Posted tagged ‘Lima’

“You don’t need magic to disappear, all you need is a destination and a great hostel!”

July 21, 2016

Yesterday was the perfect day: sunny, warm and dry. A breeze from the south kept my house cool. It will be warmer today, but this room, in the back of the house, is still dark and cool. I’m going to be out on the deck today with a good book and a cold drink. My outside table is perfectly shaded by branches from the scrub oak. Gracie lies in the shade at the right angle formed by two sides of the deck. She sleeps deeply and sometimes even snores.

When I was teaching, I was usually traveling in July and August. I was one of those backpackers who slept in hostels, on overnight buses and sometimes in parks. I bought bread, peanut butter and jam and ate sandwiches to save money. Sometimes I bought a cooked chicken and tomatoes for a fancy dinner sandwich. I had a Go Europe guidebook which listed free food at happy hours. I’d nurse a drink and eat my fill. Overnight train travel was my favorite route between two places. Sometimes I’d just buy a seat and try to get comfortable enough to sleep, but a couple of times I bought a couchette and was able to stretch out on a mattress and sleep.

Traveling in Europe was a huge adventure for me. I got to see all the places I’d only read or dreamed about. One summer it was five weeks in England, Scotland and Ireland. Another summer it was six weeks traveling in Finland, Russia, Denmark, The Netherlands and England. The big trip was eight weeks in South America. I landed in Caracas and left from Rio. In between, I traveled from country to country by bus, car and planes. The best plane ride was over the Andes from Lima to Cusco. I saw the shadow of my plane on the mountain tops covered in snow. In those days few Americans traveled in South America. We met only one other in Paraguay who asked to join us at an outdoor cafe. He had heard us speaking English. He was the head of Pan American Airlines in South America and was on his farewell tour of Pan Am offices before his retirement. He told some great stories including one about Eisenhower visiting South American and having to extend runways for his plane. I think that trip was my all-time favorite.

Eight weeks from now I’ll be in Ghana.

“!Ama Sua, Ama Kjella, Ama Lllulla!”

July 31, 2012

If I were given the power to create a morning, it would be just like this morning. The air is cool, the sun bright and the breeze strong enough to rustle leaves. Everything is quiet. All the animals are asleep: Fern and Maddie are on my bed and Gracie is in her crate. All I hear are the leaves sounding a bit like the ocean coming to shore.

I have saved all my errands for today: four stops of errands. I figure if I have to waste time going from place to place I might as well waste a single day.

When I left you last, I was on my way into Peru.

After we went through all the border stations, we took a bus to Lima. The trip was about 600 miles down the coast of Peru straight through to Lima, but when you travel, it doesn’t always happen the way it’s planned. The bus broke down two hours into the trip. We got off and sat in the sand. All along the coast of Peru, the land is like a giant desert with cities and towns popping up out of the sand as if they were oases. The bus chose to break down in nowhere land. We had food and water and books to while away the time, but we didn’t expect to be waiting so long until we were off again. The driver and his mate tried to fix the bus-nothing doing. The mate hooked a ride back to Lima. We waited. About three or four hours later the new bus arrived. We had waited about five hours, eaten all our food and finished the water. We grabbed our backpacks, bordered the bus and fell asleep. It was dark when I woke up. That was the best part of the ride. All around us outside the windows was nothing but blackness until the bus happened up on a town or city. Each lit up the night like a tiny Las Vegas. It was quite late or quite early, depending upon your perspective, when we arrived in Lima. We took a taxi to the hotel and promptly fell asleep, clothes and all.

The nest day we walked all around Lima. At the Plaza de Armas, where Pizarro founded the city, we went into the magnificent cathedral and walked around the government palace. Those buildings were spectacular as were the windowed, ornate carved wooden balconies on the outsides of the buildings. What was less spectacular were the tanks and armed soldiers ringing the central plaza. Lima had had a strike and there was now a 9 o’clock curfew, and the show of arms was to maintain that curfew. We just walked by and kept touring. It provoked interest in us, not fear. I hadn’t ever been where the military was out in such force, not even during my trip to Russia.

I think we walked miles and miles over the next few days. The curfew was raised to midnight while we were there. We didn’t stay out that late anyway. After dinner we went back to the hotel where we watched the Olympics. The narration was in Spanish, but it was still easy to follow. It was Nadia Comaneci we managed to see while sitting in that small TV room in a hotel in Lima. One day we rode out to see Incan ruins about 20 miles or so outside of the city. They were right on the water. The ruins were still being dug so we got to see work in progress. We walked down and in some of the buildings, none of which had a roof. The buildings were the color of the sand.

We flew out of Lima a few days later to Cuzco, which had been at one time the capital of the Incan empire. The plane flew over the Andes, and we were so close to the mountains I could see the shadow of the plane as it passed over the snow-capped endless Andes peaks. We had been warned to take it easy at first in Cuzco as it is almost 11,000 feet in elevation. I figured I’d throw up once every morning and be fine. That’s exactly what happened.

It was outside of Cuzco where I first saw llamas all along on the roads and in the rocky fields. I watched girls using hand looms which looked like spinning tops. The hats had changed. Many were now mostly red brimmed and looked like small Mexican sombreros. Others resembled fedoras but with a tall center. The women’s clothes were still bright and beautiful. Some men wore wool caps which also covered their ears. There were patterns knitted on the hats and even llamas. We went out to Sacsayhuaman, an Inca ruin close to the city. It was magnificent. I couldn’t begin to imagine the feat necessary to lift those stones  then add one to another to build the walls. From the top part of the ruins, we could see Cuzco spread out below us. On another trip we went to Ollantaytambo, a couple of hours out of Cuzco. The town is built on Incan foundations, and the ruins were amazing. I learned how to recognize Incan construction, especially doors and windows. I am a lover of windows and take pictures of them everywhere. It is my way of seeing the past and remembering those long ago people who looked out the same windows and thought how beautiful.

Tomorrow we’re going to Macchu Picchu.