The 19 1/2 hour journey from Cuzco to Lima was the worst bus journey we’ve done, by a long way. We got on and almost immediately they fed us the usual bus slop for dinner, then just after finishing we started bend after bend after bend. This continues for 4 hours until you stop in Abancay. From then on you get a few seconds of straight road and then bends all through the night. We managed to sleep ok but felt pretty rough when we were awake and getting up to stumble to the toilet was almost enough to tip us over the edge, but somehow neither of us actually was sick. The PanAmerican highway for the last stint up from Nazca to Lima was like the promised land! A smooth relatively straight road…
Nazca would have been the natural point to break the journey up but you have to book flights over the lines a few days in advance at this time of year and we heard that last week no flights could go up at all. It was apparent why when we passed through, the whole coast was covered with a thick sea fog that only broke briefly all the way up to Lima.
Lima is a big dirty chaotic smoggy city. We didn’t actually want to go to Lima, we’d heard nothing good about it from other people, but it was a necessary means to get north. However we found that we quite liked it. We stayed in Central Lima in a little place ran by 2 sisters on the 14th & 15th floor of one of the biggest tower blocks around. So it had great views and was too high up for street noise to be troublesome. Our taxi driver tried to persuade us that we’d prefer to stay in the suburb of Miraflores near the sea as ‘mucho tourists there.’ Considering we were in the centre of a capital city we didn’t see that many tourists, and away from the tourist sights e.g. the central market we saw none. Judging by how the locals keep staring at us, we’d say that they don’t see too many. One street seller we brought from asked where we were from and insisted on shaking our hands in a very excited manner.
With only a day and a half in Lima we took it easy, doing the usual tourist sights like the main Plaza and gawking at the Presidential Palace, Cathedral etc. Of course we visited the market too, slightly by accident as it was on our list of places to go but we were actually looking for Chinatown – where the tourist information told us it was all we could find was the market overflow. We gave up in the end, writing off the prospect of Chinese food for lunch. The most interesting thing we did was visit the San Francisco monastery and check out the underground catacombs were they have found the bones of over 25,000 people buried down there and know that there are many more levels and tunnels but they are too dangerous to excavate for fear of collapsing the building above. We also enjoyed hanging out in the Plaza de Armas (central plaza) watching the police tanks and riot police on each corner ready to pounce into action should a social protest suddenly arise – most of the police looked bored stiff and spent time playing on their mobile phones.
Our no rain record was broken on the second day in Lima when it tried to drizzle in the morning. It didn’t rain as such and you couldn’t really feel it but we think it counts and so ends our 9 weeks without rain.
- It’s hard to tell the difference between authorised and non-authorised taxis.
Click on any image to enlarge and scroll through