Saturday, February 21, 2009
Monday 1/19- We explore Central Lima.
Last night, on the trip from the airport to our hotel, we drove through some real depressed and run down areas, not exactly tourist or sightseeing hot spots. Due to this, we were a little skeptical about what this first day would bring, wondering whether there would be much for us to see besides urban blight and industrial sprawl. As it turns out, we wake up to sunshine streaming in through our window and the near constant horns blaring from the street outside. It's a beautiful day and we've got a lot to see.
Traveling around Central Lima we are overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle on these tiny, narrow streets. The sidewalks are about 5 feet wide and as you walk you are no more than 6 feet away from the cars whizzing by with no regard for human life. We make our way to the majestic Plaza Mayor and wind our way around from there for the rest of the morning, poking our heads into various shops and getting a lay of the land. In what will turn into an ongoing trend, we can't go more than a minute at a time without having to say "no gracias" over and over to someone offering or asking us for something.
Martha, not fully respecting the intensity of the sun in Peru, garners herself a substantial sunburn covering her face and shoulders by the time we sit down for lunch. The first real meal that we eat out in Peru is at a quiet little restaurant not far from out hotel. As we sit down to eat, we are starting to realize a few things about how the rest of the trip is going to play out. We have obviously overestimated our ability to communicate with the Spanish that we have in our arsenal, so we are going to have to rely on other forms of and hoping that the people we meet have some empathy for our pathetic grasp of their native tongue.
Regardless, of this challenge, we can't give up, we must forge ahead, and the first obstacle in our path is the menu directly in front of us. Even with the help of the little guide book I brought along, we are only able to speculate what we might be ordering. I manage to order a some fried chicken and white rice while Martha gets a rice and seafood combo, both successful and satisfying ventures. Somehow, unknowingly, we order an appetizer, "%20Cebiche.htm">Cebiche" which we are perplexed by and thinking that it is raw chicken, we choose not to touch it. We later find out that it is one of the more popular dishes in Peru, marinated raw fish served in a number of different ways in different parts of the country. Popular or not, aside from a quick taste to quell our curiosity we decide to leave it to the Peruvians.
The rest of the day is more of the same, continuing to explore and see as much as we can of the Central Lima area. For the most part, its cobblestone streets, historic architecture, and lively atmosphere are more than enough to entertain us for the rest of the day. We visit massively elaborate cathedrals, tacky crafts stores and a delicious churro stand. Overall, a great first day in Lima with the popular outer districts of Miraflores and Barranco on tap for the next.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
COBFTNG, long dormant is being woken up from its slumber for an important update; I just got back from 12 days in Peru. Well, not exactly, I got back last Saturday morning, but have just been too lazy and busy to get around to posting anything about the trip until now. Martha and I traveled, explored, got lost, found our way again and ate a ton of great Peruvian food. We also took a ton of pictures, only half of which are accessible at the moment bc of memory card issues, that I will be sharing with all of you unwaveringly loyal COBFTNG readers. I'm going to try to get a post up for each day of our trip accompanied by whatever pictures I have available.
Sunday 1/18- We fly to
This is only the second time I’ve traveled outside of the country and the first time that I’ve gone on one that I organized myself. So, Martha and I had been thinking about and planning this little Peruvian excursion for a number of months. We had both been itching to travel and explore foreign parts of the world, particularly South America, and after much debate and research we settled on
1) It seemed relatively affordable. The plane tickets to
2) It had a number of things that we wanted to see and do (
3) From what we could tell, it seemed like a relatively tourist friendly/ safe country that wouldn’t place us in any unnecessarily dangerous situations.
I’m nervous for a number of reasons, the primary one being that neither of us really speaks Spanish all that well. I took it throughout high school and for a year in college to fulfill requirements but never put that much effort into really trying to learn it and speak it well. I can say that for most of the classes that I took in college, I wish I had applied myself more, but that’s a lament for another time… I have been trying to brush up on my Spanish, but its apparent that I’m not going to be engaging in any in depth conversations in my second tongue, which is unfortunate. I am fairly confident that through a combination of weak Spanglish and hand gestures/ body language I’ll be able to communicate my most basic thoughts and needs.
We wake up and do our final packing of our new gringo backpacks from
The actual journey and flight to
It is on this ride to our hotel that we get our first taste of typical Peruvian driving. They rely not on any sort of formal rules of the road but on a unique shared vision of how to navigate their crazy roadways. Each driver is hell bent on getting to his/her destination in the absolute shortest amount of time possible, regardless of any obstacles that might be in the way. What ends up happening is a cluster fuck at every intersection with every single vehicle beeping and honking until their wrists get sore from pounding the wheel. To say that Peruvian drivers use their horns liberally would be a gross exaggeration. Drivers down there use their horns as frequently as your typical New Yorker uses his or her blackberry, in other words at every possible opportunity and in between every possible opportunity.
Despite this, we get to the hotel Sunday night, not before getting pulled over by one of
(Unfortunately we don't have any pictures from this first day, but I've been starting to post pictures from the trip here if you are interested.