Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Killing Time

I am drunk. I am in Lima, Peru. I got here at 9 a.m. this morning after a 4 a.m. wake-up to get to the airport in Cusco in time. I am tired.

I have a 16 hour time-span between my flight into Lima and my flight back to the U.S. The first 10 hours I spent in downtown Lima. The next six hours, I will spend drinking at the airport in hopes of facilitating a few hours of sleep on my red-eye flight.

Driving into Lima from the Airport (about a 40 minute taxi ride costing about $5 USD), I found the outer parts of the city to be just as ugly and unimpressive as everyone told me they would be. But when I got to the center, I was pleasantly surprised by a lively Plaza de Armas surrounded by colorful colonial-style buildings and churches, and more surprised to stumble upon the remains of Francisco Pizarro upon entering one of the Catholic churches off of the plaza.
After making my rounds about the center of town, I sat down on a bench at noon to watch the daily "changing of the guards" in front of Lima´s presidential palace. It was a long ceremony with a marching band and a hundred-or-so men in uniform... seemed like a lot of work for a daily ceremony, but entertaining for the hundreds of tourists who had come in hoards from their tour buses.

Afterwards I took a taxi to Miraflores, the "posh" part of town. And I´ve come to learn in South America that "posh" stands for "gringo-fied," which is to say there is Tony Roma´s restaurant and a shopping mall looking over the ocean front in Miraflores.

In the mall, I asked a saleslady where I could get some reasonably priced and good Ceviche, and she sent me walking 30 minutes in the hot humid sun in jeans to find this elusive place. I was getting sweaty and irritable, ready to curse the saleslady, until I actually got to the restaurant, a dark little hole in the wall, typical of Peru, and was served my Ceviche, which, I would say, has to go down as one of the top 10 meals of my life.

After my excellent late-afternoon lunch, I walked back to one of the "gringo-style" oceanfront bars and had a "Machu Picchu" cocktail (it doesn´t get any more cheesy and touristy than that)...made of orange juice, pisco and mint liqueur. Don´t ask me what part of that combination sounds appealing, but somehow it comes together in a bearable way.

Sitting at the bar alone, I was quickly roped into conversation with two 40-something men, one from Brazil, one from Peru, both airline pilots. It was nice to have someone to talk to at least (and buy me free drinks), but I politely declined when they invited me to dinner at the nearby Hooters. Not exactly what I had in mind when coming to see Peru.

I then caught a taxi back to the airport (after bargaining ruthlessly and still getting the ripoff Gringa price), and have 4 more hours to kill before I am on my way home. Airport bar, here I come.

And I almost forgot to mention... last night I finally ate Cuy (Guinea Pig) and that one will have to go down as one of the top 10 WORST meals of my life. Seriously, a horiffic experience, after which, I sat in silence with my dining companions, all of us pondering the full extent of what we had just done, what we had just eaten, and by the end of the meal, practically RAN out of the restaurant and vowed not to discuss the experience until the following day when the "peruvian rat" had passed through our system. hahahahaah

But all is good and fun in the name of new experiences :)

1 comment:

Ellie said...

Ahh rubia, you ate a guinea pig. Remeber the nasty guinea pigs you had when we were younger...ahh, that could have been them..ha...wasn't one of them named Snickers??