A week in Lima

Sunday 10 july
The trip to Macchu Picchu is already like a dream. Christina has since posted some photos I like.

(L to R: Val, Jodie)

Best of all is Christina’s explanation of the following:  ‘That was Sam trying to get the Newfies and Novies (?) Jani and Alyssa to try to leave Canada. I told them to wait until after the election. Then they can have their CanExit.’
(L to R: Val, Alissa, Ruth, Gail & Sam)

And to think I thought it was just certain people being overly earnest and excited about a map!

Lima

I’m ensconced in a high rise apartment (14th floor) in Lima, trying to forget this is an earthquake zone and building codes may be imperfect and too recent to be meaningful.

Work is proceeding on the building site next door. Doesn’t start til 7am. Looks like a long way to go yet.


No hot water on the first night so I was moved from the 21st to the 14th floor. Lot more traffic noise here but I now have hot water. No plug in the bath but, plastic bags and the kitchen plug should work. And, if I can get a heater and the safe reset I’ll be right. The apartment manager, Eduardo, and I are already on cheek bussing terms. No, HE started it. 

Well, I need to book a car to the airport for next Saturday. And to figure out what I want to do this week. Wish I’d stayed in beautiful Cusco and flown home through here rather than to here. I could have spent a happy week exploring more of Cusco and walking the hills there. Here? I guess I figured this would be my first and last visit to Lima so I should see It properly. Now? Yup. Wish I hadn’t. 

Oh hell! On it goes. The safe won’t open now. I jammed the bath plug hole and ran a bath only to discover the hot water system is a one-shower job and ran cold very quickly. So no hot bath and no checking the taxi driver’s card to arrange a lift back to the airport. Send me home! Send me to our McMansion with its spa bath and a ton of hot water. Soon. 

Monday

My excitement today: getting my things out of the safe! Yes, the batteries were flat. But at least I now know the bathing option (short shower only), have a heater, and a safe that works ( too easily opened by staff for my liking but….). And I’ve arranged a lift back with Manuel. Or as his card says, Manuelito – the affectionate version. ‘Manuel’ will do for me.

Dull grey day in Lima. Not much to recommend it, neither the weather nor the city. 

Busy walking path up on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. So impressive, netted. 


Dogs gathered in a little dedicated area. 

Flyers. 

The one in the air was doing circuits: take off, loop out over the cliffs, back, land and repeat. The other two kept having problems keeping the air in and so the paragliders kept collapsing.

Bikes. 

Being an inveterate hypocrite I had to stop at …

 And give a false name. 


No, not to avoid publicity but my name is too hard for many. True! Of course that’s why I give a false name at you know where…

Tuesday onwards

Oh and today the shower curtain fell down! Such a crappy quality support I can’t get it to pretend it’s ok so it will fall for the cleaner. 😏 I relented and finally got it up after many more tries. 

Cat park

Found a cat park, nearby Kennedy Park! Cats singly, in groups, sitting, lying and all through this small park and even in nearby streets. Many look to be from the same family. Now I’ve seen it all: dog parks (everywhere), a rat park (Calcutta), llamas parked on terraces to mow them (Machu Picchu and surrounds) and now, a cat park (Lima). What else. 

A cursory count of the cats in the park this morning – 55! A number being nursed and patted by clearly enchanted human visitors, some in heaps of their own choosing. Some alone and some close and some far away from humans. None bothered by the humans. 

And purpose planned flower beds provided by the humans for soft easy digging for the pussies. 

Seats for humans are used by the pussies.


And, equally, shared by some. Many cats were draped on one or other lap. Settled, not minding the person providing the warm underneath surface for them or taking a joint photo.


Gray city

The weather remains gray. This part of the city is gray. None of the colour of Cusco. None of the colourful capes and hats people wear there. No babes being carried in colourful shawls on mum’s back.  

Here is city clothing, universal. Blue jeans, jackets in dull wintertime colours, fewer suits than most cities but it’s not the centre. And the shops: KFC Starbucks and Maccas. Say no more. Clearly also not a real Peruvian suburb. 

I should have stayed in Cusco! But, I may have missed the company of the others there as they left. So here is ok. Thanks to my fellow Huayna Picchu climbers I’m now in a messenger group and have been obliged to join and worse, to friend people on Facebook, something I’ve long resisted. 

Another difference between here and Cusco and other rural areas: I heard a bratty kid whine today in the supermarket. When they are carried and kept close in Cusco and the rural places it’s unusual to hear one carrying on. Here? Nah! Usual big city with brats.

And yet another difference here is the prevalence of noisy car alarms. Very common to hear them screeching and notices around the area say it’s a fineable offence. Too common for fines to been invoked much.

Street life

Drivers are amusing here. In a one way street, need to stop and drop off someone? No worries, stop where you like. One of cars 2 to 4 behind you will watch this and toot continuously until you move. Ignore them. Let your passenger get out slowly and calmly. It’s just the prompt for the musical bit of the street opera. Happens all the time. Buses are different and I can’t figure out how it works with them yet.

Saw a van stopped, blocking a lane. Bus had to stop behind as the other lane was blocked by another car.


Then it hotted up. The driver of the van was out, shouting at the bus driver. Would be bus passengers were on the footpath yelling at the van driver. Looked like a long show so I left, confused as to what was really happening.

