Saturday, February 21, 2009

Peruvian Adventures: Day 2

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.

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