Archive for the ‘Lima’ Category

Day 69 – 1 July – Cuzco -> Lima, and Lima stopover

July 6, 2010 7am in 2010 trip,Cusco,Lima,Peru,Travel | Comments (0)

I woke up early this morning after the housekeeping barged their way into the room at 6:30am, then after going back to sleep for an hour I woke up at 7:30am. We didn’t have to check out until 10:00am but I wanted to see some of the town because I didn’t get a chance to when I flew in as we went straight out of Cusco in the taxi.

Actually, because I had my clothes all over the floor, I didn’t have very long to see much. I went and had breakfast in the kitchen and went out into the town. I saw the main square, and I also saw a church called La Merced. I really wanted to see this church because it was the pit stop for Leg 1 of The Amazing Race Series 7 and I’m a sucker for seeing destinations off this show because I love it so much. I got there as it opened at 8:00am and was the only one there. The woman inside wouldn’t let me look around unaided, she insisted that I see every bit of the church, and I felt rude because I didn’t have long.

Ian, Richard and I got our taxi transfer to Cusco airport. We were a bit early so Ian spent some time and taught me the card game two-player 500, it was pretty awesome, although I lost.

It was a short flight to Lima. Ian and I both had 8 hour waits until our flights out of Lima, so we both tried to check in on our respective flights out of Lima to save carting our bags around for hours.

My next flight from Lima to Los Angeles was with LAN – most of the rest of the flights on my itinerary were with American Airlines, but this was a “codeshare” flight which I’d never done before – a flight that was booked and paid for via American Airlines, but the actual flight was with LAN. I went to the LAN self checkins, which had no record of my booking at all which got me a bit nervous. A woman nearby told me that these checkins were for domestic flights only and sent me to the “bag drop” line at the main checkin.

After a while in the queue, I went up to the guy at the counter, who, after much fluffing around, told me that they have no flight to Los Angeles at that time. Yikes! Oh god I thought. He went and consulted separately with two of his colleagues then proceeded to type into the computer for 5 minutes. He then asked me “you’ve changed your flights, haven’t you” to which he got a very short, sharp “no I haven’t!”. I wasn’t feeling very good about this by this point. Anyway, after 5 minutes more of typing into the computer he did give me a boarding pass. “Is this by the window?” I asked, only to get a “no, it’s an aisle seat” followed by some evils and a new boarding pass by the window. Oh well, I didn’t mind, my bags were off my hands and I had a boarding pass.

Ian and Richard didn’t have as much luck on their flight to Auckland via Buenos Aires – Aerolineas Argentinas didn’t even have a desk open by that point so they had to pay 21 soles each (£5.25) to check their bag into left luggage for the rest of the day.

We exited the airport, ignoring all the official taxis and people saying “taxi taxi taxi” outside the airport. We walked outside the airport boundary to where the “dodgy” taxies were, I say dodgy taxies but then 90% of all taxis in Lima are dodgy and we used them all the time before. Only the official taxis are located inside the airport and they cost twice as much. So I bargained a 25 soles (£6.25) fare into central Lima to show Ian and Richard around the centre of the city. I’m not sure why, but the taxi driver took us through some really rough areas of Lima and I started to doubt where I’d asked him to take us!

Sometimes they have world cup games playing in the main plaza but there was none at that time. So we caught another taxi to the market Polvos Azules where I bought a fake football shirt and some other fake branded clothes. Then, we caught yet another taxi out to Miraflores where Ian had earlier seen a painting that he liked. We had dinner in Miraflores and then Ian and Richard bought paintings each, and I bought a massive 200cm x 160cm alpaca rug, which was so soft but is going to be a nightmare to carry home on the plane. By this time, it was only a few hours before our flights out so we got a taxi back to the airport.

Our time in Lima airport was uneventful, except for a security guard on a power trip – Richard hadn’t put his liquids in a plastic bag, and when they went through the scanner, the officers argued with him that they weren’t in a plastic bag and that he needs to buy one for $2USD. Eventually Richard did, and as soon as he paid his money and got his bag, the officers left him alone – didn’t recheck his liquids or anything – Richard was not happy.

