It’s hard to meet anyone with any real affection for Lima. My last week in Santiago I met a man from Lima; ‘oh I’m going there next week’ I told him, expecting him to extol the virtues of his home town. His response: ‘oh, why?’
Even the man at the check-in desk for my flight seemed convinced I must have a connecting flight; he repeated to me three times, as if in disbelief, ‘really, Lima is your final destination? You don’t have another flight? With another airline maybe?’ Eventually I felt the need to reassure him: ‘I have a bus to catch in a few days’, I told him.
Well actually Lima isn’t so bad after all (although maybe that means that the trick is low expectations). Yes the traffic is horrendous, the public transport is a nightmare to navigate, the sky is often grey and the downtown area is full of so many people you will want to scream, but it has been a perfectly nice place to spend a few days before I head off on my bus journey around Peru.
Most people I’ve met have been welcoming, they speak a form of Spanish much easier to understand than in Chile or Argentina (English is much more widely understood too, particularly by younger people) and generally seem very open.
I rented a room (Airbnb) for my five days, staying with a young woman (who speaks English) and her mother (who doesn’t, meaning I have another victim for my Spanish practice). I have been staying in Miraflores which, together with neighbouring Barranco, is where most tourists/travellers stay.
The next leg of my journey involves a hop-on hop-off bus, which travels in a loop around Peru ending in Cusco. The company have, it must be said, mixed reviews on Trip Advisor. However many of the complaints (as ever) seem a little silly (‘we turned up late and the bus had left without us’ kind of thing) so I decided to give them a try. I like the fact that they pick you up from your hostel and then drop you at your next hostel along the route, meaning I don’t have to lug Albie Albatros the wheelie bag across town to some distant, frantic bus station.
So let’s see how it goes. My first stop will be nearby Paracas, where there is, I hear, a beach and an island full of birds.