Lima is an interesting place, filled with unusual contrasts.
I arrived late on Saturday evening after my flight from Easter Island to Santiago, and my connection from there to Lima. Despite it being well after midnight when we landed, the line to go through immigration was enormous, and took over an hour. After collecting my bag, there was another huge line for customs. It took over an hour and a half from getting off the plane to getting out of the airport – the worst airport exit experience so far!
I had been in contact with couchsurfer Claudio, and he had arranged for a taxi to collect me at the airport, and I think for the first time in my life, as I came through customs there was someone I didn’t know, with a sign with my name on it!
It was well after 2am when I got to Claudio’s house, but he didn’t seem to mind, as he had only just arrived home from a party.
The next morning he took me on a fantastic tour of the city, and we visited the older, historic centre. I got to try the favourite local drink pisco sour, an alcoholic drink made from raisins and flavoured with strong lemon, in the finest hotel in the city.
Claudio is very knowledgable on the city’s history, and gave a great toor.
We headed to the beaches and took a look along the spectacular coast, and finished the day at a sports club where we ate a local favourite, ceviche, a very tasty, and very healthy, raw fish dish, and then ended the day with a sunset swim in the ocean.
Today I had to take care of much more practical matters, and my first job was to take a taxi to the vaccination centre to get my jab for Yellow Fever, which I will need to enter Brazil.
I then wandered back into the city, and took a guided tour around the Franciscan Monastary, the most fascinating part of which was the walk through the catacombs filled with bones and skulls of an estimated 25,000 people.
The city is fascinating, because of the amazing differences between modern and old, and the obvious gap between rich and poor too. Some 8 million people live here, a large part of them in huge sprawling shanty towns on the hillsides above the city. But in stark contrast, on the other side of the hill there will be a gated community with scattered mansions guarded by well-armed security guards.
Compared to European prices, everything is so cheap, and I was amazed at the amount of groceries $10 bought me, and how far $4 or $5 will take you in a taxi. The taxi driving is a little nerve-wracking, to say the least though.
It is a fun city to explore, and I’m glad I managed to schedule a couple of days here for a quick look around.
Many thanks to Claudio for his wonderful hospitality and the hugely informative tour of his city.