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Published: June 22nd 2010
It's been an up and down past couple of days.
Mostly it's been good, I just have gotten a little down once or twice because of not knowing anyone here and not really knowing what's going on half the time. But I feel a lot better now and have lots of fun things coming up!
First off, my feet are still hurting. It's difficult to have any days where I don't walk a lot, so I am trying to get used to it and trying to massage out the pain when I'm not doing anything at home. I should probably try to give them a rest for a day or two and then be careful. Though I'm sure they will hurt again once I start hiking mountains continuously.
Yesterday was pretty good. I had plans with my boss to explore the central historical district of Lima. We met up around 11 and then headed out. To begin, I had my first experience riding a Peruvian bus! The system here is not really standardized so it is extremely confusing. Busses and combis come by all the time and they just will have street names listed on the side and that is more or less where they go. However, there are many streets (such as Salaverry, Javier Prado, etc) that are very very long and there is no clear indication as to where the bus will stop. I live near Salaverry but I'm uncomfortable taking a bus in that direction, because I could end up very far away from where I actually live. In reality though, the busses and combis will stop pretty much anytime someone flags them down and you can get on or off then too. So it's very confusing and most likely I won't be attempting public transportation on my own in Lima. I haven't even been brave enough to take a taxi by myself because I don't quite trust my ability to clearly convey where it is I'm going just yet.
Anyway, we went downtown and started with the Parque de la Exposicion, which was pretty nice. Some rides for kids, some food, lots of large sculptures around, etc. There is where the Museo del Arte is, but we didn't go in because we were heading towards another museo that was closing earlier. So we left there and took a taxi to the center of downtown. Walked around the streets there and it was really quite pretty. I enjoyed it. It's completely different than downtowns in the US or even in Europe (though I never really thought of European cities as having "downtowns" per se). I found out that my boss used to work for a newspaper for 10 years writing columns for the Arts and Entertainment section. He has lived in Lima for most of his life and was telling me that during certain periods when there would be military governments or heightened terrorist activities and stuff, that people were so scared they would just go to work and then immediately go home and people hardly ever went out. I can't really imagine living like that, it was definitely eye-opening to talk about that with him.
We went to the Museo del Banco Central de la Reserva next. It is divided into three sections--one gives a short history of Peruvian painting with examples, another is lots of artifacts from ancient Peruvian cultures, and the third is focused on archaeology. They were all pretty cool, and it was free to boot! We left there and headed to el centro historico next. That was really pretty. Currently there is a giant screen up that broadcasts the World Cup so there were a ton of people congregated down there. I saw the Palacio de Gobierno, where the Presidente lives, as well as some nice cathedrals. We stopped for coffee and a small snack because we were both hungry and I had my first Peruvian empanada! I played it safe and got pollo, but my boss got something else (aji y ganillos I think) which was also pretty good. I also had a great Americano.
After that we walked more around downtown, saw lots of souvenir and touristy stuff, and lots more people than are up here in San Isidro. We went to an old train station that's been converted into a library and that was nice and then we took a tour of La Cathedral de San Francisco. It was gorgeous inside and we went down into the catacombs which was cool as well. Left there and did some more walking through the town. Saw the famous balconies here, which were pretty. Apparently in times when women weren't really allowed out, they would look through these sorta secret windows in the balcony where they could look out but others could not look in.
Ended up in Peruvian Chinatown, which was an interesting experience. Tons of people and lots of cooked ducks hanging around. Lots of tiny stores selling all sorts of knick knacks and miscellaneous things. Though Danny (my boss) said that most of the quality is not good at all so it's not really worth buying. We ended up eating lunch at a restaurant there, and the food was mostly good, the pollo con almendras was not delicious. We also had gigantic crispy wontons.
After that, we walked around some more, ended up in a small art exhibition highlighting the life and work of Doris Gibson, who was this woman in Peru who started a magazine called Caretas, which featured highly political and socially charged articles. She began the magazine at a time when that wasn't widely accepted in Peru and it is still being published today. There were lots of photos of her with various important figures, as well as lots of pictures of the covers of the magazine. The covers were always shot with very interesting photography and imagery. All in all, it was pretty cool.
Ugh, I left this for too long and then it crapped out after I wrote a bunch more and didn't save it. Blergh. I'll write again soon, I don't feel like re-typing everything I just wrote!
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