I left Ian and Richard to their flight which boarded at 11:25pm and then went and sat by myself for another 40 minutes – my flight was at 5 minutes past midnight – so technically the next day. Oops, in that case, better close off this blog entry right here.

Days 62 & 63 – 25 June – Lima -> Cuzco tomorrow

June 26, 2010 4am in 2010 trip,Lima,Peru,Travel | Comments (1)

My last two days in Lima have been very boring, I developed a bit of a sore throat yesterday and it’s gotten worse today, which makes me a bit sad… I’m supposed to be walking the 4 day Inca Trail starting Sunday and I definitely do not want to be sick for it. Oh well, whatever happens happens I guess.

Because of that, I’ve done absolutely nothing interesting the last two days except for my Spanish classes. I had an exam today which was terrifying although I ended up getting 93% which was awesome. There was a speaking element to the test and because I was so nervious I know that I didn’t do that well. Although the teacher gave me 20 out of 20 for speaking, but I think that’s because I was sitting there watchin her as she marked it! Paul said I underestimate myself, perhaps that’s true.

Also, because I was so nervous during the exam, I accidentally knocked over my cup of coffee and it went all over my exam and all over my pants. How embarrassing! Luckily I’d only completed one page of multi choice questions so I didn’t have to write out the entire exam again. Also, luckily by 4 hours later when it came time to do my goodbye speech, the coffee had mostly dried so it didn’t look like I’d just peed my pants.

I also formed a Limited Company online today – that’s right I’m now officially self-employed using the company name “g2 Technology Limited”… matches my domain name don’t you think? This is part of my plan to be a self-employed software developer contractor in London when I finish my travels.

Tomorrow I fly to Cuzco and will most likely be out of range of the internet until at least Friday 2 July. That day I’ll be meeting my sister in Los Angeles which will be AWESOME!

Bye for now!!

PS, thanks Alejandro, whoever you are, for letting us mooch off your unsecured wireless internet for two weeks.

Days 56-61 – 23 June – Where has the time gone in Lima

June 24, 2010 6pm in 2010 trip,Lima,Peru,Travel | Comments (0)

Well I put up some photos finally! Here they are:


Over the last week Peru has been hit by football fever even though they don’t have a team in the World Cup. There doesn’t seem to be any favourite amongst the people but Brazil and Argentina seem the most popular. I haven’t heard anyone say New Zealand yet!

Actually, just 35 minutes ago NZ was knocked out of the World Cup, but they drew all three of their games, so that makes us UNDEFEATED! Woo. Before the World Cup I was going to put a £10 bet on New Zealand to win the World Cup which would have made me £25,010 if they had won. Luckily I didn’t put that bet on, and I saved myself £10. In Lima that paid for my taxis around Miraflores (the part of Lima I’m staying in) all week!

I’m trying to think of what to write here, and I’m struggling because I’ve been just seeing interesting sights with classmates all week, and really the photos tell all. My friends Ian and Richard flew into Lima Tuesday, I met them at the airport on Tuesday night and we hung out in Miraflores all of Wednesday.

I took a taxi out to the airport on Tuesday at 9pm to meet Ian and Richard, I think that the taxi driver was trying to beat his personal best time for a ride to the airport, either that or he thought the 80km posted speed limit was the minimum rather than the maximum. He was a real friendly chap, talking to me the whole way in Spanish with me understanding about 25% of what he said, and him understanding probably about 25% of what I said back. But I did know that the whole conversation revolved around discussing which countries have the hottest girls. He thought Colombia. When he thought that I didn’t believe him, he did a handbrake turn into a very dodgy side street and took a detour past his favourite Colombian strip club so I could see it. Bonus.

