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Published: August 18th 2018
The flight landed on time. Immigration formality was over relatively quickly, …no, it was nowhere close to the chaos we saw in Mexico City. By the time we picked up our luggage and came out of the terminal it was close to 10 pm. And the Wyndham hotel was just across the street. Actually, one does not need to come out of the main terminal at all; there is a walkway from the departure level straight to the hotel. We didn’t know that. Anyway, it was not a problem taking a five minute walk down the front road to reach the main lobby. And boy oh boy; it was a fish market. There were ten to fifteen guests who just arrived and were jostling to get close to the hotel reception; and the staffs were just outnumbered by the guests. Mind it, Lima is a popular entry point for the tourists from all over the world, - Machu Pichu, Amazon, Lake Titicaca, Nazca Lines, Cusco…you name it. And this is the only decent hotel next to the terminal. So we were not the only guests. Welcome to Peru! Finally, we managed to reach the reception and met our contact in the
hotel who has arranged our next day city tour. The receptionist handed us the room key with a smile! That’s all we needed,- a smiley face and the room! It was a long 24 hours that we were on road and we didn’t have proper sleep. We were tired and just needed to crash.
The hotel breakfast was decent the next morning and we were all excited…finally we get to see Lima. For some reason, Lima has been a city of interest to me for years. I recall that I used to follow up all the turmoil that the city has gone in the recent past – Shining Path guerillas, President Fujimori…all the violence that the city endured in the past. But those are yesteryears. Lima today is a bustling city which has bloomed to its full glory, a city that is glowing with its full beauty. The rich cultural heritage from the ancient Inca civilization and the Spanish culture from the latest past have magnetized the tourists from all over the world. And we were so ready to explore the city.
“Good Morning,” I looked around to meet a handsome young gentleman greeting us in
“Buenos Dios,” I returned the gesture.
Suman glanced at me…of course I remembered my attempt of chatting with the locals with my poor Spanish in Costa Rica and how miserably I had to retreat when I was swamped with the barrage of Spanish in return. No, I am not going to do the same mistake over again and promised myself to play it safe.
“This is Renzo,” the mild mannered gentleman extended his hand; “I will be your tour guide for the day and drive you around.” What a relief! Fluent English speaking handsome Spanish gentleman! What else could we expect! Renzo was in time and we headed out to explore Lima by 9:00 am. I planned it with the hotel earlier that we cover Lima in two parts. During our first part of stay, we were going to spend one full day in Lima before flying out to Cusco. We knew, we cannot cover the vast treasure of Lima in one full day. So the plan was we will cover the colonial Lima during the first part of the day and then drive to the other side of the city to Miraflores and cover
some more attractions. Miraflores is a good forty minutes drive from the airport; although I was told that often the highway traffic could be a logjam and the 40 minute gospel I should take with a grain of salt. And in the rush hours, it is anybody’s guess! That means we will face a heavy traffic back to the hotel during the evening rush hours, but we can’t win everything.
“So Renzo, please tell us the plan for the day,” I asked him from the passenger seat. Renzo took the last right turn to get out of the airport perimeter and while keeping his eye on the traffic answered me,
“Well, let’s start with the Main Square.”
“What about it?”
“You know, that is the hub of the colonial architecture. We will cover the Government Palace, the Cathedral of Lima and San Francisco Monastery.” He slowed down the car entering a busy road coming off from the Highway. Then he continued,
“We drive down to Miraflores, about forty minutes drive, traffic permitting.” Renzo took a left turn to get into a slightly less widen road. Shops and houses are lined up on both sides of
the road. I was absorbing every scene of the Latino civilization as we were passing by. I just noticed one Chinese restaurant on the left side nestled into some other shops, the sign showing the Chinese menu. Wow! “I suppose you get Chinese and Indian restaurants anywhere in the World! “ I was smiling when Renzo pointed out through the window one restaurant not so far away from the Chinese Restaurant – Walla! An Indian Restaurant – “Indian Cuisine” with chicken curry and fried rice picture right on the signboard! Wow! Was I right or was I right! “There are others in Miraflores, - Mantra, Guru” Renzo told.
I looked above; it was a cloudy day with a gloomy sky. “Looks like it will rain…that will screw up our tour,” I murmered.
“No, it won’t,” Renzo said confidently keeping his eye on the road and then continued after a pause, “We don’t get rain in Lima.”
“Whaat…you must be kidding,” I couldn’t take him seriously.
“Honestly, we don’t. This is early morning fog coming out from the sea. It will burn off near the mid day.” Renzo said while navigating the traffic.
“Well, then why
the trees are so green if you don’t get the rain.” I asked curiously.
“It’s all the moisture coming from the sea.” Renzo said. I must admit, I never saw a place that never gets rain but still so green. Amazing!
The Main Square of Lima is the main hub of the tourist attractions who wants to discover the colonial history of Lima. Plaza de Armas is the cathedral that occupies a large section of the Main Square. The cathedral was built in 1535. It went through many changes thereafter; however it is well maintained and still stands as one of the main tourist attractions. Renzo parked his car close by and we three strolled in and around the large Square and it was relaxing. Tourists in colourful dresses were casually walking around in the Main Square, vendors were selling their goodies, some office workers hurriedly walked past us heading out to their work places, - the ambience was truly remarkable. Around the Square were the side streets lined with old colonial houses and they looked gorgeous. We spent some time in the Cathedral; I am not a history buff but I appreciate the historical arts. The paintings,
sculptures, decors inside the cathedral were elegant. Some may argue as I heard in the past that the paintings and the décors are superior in Europe. To me it is not the question what is superior; every country offers its unique treasures that are the hallmark of that country. That blends within the history and culture of that country and its society. And I do appreciate that wholeheartedly.
We walked past some armed soldiers near the Government Palace and of course, didn’t miss the photo-op with the soldiers…a typical tourist activity. We spent a couple of hours visiting the Cathedral, the San Francisco Monastery, took a walk down to San Martin Square, had a snack and coffee from a local shop…totally relaxed. Unlike our day tour in Mexico City, we didn’t have any flight to catch at the end of the day, neither had we had any other appointment elsewhere…so we just took our time to soak in the colonial history and behaved exactly what the hundreds of tourists do every day.
Renzo checked his watch and gestured that it’s time. Ok Renzo, you are the boss! It was about 11:00 am and we knew that Miraflores is
fairly a long drive from the Main Square. So it's time to move on.
"How are we doing with the time, Renzo," I asked
"No worries...will be in time," Replied the cool cat!
More of Lima to come! Stay tuned!
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