Lima, Peru: Days 1 – 3

Wow! What a whirlwind the last 3 days have been. Let’s recap how it has been going in Lima so far.

Day 1 | Monday, October 24, 2016
Fortunately, the bed in our room is comfortable and after a day and a half of traveling we were both exhausted and slept very well. However, we did not realize that the place we booked enlisted all the Disney forest animals to come clean our room at 5:00 am. As the wild life came to life and started humming about outside our window the glass in the windows began reverberating and we both fought to catch just a few more minutes and ideally at least another hour of sleep. With the 2 hour time difference from what we are used to our bodies were sure that it was only 3:00 am. We finally gave up on the idea of any more sleep just before 7:00 am. As we laid there waking up and processing where we were, and what we had done, the anxiety washed over me. I am in a country where I don’t speak or understand the language very well. We have nothing to eat so we have to venture out for breakfast and add to that I have to communicate that I am on a special restricted diet. Ahhhh! What to do? Well, what I do whenever I am going to go out to eat somewhere. Find what looks like a suitable restaurant online, scour their menu for what seems like the most innocuous thing and make a game plan before I ever walk in the door. So, we hit good old google maps and found a list of restaurants within walking distance. We found this café, Loretta, just a 5 minute walk from our room and after spending 15 minutes translating their menu I decided we should give it a try. So, we got ready for the day and out the door into the streets of San Isidro, Lima we went. As we walked the anxiety inside me started to bubble up again and tears started to well up in my eyes. What have we done, we must be insane. I pushed the fear and anxiety aside so that I could focus on practicing the small handful of phrases I know in Spanish that would apply to this situation (Perdón, no hablo español muy bien. [Excuse me, I don’t speak Spanish very well.] Huevos revueltos, por favor, No leche, no queso. [Scrambled eggs, please, no milk, no cheese.]) As we walked through the doors of the café we were met with a very trendy Portland style place. A waiter approached us, as we looked like fish out of water, and guided us to a table and brought us menus. He gave us a minute which I really didn’t need as I had already decided what I was having and honestly I had that feeling I used to get in junior high when I was expected to give a speech in class, I just wanted to get my order placed. When he came back, I started the ordering process with my first practiced line, “Perdón, no hablo español muy bien.” He understood me, so that was good, and reassured me that wasn’t a problem. Ah, a small amount of relief washed over me. I might just make it through this process. Next, I ordered my eggs. Then he turned to Steve, and as our Peruvian friend had told us he expected Steve to be Peruvian and to speak Spanish. Steve managed to order the scrambled eggs as I had and to order us both non carbonated bottles of water [embotellada agua, sin gas]. We both looked at each other in relief. We had done it. We had ordered our first meal in Spanish. Wow, talk about feeling like you have been transported back to being a very small child again and learning to speak and even the smallest triumphs feel HUGE. We ate our breakfast and enjoyed watching the traffic pass by as the city of Lima came alive and everyone went about their daily lives. We finally paid our bill and headed back to our room. Getting over what felt like the first big hurdle, ordering food we could eat in Spanish, helped break some of my anxiety. I was feeling just slightly like we might be able to do this.

Steve headed to his company’s office that is just a 4 minute walk from our room. I occupied my time by organizing the room, writing our first Lima blog post and finding a restaurant that we could eat at for lunch. We weren’t quite as smooth at lunch. The hostess that greeted us only spoke Spanish and we both went into shock mode and didn’t clearly communicate that we didn’t speak or understand Spanish very well. She got the hint when we gave her our dumb American looks and failed to respond to her. Honestly, as soon as she started speaking the only thing I could think was, “You just spoke to me in Spanish. I don’t know Spanish.” She was gracious and sent us a waitress that spoke English quite well. The lunch encounter knocked the wind out of our sales a bit as we didn’t manage to use our Spanish much with an English speaking waitress.

Once Steve finished at the office we decided to brave the grocery store. There is one just a 10 minute walk from our room. We picked the wrong time of day to venture to the grocery store as it was VERY busy but in some ways that allowed us to spend lots of time browsing without drawing too much attention. We managed to find a decent selection of items. They even have a whole section dedicated to gluten free items [sin gluten]. We purchased our items, in the process learning that if you are going to use a credit card that you should carry your passport with you as they require a number from your ID to process a credit card transaction, and headed back to the our room for a quick dinner.

Day 2 | Tuesday, October 25, 2016
The reality of where we are and what we have done has not sunk in yet for Steve. I think he is still in shock. This morning we ate breakfast in our room, since we have food now that we have been to the grocery store. Then Steve got ready for work and headed into the office. It is a good thing that we are so close to his office because he is getting good, reliable internet at about 15 MB up and down at the office and the internet in the room has been fairly frustrating and flaky for an American that has been conditioned that everything is instantaneous. At best the internet in the room is 3 MB and honestly is closer to .25 MB most of the time. I am still managing to get work done from our room but it is just taking me a little longer than usual. For lunch we ventured back out to the grocery store to pick up some lunch meat to add a little protein to the menu. After eating lunch in our room Steve headed back to the office and I hit the web to find us a place to stay come Sunday since we have to check out of our current room at noon on Sunday.

We had both done some looking on Airbnb on Monday and had compiled a list of places that looked good. I had been contacting hosts to find out what the internet speed was at each rental so that we could hopefully end up with better speed than our current place. We are also looking for a place with a kitchen this time and in unit laundry would be great as well but not a deal breaker. I had found one specific place marketed as a Design Luxury Apartment that had 33 reviews all of which were 5 stars. Plus the host says that the internet speed is 4 MB, which is workable, and it is only about a 9 minute walk to Steve’s office. We figured we would book it if we didn’t find anything better. Well as I dove into my search for a place to stay, rooms that we had saved as ones we were interested in started booking up, including the Design Luxury Apartment. I have to admit that a little panic crept in at this point. Not because we were going to be homeless as of Sunday, Lima is a HUGE town (9+ million people), we would find a place to stay, it just might not be the price we want to pay or may not have the amenities we want. I texted Steve at this point to give him a heads up. I also sent him a spreadsheet of all the places I was looking at with the amenities, price and location laid out for easy comparison. We batted the list around a bit and decided that we would book a place as soon as he got back to the room that night.

