Well, TACA misplaced my suitcase (but not the bike. Go figure.) Not only mine, but those of about twenty people. And by the time I realized it wasn’t showing up, I was at the back of the line, so it took 2 1/2 hours to clear customs; fortunately Lon was still there when I finally got out. Even before that, I had set my alarm wrong, so I was awakened from blissful slumber by Alissa’s call from the lobby ten minutes before I was supposed to leave! (isn’t that great? After being up till three, she got up at five in the morning to come and give me a hug!) The hotel in Lima is in an outlying neighborhood on a six lane road. Very Pac Tour. So my first experience of Lima was going to the big shopping center, Plaza San Miguel, to buy some underwear and a shirt at the Peruvian analog to Macy’s. This center was full of US franchises. It did not feel like a foreign country.
All that done I got a cab and went to the Plaza Mayor, the historic heart of downtown Lima. I am gonna have to withhold judgement on this city, but after La Paz I feel like I’ve been dropped in Houston or somewhere equally soul-less. Nice churches, catacombs, museum and convent and massive amounts of retail, right in your face. Wall to wall people, though. Lima is a much more mature city than La Paz, but much more about commerce. Feels like a city of the world. When we’re back for a day next week I’ll go out to one of the cooler neighborhoods, Miraflores, to try and round out my judgement. But I did experience the taxi market, or microeconomics 101. After a 15 soles trip downtown, I was rejected by five taxis until I bid the price up adequately to get me back to the hotel. 35 soles. And back at San Miguel it was like Disneyland. The plaza was packed, the Vegas-worthy neon across the street was flashing madly, and the massive (a full city block) health club on the second floor of the neighboring building seemed to be in full swing. More than ready to leave town, though.
From the top:
Detail of woodwork in the choir at Lima Cathedral
Closed off shopping street to downtown Lima
Cathedral at night
One building’s worth of garish display.