Saturday, October 4, 2008

Deja vu in Lima, Peru

That feeling has returned. That feeling of strapping on the travel pack and shoes to embark on a new cultural experience each day has crept its way back into my life. Though, this travel experience will include my dear mother who is along for the South American tour, now its no question from whom I inherited the travel gene. This trip has been preceeded by several months of planning yet very little expectations on my part. I have not thought much about this trip that we have now taken upon us for the next six weeks since I have been fully indulged in my ¨porteƱo lifestyle¨in Buenos Aires. The whole month of September in Buenos Aires was a rare, yet exhilirating combination friendships established here in South America and back in my previous chapter in life, college. Every minute of it was worthwhile to say the least. The daily crew consisted of Mike, BJ, Taelor, Alyssum, Barry and myself. It was like our San Diego crew reunited in Buenos Aires with the much appreciated addition of our good friend Barry from Cuba. We somehow always found each other on the same wavelength, which really is what great friendship is all about. My final night in Buenos Aires as a long-term resident was capped off with perfect vibes, onda, provided by BJ, Cando and Barry. How lucky I am to call these guys friends, they made me realize how great of a trip I was about to embark on since they each called on me to document as much as I could to provide them with the vicarious experience, as I hope to do for all of you who take the time to read my content.

My experience at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires was a very ideal travel experience as I almost missed my 6am flight due to the fact I had overstayed my 90-day tourist visa by three days. I knew I would be fined, a whopping $50 pesos, which didn´ t bother me so much. I found it to be a better alternative than a $200 peso trip to Uruguay just two days before going to Peru or going to Imigrations in Buenos Aires and paying $100 pesos to renew the visa. I just hadn´t prepared to wait in an hour long line to pay my fine, which nearly cause me to miss my flight. The sprint to the gate was priceless, I always feel like I´m in the Amazing race when I´m in these situations, maybe because it feels more like a competition (fun) rather than such a stressful scenario. Needless to say, I made the flight and arrived in Lima, Peru a mere 5 hours later.

Bienvenidos a Lima, Peru!

I had a day to kill here before my brother and mom were due to arrive. So I walked along the coast in the cloudy afternoon and was strangely reminded of San Diego. For this is the first time I´ve looked out over the Pacific Ocean since last year when I was a San Diegan. Lima is a large city, with over 50 districts. We are staying in the district of Miraflores which has a slight resemblance to La Jolla, though a less developed than the multimillion dollar neighborhood of La Jolla CA. However, its enough to make me feel deja vu as I walk along this boardwalk poached on a steep cliffside. I then went to a little sports bar to watch the Vice-presidential debate, which was a bit humorous to me, I elect Sarah Palin for hockey mom representative of the year, not Vice President. Anyways, my exhaustion got the best of me as I went back to the hospedaje early and fell asleep waiting for the arrival of the rest of the fam. 3:30 am is when my mom and brother arrived as they were both delerious from a long day of travel as well, they were due to arrive at 9pm but the stories of flight delays and other mishaps provided clear explanation to my not-so worried self. It was great to see them though, now begins the family journey...

Friday, we woke up and set out to go see a Pre-Incan art museum in downtown Lima, it was $45 soles to get to downtown just to find out the museum was closed for the rest of the year. Great! What else is in downtown Lima I inquired to our taxi driver. No hay nada. Ok, well that was splendid, we made the most of it by walking every square meter of the park before returning to Miraflores for a nice lunch. Then it happened. That need for adventure that my brother and I carried throughout Europe last year came creeping back in as we saw the paragliders flying over the coast. Yep, lets do it we said without hesitation after we were told the relatively cheap price. We spent a good 20 minutes paragliding over the coast of Lima, Peru which provided the adventure the day had been missing. What an incredible feeling it is indeed to be flying over the ocean and the steep cliff faces. I´ve always wondered what it would be like to fly and even capturing a slight glimpse through paragliding provided fulfillment to that lifelong curiosity. Then, we fed our dinner appetite with a Paella dish over looking the Pacific Ocean. A frequent thought that creeps into my mind is, wow I feel like I´m in a scaled down version of San Diego, this is all too much deja vu!

Saturday, our last full day in Lima, we set out South 30 km from Lima to see the ruins of Pachamac. Pachamac is a great site of ruins and was supposedly the holy place for three different Pre-Incan civilizations leading up to the Incans. Each civilization that conquered the previous built their temple up the hill from the previous civilizations´temple ending with the Incans´Temple of the Sun. Ironically enough, the sun finally came out from hiding behind the clouds as we approached the Temple of the Sun. It´s quite a relief to have some sunshine on this beautiful coastal city of Lima before we venture further inland to Cuzco tomorrow.

Some things I´ve noticed so far about Peru in general is how overwhelmingly nice the people are here. From our taxi driver Fernando, who was my escort from the airport and has become our full-time taxi I was so impressed with him, to the guys who took us paragliding to the people in our hospedaje. They have all been such amazing hosts and would make any traveler consider moving here for their welcoming smiles alone. Another interesting thing about Lima is the over abundance of horn-honking that takes place. As our driver Fernando explains, ¨its just our culture, its what we do.¨ Many of the taxis will honk at you, especially if you look foreign like I do, just to get your attention because they all think that you need a taxi. I´ve heard some interesting beep tones, you could download them as your ringtone. As you walk the streets of Miraflores all you hear is beep beep. The nose is filled with the smell of seafood and the cool breeze from the Pacific is slightly reminiscent to that of where else... San Diego, did I say it was deja vu yet? How could I not touch on the food here? Since I moved to Argentina and tried my first taste of Peruvian cuisine I´ve been a huge fan. Wow, until I arrived in Lima and got the actual fresh ceviche, pescado saltado and other rice and seafood dishes. This is the best seafood I´ve ever consumed without a doubt.

It´s been a pleasurable few days here in Lima, especially being back by the Pacific Ocean. We now head off to our next adventure, Cuzco followed by our trail to the infamous Machu Picchu. Stay tuned for more....

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