by the area where the para-sailors took off with their parachutes. We considered taking a ride but decided to save it for their next visit. A little further on we came to the lighthouse and then walked all the way to the Skate Park, making little stops along the way to enjoy the ocean views and the fact that the sun had come out. We watched the kids doing tricks on the ramps in the park for a while and then decided to head back to LarcoMar and Mangos to have a few Pisco Sours. After three, Kelly and I were definitely feeling them and Mona was only after one. It was the first time I had drunk a Pisco Sour there and I have to admit they were as good as the ones at the Hotel Bolivar. Then it was back to the apartment, out to dinner at Village again and then loading them into their transportation to the airport.
It was so nice seeing them again and they both said they want to come back to Peru and see more of it. Next time, maybe Arequipa and the Colca Canyon but Kelly definitely wants to return to the Jungle. I didn’t realize how much I missed them and all my friends back in the US until they showed up. Now it’s time to get back into my regular routine till my Sister and friends arrive next Monday. Love you all, have a great week!
11/22/2010 (Monday) Wow, that week went by fast
Sorry for the delayed entry again. Time just slipped away from me as I was trying to catch up on things here in Lima after all my traveling. News wise it’s been a pretty boring week. I have been working on four short story ideas, three new chapters to the book and a couple of articles for LiP. In there I managed to get to our weekly writers’ group meeting to discuss the book with Larry and then go over one of my short stories with him and Victoria afterwards. It was a good discussion as usual. Larry and I mapped out the next ten chapters and went over some stuff that had already been written. We are still trying to get a storyboard together to help us outline the full book better. After Victoria arrived we went over my short story, “Vengence is Mine,” and got it ready to post on our blog this week. I hope all of you have a chance to read it.
On Sunday, I met with Nathan, Tim and Lourdes for breakfast. It had been awhile since I had seen them so it was nice to get together and catch up. Katrina was supposed to join us but she was having a Thanksgiving Dinner and had a lot of cooking to do. Nathan jogged in to Miraflores from Barranco. He is training for a ½ Iron Man contest that is supposed to take place mid-December in Paracas. I promised to launch a search party for him if he got lost in the desert. Tim and Lourdes are both working full tilt boogie and trying to start a life together. Tim won a television at a local Bingo charity event. He gave it to Lourdes’s mother, which I thought was very nice of him. We talked about my recent adventures in Peru and how much my friends had enjoyed their visit. All in all a great morning together.
Now I am waiting for my Sister and friend Cyndi to arrive. There will be a total of six in their group and they will be doing essentially the same thing we did on ours. I won’t be going with them though. As all of you know, travel can get expensive and I am living on my retirement income now. Anyone have some paying work they need me to do? LOL Have a great week all, I’ll keep you updated on their adventures as I hear about them.
11/27/2010 (Saturday) Rita arrives, Then more arrive, Writing, Writers Group
My sister Rita, amiga Cyndi and her sister-in-law Becky arrived safely and on time Monday night. I was at the airport to meet them with Steve and the transport guy, they had no trouble spotting me. We had to hire a van for this visit due to the number of people and amount of luggage. There was no way it was going to fit into our car. After the drive home, Rita and I sat up for a little while catching up. It was great to see her again as well as Cyndi. The next morning we were all up early despite the late night. I gave them a choice of Lima Center or Miraflores to spend the day. They picked Lima´s historical center and so after a breakfast at the little corner eating place (Estación 24), we hopped in a cab and headed to the Plaza de Armis. We were a little late in arriving so my tour did not include all the wonderful places I normally show people (thank you Jose Perochena for showing them to me). Cyndi and Becky did the tour of the catacombs at the San Francisco Church while Rita and I enjoyed the park behind it. After that it was all the places you have read about before. Becky and I were the only ones who like the Pisco Sours at the Bolivar Hotel but everyone loved the little Italian restaurant, Huerfanos, where we stopped for a late lunch. The owner and waiter recognized me and we got a little special treatment from them. OR, maybe it was because I was with three beautiful ladies.
After the tour we headed back to the apartment to get a little rest. They were tired from getting in so late and all the walking we had done. A little later we did walk down to Plaza Vea (the grocery store) so they could see all the strange vegetables and fruits they have here in Peru. Then back home to await the arrival of the rest of them. George and the Grants (Cathy and Richard) arrived about 1am Wednesday morning and then at 5:30 they were all loading in the van to go back to the airport and head up to Cusco. I haven’t heard anything since they left so I am hoping the “no news is good news”. They will be back in Lima for a couple of days on Monday (11/29).
Thursday was my writers’ group meeting. It was great as always. We critiqued a piece by Victoria about long distance love which will be published on Tuesday. I hope you all get a chance to read it. Before that, Larry and I discussed out Novel and went over the latest chapters we had written. We have written up through chapter 49 now so that puts us on or around the halfway mark. On Friday I was in a creative burst and managed to write two chapters for the book and work on two short stories. I love it when that happens.
That’s it for this entry. We are having some nice spring weather here in Lima. The sun is out a lot and the days are getting warmer. I hope all of you are enjoying life as much as I am.
11/30/2010 (Tuesday) The group arrives back from Cusco then leaves for Iquitos
I haven’t done much since my last entry, a little writing and getting the apartment ready for my guests to return. The writing was mostly work on one of the short stories I am in the process of finishing and a little on a two-part article for Living in Peru. Time seems to be flying past me these days and sometimes I just am not sure what I have accomplished. Monday afternoon, they crowd arrived back from Cusco and regaled me with tales of mighty feats (they climbed to the top of Waynu Picchu) and showed me lots of items purchased on the Sacred Shopping Tour. A few of them got sick while they were there, my sister in particular had it rough. None of it was altitude sickness but some food borne thing which gave them a couple days of discomfort at the end of the trip. They are all fine now.
I spent Tuesday showing them Barranco, the Costa Verde, Morro Solar, having lunch at Saltado del Fraile and then off to Pachacamac. It was cloudy most of the day but we had moments of sun. It got a little chilly at the end as we stood atop the Temple of the Sun in Pachacamac and felt the full beeze coming inoff the ocean. The sun was totally gone by then. This morning they left for Iquitos and the jungle. It will be hot, humid, and raining most of the time they are there. I am sure they will enjoy it though and they are all looking forward to the ride down the Amazon River to the lodge.
The rest of the week I have meetings for coffee or breakfast, the writers’ group and working on my personal writings. My next entry will be posted for December. I hope everyone had a great November where ever you are and you are looking forward to the holidays as much as I am.