Lima – our first South American experience

Our visa to visit USA ended and we moved on, to be more precise we went to Lima in South America. Our flight from LA took us first to the airport in Ciudad de Mexico. We waited for few hours, bought small bottle of tequila and tried some fancy pastry named Pan de Muerto (we were there just in time for Haloween). Sadly we didn’t have enough time to get out of the airport. Anyway, our connecting flight was ready and we hopped on, all the way to Lima in Peru.

Safe landing in Lima

We landed in late afternoon, and I must say, it was brand new and adventurous experience for us. Spanish signs and adverts everywhere, people speaking Spanish fast and loud. It was amazing and little scary. We practiced Spanish with Duolingo and had few lessons. Tana went to Spain for Camino adventure so she learned something there as well. But it didn’t prepare us for this experience. With our eyes wide opened, mouth mildly opened we went out. Took us a little bit of time to navigate but we got in front of the terminal building.

It was obvious that we were tourists, backpacks on our backs and fronts, hiking clothes and awe struck faces. That meant we were quite quickly accompanied by taxi drivers offering us a ride to our accommodation. We booked one upfront through Booking, we weren’t that brave at the time, to only look for a hotel when we arrive. We fended their offers off, as price seemed too high for just a 3km journey. Instead, feeling quite adventurous, we decided to walk. You know, stretch our legs and get to know the surroundings in first South American country we ever visited.

We managed to get out of the airport parking lot and to the pavement next to the Avenida Elmer Faucett. It was something new for us, tons of cars going there and back following some kind of incomprehensible rules. It felt like the louder you are the faster you can go. Car brands were also one big unknown King Long, Long King are just two of the names we noticed. After first shock, we scanned our surroundings and let me tell you, it was quite surprising. Moder glass and steel terminal on one side and dirty roads, brick walls on the opposite side. Grass areas next to the road were decorated with old military machines, everything from airplanes and helicopters to homing missiles. It was very interesting, at least for me, you know boys stuff. Tana was more dedicated to our destination and its warm bed and shower.

Hotel journey adventure

To get there, we had to cross the road, six lanes of crazy traffic. Either you use quite practical foot bridge or risk running over the street. I don’t think there were any zebra crossings and if there were, they were ignored. We took the bridge and got to the other side. It was time for boring walk along the huge walls alone in the dark. I have to say, it was little scary.

Every now and then we passed a huge gate (I think that buildings behind the walls were some storages or factories) guarded by a guy with real (and presumably) loaded gun. One wonders how rough the neighbourhood is if guy guarding the entrance is armed. But after few minutes we were getting used to it. Wall on the right, busy road on the left with occasional military artefact popping here and there. It felt much less scary.

Tana and I were getting closer to our accommodation, which meant that we had to turn from the main road and get into the jungle of small side roads. Only quick looks at the phone to check the map. We read about robbers in Lima and didn’t want to tempt them with our 3-year-old smartphones.

Both of us were little surprised, at the change of scenery as quite a few houses were in strange, semi-completed stages. Ground and first floor usually done but top looked like it was still being worked on. The other thing were small stores, strategically placed on the ground floor but covered behind bars. It didn’t look like any of the supermarkets all small stores we ever visited. Roads were getting darker, emptier and scarier, but we pushed through, there was no way we’d head back to Main Street and wave at a taxi.

How to get in?

In the end we made it safe and sound to our destination. It doesn’t add much to this adventurous blog, but I still think it’s a win. And another round of “fun” started. We knew where our hotel is, we knew its name but when we got there, there were no signs, no reception, not even a small doorbell with tiny, printed name of the accommodation.

We walked around a little, looking completely lost (as usual) and in the end entered small panaderia. There was very kind and helpful lady who tried to talk to us and help us. Tana, as a real champion, managed to ask her about the hotel. She confirmed that we are at the right place, just need to ring one doorbell (who’s name I immediately forgot) round the corner. It was a challenge, either no one was at home or we were ringing on the wrong bell.

We were probably suspicious as one lady from that entrance asked us what we want. Tana managed to tell her that we are looking for our accommodation. She passed the info through and few minutes later looked at us from the window. We were welcomed and shown around. It was a nice flat on third floor. We had our own room with shared bathroom, kitchen and dining room. We unpacked our stuff, refreshed at the sink and went out to explore the neighbourhood.

Brave explorers

Next to the building was small park and few small stores. We were hungry (especially me), so it was time to try some of the local cuisine. Panaderia was closed so we had to explore a little more.

We didn’t find anything around, so we walked further and further. I felt like little kid, exploring new neigbourhood for the first time. Unlike kid, I was still little afraid of robbers and murderers in Lima streets. We were headed towards Av. Alejandro Bartello Bollati, which was a lot livelier then the shady streets we walked through. There were some shops and restaurants along the way. But there was a small problem. Small stores behind bars expected you to ask for what you want. With our Spanish it was small problem, we needed supermarket so we can pick up stuff we wanted.