There were a couple of other times I thought there was no way we could avoid a collision with another car, but at the last split second the taxi driver would swerve and open up a new lane of his own in the road. When we got to the airport, the police check the documents of taxis entering the airport to check they’re up to date. The policeman didn’t like the documents of my taxi driver for some reason, so we had to pull over into security for a few minutes, and then the driver was told to “drop off your passenger then return here” after getting his car documents taken off him. He took me to the terminal where I got out, paid the guy his £5 and I don’t know what happened to him after that. I hope he’s okay! I feel a bit sorry for all the taxi drivers here trying to make a living, there are so many of them it can’t be easy. Every time I walk out of my apartment, it’s almost guaranteed that within 15 seconds I will have a taxi tooting at me.

Ian and Richard got a hotel transfer to their hotel which wasn’t far from the airport, and I went with them. Richard paid the taxi driver with a $20USD note for a $9 fare, and was waiting for his change but it never came, which he wasn’t very happy about! On the way, Ian told me that he flies out to Macchu Picchu the next morning, and I kindly pointed out to him that no, you actually have two nights in Lima, not just one. Good old Ian :-) That turned out to be a good thing, because his hotel let him stay another night, and it meant they could sleep in after a big flight and then we had a whole day in Lima together. I left Ian at his hotel and took a taxi back to Miraflores which I got for 25 soles (£6), not bad for 12:30am in a very questionable neighbourhood.

Ian and Richard took a taxi down to Miraflores from the airport, which was 30 soles (£7.50) for him, not a bad price for a couple of white guys who speak no spanish, since you have to negotiate the price before you get in the taxi (I’ve heard that people from the school paid 100 soles before and on the internet there are reports of people paying 200). I met up with them after my spanish class finished at 1pm and we visited a shopping centre and had lunch, then we walked around some parks. We took a walk down to the beach (and it’s a long way down from Miraflores which is on top of a massive cliff) where all the locals tried to get us to take surfing lessons. No way, Jose, the waves were so rough and that part of the beach was made of stones which were at such an angle into the water that it looked like if you fell of your board you would crack your head open. Although it was a perfect day for it, there were many waves, and Ian had arrived on the one day out of two weeks where the sun came out and stayed out. No wonder the ancient Incas worshipped the sun, because it hardly ever shows itself.

Instead we had a couple of cocktails at a fancy bar on a pier, and we were the only ones for a lot of the time in the bar, which was really relaxing and a great chance to catch up on the gossip.

After a while we went to an area of Miraflores known as Petit Thouars where they sell lots of Peruvian artifacts. Well, not just lots, but several blocks worth, each with several massive markets. Ian was very interested in paintings and rugs, but after he got a call from his Mum who was in another part of Peru, he decided not to buy anything because apparently it’s cheaper the further you get out of Lima and he’s going to Cusco tomorrow. There were such a lot of markets, but they were quite quiet because it was Wednesday afternoon, and most of the shops had the shop girls trying hard to get us to go into their shops. Again, because of the sheer amount of stuff for sale, and the quietness of the place, it was hard not to feel that it must be hard for these people to make a living. Although, who knows, perhaps there’s a 2,000% markup on everything.

I really liked the massive white rugs which were really amazingly soft, although I was a bit disturbed by the accompanying sign stating “100% baby alpaca”. I’m hoping they meant “100% baby alpaca fur”! I would have loved one for my house, if I owned one. Also some of the paintings and vases were nice. We then had dinner overlooking Parque Kennedy which was basic but tasty and then I hailed a taxi for Ian to take him home. I managed to negotiate a price of 20 soles for him and Richard, and I think that the driver understood where I wanted him to go (he had a map which wasn’t particularly clear). Hopefully Ian got back to his hotel alright, I haven’t heard from him since last night! Ian should be on a plane to Cusco right at this moment, where I will be joining him on Saturday and we will be doing the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu together along with Richard and Ian’s parents.

Spanish class this week is different, we had 5 in the class last week but this week 3 of them have gone, so it’s just me and Patrick. Patrick’s a nice guy but his confidence in speaking is much higher than mine, and he talks a lot, so it’s hard for me to get a word in, and when I do get a word I’m like “Me… parezco, ah, umm, I mean, parece, err, bien, hmm, ahh, gracias”. I feel a bit stupid at times, Patrick has clearly had a lot more practice talking even though I think I know more of the grammar. When it was just me and Claudia in a class in Costa Rica that was really cool because we were both at a similar level, but here there’s quite a mismatch.

