My stop over day in Lima was set to be a failure. I arrived late at around 7pm and as I was heading to an AirBnB (my first time), I was already worried about it, especially after hearing some horror stories. Fortunately after haggling with three taxi drivers, none of whom wanted to give me the 30 Soles rate ($12) for the 15 minute ride. Eventually it cost me 50 pesos and that was a rip off once I realised how close my room was. My host Monica is a mother with a 10 yo son. She has been very helpful, despite not speaking any english. She got me into a moto tuk tuk for a 1 sole ride to a restaurant for dinner. The restaurant was called Chelo’s and I had a tasty hamburger for dinner. I managed to walk back (it was much closer than I thought) and hit the sack. My body clock is out right now even as I type this blog knowing I have 4:30 taxi to the airport!
Back to why the day was going to be bad. It was the presidential elections and South Americans are very passionate about their elections. Fortunately today went rather smoothly and was even a tad quiet. Not sure if today had the standard number of police on the streets, but it seemed rather high. I followed the Lonely Planet walking tour, which are often very good, but its also never good to have the book out to follow. I look like a tourist just about everywhere except Germany, without having a lonely planet book.
I caught a Taxi to Plaza San Martin (20 Soles and twice as far as the previous nights taxi ride!), where the plaza was a bit quiet. I found a nice little place to grab a coffee and toast with eggs for breakfast. I then followed the rather bland pedestrian walkway that links to Plaza de Armas. Plaza de Armas has a few nice buildings including the Lima Cathedral and the Government Palace.
I then walked over to the San Francisco Monastery hoping to go in and see the catacombs, but it was closed for the election. I continued onto the Plaza Bolivar and eventually past a big markets and found myself in Chinatown. There was just one thing missing, a person of chinese ethnicity. There were chinese restaurants everywhere known as a “Chifa”. They sold food with chinese and spanish names. I walked into one and had a delicious dish of Peruvian chicken and pineapple with rice. I can see and taste the chinese influence, but it was nothing like chinese in any other country I’ve been to. I finally walked back to Plaza San Martin to get a taxi back to Monica’s house. A tip for young travellers, having a GPS/map app on your phone which saved the maps for use later on is a great life saver when your taxi driver either doesn’t know where to go, or wants to take you the long way. In this instance he knew where the house was, unlike the airport taxi driver.
I spent a couple of hours watching Peruvian Election news with Monica before heading out for dinner tonight. Everything looks the same as an Australian election coverage right down to music, graphics and actual politics. It seem those who love mining versus those who think miners get it easy and the people should be looked after! A couple of women were coming first and third in the race and Peru has never had a female President. However it all looks like they will need a runoff election in June as no candidate is looking like getting 50% needed to be elected.
So I’m off to Cuba tomorrow. I expect no blog entries for 2 weeks and best case scenario, text only entries, but I might be surprised by the speed and accessibility of Cuban internet.