Thursday, February 28, 2002
Egad, we had to get up early today, 5:30 a.m. We are NOT morning people. The plane doesn't leave until 9:00, but they told us yesterday to be there two hours early. A bus from Cusco to Lima must cross the Andes and takes 28 hours. The flight takes only one hour.
Tom had suggested we stay in Central Lima this time instead of a suburb so we could see what Lima is really all about, which sounded like a good idea to me. We selected the Hotel Wiracocha, a half block from the Plaza Mayor, from our guidebooks. Lonely Planet described the place as "friendly," and Let's Go said the quiet rooms feel quite private and it has "cheerful hallway murals." We thought it sounded fairly pleasant. After a 30-minute taxi ride, we arrived there. Centro is a hellhole and Wiracocha is a smelly dump with unfriendly owners. We immediately nixed the place after seeing the dank little room.
Standing in the doorway with our luggage, dreading going back out to the street, we wished we had made arrangements to stay with Jean-Paul again at SafeInLima in Barranco. We would find a phone and call him, but not from around here. Tom hailed a taxi and said take us to Parque Municipal in Barranco. Hopefully from there we could find Jean-Paul. The driver put Tom's backpack in the floorboard and had me roll up my window despite the stifling heat. Centro is not a safe place to be. The farther we got from Centro, the better we felt.
Thirty minutes later we arrived at the municipal park of Barranco. What a relief. We thought maybe we could call J.P. from there, but we found a hostal a half-block from the square before we found a phone. We decided to stay at Mochilero's Backpackers Hostel. Mochilero's is in a cool old building built in 1903. I think it used to be a train station. It has 25-foot high ceilings, with matching huge doors and windows, and there's circus equipment in the back.