I can’t honestly decide which I like better, Lima or Costa Rica. Costa Rica had cocktails on the beach, a wider range of students, more of a relaxed atmosphere because of the beach, and a better style of learning. Lima only has cocktails in nightclubs, the students are all the same age group and are either “boring couples” or guys who spend all the time trying to pick up girls and take them back to their apartments, and the city is noisy and not terribly relaxing. But on the plus side for Lima, the climate is nice even if it’s a bit grey, the school staff are friendlier here, there’s always something to see or do because it’s a city and my accommodation is much more comfortable, whereas Costa Rica I was simply too hot all the time. Hmm, no I think Costa Rica gets the win on this occasion, possibly swayed by the fact that it was such a culture shock when I first arrived and it was all so exciting and new, and such a different experience, whereas by the time I got to Lima everything was a bit “par for the course”.

I wish I took more photos when Ian was here, but it’s okay, when we go our separate ways from Macchu Picchu Ian and I have about 8 or 9 hours to hang out in Lima before we leave Peru.

Days 53-55 – 17 June – First week in Lima almost over

June 18, 2010 2am in 2010 trip,Lima,Peru,Travel | Comments (4)

Well my first week out of two in Lima is almost over already, time goes so much faster here because unlike Sámara which was a small beach town, this is a huge city with so much to do, in addition, the school here seems a lot more like a small close family unlike Samara where the staff were there during the day but went their separate ways at night. I’ve been happy with how things have gone so far, I thought perhaps that because it was the city that students would be more a bit more snobby or a bit more like they would want to do their own thing, but it hasn’t been like that at all, everyone’s really friendly and we always are going out somewhere together. That doesn’t leave much time for updating my blog!

On Tuesday, after sleeping almost all of Monday, I was feeling a bit better. I went out with Paul (my housemate) and a student called Jenny to a bar to watch one of the world cup matches and have lunch. It’s world cup fever here at the moment of course. In the afternoon I went with some of the students to a museum which housed a lot of Inca ceramics and gold and silver pieces which was really interesting, I took photos of this and other things that happened in the week and will put them on facebook hopefully this weekend.

Even though I slept all of Monday, I still was feeling tired Tuesday so I went to bed early again. Paul and Vicky (my other housemate) were trying to get me to go out to a Salsa club but that sounded a bit scary because it combines dancing and clubs, two things I don’t particularly like much! Oh yes, it turned out that my other housemate is Vicky, not Yolanda, I got two of the names of the girls at school mixed up.

Wednesday I hung out with Paul again, we explored the area and did our homework and both slept a bit in the afternoon, because we both went to karaoke that night along with 8 or 9 others. I really didn’t think I would end up singing anything, but I did, after two beers, three pisco sours and two “multiple orgasms” I was singing Y M C A extremely loud into the microphone, along with Doris Day’s “Que Sera Sera”. I was awesome, of course. There’s photos of that night too but I’m too scared to go through them just yet. Paul sung Rollin’ by Limp Biskit which was absolutely hilarious and together we sung I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys.

Today (Thursday) after class I bought a Peruvian sim-card, because they were only 15 soles (£3.50) so I thought why not. Although I haven’t the faintest idea how to top it up or what the woman says to me in Spanish when I dial a number or what it costs to do anything. Oh well. Later on we went to a market in the centre of Peru and I bought some clothes, I bought a jacket, two t-shirts, some trackpants and two dvds for a grand total of 193 soles (£47). The DVDs were 4 soles (£1) each because they were copies, the kind of dvds you see being sold in East London on the street, however here, they’re sold in shops as copies (there’s masses of them, catalogued and everything), and nobody seems to care. Salespeople weren’t pushy in the markets at first, but after I started to buy things, the more bags I was holding, the pushier the salespeople seemed to be.

