I felt a sense of sadness upon arriving in Lima, the capital of Peru. This would be the final Latin American stop of our trip. Eight months of travelling had almost come to an end. The flights home had been booked months ago, but only now was the realisation starting to sink in.
However, it was as if Lima had realised my sadness and decided to cheer me up a little. Our hotel, based on the outskirts of Miraflores, didn't have a great deal going for it but it was opposite one of the stations of a new bus route straight into the centre of Lima, called the Metropolitana. And in no hurry to recoup any costs, they hadn't even started charging people to use it yet. So we hopped on. How very kind of them.
Back in Miraflores for the evening, we indulged in some heavy eating at a North American-style bar and grill which left us barely capable of walking. The area down by the sea-front is a large complex built into the side of the cliffs, and is a perfect place to watch the sunset over a cocktail - or a huge steak in our case! It is a slice of modern living that I suspect only the top end of society in Peru could afford, and it seems a million miles away from the mountain villages we visited just weeks before. But nonetheless it made for a fantastic final evening on the South American continent.
Owing to what I can only assume is past experience, the general consensus is that tourists should take a cab to the airport. Not only that, but a recognised and registered one. And if you do just pick one from the street, memorise its number in case you get into bother. The trouble is that a cab to the airport costs about $25 to $30 USD, and it's really not all that far. Our hotel wanted about $40USD to shuttle us there. No, we'd rather run the gauntlet instead. What's wrong with little drama to end the travels anyway?
You can get to the airport for far less by taking a collectivo (minivan/bus thing) that follows a certain route and gets you to within a few blocks. So this is what we did. Bright and early on a Sunday morning we waited on a street corner with our back-packs until the right numbered van came along. It would cost all of about a dollar between us doing it this way. I had a rough idea of which direction the airport was in, but not long after making a left turn here and right turn there, I had no idea where we were. The van continued to drop off people and pick-up new ones as we headed out of one district and into another. It wasn't long before I started to play out nasty scenarios in my head. For each person we picked up I made a two second character evaluation in my head. Was this going to be the guy who would hold up the van and make off with everything we own? What would I do in such a scenario? I couldn't get mugged on the very last morning now could I? My only comforting thought was that it was Sunday morning and I'm quite sure that criminals like a lie-in!
We took a cab with him and found that the four blocks were very long and very, well, dodgy. The local man had feared for our safety and rightly so. The taxi driver charged us a little too much for this five minute journey, but we had made it to the airport in one piece and with all our belongings, toy llamas and all!
Country Notes and Tales From Travellers
10 months ago