Lima is the capital city of Peru and is located on the coast. As such it was our first time at low altitude since Santa Cruz. We considered running a marothon but none were arranged whilst we were there. The city was founded by the Spanish when they arrived and is now home to a large proportion of the population.
We have visited so many cities now that they all seem the same. Add to that the various travellers who told us they didn’t think much of Lima and you can probably understand why we were only staying for 24 hours.
The bus journey was another epic 20 odd hours to get there. The bus was fairly comfortable (working toilet!) and the stewardess handed us a plastic bag. At first we guessed this was for rubbish. But we soon realised it was a sick bag and we were given it for very good reason.
Getting out of the Andes and down to sea level isn’t easy. Buildings roads in mountainous terrain isn’t easy either. The result in this case is hundreds of miles of winding, twisting, climbing and descending which takes around 12 hours to drive. When you are sat on the top level of a tall bus a lot of swaying ensues and after a couple of hours I was feeling a little rough.
(yet more amazing scenery)
Eventually we both got to sleep but even at 2am we were still descending. It was extremely unpleasant and was the final straw as far as long distance bus travel and us are concerned.
When we eventually hit the low country we passed through Nazca. This was on our original itinery as here is located the relatively well know Nazca lines. These are extremely large and long lines and pictures in the desert which ancient peoples created by turning rocks over. The only way to see them is to fly over them due to their immense size. The British Government recommends against this due to the poorly maintained planes. So we scratched it from our itinery. Nevertheless if you are ever in the area and don’t mind braving the flight they are probably worth a look.
From here the road straightened along the Pacific coast and we got a fair amount of sleep before reaching Lima at 8am. Our hotel was fantastic and they let us have the room straight away.
Lima is billed as the food capital of South America. And I really do have to disagree. We decided to try two of Lima most famous foods. A beef heart skewer and food made from what seemed to be 95% potato. The beef heart was delicious but made me sick as a dog for 2 days. And the potato dish looked impressive but tasted a bit bland.
(Beef heart skewer… with hindsight it barely looks like food)
(a potato thing…surprisingly bland)
We booked a bus to leave Lima the next day but prior to rendering myself immobile with the beef heart we did visit an upmarket shopping centre on the coast which was pleasant.
Whilst there we were reminded again of one of the strangest things about countries such as Peru, Bolivia and Vietnam. Whilst they have such obvious poverty they will always have shopping malls that could easily be in London or New York. It’s a strange sensation to drive through a city of shacks made from anything people can get their hands on and then 2 hours later be wandering around what feels like Bluewater.
(not a bad view to accompany a little shopping!)
The next day I battled through my crippling stomach issues to go for a short stroll before we boarded our bus to Mancora, Peru’s premier beach resort. You will have to wait for the next entry to discover if the bus really was luxury and just what a premium beach resort in South America is like.