The tube of toothpaste we bought in Argentina is almost gone, but we manage to keep squeezing out a little more each night. In the same manner, we are doing as much as we can with the last few days in Peru. We got to Lex Luthor’s House in Lima on Wednesday, after what we all knew was The Last Bus Of The Trip. (Well, the city busses don’t count; if you want, this was the Last Bus From One Place To Another With All Our Stuff.) This is the hostel where we first stayed in January, and the place where we landed three weeks later after the crash near Huancavelica. Luis (the owner) and Victor (the taxi driver who helped us through much of the insurance maze) are here, we have run into a number of people we met back in January and February, and we also have our friend Dylan – who we met a few weeks ago in Arequipa – at the hostel as well. Also, the people at the nearby store and the laundromat remember us and are friendly.
Yesterday the four of us and Dylan took a city bus into the center of Lima, about four miles away. The bus ride was great, with Zeke sitting next to a friendly grandmother who sprinkled us with well-wishes and candy. On the radio were great songs of my teenage years, like, in short succession (sorry in advance if this doesn’t mean anything to you) I Ran, Major Tom (the Peter Schilling song with the German version on the B-side), and Close to You by the Cure. I had all these songs on 45 or cassette, and hearing them on a bus in Peru takes me right to in my bedroom in Greentown. Aaah. Meanwhile, on the bus, the grandmother keeps talking about how nice the kids are, how good that we are here, and guys keep getting on the bus selling pens or small sewing kits. On the return journey is a guy selling candy to support his church’s outreach efforts, and later another guy playing the recorder.
We get off near the center of Lima, and very soon stop at a stand on the sidewalk to buy churros, small fried dough bits with sugar on them. Then Leticia wants to introduce Dylan to pacay, which looks like a green bean, except that it is about two feet long and two inches wide. You open it up and, instead of beans, there are about 10 cottony-looking seeds, which you can pop in your mouth and eat. They are sweet, and after some enjoying you are left with a seed the size of a lima bean, which you can use to impress your kids by spitting it into a trash can as you walk by. (My favorite fruit of the trip, though, is granadilla, a hard orange fruit that, when you open it, has green gloopy fruit with crunchy seeds inside. Sooooo good.) We make it to the Palacio de Gobierno in time for the noon changing of the guard, after which the military band comes to the front of the gate and plays three or four songs, more danceable than anything a military band in the States would play. Then to a restaurant that has a menu del dia (the lunch special) with soup, beef, rice, and split peas for the kids, and arroz al cubano (fried egg and fried plantain with rice) for me. We ordered more split peas to go with the rice, and had a good lunch for four of us for 14 soles, or about $5.20. We visited a monastery with catacombs below and a few stores with artesanias and found a bus home, getting off when traffic got bad enough that we felt we could walk home faster. A good outing, and more fun with Dylan along.
Today we spent the morning in Chorrillos, a neighborhood to the south of Miraflores. Today was the festival of saints Peter and Paul, and Peter is the patron saint of fisherman, and Chorrillos was historically a fishing village, so there is a huge parade and street festival. The parade had tons of marching bands, unions of fishermen, members of government and military, the tai chi club (elderly ladies in track suits), lots of mototaxis, and, thankfully, not a single fire engine blaring its siren. We walked back along the ocean.
One more enjoyable thing about our return to Lima is that Anna and Zeke are in such better walking shape (and no one is sick or hurt), so that places that were too far to walk in January now seem fairly close. I am a counter, and so I can tell you that this is day 179 of our 182 days in South America. It still is hard to grasp, that after bus rides of 12, 15, or 22 hours that only get us from one part of a country to another, a 10 hour flight will get us all the way to Newark. In that sense (and in our experience), Newark is closer to Lima than Huancavelica, Arequipa, or Cusco are.