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.

Tom Muy Largo - La Cama Muy Pequeña

We collapsed for a couple of hours, then headed for the beach. We found a mirador overlooking the ocean and the Panamerican Highway and its funny desert cliffs. Pretty.

Barranco y el Mar

Then we walked down to the ocean. Less pretty. The beach was rocky and kind of trashy, and there were weird dead sea creatures laying around such as crabs and two-headed worm-like creatures. The ocean was much prettier from afar and smelled better from afar also, and there's no way we're touching the pollution-infested water.

Miraflores y la Playa

We climbed back up the hill in search of food. We decided on Domino's Pizza and had delicious North American pizza and ice-cold Coke. There was enough pizza left over for breakfast.

El Jardín de los Cactus

Just before sunset, we went back to our mirador. I saw my first pollution bow in the distance. A pollution bow is in the shape of a rainbow, but formed of a thick black smog. It of course was hovering over Lima. The sunset was gorgeous. I wonder if some of the beautiful colors are due in part to all the particulate matter in the air. A black man in the worst drag ever came up to us and tried to sell us Chiclets; he was quite a sight. All the kids were selling roses, but Tom was unaware that he was supposed to buy me one.

Also on the premises of Mochilero's is an Irish pub, Dirty Nelly's, and it seems to be the place to be for the hip locals before they go to the clubs. We decided to have a couple beers and check it out. We had a great time people watching. This is definitely the place to see and be seen in Barranco. After the beers (of course), Tom decided to play on the circus equipment in the back of hotel. He got in the human-size hamster ball and I tried to roll him around, but he fell out before he was even upside down!

El Niño del Circo


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