Saturday, June 25, 2016

[LIMA] Saturdays in Lima

The plane ride felt like knocking on hell’s door. My one-week old sore throat finally decided to let me expel the mucus starting this morning, which wasn’t enough preparation for the flight. The almost six hours I spent on that plane felt like eternity, and the cherry on top was a crippling migraine of Oberyn Martell proportions as we were about to land. With the very sorry state I was in, I knew I’ll have another run in with the airport’s thermal scanner. Surprise, surprise, Lima’s airport doesn’t seem to have one.

The only booboo in crossing the immigration counter was that the officer stamped a new page of my passport, but she was a nice old lady so I couldn’t really give her the stare of death despite me being a jerk. Now I only have room left for two more visas, and we’re just halfway done through the year. FML. Lima’s airport has free WiFi via Wigo, but it’s limited to 10 minutes. This is why I felt even more frustrated when the Uber driver decided to take a tour of the airport parking lot before reaching me.

I wanted to be a jerk to him too, but he was a nice old guy who wouldn’t stop giving tips on how to go around Lima and how to get rid of my illness. He told me I seemed desperate to get out of the airport. I did cancel the trip and called for a new driver, but Uber assigned him to me once again. I told him that I was really sick, and I think he was quick to understand that. My Airbnb host was yet another nice old lady, and a very accommodating one at that. She even accompanied me to the grocery and the pharmacy!

In the end, I woke up the next morning ready to fight, with the sore throat gone and almost no trace of the headache. Given that I have the whole weekend to spend in Lima, I decided to take everything slow. After having lunch at KFC, I called an Uber to bring me to Plaza de Armas, which is the historical core of the capital. Uber is not yet that popular here, but you are bound to find one with just around 5 minutes of wait time. The caveat is that it’s a bit pricy at PEN12.50 (~PHP187.50) per half an hour ride.

But I really have to fully recover before Tuesday morning, so I guess buying myself comfort is the way to go instead of facing hospital bills head-on later if this gets worse. Plaza de Armas looks fancier than Guate’s own plaza. Mexico’s Zocalo is way bigger, but Lima’s has more colonial buildings enclosing it on all sides, with the familiar bright yellow hues agreeing well with the faint tone of the palace and the cathedral. The square was very much alive, given it was a Saturday, with school children on field trips as well as tourists.

You are allowed to take photos of the palace, but do ask one of the guards nicely. My timing was just about right, when the soldiers were doing their ceremonial march. The cathedral houses a museum of religious artifacts, if I remember it correctly. As you all know, I’m not that interested in religion, so I didn’t bother to go in. I think the entrance fee is PEN10 (~PHP150), but don’t quote me on that. You will then see a pastel green building at the end of the alley on the right side of the palace. Go there.

That building is the Casa de la Literatura Peruana, which is a library/museum dealing with everything Peruvian language and literature. It also has a collection of Mario Vargas Llosa’s books, if Hispanic lit is your thing. The interior design is an attraction in itself, with stained glass displays here and there, as well as the prevalent presence of the power of words, etched on the ceilings, the floor, and even the stairs. There’s no entrance fee, and there’s a toilet inside if you need one.

After that, you have the option to either go back to the square, or head east. To the west is the palace but entry is prohibited. Again, head east and you will find yourself in yet another church, a yellow one with a fountain as the centerpiece. You will also find pigeons being fed by tourists and locals alike. This church has catacombs if you feel a bit morose. Otherwise, head farther east and you will end up at the main avenue, where you will see a bridge heading to an area called Rimac.

That zone stands out because of the hill with houses on its slopes. I think it’s possible to go all the way up there, but I didn’t know which way to go. The area is also very dusty, so it was a bit difficult to navigate. In the end, you’ll see a footbridge which serves as a good vantage point for a panoramic shot.
[LIMA] Saturdays in Lima
[LIMA] Shopping by the Pacific

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