After a well-deserved nap, we headed into the busy Lima streets. We stayed at
the 1900 Hostel, which is near Lima’s old center and government buildings. We
could see Peru’s equivalent of the Smithsonian simply by stepping out the front
door. We walked around the block looking for food, and quickly found some
amazing ceviche. Ceviche is basically raw seafood in lemon juice(?). We also
had rice with seafood, and wonderful fresh juice. This is the life!
Back at the hostel we took a free walking tour, which took us through most of
Lima’s old center. We saw government buildings, churches, shops, and lots of
traffic. The architecture is beautiful, with almost all buildings having a
classic European look. The colors however are very Peruvian, with many
buildings being yellow, blue, and one notable one red and black. Some of the
buildings are in great shape, and some have peeling paint and worn down stone
details. But almost every building in central Lima has this same look, which is
The traffic is loud and near-continuous. Horns are used when passing,
approaching pedestrians, or otherwise get attention. Also it’s hot and pretty
humid. Meanwhile Lima is actually in a desert (0.3 inches of rain per year) and
the surrounding hills are completely devoid of any plantlife. While downtown
Lima is beautiful, it’s experienced at the same time as lots of noise and
Peruvians take their Catholicism seriously. The churches here are some of the
most ornate I’ve seen anywhere, especially inside. I really enjoyed the
geometric tiles used in some floors and ceilings, which presumably came here
from Morocco via Spain. It’s also hard to argue with gold-plated anything.
Vaguely related, we encountered a large protest. I’m still not entirely sure
about the details, but my impression is that the ministry of education has put
out new materials which imply that it’s OK to be gay, and protestors don’t want
their children exposed to this. If your Spanish is better than mine, searching
for (con mis hijos no te
might give you more background. We had a local man try and explain it to us,
but our Spanish was not up to the job. I mostly learned through a bit of
Googling and by asking an English-speaking tour guide.
Internet quality at our hostel was amazing. Most of the time it was as good as
it is at home. The rest of the hostel was good too. Rooms were clean, it felt
safe, and there were some nice common spaces. We talked to several other
travelers. The food was mediocre. Toilets were mostly in good shape, and always
clean. That last one is important since I’ve had the occasional urgent need to
go to the toilet ever since the first day. It’s not a big deal, but is
occasionally annoying. Danielle is fighting something similar that started a
Overall we had a good time in Lima, but it did feel very busy. We were catching
up on sleep, being slightly sick, seeing some sights, and adjusting to the
traveling life. 3 days after we arrived, we were on a bus to Paracas, which is
much more quiet. On the way there we got an incidental tour of the Miraflores
neighborhood where most passengers were picked up. It’s very different from the
central district where we stayed. It mostly consists of small but nice-looking
homes, clean streets, cute restaurants, and some beautiful parks by the water.
It’s a popular but more expensive area to stay as well. Perhaps we should have
started here to ease into travelling a bit more.
Before leaving town the bus took us to an overlook in the south of the city,
which had a good view of the contrast between rich and poor. Lodgings barely
nicer than the Seattle homeless live in are built up on a hill, which overlooks
rich beachfront neighborhoods. The poor apparently have squatters’ rights to
the hill so they cannot be kicked out, otherwise it would doubtlessly be filled
with hotels and luxurious apartments. We actually saw very few homeless people.
Our guide suggested it might be because homeless people have the option of
living in slums. Contrast this with Seattle, where homeless people are very
visible and slums are illegal.