10 Aug Lima: The First Few Days
Written by Whitney Greves, 2015 Peru: Amazon Adventure
¡Hola amigos! After 5 amazing packed days in Peru’s capital city, this OG group has learned a lot, seen many of Lima’s sights, and crossed a few items off our bucket lists. This week definitely has our whole group saying, “We love Lima!”
Our home base was Casa de Mochelero, a family-run hostel located within the Miraflores district. The house’s residents, Pelar and Juan, are amazing hosts – friendly, tidy, organized, and so sweet. They definitely helped ease us into the new culture. Two other memorable guests include guitar guy (AKA Ecuador) and Martina. Make sure to ask about them when you see whoever it is you know! The hostel is in a wonderful location with short walks from the beach, the outdoor market, and the bakery. We spend a lot of time in the hostel eating, sleeping, and bonding, so it was important that it turned out to be such a great place.
Another place we spent a lot of time at was Peruwana, a school we attended every morning for 3 hours, learning or brushing up on our Spanish skills. It’s a lovely organization with skilled teachers, AND we all received kick-ass certificates on the last day. Gaby and Ky have a significant advantage on everyone else with their background in the Spanish language. For the rest of us, Spanish lesson número uno occurred outside the airport shortly after arriving, with our group leaders Lies and Liam showing us how to politely tell (or yell) “¡No, gracias!” to the hordes of taxi drivers waiting outside the main doors.
In general, the traffic and means of movement have been a large change from home. We rode in taxis, van-sized mini buses that can fit 20 people, and huge buses stuffed with bodies. The innumerable drivers on the road are smart, aggressive, precise… and they never follow any rules of the road. Very fun! Our OG group also got very good at walking around the city – it required keeping an eye open at all times, both to watch out for traffic and for the many sights to be seen in this bustling city.
Of course, with all this travelling, we were able to see and do so many things! We walked the beach cliffs of Lima, biked by pyramids and ruins three times older than Machu Picchu, and explored the Museum of Anthropology, Archeology, and History, where we learned about the numerous civilizations which populated this area throughout time. The group explored catacombs below the monastery of San Francisco, where countless pits, up to 15 meters deep, are filled with human remains. On a lighter side, we also relaxed in numerous parks. Two memorable locations were San Martin Square, home of the llama crowned Lady Liberty, and Parque Seite de Julio, locally known as Parque de Gato (Cat Park for of all you non-Spanish-speaking people out there). On one of our last evenings in the city we were able to learn salsa and pachata dancing, and the entire group checked out a few local clubs that night to practice our moves. We truly are a group of natural-born salsa champs.
Another cultural experience we are slowly learning about is the local diet. Many of us have sampled cervesa, chicha morada, and ceviche. Everyone has had churros, and we ALL fell in love!
Out of everything we have done so far, the favorite for many was Casa Juvenie Pachacute. This circus school was founded in the last ten years by member of the shantytown community of Pachacute. At Casa Juvenie Pachacute’s building, kids can hang out, learning amazing circus skills, form friendships, gain confidence, collect life lessons, and start to see more in themselves and the people around them. Many of our OG members were blown away by how wonderful the group leaders are – their hospitality, skills demonstrations, attitude, and ability to welcome complete strangers into their lives was 100% first rate. For many of us, this experience was completely out of our comfort zone, challenged various stereotypes, and was so rewarding on many levels.
With this experience, and the whole trip so far, the real value has come from the new experiences, the lessons we have learned, and the great bonds we are forming. Lies and Liam have been patient teachers guiding us towards leaning how to travel respectfully, responsible and sustainable in a culture so different from our norms. Of course, it helps that they are a lot of fun to be around, as is the whole OG group. We are looking forward to the rest of the trip and all the experiences it will bring! Of course, we also send our love home from here in the southern hemisphere. See you soon!