“… move forward – with all of your fear, all your pain and all your subtle hesitations.”
Cray Cray Drivers
Yes, it’s true – everything I read and heard about the craziness of drivers in Lima are true. Barely 30 seconds after exiting the airport, I witnessed my first vehicle accident in Lima; a tourist bus tenderly touched a sedan and took with it the sedan’s side mirror.
Crossing the roads are challenging, I tend to follow others, safety in numbers? Then the day came where I crossed the road with confidence, the drivers slow down (they don’t intentionally try to kill me), they do honk when they have no intention of slowing down. In Miraflores, the streets are running diagonal; when I thought I’m still on the same road, I’m not – constantly check the street’s name. Aussies: remember they drive on the other side and pedestrians need to look the other way.
I thought being in the centre of Miraflores, Parque Kennedy, I would easily find a city map – a big misassumption!
They said the best way to experience a city is to get lost in it. I had unintentionally walked around without a map (not because I was comfortable with the streets and felt like a local) but I was walking from Miraflores to Larcomar because that’s where the Tourist Information Centre is, and they are the only one supplying city maps. Twenty five minutes trip that became almost an hour when I took a longer route plus I was lost a few times.
There was a stairway under the bridge to avoid the main highway and there was a stairway to the coast line/beaches. That was a good exercise when a kind security guard told me to go back up and use the other stairway. He was apologetic – that’s nice.
Those security guards in blue jackets, are they security guards? I will attempt a better Google investigation later – my quick search yielded nothing. They are everywhere around Miraflores – I feel safe. Barely understanding their fast Spanish, three important words: derecho, izquierda, derecha; but hand gestures really helped, how else would I understand, “over the clift”, “under the bridge”, “around the road curve”?
While it is not blue water and yellow sand – (I miss Sydney) – the long-stretched coast line with beaches as far as eye can see surrounded by mighty high cliffs was sure to impress me.
I do somewhat feel at home here – Sydney on steroids, Jakarta’s traffic, Surabaya’s roads, Kuala Lumpur’s highway and Singapore’s obsession with cleanliness.
Bike lanes, bikes for hire – I may have to be brave and try.
I can definitely live here but yes it will be another major city; the craziness I was trying to temporarily escape from.
Stand-Up-Paddleboarding. Who would have thought that a SUP lesson turned into a motivational session. The instructor was not wrong – I need to shake off the doubts and grab the confidence.
In SUP and in life:
- Stand straight, stand tall – be confident – or I will fall
- Keep my mind clear, the moment doubts creep in, I fall
- Keep my mind focused, the moment it wanders, I fall
- Keep paddling, keep paddling – the moment I stop paddling, I fall
- After the first fall, the worst has happened, so keep trying
- The next time I fall, I know I can get up – I’ve been here before – so get up!
- The board is leashed to my ankle & the instructor is nearby
- Lay on the board, kneel on the board, then stand-up – one phase at a time
- The next time I try to stand, get-up faster, and then faster again
- When the wave comes from the right, press my right foot down
- When the wave comes from the left, press my left foot down
- Strong foundation keeps me floating
- Heading to the right, paddle from the left
- Heading to the left, paddle from the right (sometimes things may not make sense, but it does)
- To move forward, the entire blade of the paddle must be in the water
- Keep the balance, keep floating, keep paddling, keep moving
- Let go… and that’s when I truly stand-up, paddling, enjoying the ocean – JOY!
SUP – day 2
I graduated from 10’6″ board to 9’5″ board, and eventually I was forced to not use the leash. My instructor thought I was ready to be on the board without a leash, for 5 minutes I begged for the leash, and I went into the water without a leash – guess what! I was fine. This was a battle of the mind.
Using the smaller board is going back to the beginning, I started to fall again, getting my balance right, fall over, less room, I would fall straight into the water rather than on the board first – fall, again and again. I like the comforts life generally offers. I just have to take the next challenge, try again, fall again, succeed again – life only gets better.
Since I don’t know how to say “skim-milk” or do they even serve it here in Lima? Knowing that I can run back to my Airbnb apartment in less than 10 minutes, I took a risk and ordered a latte. I’m glad to report that after a few hours, I was ok.
In contrast to the abandoned dogs in Cusco, Lima has dog-walkers. Less poop on the streets. Then near the beach, abandoned dogs! They are in a terrible condition, skinny to the bones; one walked around me looked like a hyena – I was mortified!
