After our great week in São Paulo, Brazil (see my last blog post) we were headed to Quito, Ecuador. We had a flight there with a brief layover, so we thought, in Lima, Peru.
We arrived to the airport early in the morning to check in and we were asked for our yellow fever immunization documentation. We both looked at each other with wide eyes and then back at the person behind the counter. “What?”, we asked him to repeat. Maybe we heard him wrong? Nope, that’s exactly what he wanted. We were clueless. We spend lots of time looking things up making sure we have proper visas and required documentation for each country we visit. This was a complete surprise to us, we had not read or heard about this one. We told him we didn’t have one and he told us then we would not be allowed to enter the country of Ecuador. Apparently if we only had a layover in Brazil we would be fine but since we stayed for over a few days then Ecuador required this immunization. We utilized our yogic practice, took a breath, looked at each other, smiled, and turned back to the person behind the counter and asked ok, well what are our options? The options he laid out were, #1 get the free yellow fever shot at 8am at the airport and stay in Brazil for another 15 days. That would mean cancel the flight, cancel our Airbnb in Ecuador, find another place to stay in Brazil, and pay again for another flight. Option #2 was stay a week in Peru, which was originally our brief layover spot. That would mean rescheduling the flights, cancel our Airbnb in Ecuador, find a place to stay in Peru.
We asked him to give us a rough estimate on costs for flight changes for each option. Ouch, both were going to cost us more that what the original flight cost us. We again looked at each other and said at the same time, head to Peru? We were in agreement and decided to go with option #2 and move along to another county. I said, with a smile, well, we had been considering Peru so here’s our opportunity to check it out for a week. We could have done without the huge extra expense but, we will just try to make it up with cutting out other things in our remaining time. So the flights are changed, we cancel Airbnb in Quito, and start to google cool and safe neighborhood to stay in Lima. We found Miraflores or Barranco as one of the neighborhoods we wanted to try to stay in. From our plane seats, as the plane is about to depart, we finally found and booked a place to stay in the Barranco neighborhood of Lima, Peru.
We really lucked out, what a great neighborhood. And except for a one day excursion to the downtown old city section, we pretty much stayed in and explored Barranco. It’s considered the bohemian area of Lima. More cool street art, art galleries, restaurants, coffee shops, and a great trail along the cliff overlooking the ocean.
Lima is a bit drab in color, at least it was while we were there. In our week there the sun only peaked out once for about 30 minutes, otherwise it was cloudy most of the time. We walked everyday along the cliff looking down at the ocean. Discovered a very cool park along the way, El Parque del Amor or Lover’s Park. It was a pleasant array of colors and designs with the cloudy backdrop.
We were surprised to find the prices in the restaurants similar to home prices. We were told that Barranco is home to some of the worlds best restaurants. Apparently there are some on the top 50 restaurants in the world located in Barranco. Who knew? We looked at menus and peeked in doors but the costs were well beyond what we could spend on a meal. We stuck to the grocery store and cooking at home. Speaking about our home, we rented a room in a house that, along with other people living there, also housed a cat. I was in heaven! The cat loved company and wanted to lay on my lap as much as possible.
The cat looked just like Simon, our cat who died last year. It was very special to have some snuggle time with a cat.
We learned about a delicious new food, arepas. They are from Venezuela and Columbia but common around South America. We had fried plantations, black beans, cheese, and avocado in ours. Yum!
On our excursion to the historic center of the city we visited Basilica and Convent of San Francisco. Underneath the church are catacombs. They estimated that about 25,000 bodies were buried there. I have never seen so many bones; they were organized by body part, skulls, femurs, hips, etc. David was really fascinated by this.
We happen to visit the church on the day of the month that hundreds of people converge and stand in a long line to make their way up to some particular saint to gain the blessings. I can’t remember who the saint was and what they were hoping to gain through the sighting and reverence but there were a lot of people patiently waiting to pay their respects.
Lima, a city of nearly 10 million people. Come to find out, the winter sky is called by the locals “the donkey’s belly” because it’s always gray over your head. That’s kind of cute….but I still missed the sun. We had a fun week in this Peruvian city! Next onto to Ecuador…..