We left Santiago about 3am to go to the Airport, and flew at 6am to Lima, the capital city of Peru. We had always planned to go to Peru on this trip, but we had considered going to Cusco and Machu Pichu, unfortunately we had missed the chance to book the trek, and probably didn’t have the right gear with us to do it anyway, so we just had to settle for a few days in Lima, as a stop between South America and Mexico.
We landed in Lima around 8am, and went straight to the city centre to our hostel. We knew nothing about Lima really as a city, but I knew it was one of the biggest cities in South America, I was a little confused when on the drive to the city, we hardly saw another car.
We had been told by the information desk in the airport that it was a census day for Peru today, but we should still find places open, we dropped our bags off and went for a walk and quickly found out that wasn’t the case.
We had managed to arrive in Peru, a country where we only had three days to see the capital city, on the one day every five years that they hold a national census and the whole country has to stay at home between 8am and 5pm. It was one of the spookiest sights we have ever seen, a huge city with shops, supermarkets, restaurants, fast food and cafes lining every street, but every single one of them was closed.
The 24-hour McDonalds was closed, the big supermarket was closed, the roads didn’t have single car driving on them, the central Miraflores park didn’t have a person in it, there was just local security guards in the street, but nobody else. Even tourists were under the impression they weren’t allowed out, which wasn’t true, but the locals had to stay at home regardless.
We’d not eaten yet today, and had no chance of buying anything until after 5pm, so we just wandered around looking at this strange city and then sat in the Hostel chatting until the evening. We luckily did manage to find a small pharmacy open where we bought some crackers and some water to get us through until the evening.
After the curfew ended, we went out, sat outside a chain restaurant waiting with plenty of locals, for the staff to arrive so that they could open, we ate some nice Mexican food, had a few beers, then walked around the city at night to find it a completely different place.
The cafes and restaurants were now open, the Park was bustling with people, music and food, the supermarkets were packed with people buying food and drink, Lima was a great city.
The next day we went down to the historic centre, people are told that the historic centre of Lima is nice and perfectly safe during the day but not to go at night, it was a stunning city centre with grand buildings, palaces and museums, and thousands of tourists on tour groups or just walking around independently.
We stopped in a locals cafe and had a two-course lunch with a drink for £2 each, follow by a Pisco Sour (the national cocktail) in a small bar next door for £1 each.
We were staying in the Miraflores district, which is the safest and easiest district for tourists here, it’s like a mini ex-pat town inside a city, it even has its own local Miraflores police on the streets that no other Lima district has.
That does mean though, that it is super touristy and prices are inflated, so at night we were going down to Barranco, another nightlife district that was a short taxi ride away, but had great restaurants and bars for a fraction of the cost of the ones in Miraflores.
We were absolutely loving the food, drink and people of Peru already, we asked ourselves over and over again why we had only given ourselves three days here.
Unfortunately, on our second day, Stac was having some pain, and thought she might need to see a Doctor, we waited until the next morning but then decided we needed to get her looked at today. We contacted our travel insurance, who took two hours to get back to us to say that they haven’t got a clue what we should do, because they don’t know a single reputable Doctor or Hospital in Peru, not even in the capital city. Insurance companies are useless aren’t they.
I went on the internet, and in ten minutes I had found a private women’s hospital in Lima, across the city, then the guy at the guest house, phoned and booked us an appointment for that afternoon. The insurance company had given us all sorts of rules to follow to claim the money back and that we should pay the first £100 of any costs as an excess.
We went to the hospital by taxi, Stac saw the Gynaecologist immediately, had a scan, had done what was needed, and it was all sorted within thirty minutes and cost us only £50 to pay there in cash. This hospital was cleaner and nicer than we have in England, with a Peruvian Doctor that spoke English, and was all sorted immediately, we’re both glad that if either of us had a problem on this trip, that it was in Lima, the service was fantastic.
Unfortunately, it had meant, in our three days in Lima, we spent the whole first day inside because everything was closed, and the last day dealing with hospitals and the travel insurance company.
Despite this, we had a great time in Lima, the people we met are friendly, the food is fantastic, and it’s a great city to explore in the day and at night. We both can’t wait to come back one day to see more of Peru.
Now it’s time for Mexico, and the capital, Mexico City, is first…