Thursday, July 7, 2011

Arequipa to Lima

We got back from our trip to the Colca Canyon at around 5pm on Tuesday and, three hours later, jumped on an 18-hour bus ride to Lima.  During those three hours of non-travel time, we managed to work a little miracle.  As you'll recall, I hadn't showered the previous day due to lack of warm water in our Chivay hotel.  Needless to say, after an additional day of tromping through the canyon and sitting in minivans and getting stranded on the mountainside and almost having to kill and sleep inside a llama to survive, I was in need of some bathing. 

We had left our bags at our hotel in Arequipa and when we picked them up, I asked the woman at reception if she had any cheap rooms that we could take for a couple of hours -- long enough to shower before leaving for Lima.  I expected that she'd make us rent the room for the whole night and charge us the full rate, but she didn't!  She only charged us 20 soles (about $7)!  We got into the room, plugged every device we owned into the wall to charge, and proceeded to take wonderful hot showers! 

Then we grabbed a bite to eat at a local Turkish restaurant around the corner and headed out to the bus station.  We'd bought tickets on the nicest bus we could find -- the "bed" tickets for the fancy, fully reclining seats that we could sleep in.  The bus turned out not to be quite as nice as we'd hoped (I've still to see a bus that tops the luxury liner I rode in Honduras), but the seats were surprisingly comfortable.  I was more comfortable after 18 hours in that seat than I had been after 6 hours in the normal seats.  So that was something.

The only real problem that arose during the trip was with my ear.  We started dropping altitude fast after leaving Arequipa, and my right ear did not like it one bit (this is the ear that I had so many problems with growing up, and which still gives me problems despite the surgery).  Going from over 16,000 feet to sea level in the space of about 12 hours probably wasn't the best thing for my ear.  It hurt like heck and wouldn't adjust.  For some reason, too, it filled with fluid, which I discovered when it eventually ruptured and started draining (which was a relief, actually).  The next 24 hours was rough, with my ear still mighty sore and draining from time to time.  I stayed on antibiotics, though, to make sure that no infection developed, and I also took antihistamines and other decongestants to make sure that things stayed as open as possible.  Thanks to that, I'm feeling much better.

We arrived in Lima and checked into our hotel -- which is wonderful.  It has a great flowering courtyard and, just as the guidebook promised, a delightfully tinkling fountain in the middle.  There is a cage of songbirds right outside our window, and they sing beautifully in the morning.

After dropping off our bags and freshening up, we headed out to have lunch and do some initial exploration.  We ate at a little cafe called Manolo's, which had delicious dessert consisting of fresh churros and thick hot chocolate.

After eating, we walked around the Parque Kennedy for a while, soaking in the feel of the city.  We're in the upscale Miraflores neighborhood, and it's really nice.  Such a change from the colonial cities we've been in (not to mention the crummier country towns we've passed through, too).  It's refreshingly comfortable to be in a real city again.

Avenida Arequipa
City government building

Church near Parque Kennedy

Later in the evening we went to a fantastic Italian restaurant -- probably the nicest place we've been to so far on this trip (with prices to match, although they still were well under what a comparable place in the U.S. would have been).  I love being able to eat well in other countries without spending a fortune!

Mozzarella, tomato and basil salad

Four-cheese gnocchi

Fresh raspberries with whipped cream

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