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October 23, 2004

First post from Lima!

Hola from Lima! Lisa and I have been here almost a week now, and this is our first update. We are just being lazy (we have internet access everywhere) so we'll try to post more frequently.

The flight down here was very long. Two and a half hours to LA, four hours in LA, eight and a half to Lima, then a good 45 minutes sitting on the (hot) plane with very tired people and screaming kids waiting for immigration to make room for us. A very typical latin american experience! The problem is that the three or four daily flights from North America ALL arrive within a couple of hours of each other around midnight.

I didn't think that the flight was that bad, there were video games in the back of the seats, AND there were decent movies too, that you could start whenever you wanted. Granted, the seats were a little small for poor Alistair's legs!

Valentin and Rebecca picked us up and took us to our FULLY stocked and VERY nice apartment in downntown Miraflores (the upscale euro part of Lima). Rebecca and Valentin went all out to make us feel right at home. The fridge was full (Coke and Beer even!), there was a DVD player, the bathroom had everything we could need. It was a pretty cool way to arrive. I've posted some pictures of the apartment. Lisa is there on the roof - and the next shot is looking down from our rooftop. Besides the rooms in the pictures there is also a couple more bedrooms and a second 1/2 bathroom. You can't see the front door but it had two locks and a massive bar to put across it. It sort of feels like minimum protection when some of our neighbours have reinforced metal doors outside of their main doors (and there is another locked door to the street!).

Yeah, the security here is pretty wild, Rebecca and Valentin's house has a giant metal fence with and electric bit at the top. Also a lot of the cars here have alarms. I still feel pretty secure here, maybe I won't once I get robbed.

We are very centrally located for everything we could need. The beach shots were taken about a ten minute walk away from our street. It looks super gray and dreary - but it's a bit deceiving. It is gray, but there is no chance of rain and it is actually quite warm. The beach is cool - lots of sand and surfers. About two minutes from the apartment is the main drag in Miraflores. Lots of cafes and what not. We can easily catch a minibus from just down the block to Rebecca's (about 20 minutes away). Valentin's print shop is also on the same block as us so we can get on the internet anytime.

I'm still having some directional issues, i know that everything is very close, and we've walked to all sorts of places close to our house, but i get hopelessly lost and have no idea where we are. I think that i need to study the map. I've been running along the beach at the bottom and at the top, and the top cliffs are lined with all sorts of really neat parks. They are even building a skate park, and there's a bmx track.

Yesterday, Valentin gave Lisa and I the car and we picked Jeremy up after school. Driving here is crazy, no other word fits. I am constantly making decisions and then cringing and waiting for the screech of metal or brakes. So many close calls. It requires 100% attention, total assertiveness and aggression, intelligent usage of the size/position of the car, excess horn use, and a very quick foot on the brake (as you remove it from the floored gas pedal!). Many of the intersections where minor roads cross are uncontrolled. There are NO stop signs! Getting across alive requires slowing down a bit, looking both ways, gunning the engine and maybe a dodge. All the other drivers are of course honking their horns and flashing their highbeams - whether they are warning that they are about to kill you, or they are just happy to make it across the interection I have no idea. My current technique is to wait for a car to come up beside me, and then wait for them to go, trusting that they will take the brunt of any oncoming cars. The biggest intersection have a police officer in the middle sitting in a booth (sponsored by Inca Kola) whom everyone ignores!

Lima is a great city, mostly because there's only one letter difference between it's name and my name! The appartment is great, and i'm really keen to get a volunteer job and to learn my way around here. I love the minibuses and i already feel pretty at home in them after 2 trips. My spanish is improving. I've been trying to watch spanish soap operas, and i even watched the care bears in spanish. I hope that once i have a volunteer job i'll be able to practice even more. It's pretty cool to me that we'll be living here for a while, it's really neat to be totally immersed in a different culture. It's a lot different from just being a traveller. Ok, well today we'll be checking out another volunteer opportunity just outside of town. We'll keep you posted! Hasta luego!!!

Ok - the pictures are a bit weak I know, I will try to take some better ones...

Posted by Alistair Howard at October 23, 2004 11:08 AM


Hola Lisa! I empathise with your difficulties in navigating around central Miraflores. The first time I visited Rebecca I was constantly finding myself where I didn't expect to be - I finally drew myself a map of the major and minor thoroughfares around the apt. and was able to make sense of the streets! Chau!

Posted by: Anita at October 23, 2004 07:42 AM

Yay finally a post from Lima! That is the best picture of Jeremy! Hope you are having a blast!

Posted by: Jeanine at October 24, 2004 08:34 AM

That is the cutest little boy ever! The place looks fantastic.

Posted by: Kris at October 24, 2004 11:26 AM

I want to go to Lima again!!! Those pictures brought back lots of memories and I'm itching to get down there again!

Posted by: Sandra at October 25, 2004 10:16 AM

Get back to your books Dusty.

Posted by: you know who at October 27, 2004 03:04 AM

Allstar, make sure you drink lots of Inca Cola

It's a Coke product.

Posted by: Dusty at October 27, 2004 12:36 PM