Up until today we haven’t ventured too far from the school and our house, which are both in Miraflores which is the nicest part of Lima and the main tourist area. The centre of Lima was interesting, it didn’t feel too unsafe but we were told to keep our bags in front of us, keep nothing in our back pockets and check that the change we receive is not counterfeit. At every intersection there are people trying to sell you things but they’re not pushy. The taxi ride to the market was a bit scary, none of the taxis have seatbelts, nobody respects the lanes and we seem to drive straight through intersections with nothing more than a toot to signify “coming through”!

The actual spanish classes have been going okay, Wednesday and Thursday we just spent most of the 4 hour classes chatting, and not doing any actual formal learning. Just chatting is still a good way to practice Spanish but it’s not personally how I would prefer to learn because you can chat on the street and in shops if you want to just chat. Plus we were talking about topics that don’t interest me in the slightest, like university funding from the government, politics, and terrorists. Also, we’re right next door to some place that plays the world cup games at full volume, and that coupled with the car alarms, everyone coughing and sneezing, constant tooting of the traffic and general city noise, makes it very hard to concentrate. I have to say that I definitely preferred the way of learning in Costa Rica, even though I prefer the frendliness of the Lima school.

As I said, photos will come in the weekend or sometime soon!

Day 52 – 14 June – Bienvenidos a Lima, Peru

June 16, 2010 1am in 2010 trip,Lima,Peru,Travel | Comments (2)

So I did manage to catch my last flight from Miami to Peru, this flight left 20 minutes late and I’m sure it was because it was waiting for all the connecting flight passengers, but that suited me fine. This was an overnight flight but I didn’t get any sleep because I’d slept enough on the last three legs.

I arrived at 4:45am but still the airport was chaotic with people trying to offer their taxi services. Luckily I’d prebooked my taxi and he was there waiting with a card with my name on it. We drove what seemed like forever, I’m telling you for the £13 I paid you’d never get anywhere near that far in a taxi in London. At 5am most of the traffic lights in the city were flashing orange, not that they seem to serve any purpose other than decoration anyway, because it seems here that at an intersection, the person who has right of way is the person who sounds their horn the longest. Even at 5am the buses on the road were standing room only.

I got dropped off at one of the hundreds of thousands of buildings in a dark street somewhere, but the taxi driver helped me locate the security guard for the building who gave me the keys to my apartment and told me it was on the eighth floor. Although not before the taxi driver reminded me that I didn’t give him a propina (a tip) – whoops.

I knew that I was staying with two other students from the school, but of course they weren’t up at 5:30am, and the lift doors actually open right into the lounge, which was a bit unnerving. I wasn’t actually escorted to my apartment by the security guard so I wasn’t even sure it was the right one! There were clearly people living here so it felt a bit like I was walking around in some random Peruvian family’s house at 5:30 in the morning. There were three rooms labeled 1, 2 and 3, and 2 and 3 were both closed while the door to 1 was open, so I went in there. The room was absolutely massive, for those that knew me in Auckland my room was about the same size as the entire apartment I had when I lived in Howe St in Freeman’s Bay. This room even had its own bathroom, whereas I’m sure my papers said that I’d be sharing a bathroom. After my tiny room in Costa Rica this felt like luxury. I was convinced that I was in the wrong place. But I put my things down and went to sleep for an hour.

After an hour of sleeping I woke up at 7am and had a shower, there was still nobody around in the house so I was a bit worried about leaving my things in this room, but I did, and I walked to the school. This took about half an hour, and it didn’t feel particularly unsafe, but I was sure to hold onto my backpack the whole time. Luckily I had printed off a map last week so I knew exactly where to go, otherwise I’m not sure how I would have coped! Although crossing roads is going to take some getting used to – in London I thought I was the master at crossing roads, even in Italy I thought I was getting good, but here, it’s madness! Madness I say!