After lunch I also attempted washing the first load of laundry since we left. Now I bet you are thinking big deal Summer. Put the clothes in the washer, add some soap, select the type of cycle and start the machine. Hold up there friends lets get one thing straight. This first place we are staying at does not have a washer or dryer available to us. Yes, we could pay to have the cleaning staff wash our clothes, but I am just not comfortable with that. First, I don’t really want to spend money on having our laundry washed this early in the trip, second I have read some horror stories of other travelers not getting all their clothes back, third I am very particular about how my clothes get washed and would hate for something to get ruined, fourth I am not really comfortable with someone else handling my underwear, well you get the point. So, I used a combination sink/Aloksak bag method that I had read about on a travel blog. It really worked out pretty well. I used a bar of laundry soap that we picked up at the grocery store and pre-scrubbed each individual item then placed them in the Aloksak sealable bag, filled the bag with water to cover the clothes, sealed the bag, agitated the clothes, let them sit for 30 minutes, drained the water from the bag, refilled the bag with clean water, agitated them again and let them sit for an additional 30 minutes. Then I rinsed the clothes out, squeezed what water I could from each item by hand, then rolled them in our microfiber travel towels to remove excess water and hung them to dry in the bathroom. Fortunately, our room did come with a portable combination heater and fan which I put in the bathroom aimed at the clothes and closed the bathroom door. Hopefully the clothes will dry in a reasonable amount of time.

Travel Laundry First Attempt

As soon as Steve got back to the room we settled on a B & B near a park with 60 MB internet, a full kitchen and in unit washer and dryer to book through Airbnb. It feels good to have that checked off the list. Another quiet dinner in our room wraps up day 2.

Day 3 | Wednesday, October 26, 2016
This morning is the first morning we are going to attempt walking. We geared up in our exercise clothing and headed out toward the Lima Golf Club which is supposed to have a nice walking/running path. It is great being up early enough that you can watch the city of Lima come alive. It is such a viearly city with so much to see. The first major site we came across is Huaca Huallamarca, ruins that crop up right in the middle of the bustling city (the camera man isn’t in the mood to take pictures this morning, hopefully to be updated soon with our own pictures). Within a few blocks we came to the Lima Golf Club. The walking/running path is not quite what we Americans expected but it is nice. It is really just a narrow (just enough space for two people to pass by each other while brushing shoulders) 2.3 miles of uninterrupted sidewalk that loops around the Lima Golf Club. The uninterrupted part is very important in Lima. With 9+ million people you can imagine the traffic is pretty crazy and pedestrians don’t exactly have the right away like they do in Oregon. If you step out in front of an oncoming car or bus even though you are in a cross walk you just might find yourself run over. At the least, they will make a death defying swerve around you at the last minute while honking their horn at you. That will get your heart rate up. The fact that you don’t have to cross any intersections is big, it means that you can actually get a decent work out in. The second cool site, was about 5 work out equipment stations alongside the sidewalk (hopefully a picture coming soon) that you can stop and use. It really is a cool thing and you could get a great circuit in just by using the equipment as you go and walking/running the loop around the club. We finished the loop then headed back to our room to get ready for the day and to have a quick breakfast. The shock has finally worn off for Steve and his anxiety has started to rise. Fortunately, mine has subsided as we have managed to navigate the last couple of days so we are balancing each other out and keeping each other grounded. Steve headed into the office and I am going to hang out in the room doing a little contract work, researching sites to see, places to stay and where to eat lunch.

Steve met someone new at the office, Bruno. Bruno just returned to work after 3 weeks off for paternity leave. Bruno grew up in Peru and after college moved to Chicago and lived there for 10 years. So you guessed it, Bruno’s English is superb. Bruno and Steve ended up having a 15 minute conversation in English, which I think helped Steve’s nerves settle a little, and Bruno graciously offered to help us out if we need anything. Bruno showed us a great little place for lunch and joined us and gave us a whole list of things to do and see while in Lima. Also, a list of other cities we should visit while in Peru. He even gave us some airline tips and helped us navigate the restaurant dress code issue we have been wondering about. After dropping Steve and Bruno back at their office I headed back to the room to work on some site seeing research and to do another load of laundry.

Tonight we are walking from San Isidro District to Lima District to go to Circuito Mágico del Agua (Magic Water Circuit), a 19.8 acre picturesque park that has fountains and an evening laser show. We are going to get our steps in today. With the walk this morning to/from and around the Lima Golf Course and then a 45 minute walk to the Lima District we will both break 20,000 steps. The water park was lots of fun watching the kids run through some of the fountains and the extraordinary fountain/light shows. We explored the park from 6:00pm to 9:00pm. For all the details, pictures, and videos read our Circuito Mágico del Agua (Magic Water Circuit) post.

From the park we caught an Uber back to the grocery store that is just 10 minutes from our room, picked up a couple of items for dinner and then walked back to our room. I feel safe in this area of San Isidro. I am not at all nervous about walking from the grocery store to our room at 9:30pm. We ate dinner, Steve logged in and did a little work and then we watched an episode of The Blacklist and called it a night. Going to bed after midnight is going to hurt tomorrow morning when the Disney forest animals show up to clean at 5 am.

Hopefully more adventures to be documented very soon and lots more pictures to follow. I think the camera man is finally warming up.

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