I did enjoy the atmosphere of the street, it was dirty and dusty but people looked friendly and happy. They were talking, playing and listening to musing and actually having a good time. Right before big junction was a shopping center. Big one with supermarket and fast foods. There was KFC, Pizza Hut and other international big brands but we wanted something local. That’s why we got our food from a place called Chinawok.


To my surprise local fast foods were a fusion of Chinese and Peruan cuisine. I didn’t know that at a time, but there was (some time ago) decent Chinese population working in Peru. It had impact on the food that’s available in these days. I checked the menu and had a tough time to decide. They had something called Aeropuerto – different variants. I wanted to know more and young and happy guy wanted to explain. I have to say I didn’t understand much, so Tana sorted it out.

Only thing I understood fully was that they have their own version of cola – Inca Cola. I really needed to try it. Few minutes later, we got our buckets with food and suspicious yellow cup of liquid. Our meal was tasty, although portion was smaller than what I expected. Real treat was Inca-Cola which I loved, and Tana hated. It’s yellow colour and really sweet and tutti fruity like flavour were great. With full bellies we decided to return to hotel.

In the hotel

We safely got back to hotel and were getting ready to get some rest. But first and most important thing was to take a shower. Tana and I needed to wash off all day of traveling. Plus standing under the hot water is quite reinvigorating.

Shower was quite an interesting experience. It was heated by electricity but unlike showers in the UK, there was no fancy box on the wall to do the heating. Instead, it was the showerhead was responsible for that. It felt strange to see wires, not properly insulated, going from showerhead to the wall. But I guess it’s ok, it must have been there for some time and no one complained on booking about it.

I turned on the water and waited for hot water. It took some time (quite a lot) but there was finally some lukewarm water coming down on my head. I washed my body and then decided to wash my hair as well. I must say it was very tingling experience. As I was washing shampoo off my hair I felt quite unpleasant feeling in my hands. I guess it was due to very close proximity of my body parts to the showerhead. I ducked a little to avoid electrocution and finished my shower.

Tana didn’t have that problem, so I guess it was due to my height and my intimate and almost close contact with the shower.

It was a long day. We flew few thousand miles in two different planes. Managed to avoid paying for taxi and enjoy our first walk in Lima. Ate our first South American / Chinese diner and didn’t die in the shower. I’d say it was a success, but it was time to sleep.

First night was quiet because we were alone in whole apartment. It changed next day as one Peruan lady arrived. We didn’t talk much (for obvious language barrier reasons), but I think it wasn’t a big problem as the lady spent most of the time watching tv and some interesting South American telenovelas.

Leaving Lima so soon?

Our stay in Lima was short, we needed to get to Cusco. If you ask why, answer is simple. We paid for tickets to Machu Picchu and time was running out. Because we wanted to walk Salkantay trail to get there we needed some extra time.

We spent our remaining time in Lima by visiting panderias, restaurants enjoying local cuisine and culture. Another big part of our stay was planning our way to Cusco. It was possible to go by bus or plane. For bus there were two possibilities (at least that’s what we found on the internet). Go directly east through the mountains and risk painful death on miserable roads or get robbed by bandits. The other option was to go all the way around, first south almost to the southern border of the country and then turn north to Cusco. That would take days, so it wasn’t really viable option.

In the end we decided to fly, which was relatively cheap and fast. We chose the cheapest option, but for the love of God I can’t remember which company it was. Tana was booking the tickets and I can’t find them anywhere. My guess is that it was some South American company, maybe Latam.

Back to the aiport

Long story short, we packed our staff, told our land lady muchas gracias and adios and that we’ll be leaving at 5 in the morning to catch a plane from Lima airport. We planned to walk there again (it would be much easier this time, because we knew the way). But our land lady offered help of her husband, who, she said, had a nice car and could take us there. We agreed, with even more gracias and went to bed.

Alarm woke us up, we picked our backpacks, cleaned up the room and went out, where our driver waited for us. I must say, journey by car was much faster than walking. He asked us for 10 pesos for entry fee at the airport, which we hastily searched for. We departed car and were asked for additional 40 pesos. That was quite unexpected, because we were not told about it before. There was no point to argue, so we opened our wallets again and were on our way to catch the plane.

Plane was one of the smallest Boings I ever saw in my life. It was even smaller than planes flying between Czech Republic and UK. It also looked like it remembered better days and was probably older than we were. But it did it’s job and got us safely from Lima all the way and up to Cusco.

Last note – there are not many pictures in this post. That’s partially due to my stupidity and roberry. I didn’t back up my phone and lost lot of pictuers when my phone was stolen some time later in La Paz in Bolivia. Tana didn’t take many pictures either so you depend on your imagination and my ability to describe what we saw.