The schoole was ECELA Lima. I took a written test in Spanish to determine my level, which I think I knew about half of. Then I had a chat with the co-ordinater who said that my grammar was good but he would like to see me talk faster because there aren’t too many mistakes with what I am saying. I think the level they put me in (“Intermediate B1″) corresponds roughly with the level that I left off at in Costa Rica, so that was good. My class has five people in it, there’s me, a girl from Bristol, two guys from the US and one guy from Switzerland.

You get two breaks in the four hour class here totalling 30 minutes, unlike in Samara where we only got one break of 20 minutes, and here they give you basic sandwiches for free as well as coffee which doesn’t look like it’s been sitting out for hours. After our first class the new people got together for a lunch (also free) and we met the five staff at the school who introduced themselves to the group and we had to introduce ourselves back. By this time the effects of flying were starting to show and I’m sure that I made absolutely no sense whatsoever. There were five of us starting today, and by chance at this meeting I met the other two people that I share a house with, one of them was Paul from Brighton who is a complete beginner in Spanish and the other is a girl who actually works at the school as the Events Co-ordinator – I’m pretty sure her name is Yolanda.

Some people are staying with a local family, but it seems that sharing an apartment with other students (like what I’m doing this time) is more common. I feel more relaxed here, because I’m more independent as I don’t have to fit around the timetable of a host family. That way, when my friend Ian comes over to Lima next week we can hang out together. Although I have to cook my own food, and I’m starting to get very hungry! I haven’t even worked out where the supermarket is yet. But there’s no bugs or creepy crawlies to be seen… yet… yay!!!

I got home from the school at about 2pm, and went straight to sleep. I woke up the next morning at 4:30am. Oh well, I knew that was going to happen!

Day 51 – 13 June – Two days of flying in one day

June 16, 2010 1am in 2010 trip,Lima,Peru,Travel | Comments (1)

Unfortunately I have to endure this day twice, as you do when you fly east across the date line from New Zealand or Australia to Los Angeles. I say endure because I have 27 hours of flying to get from Auckland to Lima, Peru as well as 12 hours of waiting around in airports, and all 39 hours take place on the same day because of the date change.

I was originally supposed to fly Qantas from Auckland -> Los Angeles, and American Airlines from Los Angeles -> Lima, but because Qantas are useless they re-routed my first flight via Sydney, and because of the volcanic ash back in April my second flight with AA was re-routed via Miami, so now my flight goes Auckland -> Sydney -> Los Angeles -> Miami -> Lima.

Auckland -> Sydney (3 hours) was great because each person had about 6 seats to themselves, although it left at 6:15am which meant I had to leave my Mum’s house at 3:00am so that I had time to return my rental car and get to the airport.

Sydney -> LA (13 hours) I don’t know how I got any sleep at all because I’d foolishly selected a seat near where they put all the screaming infants. Also the movies / tv on demand broke about 2 hours into the flight and they couldn’t get it going again, which made the flight tough going – that’s going to give Qantas 2 points less out of 10 when it comes time for me to do my online evaluation of them! In LA I had 8 hours until my next flight so I found a quiet part of the airport where there weren’t too many people around and I lay back on the chairs and drifted in and out of sleep while clutching all the time at my bag so nobody took it.

LA -> Miami (5 hours) I’m writing this blog entry right now during the Los Angeles -> Miami flight. Out of all the flights I’ve taken in the last two months, this is the first one that’s been late, and of course this is the only flight where I have a tight connection. In Miami I have 70 minutes to make my connecting flight to Lima and we took off from Los Angeles exactly 69 minutes late, therefore by my calculations I have exactly 60 seconds to catch my flight to Lima. Needless to say it’s not looking good. Plus in the seat directly in front of me there is a screaming child, and it’s the type of screaming that’s so intense that she’s choking on her own spit or something because she’s screaming so hard. When she’s not screaming, she’s poking feet, hands, seatbelts, toys, and anything else she can get her hands on through the back of her seat and they’re all poking my legs.

Miami -> Lima (5.5 hours) Since the majority of this flight is actually tomorrow I’ll tell you how this goes tomorrow if it doesn’t leave without me, which it almost certainly will.