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Published: August 25th 2019
Greetings from Croydon! Yay! I have arrived back safely, after what has turned out to be really quite an adventurous, challenging, and thoroughly enjoyable trip. Whilst a few days towards the end of my journey didn’t quite turn out as I’d expected, or as I would have wished, I really enjoyed my final few days in South America, and had an excellent flight back on Friday night. I am so happy now to be back in my wonderful home, resting, recuperating and now beginning to reminisce on these past five and a half weeks.
I believe I last wrote getting ready to leave Quito and fly back to Lima last Tuesday, having just about recovered from the storm in my stomach. On my final day in Quito, on the Tuesday morning, I still felt a little dizzy and not completely with it, and I’m glad I saved one of the tablets the doctor gave me for dizziness and nausea for this day. Perhaps it was because I had not left my hotel room for nearly 72 hours, with the exception of gingerly making my way down every now and then to the restaurant to eat something, that
it felt a bit funny getting into a taxi again and moving on to my next destination. But amazingly, as soon as I landed in Lima, I felt absolutely back to my normal self again. I certainly had something wrong with my stomach, gastro-enteritis as the doctor diagnosed, but I do believe that the altitude of Quito, at 2,850 metres above sea level, must have made it worse. Altitude sickness symptoms include dizziness, nausea and tummy troubles anyway, and I also had a troublesome cough for a few days as well. As soon as I landed in Lima, all of this went away – it was really quite wonderful! I also really enjoyed Lima during my first visits there earlier on in the trip, so all of this combined to give me that excited-traveller sensation again once more. I was indeed looking forward once more to my time in Lima.
I arrived at Lima International Airport late in the evening on Tuesday, and took a Green Taxi once more, this time to a third part of Lima I planned to explore during this visit. Previously I had stayed in the Historical Centre, then in La Punta, Callao. This time
Huaca Pucllana, Lima
I had booked three final nights at another fantastic Ibis Hotel (another comparative splash-out) in the beautiful Miraflores district of the city. This is the modern upmarket, residential and commercial part of Lima situated spectacularly on the city’s coastal edge, overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean via huge 80-metre high cliffs. It was a wonderful place to spend my final few days of this trip, and I had especially planned this as I was looking for a nice place to wind down after what I imagined would be a tiring one. I was equally impressed with the small, but highly efficient room, and highly efficient service overall of the Ibis Reducto Miraflores, with a stunning view over the city from my room on the 15th
floor. It was upon my arrival at the hotel that I noticed I felt all back to normal again health-wise, and after briefly depositing my things in my room, headed straight to the hotel restaurant as I was more than ready to enjoy a full meal again after 72 hours of chicken soup and melons. I enjoyed the delicious Peruvian cuisine even more than I usually do, savouring every tasty morsel and going to bed satisfied
Me, Machu Picchu, 2002
In case anyone was wondering why I didn't go to Machu Picchu this time, this is me there in February 2002 :D
and so happy to have returned to my usual, enthusiastic level of travelling.
The following morning I enjoyed a lovely lie-in, and spent the day exploring the modern delights of lovely Miraflores. I was lucky upon my return to Lima, as although during this time of year it is usually completely cloudy in the city, the sun was actually out during my final two full days – this really was quite unusual for the season, and made for a very pleasant and agreeable temperature. As well as being the more well-to-do end of town, Miraflores is also more touristy than the previous two places I stayed in in Lima, so I had to enjoy my sightseeing along with a fair few other tourists, though still not too many. First up, a walk through the heart of the district, northwards to the Huaca Pucllana pyramid and archaeological site. This is a pre-Inca adobe ceremonial centre, dating back to 400 AD, and quite spectacularly sited in contrast with the modern developments of Miraflores all around. Visit was only by guided tour, and I joined a Spanish tour for about an hour, with about half-an-hour spent on the pyramid itself, the other
half for some reason touring some cages and pens with llamas, alpacas and guinea pigs, and a growing plot with all sorts of typical Peruvian and South American plants. I found the former interesting, the latter just a bit unusual for what I had paid to visit. After this I took a taxi to the coast, to start at the famous Parque del Amor, with its modern statue of two embracing lovers overlooking the crashing Pacific waves 80 metres below. From here, I walked down a spectacular path along a main road down a gully-cut gap in the cliffs to the beach itself, where I enjoyed an ice-cold ginger ale at the famous La Rosa Nautica bar and restaurant on the pier jutting out into the ocean, watching surfers and the waves crashing all around. And finally, I walked back up and along the spectacular cliffs and onto the famous Larcormar shopping centre, a shopping mall built directly into the cliff face itself and being completely open to the elements and the Pacific Ocean below – really quite a unique shopping centre. This of course being in the second driest capital city on earth after Cairo, whereby it rains only
around 30mm a year, therefore it’s really quite a nice idea to have such an open-aired shopping centre. I also stopped by at a Paddington statue just outside the shopping centre, donated to Miraflores town council by the nearby British Embassy, and felt at one with the Anglo-Peruvian connection associated with it. I loved reading Paddington books as a child, and also enjoyed the film very much. I then enjoyed another delicious Peruvian meal back in the Ibis, and settled in for another cosy night’s sleep.
