Saturday, 20 June 2009

... Peru: Cuidado La Cabeza

I was up, out the door and raring to go by 1015hrs.  Oh OK... I was up & out of the door by 1015... raring to go once I'd stepped next door to Starbucks for an Americano. I even ordered it with leche desnatada... woo hoo! 

I crossed Parque Central to wait for a C5 bus to head to downtown Lima.  I'm not really sure how I managed it... a lot of poorly spoken & broken French with something Spanish sounding tacked onto the end and being taken pity on by an Acting teacher most probably. The buses are basically overcrowded minivans but they do the job and very cheaply.  From Larco to Tacna it cost me S/ 1 and then I walked to Plaza San Martin before heading north on Jiron de la Union (pedestrianized) to Plaza de Armas.  This is home to Palacio de Gobierno (1937) and La Catedral de Lima.  The former I was lucky to be stood in front of whilst there was a changing of the guard at noon.  After watching this for a little while, I went to the latter and paid S/ 10 to walk around the impressive building home to a beautifully carved choir and the remains of Francisco Pizarro, the founder of Lima.  Note: you can only take flashless photos.

Museo del Convento de San Francisco came highly recommend by my Lonely Planet guidebook probably because it is famous for its "catacumbas".  It is said that this 16th Century monastery & church is the site of over 70,000 burials.  The bone-filled crypts are a litle unnerving namely because the conservationists decided to rearrange the skulls and femurs into rings of concentric circles?!?!   I'm not even sure why they mainly kept these particular bone fragments either but it makes one wonder why there were signs everywhere stating "watch your head". Other highlights included a library with over 20,000 books (some dating back to the conquistadors), an organ with over 1000 pipes that still works and a painting of Jesus & the Disciples that has the Devil painted in behind Judas (or better still look inbetween person #2 & #3 to the right of Jesus).  S/ 5 gets you admission with a guided tour in English or Spanish but unfortunately there are no photos or video recording allowed.  If I tell you I didn't notice the umpteen signs stating this until the end after I'd got some sneaky shots will you believe me? *avoids eye contact* I'll take the 5th amendment...

It was by this time that I realised a). I hadn't yet eaten today and b). my leg was shaking. I am attributing the latter to the fact I didn't bother asking for a decaf at Starbucks.  I broke out into a sweat asking for a grande americano with non fat milk nevermind getting even more technical. With food on my mind and preferring to be in my stomach I sought out L'Eau Vive restaurant where the menu is prepared & served by.... NUNS! It's a little hard to find so look for a colonial style house on Ucayali at Azangaro just down the road from Iglesia de San Pedro.  The food was great and the service top notch. I had spinach soup & a Brazilian Salad for about S/ 24.  Hit the spot!  Even better was when the Nuns all came out to sing "Happy Birthday" to some bloke eating his lunch.  Apparently they do a beautiful rendition of Ave Maria around 2100hrs.

One great thing about the buses are they all have their destinations written along the side.   This made my attempt at getting back to Miraflores a successful one despite the fact that for a little while I thought "Crap... this is the wrong bus".  Oh well, at least I wouldn't have starved as every so often street vendors jump on to sell a variety of food of dubious nutritional value. 

As I sit here typing I've made a friend. A little ginger cat that I think lives here at the hostel. I am calling him Pedro all whilst assuming he is indeed a he.  Cute little thing if not somewhat cheeky and reminds me of my Gracie. I'm going to start thinking about dinner (ceviche is sounding good) and then it's going to be an early night as I have a 0500hr start in the morning for my daytrip to see the Nazca lines.

Buenos tardes!

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