Lima, Peru – Civilization and Good Coffee
June 14, 2014 – June 17, 2014
After our ten day trek and nearly two weeks in the small mountain town of Huaraz we were finally on our way to civilization. After taking night buses virtually the entire way since Quito, we wanted to take a day bus. It was a nine hour bus ride to Lima, the views were amazing, though if you are afraid of heights a night bus might be better as the steep cliffs along the side of the road and the little shrines and crosses alongside the road to the dead were fairly constant. The most interesting stretch was just a little ways north of Lima on the coast. Somehow they built a highway that clung precariously to the side of the most vertical sand dunes we had ever seen, and we looked out the window almost straight down to the Pacific ocean easily 300 feet below. After being in the mountains for so long we were both pretty excited to be heading back towards real civilization. I define ‘real’ civilization as any city with a Starbucks…obviously.
We stayed in the Miraflores neighborhood, which is the nicest, safest and most modern neighborhood of Lima. Situated right next to the ocean with tons of condominium towers, restaurants, coffee shops and malls. We found a hostel near the water and even a bit of a view of the ocean from our window. Though the water is actually nearly impossible to see because of the natural foggy haze which lingers for much of the year.
Our first order of business the next morning was to explore Miraflores on foot and head directly to the nearest Starbucks! Lima is the first city on our trip to have one, and even though I have been Starbucks free for months I found myself running to reattach the ball and chain. You can debate whether they have good coffee or not, but compared to the horrible instant coffee served all over South America, I was ready for some real coffee. Lima actually has several and they all look the same as every other Starbucks in the world, with a couple notable differences . First there is an armed guard at the door, most upscale businesses in Miraflores seem to, and secondly there is no cream sitting out! You have to ask for milk, and only milk that’s all they have, and they will pour you a small splash.
After coffee near Parque Kennedy, we explored down to the beach in a shopping area called Larco Mar, in Miraflores and watched paragliders sailing effortlessly along the breezy steep ocean cliffs. There doesn’t seem to be any regulations as they were sailing dangerously close to the cliffs, people and between and around the buildings. Exciting to watch but also dangerous when the winds shifted and they would get very close to various unforgiving objects.
We then walked to the Parque del Amor (lovers park) and watched even more paragliders.
Lima was also originally the site of a large pre-Incan city, Huaca Pucllana, and the ruins are still visible right in the middle of Miraflores.
The next day we took a trip down to the old downtown Lima to take in the Plaza de Armas, government buildings and some old ruins of the original walls that surrounded the city, which were built by the Spanish to keep out the battle prone Inca’s. We also toured the San Francisco Monastery and their ancient maze of catacombs which were filled with thousands of bones.
We also visited the Museo Larco, which turned out to be the coolest museum we have so far visited in South America. The outside is nicely landscaped with beautiful terraces of flowers. Inside you will find literally tens of thousands of pieces of high quality pre-Incan ceramics. This museum is a must visit for anyone thinking of visiting Lima.
There is also a collection of erotic pottery.
Our few days in Lima was very relaxing and big change from our time in the mountains. Lima, especially the Miraflores neighborhood, is the nicest and most modern large city we have visited so far.