For the second year in a row I was asked to speak at a conference in South America. This year’s conference was held in Lima, Peru. My trip started out mid afternoon on Saturday with a flight on Aeromexico. Company rules dictate choosing the least expensive airline. This meant an indirect flight through Mexico City. The tone was set for the whole trip when the time came for the flight we hadn’t even boarded the plan yet — and no one seemed to care. Once on board the flight I was surprised to receive an in flight meal. I did not realize that I would have to pass through border control and customs. I got an entry and exit visa on my passport. My second flight was just after midnight. This was a much longer flight and again they served a sort of breakfast at 4am. Once through border control and customs, I found myself in Lima at 6am.
Walking out of the arrivals area I was immediately assaulted by people offering to provide taxi service. I skipped the melee and opened my Uber app to call a ride. It’s been a while since I used Uber so I ended up getting in the wrong car. Uber tells you the car make and model, the license plate, and the driver’s name. I spotted a black Toyota Corolla. I thought I matched the license plate. When I got in I asked the driver to confirm his name and it matched. So off we went. That’s when my Uber app pinged to tell me the driver had just arrived. I had to cancel the Uber driver and got charged the minimum fee. It was not Uber’s fault that I did not follow directions. In the end I arrived at my hotel and paid S/. 50 (about $15) for a cab ride that should have only cost me S/. 35. Lesson learned. The problem is that the cab drivers can charge whatever they want. There is no meter in the car. They are perfectly willing to take US dollars too. This driver first quoted me $20 for the ride. I always travel with local currency so I asked for the price in soles (so-lays).
At this point it is too early to check into my hotel. I was told that the cleaning staff didn’t even arrive until 8 to start clearing rooms. I left my bag and went for a walk. Across the street from the hotel was a little shopping mall. It has a semicircle design built into the cliff below a park facing the Pacific Ocean. Looking down I could see a lower roadway and a rocky beach. Among the restaurants was a Starbucks. Unfortunately it was not open since this was before 8 am on a Sunday morning. I decided to hang out and enjoy the view and quiet and wifi. The Starbucks eventually opened after 8:30 and I was able to get an empanada and coffee.
After breakfast I decided to go for a walk. I was on the upper cliff of Miraflores on the Costa Verde. My guidebook included lists of scenic walks. There was one in Miraflores that took me inland to Parque Kennedy (JFK Park). The park is named for the US president. It features a statue bust of JFK that was a gift from their sister city, Pensacola. The other thing of note about this part was the free range cats everywhere. The park was a sanctuary for cats. The cats lounged around everywhere without any apparent care. I did not see any kittens. Some of the cats were taped up with what looked like gauze and packing tape. I can only assume that all the cats were sterilized. I also noticed that most of the cats bore a purple stripe sprayed on their fur. I assume that this would be an efficient way to tag them if you were giving out shots and did not want to miss one or inject the same cat twice. Some of the cats begged for attention while others acted like cats. I did see a woman distributing bowls of food.
Walking back toward the coast on a diagonal away from my hotel I was on the area known as Calle de las Pizzas (Pizza Street). In the evenings this would be a happening place but at 9am on Sunday morning it was home only to people exercising. There was some sort of health run event taking place. I walked back to the Tennis Club and then turned right toward Parque del Amor and a lighthouse.
After walking back from the lighthouse I headed down the cliff to the lower level to the beach. The beach itself was a steep slope of rocks. It was so steep that it was nearly impossible to walk along the shore. Along the shore were several tents of small business giving surfing lessons. The surfers reminded me of any surfer beach I’ve ever seen complete with VW Minibus with surf board on a trailer. Further down the way were fishermen working their nets. At the far end of the beach was a park complete with soccer fields. There were signs describing the evacuation route to take should there be a tsunami. For me this told me that the only way back to my hotel was to walk back the way I came.
Finishing up this 5 mile walk I was back at my hotel and found my room ready to check in. Tired from the walk and the lack of sleep I tried to relax a bit. I also was restless and wanted to see more of the city. I consulted my guidebook and set my sights on seeing downtown.