Pedestrian existence is good here. Locals are considerate and the footpath etiquette well established: keep to the right, gently swerve if a collision is inevitable but no pushing or touching. Quite unlike Sydney and Madrid where people are very busy and don’t always cede space and collisions are possible, albeit rare. 
Taxis, not all, look as though they’ve been rolled, then mercilessly kicked and aged. As a foreigner I often hear one toot as it passes. In case it is the one I was waiting for. 

Lots of brinkmanship on the road between here and the airport and a few rat runs through suburban streets.  My preferred driver has/had a reasonable looking car, possibly a Toyota. We have agreed the price to the airport, S/60. About $U20. 

Miraflores has some beggars. Two I’ve seen are women with small children. Unusually both carry their little ones in uninteresting shawls slung across the front of their bodies. I never know what to do, to give or to ignore them. These ones I’ve ignored, not knowing if Peru offers them support or not. I tend to give money as tips for service, even knowing that isn’t always fair as not everyone can get a job. 

You don’t see young guys just hanging around here, patently unemployed. Well, only a few and it may be because it’s Miraflores with the many safeguards ensuring the success of the country’s tourist industry. Didn’t see them in Cusco either but I guess it’s got a fairly constant tourist trade, except for February when the Trail is shut for repairs. 

Speaking Spanish 

Two weeks in Spanish school in Cusco, one week of near english-only (Disnada humoured me and spoke to me at times in Spanish) and it’s all gone again. I’m sitting in another cafe listening in to a Spanish gossip session. Failing miserably. Not helped as the ones I’m trying to follow are three old men, clearly longstanding friends. Not one word. Whoops, one or two. 

Still, I generally enjoy Spanish school, as befits a permanent student, and I am better. Cheating at nights though and deliberately watching english language tv, fascinated by the grossest of gross obesity on Discovery channel and still wonder why anyone unfit would volunteer for survival adventures in the wild, with or without their clothes. 

Around the local area

Innumerable money change options around here: banks, change offices and street sellers in blue jackets marked $ and €. Blue jacketed people just hanging around. I’ve never seen them dealing with anyone. 

 The change office near me is easiest and doesn’t require a passport. And the rate here has gone in my favour for $USD. Just.


Thought I might have a fruit juice the other day. Alas, Tropicana is a gambling paradise, not the name of a juice company. So no juiced oranges and mangoes as in the San Pedro market in Cusco. Oh well. 

Not easy for everyone here. While sitting in a street cafe an old guy came in to sell lottery tickets to a local. There was some dispute as to whether the tickets were for a lottery that had already been drawn!


The cleaners of my apartment should have been long gone on Wednesday but, you guessed it! Only half way through when I arrived back after many hours away. The younger one was chatty but quickly called into line by the older one and both were then silent and extra busy. Thankfully they won’t visit again until after I’ve gone. 
And the cat count today: 79! If one pussy got his way in the end the numbers will be increasing in 63 days. Enough people were watching that I left, figuring the pussies were managing by themselves without all the human help on offer. 😊 

Other things

I’ve spent the time in Lima blogging, belatedly exploring Messenger and Facebook, and arranging a trip to Portugal in April next year. Hoping JP might at least come to Spain for Easter, just prior to Portugal. Who knows! Long long way in the future and she doesn’t need to sort it out now. 

 Still stunned Jodie was offloaded in Auckland, on her way home, with a serious medical condition. ICU worthy problem so, very serious. She’ll probably fly out the same one I pass through on my way home, after 7 days in hospital. Unlikely our paths will cross as I’m flying to Sydney and she is heading north. Still, I promised to wave out the plane window as we fly over the hospital. 

I am struggling through an essay on Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s permanent export to the Vatican post the appointment of Pope Francis. The Marr essay would challenge any residual faith anyone might have in the intrinsic goodness of the Catholic Church. How the organisation put on and kept on blinkers and how it tried to avoid moral and legal culpability for so many sex crimes perpetrated by its priests over recent decades. A deplorable tale of organisational obfuscation and avoidance with the government and police complicit. 

Think I need a good crime story or I could return to something very different, the study of symbols recorded by the paleolithic peoples in Europe. Considerably more calming. 

Heading home

Another gray day but it rained last night. Despite the wet grass, the cat park still had at least 51 cats sleeping, standing around or cuddled up on laps and as many people as usual were observing or attempting to charm them.  And when I walked back, I counted 59.

Home tomorrow and it can’t come soon enough. I couldn’t find a particular drink on the menu today and I’ve had it a few times. Perhaps I just didn’t realise it had fudge in it. Wouldn’t have ordered it if I knew. Sigh.

Beam me out of here Scottie. Straight home. Forget the 30 + hours I’m supposed to fly. On second thoughts, perhaps sitting tranquilly for 7 hours in the Santiago de Chile airport will help save my very mortal soul. 

Time away has been good. 

I confirmed I can still keep up with 40 year olds for days and still have every-ready bunny tendencies even without my ‘solar charging hat’. Couldn’t do as many consecutive days as some though but I’m so pleased I can still keep up at (nearly) 66. Oh horror! So old. 

Also, i also decided against writing the next edition of our book. Alex and I have both moved on and we agree. Too much work, too little reward, and too many better things to do in life for both of us.

Summary

All in all, this has been a very successful trip. Thanks to the group of 9 (and also especially to Jodie, Sam and Christina, the other 3 Huayna Picchu guys) and to Diana, my Spanish teacher. And above all, I loved the beautiful city of Cusco and awesome Machu Picchu. 

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