Thursday was my final full day in South America on this trip, and I planned another coastal walk. This time down another main road which cut through a gully-like gap in the cliffs, but at the bottom finding that there was no pedestrian-friendly way of crossing the road to the beach, I did like a local and crossed six-lanes of speeding traffic. I was faced with three options: either walking back, uphill, the way I came, flagging down a taxi which would have been unlikely due to the speed of the traffic and lack of stopping places, or simply crossing the road. I did the latter, though it did feel fairly safe in
the end as I waited until major gaps in the traffic. Still, it wasn’t fun…
After making it to the beach though, I enjoyed another fantastic coastal walk, with the crashing Pacific waves on my right, and the 80-metre high cliffs on my left, as far as a bridge and set of stairs which led to the bohemian district of Barranco, my final port-of-call and visit on this journey. The stairs took me up to the famous “Puente de los Suspiros”, or “Bridge of Sighs”, for some very photogenic views. I enjoyed a walk through the old streets and colourful houses of the area, stopping off at a few souvenir shops on the way, before making my way back to my hotel and an extended period of rest and relaxation before my flight home the next day.
After an afternoon, evening and morning of just resting up in my hotel, I was ready at 3pm to take my final taxi back towards Lima International Airport again for the last time, to take my British Airways flight back to London Gatwick at 8pm on Friday evening. After stocking up on two bottles of duty-free Pisco and some final souvenirs,
Huaca Pucllana, Lima
I boarded a really modern aeroplane, which seemed brand new and had the best in-flight entertainment system I have experienced on a flight, for my favourite seat – right at the back in the corner of the plane, next to a really perfect flight-companion who respected both his space, my space, and the shared use of the armrest between us. Not only was the flight fantastic, but I also got a whopping three hours sleep – I have never slept for more than half-an-hour on a plane before, so this was really a treat, and made the 12-hour journey seem much quicker! I do hope this is the start of a new trend for me, being able to sleep on overnighters, as there are many more long-haul flights I have planned ahead of me…!
A final train and taxi journey took me and my overloaded backpacks, absolutely crammed to the brim with souvenirs, back to my lovely home again, whose doors I walked through at 5pm last night, exhaling after what has really been one of my more incredible, adventurous and enjoyable journeys – thank you South America!
So I now begin to contemplate just what an adventure
Huaca Pucllana, Lima
this has been. I have been able to tick off every country now in South America (apart, again, from those annoying little three non-countries in the continent’s north-east). In the last five and a half weeks I have journeyed through city, coast, desert, island and mountain, taking buses, planes and boats as I went. I have swum with sea lions, snorkeled with sharks, flown over some (to-my-mind) extra-terrestrial etchings, canoed the Amazon river, fished for piranhas, practised blowpiping with Amazonian Indians, got up-close-and-personal with so many friendly sea lions, iguanas, flamingoes and giant tortoises, hiked at 5000 metres up Andean peaks, and taken part in an ancient pre-Inca ceremony which seemed to miraculously bring out the sun from behind the dark clouds. In addition, I have met some incredible people, appreciated the very friendly, mystical and magical ancient culture of Peru once more, enjoyed its delicious cuisine, and quite simply set foot in some of the most enchanted, amazing islands in the world. Thank you Peru and Ecuador, I have had an amazing time with you this summer, and the memories I am sure will stay with me for years to come.
Thank you for reading, I appreciate it
very much. I currently have quite a few plans in the pipeline for the coming year of travel, including another long trip next summer and a few shorter ones in the meantime. I will of course write up again here when my feet hit the travelling road once more.
Until the next time, thank you again, and all the very best to all.
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