Back at Sea
Level in Lima...
March 28, 2007

Oh my gosh. There is a coastline. I actually saw a coastline today. Do you know what that means???

I am back at sea level!!!

Ears are functioning. Lungs are functioning. All is good in the body of Jen Nathan.

I arrived in Lima late this morning via a StarPeru flight. Some people might consider this a budget airline. But not I. To me, this was
like going first-class all the way. Let’s see…what
could have been a 30-hour bus ride from Cusco to Lima was actually a 1-hour
plane ride. If I factor in the time that I waited at the airport before my flight and the time to get my bags from baggage claim, it was
still only 3-hours. And I love airports so those other two hours didn’t even bother me. And, wait a second. I also love flying, so the
hour in the air didn’t bother me either. And the price difference between a bus ticket and plane ticket was minimal anyway. (Who
am I kidding? I never even priced the bus ticket…but I am assuming that there really can’t be
that much of a difference since I paid
$76 for my plane ticket…)

Anyway, I am now here. I am staying in the Miraflores section of the city. While a lot of it feels like a bigger city with all of the shops
and restaurants and cafes, there is just as much of a residential feel when I wander a block or two away from the main streets. And
strolling along the walkway near the coast stumbling upon park after park is a great way to appreciate the fact that I am now near
the ocean.  

In fact, as I was down at the water earlier today, there were a couple guys holding signs. One was in English; the other was in
Spanish. They said ‘Abrazos Gratis’ and ‘Free Hugs’. My friend sent me the video clip months ago on email about a guy that came
up with this. If memory serves me correctly, Oprah even had him on her show. In any case, I was feeling full of non-holiday cheer
(really, it’s not necessary to have a holiday just around the corner to feel cheery)…so I went up and gave them hugs. I do what I can
do to make people in Lima happy…

March 29, 2007

First thing this morning, I decided to get my bus ticket to Ecuador. I initially wanted to see a few cities in northern Peru…but my
time (or lack thereof) does not allow. So I need to make my way to Ecuador. I found a little agency with the sweetest girl. She was
concerned about me traveling by myself. When one of the bus companies’ VIP section was sold out, she went to finding a new bus
company because she didn’t feel good about me sitting in the ‘normal’ section (though I know it would have been fine). That bus
actually only went as far as the Ecuador border and then I would have to take a collective to the border and then find a new bus to
take me to Guayaquil. Now I am on a ‘business class’ bus that will take me from Lima to Guayaquil. I am pretty confident…that
despite this being a 25-hour bus ride…that this won’t be one of those ‘as bad as it gets’ type of adventures. I already have 3 books,
a magazine and a Spanish phrasebook ready to keep me occupied.  

After taking care of that, I hopped into a collective and went to Central Lima to check out the main square and the colonialism that
Lima has to offer. Sitting in the collective meant listening to 35 minutes of a guy yelling out “Arequipa! Arequipa!” while we drove
along. But what a fun (and cheap) way to see how locals get from place to place. Who needs taxis???

Just like every main square I have seen in South American capital cities, this one was equally impressive. But just like every other
main square, there wasn’t a whole lot to do there. Just pretty buildings to look at.

With my time in Peru almost over, of course I set out for some ceviche. And what better place to go that to a ‘cevicheria’??? Damn,
I love this stuff!

I made a purchase today that was an exciting thing for me. Let me go back to a moment a few days ago when I was at a restaurant
in Cusco. There was a CD that was playing that consisted of jazzy remakes of some great 80s songs. I meant to ask what the CD was
before I left. But another CD was then playing by the time I finished my dinner and I decided not to ask since it was probably going
to be too confusing to all involved to try to understand what I was trying to say. So, as sad as it was to not know what the CD was, I
just left. Now back to today when I was walking down the street and realized that I needed some water. I stopped into a shop.
These shops selling drinks are a dime a dozen. I just happened to stop into the first one I saw. So I am in there. And I hear a song. It
was ‘Sweet Dreams’. But it was
the jazzy version. It turned out that this was also a used music store. I asked if I could see the CD
that was playing. Call it my lucky day! The songs on the CD were the same ones that I had heard at the restaurant! I asked how
much it was. Four soles. The equivalent of $1.30 US. Sold!

I have to admit that tonight I was almost an embarrassment to Americans everywhere. I went down to the Larcomar which is the
shopping/restaurant complex in Miraflores down by the water. I was checking out the different options of were I might want to
grab a bite to eat. Let me just state that the American restaurants never appeal to me. And I mean never. That was until today.
What was it about Tony Roma’s that was looking so good to me? I could almost taste that Carolina Honey BBQ sauce. I couldn’t
even remember the last time I had BBQ sauce. Here I was in Peru contemplating going into Tony Roma’s. This just wasn’t right.
Not right at all. I needed to remove myself from the proximity of this restaurant. Not only to take away from my temptation. But to
not appear to be one of ‘those’ people that travels to a different part of the world only to eat at a restaurant that is sooo American.
Heck, they don’t even have this restaurant in the Bay Area! Though I haven’t eaten at a place like this for over an entire year,
nobody walking by knows that. They would probably think ‘Pathetic!’ if they saw this gringo through the window. Luckily I had the
will-power. I vacated the immediate premises and went to get some ceviche…

March 30, 2007

I spend the last remaining hours of my time in Lima today in the Barranco area.

Lots of color. Lots of character.

Very Bohemian. Very cool.

I did a fair amount of wandering before the time came to head to the bus station. I tried, without success, to book a trip to the
Galapagos before getting on a bus. I was
sooo close to being successful…if it weren’t for the fact that there were two spots left on
the boat and they wanted to fill both of those spots at once. They were not willing to take a solo passenger. I was told that they
might change their mind tomorrow if the spots are still open. So now it is just a matter of checking my email when I get into
Guayaquil tomorrow to see what the verdict is.

Now that my time in Lima has been wrapped up, I have to admit that I never fell in love with this city. I am sure there are parts
that I missed. And I did enjoy being near the coast. I also enjoyed taking walks through some of the residential areas. But I never
developed the same feelings that I had with a big city like Santiago.
Back to Peru.
By the coast in Miraflores.
Back at sea level!
In Plaza d'Armas in the center of Lima.