SO…. I have to say it’s been SO NICE to spend so much time TAKING IT EASY! Like I mentioned in my previous post, the past few weeks has been GO GO GO GO GO!!! So it was nice to spend most of the morning on my second day in Lima sleeping, napping, watching TV from bed, and catching up on some personal things on the computer. I know what you are thinking—but she’s in LIMA!??—Why is she spending SO much time inside!? *GASP!* WELL, I DO want to get over my sickness, so REST is a huge part of that equation . . . and plus, there really isn’t a whole lot to do in Lima anyway so I don’t feel so bad. In addition, watching TV shows in English with Spanish subtitles is a HUGE help to my Spanish vocabulary!!
I forgot to mention—when I arrived on Thursday after an exhausting 12 hours of travel, then spent the day sleeping and lounging around, I DID actually end up going out for dinner that night. It was pretty awesome, actually—I was in the common area at my hostel/B&B and struck up a conversation with a nice couple, Joe and Crysalis from New York, that were staying there, too. They invited me to join them for dinner and the three of us ventured out to a very nice Peruvian-Japanese restaurant nearby in the Miraflores area we are staying. There I got to try two things that are a MUST-HAVE when traveling
to Peru: Ceviche and a Pisco Sour drink. Ceviche is a dish made from fresh raw fish that is marinated in citrus juices, and is often accompanied by red onions, sweet potato, corn, and other side dishes . . . it is most popular in Central and South America, and the greatest varieties of Ceviche can be found in Peru, Ecuador, and Chile. I’m not a HUGE fan of raw fish, but I have to say it was DELISH! A Pisco sour is a special drink native to Peru. It contains the alcohol, pisco (which is said to be made from grapes, but I think it’s somewhat similar to Tequila but sweeter), lime juice, egg white, syrup, and bitters. It’s definitely a STRONG drink that doesn’t actually taste that strong while you are actually drinking it . . .
Friday (Sept 2nd) I got out and ventured around town. My hostel/B&B is in the nicer and safer area of Lima called Miraflores. It’s a nice town, but I still haven’t been very impressed with Lima in general so far.
Some interesting observations I have made from my day around Miraflores:
1. There are stray cats EVERYWHERE!! I watched as a man opened up a bag of chips on a park bench, and four different cats scurried out from hiding and surrounded the man like seagulls, waiting for crumbs to drop, or to be lucky enough to be hand-fed.
2. There are uniformed police officers all over the roads. Some are dressed in lighter blue and are “local” Miraflores officers, others are dressed in darker navy and are officers that cover a wider area. It’s interesting how much police presence there was in the city, but I guess for me that’s good because it makes me feel more safe!
3. To get the best exchange rate (for your money), there are actually uniformed officials who will take your US dollars in exchange for the local currency in Peru—Soles. You actually will get a better rate from these people compared to what the bank will get you, withdrawing money from an ATM. SO, instead of withdrawing soles from an ATM, I was instructed to withdraw US dollars from the ATM (which is UNHEARD of in any other country I’ve traveled to in the past), and take the USD to the men on the street for exchange. How WEIRD to see these people hanging on the street with literally WADS of hundreds–or thousands–of dollars in their hands! Only problem? They only take PRISTINE US dollars. No tears, no torn edges . . . I had $100 USD I brought from home that I was trying to exchange and I was turned down because, “Estan roto” (they are ‘broken’/ripped)! Fortunately, I found another person who would accept my money without really looking at the bills and he gave me $275 soles for my $100 USD.
4. This city has a LOT of American companies! I found it to be weird and kind of ANNOYING . . . there were the “typical” fast food companies I’ve seen in some other foreign cities around the world: McDonalds, KFC, Burger King . . . but I also saw Dunkin Donuts, Pinkberry, Payless Shoes, Ruby Tuesdays, TGIFridays and Gold’s Gym! Huh?? Where am I?
I ended off the night out to dinner with an Argentinean girl from my hostel . . . she spoke English to me—so she could practice her English—and I spoke Spanish to her so I could practice mine! We found it hard to find a place to eat, as she couldn’t afford to spend more than FIVE SOLES!—which was the equivalent of about $1.70 US Dollars! HUH?? She said the exchange rate was bad, and that things in Peru costs four times the amount than in Argentina. I couldn’t believe it! After walking the streets FOREVER, not finding anything that cheap, I convinced her to allow me to pay for part of her meal because I just enjoyed her company AND WANTED TO EAT and I explained how much more expensive it was for me in Los Angeles, and that an extra $1.70 USD wasn’t a big deal to me. We finally sat down and ate our $9 Soles sandwiches together and chatted about our lives.
SO interesting to learn about people from other countries . . . and is nice to have somebody to practice Spanish with!