Miraflores, Lima and that Guilty Feeling

As a world traveler, lover of art, and mother, I feel that I failed Central Lima. Elise and I were holed up in our hotel there for two days – venturing out only for a quick meal in the mall next door. We could have and should have visited the Museo Nacional – or at least strolled the 2km between the main plazas, but a combination of fatigue, noise aversion, and having read that Central Lima was not the safest place to wander put a temporary dent in my Wanderlust. We did, however, manage to get a few impressions of the suburb of Miraflores. We took in the splendid views of the Pacific Ocean from a hillside mall, lunched on sushi and yucca fries near the sidewalk art gallery at JFK Park, and bought our bus tickets to Ica/Huacachina, as well as art supplies for Elise (she was in heaven – Miraflores was ground zero for art shops!)

We also sampled delicious Peruvian caramel and pecan chocolates. If we happen upon another store selling the same treats, my Christmas shopping for my entire family in the US will be done.

On our way to the pre-Incan Huaca Pucllana ruins, we came upon a tiny princess in white. We applauded her fancy dress and gave her a coin to celebrate her special day. (It wasn’t exactly clear to us what that day was, however. She was too young for First Communion, but might have been flower girl.)

We were too late to take a tour of the ruins, but were still able to see how the handmade adobe bricks were carefully shaped and stacked, which helped protect the structures against seismic activity over the past 1,500 years.

Alas, when traveling one cannot See Everything. It is important to know what one loves and values and focus on that. I am much happier on remote islands or in mountain villages than in most big cities (and Elise seems happiest anywhere she can swim, lol). It may seem odd – even though we are traveling for a year, we don’t actually have infinite time on our hands and I don’t want to squander time in places that don’t excite/inspire/spark the imagination. Next time we need to pass through a big city, I’ll make sure we either hit the museums and noteworthy neighborhoods or move on quickly to our next destination.

Long bus ride and astonishing decibel levels in Lima

To get from Guayaquil, Ecuador to Lima, Peru, we had the option to fly economy ($700 for the two of us) or take a bus ($240) with large, reclining business class seats. The catch? The bus took 28 hours. Yes, 28. It had the potential to be Truly Miserable. But since we have to make our budget last a full year, I opted for the bus and made sure we had hours of entertainment and courses to watch, as well as water and snacks. Turns out, it was surprisingly pleasant! The meals and wifi were hit or miss, but the movie selection was great and we caught up on lots of sleep. At the border crossing, we got our exit stamps from Ecuador and then moved 5 feet over to the Peru counter and got our entry stamps for Peru. No visa required.

As we traveled down the coast, we saw giant sand dunes to the west, and a string of tiny villages and towns to the east.

I had gotten a good feel for navigating Ecuador, but I had no sense at all for Peru. We were going to be arriving in Lima after dark (exhausted, I assumed), and I didn’t want to travel in a random taxi to a hostel in an unknown neighborhood, so I used up more precious points to book a shuttle and room at the Sheraton. Well, Elise was positively delighted. And after one full month of travel, I also was grateful for more time at a shiny place with reliable hot water and excellent wifi.

Elise + pancakes = happiness

Surprise! This tiny ‘banana’ turned out to passion fruit.

The hotel was connected to a large mall that had blaring music. The decibel level was beyond anything I’d ever experienced outside of a rock concert. I couldn’t understand it. Did folks here need the extra volume to feel like they were having fun? When I looked around, it did not appear that the people were especially festive. In any case, after a quick meal, we retreated to the quiet of the hotel where Elise drew in her journal and had a science lesson about two neutron stars colliding. But then, a parade with even higher decibel levels started up across the street. Although we were 13 floors above the ground, even my Bose Noise Canceling Headset could not wrestle the noise down to a tolerable level. I ranted on Facebook and a Georgetown colleague explained that it was the Señor de los Milagros parade, which can attract up to a million religious revelers. Noise rules in the city apparently don’t apply. He warned that anyone who dares to complain is called a heretic or satanic, lol, so I buried myself in travel planning to avoid being dubbed la diabla gringa. 😉