Because our time is free flowing and cost efficiency is key, our first flight out included a nine-hour layover in Bogota, Colombia. Unfortunately, it was from 9pm to 6am, which meant all we could really do was sleep–on cold wooden benches. It was less painful than it sounds, but at 3:30am, when we couldn’t toss and turn any longer and I was hungry from the measly airplane meaI, I grabbed an egg McMuffin at McDonalds and split a cheese croissant with Eaman. (“Solomento huevos” and “solomento queso” apparently meant nothing; both came with meat, which we just picked out.)
With food finally in my stomach, we moved on to security at about 4am, and that was when I started feeling sick.
Eaman and I have a running joke about how sensitive I am…to anything. So when my stomach started hurting at the Xray machines, I didn’t want to fuss. I figured it was my usual general discomfort due, this time, to lack of sleep and new surroundings. But pretty soon, the pain was unbearable. I went from feeling ice cold to sweating bullets and that was also when the dizziness hit me.
The next thing I knew, I was beginning to faint. Luckily, Eaman was behind me and caught me before I fell. I probably blacked out for two seconds, but the airport workers brought me a chair and called the airport doctor, who after asking some questions, deduced that I had probably suffered a bout of altitude sickness, common in those parts, especially for someone coming from Flatlands, USA.
True, I had already started feeling better once I was in the chair–it must’ve just been a sudden shock to my system. But lesson learned: Don’t dismiss even the smallest of physical pains.
But anyway, moving on to less serious matters!
We arrived in Lima wednesday morning, bleary-eyed but very much in the mood to explore, so we wandered around Miraflores, a safe neighborhood known for its restaurants and shopping.
Breakfast at the hostel on our first morning:
Instantly, we felt comfortable, thanks in part to our familiarity with busy city life and our dark skin (we can totally pass for locals), but more to the people of Lima, known as Limenos, who are an incredibly pleasant bunch. Always smilng without an ounce of stress masking their faces, they have lovely to be around. Not only do they seem happy and content with life, but they’ve also been helpful when we have questions and generous when we speak our haphazard Spanish.
The other, less welcome, aspect of Lima was the weather. We had been so sure that everywhere on our itinerary would be warm, but Lima’s winter is, we read up on later, May through November…and we basically only packed tees and shorts.
Thanks to a tip from one of our roommates in our eight-person dorm, we supplemented our wardrobe with relatively cheap sweatshirts at La 5uinta, a less glossy version of TJ Maxx. The roommate, Brandee from San Francisco, is just rounding out a year of travel, so talking to her was like seeing into the future with all her fascinating tips and stories. Also in our room was her friend Natalie, a Brit archaeology student who we saw for a total of five minutes in 24 hours and two friends from the Faroe Islands, which I had never even heard of but is located northwest of Scotland.
After a day of settling in (and napping), we explored the heart of central Lima. Though famous for its Spanish colonial architecture, we had much more of a blast wandering through Chinatown–yes, they have one–and the more off-the-beaten path streets. Again, total score that we look like locals. It was there that we had our first dose of street food–cooked, of course! We were hooked and had to keep turning away from the vendors to not get tempted.
Cute kid near Plaza des Armas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Police are EVERYWHERE in Lima. Here, one during the changing of the guard at a government building:
First street food for Eaman! Chicken empanada:
First street food for me! Plate of hard-boiled eggs, potatoes and steamed Peruvian corn:
Cute kid eating pineapple:
We could eat chocolate churros with cappucinos every day:
Tomorrow we head to Cusco, the city for all things Machu Picchu and outdoor activities…and tourists. But with nearly a week before our trek, we plan to find the hidden gems and indulge in the markets and nature.
Plus, Brandee and Natalie, who’ll be there at he same time, are trying to set up a meeting with a shaman for some spiritual cleansing and we’ve already told them we want in on that.