Everyone I met speak English so my Spanish is going downhill at this stage. Then, I had a talkative taxi driver who preserved with my broken Spanish – 30 minutes later and I think we had a good conversation. I feel like I’m getting by with flashing my biggest smile.
Iglesia y Convento de San Francisco (TripAdvisor) was a great experience for me and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Lima. I started my visit by admiring the church, it is as grand as those churches in Italy and I was lucky enough to experience the last 15 minutes of their daily service. Then for 10 soles, I had an hour tour (provided by the monastery) of the monastery and the catacombs. The monastery is so peaceful and most parts are still in good conditions – the elegant tiles donated by benefactors from Seville, murals painted by local artists and paintings gifted to the monastery. Most rooms are no longer used or used once a year for a special occasion. The intricate woodwork and metalwork are mesmerising. The catacombs was in operation for 300 years and held about 25,000 bodies (bones?); archaeologists believe there are least two more levels underground yet to be ‘discovered’. While some parts have low-ceiling, it is not as claustrophobic as Paris’s catacombs. The bones in Paris’s catacombs are above-ground, while in Lima, the bones are 6-15m further underground (and yes we were already underground).
I spent a few hours in MALI – Museo de Arte de Lima (TripAdvisor) and this was only the second floor that held the permanent artworks. There was currently no temporary display in the first floor. There were plenty of Inca artwork, Spanish artwork, colonial period, and all the way through to modern artwork; paintings, statues, textiles, silver/gold, clays, and so much more. Including works by influential Peruvian photographers – this was the highlight of my visit.
I was planning to visit Museo Larco (TripAdvisor) but was exhausted by 3pm. Let’s see if I can squeeze this in later in the week.
As a photographer, I must, I had a sense of duty, to visit MATE – Mario Testino (TripAdvisor) in Barranco. The visit was an emotional one, my heart was bubbling with excitement, my mind was blown away and my soul was inspired. There was that visit to van Gogh’s museum in Amsterdam (love: the Starry Night), Francis Bacon (love: his triptych works), Daniel Boyd’s collection at AGNSW (love: Untitled 2014), and now Mario Testino (love: Alta Moda’s main photo) – those were the moments where I felt I’m at the right place, in the company of those who understand my artsy soul, and I was a little teary. Bright, bold and dark.
Side note: he took the last studio photos of Princess Diana
- The map from Mirabici (a bike-hire company) is much more useful than the one supplied by iPeru. Mirabici’s stand is at the outdoor area of Larcomar, and it is the first thing I saw in the outdoor area
- Uber is easier than bargaining and explaining to taxi drivers where to go, especially if it is not a short-trip, and it is cheaper
- Peru is proudly sponsored by Visa so if you can carry at least one Visa credit/debit card; it is actually a separate machine for Mastercard and some businesses don’t have it
Like other major cities, Lima is bountiful when it comes to good and great restaurants. Japanese-Peruvian dishes, Chinese-Peruvian dishes, and the creativities continue. Other than Costazul, these places were recommended by locals.
I surely can have ceviche once a week for the rest of my life.
- Seafood, ceviche and today’s special was LOBSTER – Punto Azul (TripAdvisor) – recommended by my Airbnb host. Similar price to Costazul but this place is closer to a fine-dining standard – a restaurant host, a dedicated waiter for your table and all the blings
- Seafood, ceviche – Costazul (TripAdvisor) – they let me ordered half portions of two ceviche dishes – devine! I was there twice – try their absolutely devine octopus & virgin olive oil with garlic
- Seafood, ceviche – Canta Rana (TripAdvisor) – Barranco’s finest ceviche
- Japanese-Peruvian – Maido (TripAdvisor) – fine dining
- Sunset cocktails – Cala (Trip Advisor) – it’s music and buzz
- Sunset wine – La Rosa Nautica (TripAdvisor) – it’s elegant, water & jazz
- Drinks & live music in Barranco – Dada (TripAdvisor)
- Breakfast & coffee – Cafe de Lima (TripAdvisor) – think of a cafe in Sydney, modern and nice
- Bread, croisants & coffee – El Pan de la Chola (TripAdvisor) – think of Sonoma in Sydney
- Churros & hot chocolate – Manolo (TripAdvisor) – thick hot chocolate
- Chinese food (it’s everywhere) – Chifa Leng Lung (not in TripAdvisor, address is Avenue Grau 158, Cercado de Lima 15074, Peru – Miraflores) – recommended by a local and it was good! I was there twice – try their tofu curry!