I can’t believe how quickly time passes and it’s almost a year since I hopped on a plane to Peru. I guess this Covid situation has some how made time stand still and pass incredibly quickly all at the same time because I feel like I just left!
My trip to Peru has been by far my most out of my comfort zone trip. When I took off and road tripped around the United States that was easy, I spoke the language, I had my car with me, and I had a few friends spread out across the country that I knew I could count on if i got into any trouble. Peru on the other hand was a bit different. My Spanish skills were mediocre at best and aside from knowing I needed to get to Cusco on a certain date to start my yoga teacher training I had no other plans made.
My trip started off a little bit rocky as well. When I arrived to the West Jet desk at the Ottawa Airport the attendant assured me that my bags were all set to make it to Lima and that I didn’t need to worry about them at all. This might have been true for the Toronto airport transfer but once I got to Mexico City, I had a funny feeling that this wasn’t correct information but I carried on anyways (note to self, always listen to your intuition!) I was in line to check in for my next flights and the lady says, did you pick up your bags?? My face drops and I say no, and start to panic a little. I have a couple hours before my flight but I had already taken a bus from one terminal to another and needed to get back to get my bag! I wasn’t sure I would make it. I ran back to where the bus had dropped me off and texting my friend who speaks Spanish to try and help me speak to the taxi and bus people. They said it would take 40 minutes by bus for me to get back to the terminal and then I’d still need to find my bag, so this option wasn’t going to help. The fellow who books the taxis stepped in and said it would be $40 USD for the taxi to take me, wait for me and bring me back. This sounded good enough for me! I likely would have paid more. But this man could tell I was stressed to the max, so after he put me in the cab, he popped his head in the front door and asked if I’d like him to come with me to help. Hallelujah! I thanked him very much and he hopped in and off we went. I’ll shorten this story as there is a lot more to talk about than just the airport in Mexico, but after running all over the terminal I was finally able to get my bag back, hop back in the taxi with my helper carrying my bag the entire time. We checked me back in and he escorted me to the security gate. Phew! I thanked him with a tip and told him i wanted to give him a giant hug. Crisis averted. (Always ask about your bags and double check when things feel funny)
I arrived in Lima at 10:30 pm. I had done a decent amount of research about Lima and knew it wasn’t necessarily the safest city in Peru, and there was something called an illegal taxi that I did not want to end up in, so I booked an AirBnb that had airport transfer. A lovely fellow who didn’t speak any English had Courtney Cox written on a sign.. I assumed it was for me. He got me to my accommodations and was very helpful showing me around and used Google Translate app (best app ever!) to help explain things to me. I was pooped, 17hrs traveling was a long enough day so i put in my ear plugs (the streets of Lima are loud!) and passed out.
My first official day in Peru I spent touring around the neighbourhood of Myra Flores. It was a lovely trendy little spot. I got set up with a phone card (yay connection) and then did a walking tour with a group of fellow tourists just to be able to learn a bit more about the area. I also bought my ticket on Peru Hop. I had heard amazing things about this hop on hop off bus tour and figured it would be a great way to make my trek to Cusco from Lima. I wasn’t wrong.
I will be honest, I was incredibly home sick on this trip, its something I learned about my style of travel, I really like to have a “home base”. In the US my car was like my safe little space of my own, but in Peru it was just me and my backpack, for now at least.
Early in the morning on my second day in Lima I was picked up by Peru Hop. The bus was full! Our first stop was for breakfast and to watch the Cuy (guinea pigs) do this ridiculous game, clearly just to entertain tourists. Not my thing, but moving on. We toured over to a beautiful plantation that had a stunning church and gardens. We were then taken on a tour through slave tunnels. Like in many places around the world there is a dark history in regards to slavery. These tunnels were essentially used to smuggle slaves in from the coast.
After our tour we were back on the bus and headed to Paracas. A small little beach town that is beside the National Reserva. I had my first taste of ceviche and my first Pisco Sour! (The Peruvian drink made with Pisco, a liquor made from grapes).
In the morning I decided to take it easy sleep in and get breakfast while others went on a boat excursion to the “poor man’s Galapagos”. An island not too far away that had sea lions and penguins and a huge variety of birds. I decided since I was planning to actually head to Galapagos on my way home from Peru that I’d save the $15 and spend in there instead. But I heard it was a really good time. In the afternoon we toured into the National Reserva to check out some stunning coastlines and beaches. I do wish that I had been able to spend more time exploring the park. It was massive. I read other blogs of people who rented bikes and toured around for a day. I’ll be sure to add that to my itinerary for my next trip there.
One of the things I love about traveling is the people you meet. I met a lovely woman that morning while checking out the reserva who was also traveling solo in South America for a few months. We clicked right away and although our Peru Hop itineraries were different we would be in Cusco at the same time and we were able to meet up a couple times while I was there.
Stay tuned for some crazy dune buggy adventures in a desert oasis.