This morning we were up fairly early (again!) – 6:30 a.m. or so. We were getting picked up for our city tour at 9:15 so we just took our time getting ready, packing, checking e-mail and eating breakfast.
The city tour was ok. It was a bilingual tour for the large part with kelsey and I being the only English speakers. I knew enough Spanish that I could tell the guide wasn’t telling us nearly as much information in English as she was telling the others in Spanish. The first hour or so was driving around in a medium-sized van through various parts of the city, with a lot of explanation but no acttually getting out to look at anything. I didn’t think it was so bad – it was nice to at least see some different areas in the city with very little effort.
The second part of the tour was walking and Kelsey and I got our very own English speaking guide, Alfredo. That was nice. Our first stop was some bank building that is now a museum. We basically saw a lot of ceramics from Inca and pre-Inca times, as well as some gold pieces. Next, we walked to the main square where the Cathedral is, as well as the Archbishop’s Palace and Governor’s Palace. They were setting up a big stage for a telethon later in the day so there was quite a lot of activity going on a strong police presence. We got approached by a security guard in the plaza who spent some time in the US and wanted to practice his English with us. Then, while we were talking to him, a Japanese tourist came over and wanted to get his picture taken with me! Too funny! Of course I obliged…
Our final stop was the highlight of the tour and one of the can’t miss things in Lima – the church and convent of San Francisco and it s catacombs. The catacombs have thousands of bones lying around and piled up. although photos technically aren’t allowed, Alfredo told us we could take some if we wanted, so of course we did. He said he didn’t think they would’ve arranged some of the bones so nicely if they didn’t expect people to take pictures! The ceilings in the catacombs were quite low and the doorways even lower, so Alfredo had to constantly remind us to watch our heads. I was being especially careful since I had knocked my head a few times earlier on the trip, but I made it through the catacombs unscathed!
After that, the tour headed back to Miraflores and the hotel. I got dropped off while Kelsey continued on. I wanted to try a chifa – a Chinese-Peruvian restaurant – so I headed to Wa Lok, recommended by one of my guidebooks and about a 15 minute walk from the hotel. There, I got coconut rolls (interesting and very tasty) and something similar to sweet and sour chicken. It was all delicious and I left stuffed! I also got a very interesting lookin fortune cookie with a little fortune rolled up inside in Spanish.
After lunch, I headed to the Museo de la Nacion. I had read about this museum in both my guidebooks and it sounded very interesting, providing a whole overview of Peruvian history in chronological order with explanations in both English and Spanish. I really did not want to miss it. So my first step was to get a taxi. I had read in my guidevbook only to hail official government licensed taxis on the street, which are the yellow taxis. So I waited for one to come along and hailed. I tried to negotiate the fare but the guy wouldn’t budge so I didn’t push it. At 10 soles (about $4), it was still a good deal and within the range of fares suggested in my guidebook. And, I ended up having a nice little chat with the taxi driver entirely in Spanish so I was quite proud of myself! We talked about where I had been on the trip, who I was travelling with and why she wasn’t going with me to the museum, where I am from, what kind of food I should try in Lima, etc. Very cool!
I got to the museum just before 3 p.m. I have to say I was sorely disappointed. It took forever to figure out where the main exhibits started and it didn’t seem like anything that was described in either of my guidebooks. The one book said it spread chronologically over 3 floors with explanations in Spanish and English. I found a temporary art exhibit on the first floor that represented no one particular time period and then I stumbled upon a special exhibit on the 6th floor about the Shining PAth terrorism activities in the 1980s and 1990s. But the main exhibit seemed to only be on one floor and included absolutely zero explanations in English. I didn’t have the patience to try and read and tralsate all of the Spanish explanations, although I probably could’ve gotten the just of everything if I had tried. I’m kind of wondering if some exhibits are under renovation now or something because a couple floors seemed to be closed altogether.
From the museum, I hailed another official looking cab back to the hotel. Still did well with the Spanish although this guy wasn’t horribly chatty. Probably because we were in the middle of mad crazy traffic and he needed to concentrate so as not to get us killed! Lima traffic seemed almost as bad as Cairo!
Once back at the hotel, I headed up the street to a supermarket to buy a bottle of Pisco to bring home with me. I carefully packed that in my checked bag but considering a sign at the check-in counter said flammable liquids were prohibited in checked pags, I was not sure whether it would make it all the way home with me without being confiscated. Next, I hit the markets near the hotel again for some last minute shopping. I got a necklace for myself and Christmas presents for some family members. Kelsey and I met back at the hotel at 6:30 and heade dback to Larco Mar for our last dinner in Peru. This time we ate at a place called Mango’s, but no ocean view this time. The menu was huge although, again, I don’t remember what I got. And we stopped for ice cream again on our way back to the hotel. Then it was some last minute organizing of our luggage before heading to the airport. Luckily, we left pretty early (9:00 p.m. and my flight wasn’t until 12:20 a.m. and Kelsey at 12:50). Traffic was ridiculous! I think it took us over an hour to get there whereas it took us only 30 minutes to get to the hotel from the airport on Thursday. Everything went smoothly checking in but poor Kelsey’s flight was delayed until 2:30 a.m.!
And so that does it…back to the USA after an amazing 2 week trip!