My last few days in Peru were spent in Lima. When I first came to Peru I arrived in Lima and spent a night and a morning there. I wasn't impressed. It looked like an ugly, dirty city. Most travelers I've met don't like Lima either. It's one of those places where it's best to know someone who actually lives there that you can stay with and who can show you where to have a good time. The good thing about having low expectations is that you can be easily impressed. I actually had a good time in Lima. It's not the most interesting place historically or culturally, but I went to some nice areas.
We stayed in the neighborhood, Miraflores. Miraflores is the nicest and safest neighborhood for tourists to stay. It is a very wealthy neighborhood and also very commercial. From Miraflores we could walk to the beach. It's honestly not the nicest beach but there was a very fancy mall built overlooking it. Considering how fancy that mall was, it was funny to see a TGI Fridays and Chili's restaurant there. The best part about Miraflores is the sandwich restaurant, La Lucha, which Mallory had been raving about since we arrived in Peru. They truly serve delicious sandwiches and fries. We also checked out the historical center and walked around looking at the historical and government buildings.
Standard protest at the Plaza de Armas
One day we ventured out to the next neighborhood, Barranco. It was nice to walk along the beach to get there. The first thing we did was go to the Museo de Arte Contemporanea (MAC), which we happened to stumble upon on our way. It was a really cool museum and we lucked out because that day the entrance fee was only 2 soles. I liked Barranco a lot. It was more my vibe. It was still nice and safe, but it was more bohemian and far less commercial than Miraflores. There is this cool spot by "the puente" lined with restaurants and a view of the ocean. This is where I ate the best ceviche I've ever had. I give Lima props for that.
View from our table at Javier's in Barranco
On my last night in Peru, I went out with a traveler I met in Arequipa and her local friends. It was so nice to spend my last night in good company and to get to have my last conversations in Spanish. I even got to try a Peruvian drink I've never had before. I think it's called "elementario" and it is a hot alcoholic cocktail. It was nothing like I've ever drank before, but good. And boy was it strong! Of course my last night in a hostel couldn't go without a weird experience. Our dorm-mates arrived later than we did and really loudly, stumbling around the room in the dark. One of them, some drunk dude, thinking it was his bed, tried to get into my bed...twice! I was just conscious and sober enough to half-ass elbow him until he left, and then again the second time. Oh, 12-bed hostel dorm rooms. Of the many times I've spent a night in a big dorm room, that was the first time that has ever happened.
Having arrived in Lima and then departing in Lima, I guess Mallory and I made it full circle. On June 27th in the evening we packed up our big backpacks one last time and hauled them into the taxi to the Lima international airport. I was not ready to leave yet. The decision to go home early and change my flight was a really sudden move. I was not mentally prepared to leave South America. In that long taxi ride against the rush hour traffic, it was like a montage was playing in my head of everything I love and will miss about South America. Firstly, I miss all the people that I grew to love and share my experiences with, especially the ladies that took care of me in my volunteer house in Cusco (Juliana, Yuliet, Rocio, Nelli, and Yonni). I miss my kids at the hospital I volunteered at. I miss speaking and hearing Spanish all the time. I miss salsa dancing. I miss Peruvian food and all of its salsas, particularly chimichurri. I miss Cusco and the Andes mountains and the Valle Sagrada. I miss walking everywhere. I miss the "time warp" of "traveler's time", in which you become practically BFF's with the people you spend adventuring with over a span of just a couple days. I miss seeing cholita mamas and their adorable babies. I miss being called "Carita" and "mami or mamita". I miss the sense of community in Peruvian culture and how everyone takes care of each other. I miss Peruvians' big, beautiful smiles :-D
I feel like my soul has been rejuvenated these past eight months in South America. Entonces, hay siempre un lugar en mi corazon para Sud America. Voy a regressar.
(There is always a place in my heart for South America. I will return)
Hostel: Pariwana-Lima 27 soles per night in 12-bed dorm
Restaurants: La Lucha in Mira Flores, Javier's in Barranco
Museum: MAC (Museo de arte contemporanea) 2 soles on Thursdays
Bus from Arequipa to Lima: Oltursa 80 soles