Maybe I shouldn’t buy smaller clothes just yet. Lima – Foodies Capital of South America.
18 Months On The Road & 20,000 miles
But first: We left our bird sanctuary and headed straight south (always south) towards Lima on the PanAmerica Highway 1 at 9 am on Wednesday, September 27th.
- We knew this section was rife with police stops.
- We knew it was required to have lights on.
- We knew this section had numerous complaints about foreign vehicles being stopped.
- We knew fog was prevalent through this section.
- We knew police asked for extras.
We had our lights on previously, but we stopped for a soda and they turned off; I had been nagging all along about lights but didn’t after this stop, 5 minutes later toll taker wished us a ‘buen viaje’ (good trip) but nothing about lights, and within 100′ feet of toll plaza, we were pulled over by Policia and cited for No Lights.
Discussions started out at 600 Peruvian Soles ($200).
But special deal Gringo.
If paid within 5 days, only 30%. Ok. That brings it down to $60. And copper, he’s still holding a copy of our vehicle title, originals of Peruvian insurance and Peruvian Custom’s paper (I have made copies since) and Dave’s original driver’s license.
After 15 minutes of soft-spoken debate and implying 600 soles was outrageous, we agreed to 30%. I knew that was acceptable from earlier travelers’ readings. But knew when he brought a folder and asked us to put cash directly in folder without him touching it, what it really was. No ticket. No record.
Simply cash in a folder. Paid.
Anyway, we’re back on road. (First Bribe since Mexico btw.)
I have lived in Pacifica CA for 30+ years. I know fog.
The next section from Huacho to just north of Lima was foggy. At one point, Dave and I are creeping along at 20 mph with lights on and hazard lights blinking continuously. We couldn’t see more than 30′ in front of us. Only good thing, it was a divided good paved highway which cut down the hazards.
After navigating through the fog, I ignored Google’s directions to go through the heart of Lima with its 10 million inhabitants and instead opted to go west around City on a major bypass through the industrial sections and by the airport.
The industrial sections posed its own special problems because it led through ports. Heavy semi truck traffic, mis-used damaged roads, heavy port traffic, and another police stop.
This time we had our lights on. So papers were checked and then we were motioned to proceed. Two lanes narrowed down to one because of stopped semis trying to get in/out of ports, oil refineries and storage facilities.
But with only one missed turn and we just went around the traffic circle again; but took a different wrong turn out of traffic circle again and had to do a-turn. (Getting good at bullying our way into traffic with our out-sized vehicle.)
Anyway, we pulled into the Hitchhiker’s Lima Hostel around 2pm on the southwest side of Lima in the upscale safe neighborhood of Miraflores on Pacific Ocean’s cliffs.
This Hostel is primarily a hotel with a few parking places for RV’s. And I mean a few. We’re not a big RV at 8.5′ x 20′. This parking area will only accommodate 4 of us. But there are no other options in Lima that offer secure parking. (I had emailed five hotels within Lima about secure parking that would accommodate us; 2 replied and said no. Never heard from others at all.) (Good thing I had reserved us a spot at Hitchhikers.)
So we squeezed in, set the parking brake and said “Lunch.” (Squeezed in with about 1 foot between us and another truck camper. And we’ve had to back out and in several times to let other vehicles leave.) (On the other hand, secure, centrally-located and only $10/a night.)
YEAH FINE CUISINE
So began our first taste of Lima.
I randomly picked the closest restaurant. What a find. (But so far, they all have been finds.)
It was a upscale buffet that had a salad bar, a ceviche stand and a cold plate and a hot plate section and the best dessert bar since our trip began. I waddled back to the camper.
Lima is in a desert. It is the second driest Capital in the World after Cairo. (That is why the melting of the Andes Glaciers due to climate change is so critical to Peru. Lima is situated on the Pacific Ocean’s cliffs; it is – just like Pacifica – generally foggy in the mornings with clearing in the afternoons and temperatures year-round are in the low 70’s. Perfect for us Pacificans. It only rains 5-6 times a year.
For the first week, we have done mostly chores and errands we had put off (ok-procrastinated) until we were in a major city. Namely, we had 30+ chores/errands between Dave’s and my To Do List such as 1. Locating a reliable mechanic – Done: Mario Gil, 2. Locating and getting four new all-terrain tires installed (in some parts of Chile and Patagonia, there are no paved roads). Thank you Mario. 3. Getting new shock absorbers bought, cut, filed and installed. Thank you again Mario. 4. Defrosting freezer. 5. Cleaning camper after dusty roads on east side of Andes. Washed and waxed: Followed Mario to nearest site. 6. Getting 9 kilos of laundry done. 7. Getting care package from my sister containing new debit card from DHL office and testing new debit cards. 8. Sending package of woven goods from Central America back to US, 9. Finding fast wifi so Dave could upload Ecuador highlight photos, and 10. Getting jeans shortened and new pants ordered for Dave.
Anyway, you get the idea. Only a few items remain on List and will stay on List.
And in between, we have had Great lunches. Restaurants: 1. Brujas de Cachiche, 2. Edo Sushi Bar, 3. Alfresco (best of the best), 4. Montalvo and 5. Canta Rana.
I will spot these Liman restaurants against any in San Francisco on any day. And I know San Franciscan’s Fine Dining!!!!🥃!!!
Hence the need for me to delay buying new smaller clothes.
The tourist things we have done during our stay in Lima was:
A. Food Walking Tour (who would guess) of Miraflores (suburb we are in). We were educated about and tasted some new fruits and Peruvian dishes:
- Tuna (pitaya)
- Golden Berry
- Ceviche in ‘leche de tigre.’
- Causa pollo
- Papa Rellena
B. Self-guided Walking Tour of Barranco –
(Another suburb of Lima that was originally a vacation area on the Coast for Limans that is slowly being re-gentrified and swallowed into Lima.) Highlights included:
- Museo Pedro de Osma with its extensive silver collection (thought of you – Peggy) and gorgeous detailed inlaid furniture.
- MATE Museo Mario Testino – current high-fashion photographer
- Plaza Chabuca Granda. She was a well-known Peruvian singer and composer. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chabuca_Granda)
After checking out the bohemian neighborhood, we had lunch at a highly-recommended local restaurant – Canta Rana. “Around for decades, this unpretentious spot is draped in flags and plastered in photos packs with the locals with its offering of more than 17 different types of ceviche.” (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/peru/lima/restaurants/la-canta-rana/a/poi-eat/415896/363412)
C. Scheduled City Driving Tour with Mario. Ended up driving all over City true – not to any tourist spots – but still doing errands. Saw parts of the City no tourist will ever see.
D. Circuito Mágico del Agua. A 3-City block water park. Had 3 major fountains synchronized to light, sound and laser effects with numerous other fountains and water features. Puts Las Vegas’ Bellagio fountain to shame. Also the day we were there they had set up a large screen tv for Peru’s World Cup playoffs with Argentina. (Match ended up 0-0 tie which Peru considered a ‘win’ since probably knocked out Argentina’s chance to appear in World Cup for first time in 15 years.
E. Self-guided Walking Tour of historic Lima center with:
- Cathedral with 15 side chapels built in the 1570’s,
- Government Palace,
- Plaza Mayor (aka Plaza de Armas),
- Santa Domingo Church,
- Alameda Chabuca Granda,
- Hotel Bolivar,
- Monastery de San Francisco, and as energy level was lagging,
- Plaza San Martin.