We woke up to the sound of the bustling city streets of Miraflores. Our apartment had a great view of the city and as I sipped my yerba mate, I looked out at the traffic wondering what types of adventures we would be having today.
After wandering around for about half an hour, we stumbled upon possibly one of the best breakfast places I have ever been to. I ended up getting avocado toast with dill oil and shredded chestnut. Later, they brought me out a beautiful stone bowl filled with quinoa oatmeal, blackberries, blueberries, pomegranate and strawberries. I was amazed at how good this was. The first meal we had in Lima was a bit of a challenge, but this one was a real winner!
The food in Peru is very well-made and very inexpensive as well. I got an amazing breakfast for about $5 and this is pretty standard if you know where to shop. Even though the Sol is worth less than a third of a dollar, the prices in Soles are pretty consistent with dollar prices in the U.S. For instance, and expensive plate at dinner could be about 25-35 soles in Peru, while in the U.S that same meal could cost 25-35 dollars. A cheap meal can be bought for about 7 Soles, so you could feed yourself for about $2 a meal without trying that hard.
Our next stop was Plaza de Armas, the main square of Lima. One of the tricks that we would learn later on is that there are two different types of city busses in Lima. The first is a regular street bus that costs s/ 1.50, or about 50 cents. This one is slow and can take about an hour to get to Plaza de Armas from Kennedy Park. If you want to splurge and spend the extra 30 cents, you can get there in about 20 minutes by using the special track. This faster bus is called the Meltropolitano and is perhaps the best public transportation system in Lima. I wish we knew this the first time around, but we ended up taking the slow bus instead.
At this point, world cup fever was in full swing and a majority of Lima’s citizens were gathered around TV screens all across the city to watch their beloved team take on France. This was nice for us because we could basically watch the entire game and still see the city. I occasionally ducked my head into a café or a souvenir shop to check the score. Eventually we got to Plaza de Armas, and the entire square was packed with people watching the game. The city was nice enough to organize a viewing party for people and tourists to gather and watch the game. Even though there were a ton of people around, we still were able to get great pictures of some of Peru’s historic government buildings.
Off of the main streets, you could see some beautiful cathedrals and although the smog was quite thick, you could also see the mountains in the background. A few vultures circled overhead reminding us that we were still in a part of nature.
There were so many beautiful landmarks here, but after walking around for a couple hours, we were ready for something new. We had been in Lima for close to 24 hours and we still hadn’t checked out the beaches or the legendary cliffs of Lima. These cliffs rose a few hundred feet over the beaches and were not only a great place to paraglide, but they also had room for playgrounds, parks and cafes.
The walk down these cliffs was pretty long but it was gorgeous. We saw many dogs running around in the parks and I felt like a kid again playing on all the jungle gyms they had in this area. After stopping for a quick snack, we headed down to the beach to find a surprisingly active surfing scene. I had only surfed one other time about 4 months ago when I was in Hawaii, but I had already caught the surfing bug and I was eager to surf at some point in the trip. The waves were perfect for beginners and for only $10, you could rent a surfboard and a wetsuit for the whole day. I hadn’t thought to bring my suit, so unfortunately I would have to wait until the next time we were in Lima to head out into the surf.
Instead, we ventured down a cool boardwalk to get a closer view of the action. Here we could see a lot of more experienced surfers and a few cormorants fishing in the rough surf. I also noticed a few Christmas crabs clinging to the side of the pier. This was an animal I hadn’t seen since our trip to the Galapagos so it was cool to get another glimpse of them.
It was only about 5:00 but already the sun was starting to go down and we would have to be back at out apartment soon to get ready for dinner. I was really excited because tonight we were going to Jardin de Jazmin, a vegan restaurant in Miraflores.
The restaurant was one of my all-time favorites. There were only about a dozen people here, but they had live music, live painting and amazing food. I ended up getting an amazing barbecue quinoa and black bean burger with a side of potatoes and a salad. Although Peru is a very meat-centric culture, Vegan food is very much in vogue here, and you will see many restaurants proudly advertising their vegan and vegetarian options to passing tourists.
After an amazing dinner, we were about ready to turn in. When we got to the door of our apartment, the key didn’t work. “Uh oh” we said. On our way out, we had pressed a locking mechanism on the door to make it extra secure. Nobody had told us this, but that was the wrong move.
We frantically ran downstairs to check in with one of the workers and because he didn’t speak any English, we attempted to converse with him using our translation app. He asked us if we pressed the button to lock the door by acting it out. “si” we replied. “Noooooo” he said, looking quite concerned. “Que hacemos?” we asked. I could barely make out what he was saying with my 6th grade Spanish becoming a distant memory. You, must, call, a, …. The next word I didn’t recognize: “cerrajero” What was that?
I took out my phone and looked up the word “cerrajero”. When I saw the result I knew we were in for a long night. “Cerrajero means locksmith!” I said. We both laughed at the inconvenience. We would have to wait for someone to come by and pick our lock. We called our host and she said she could call a guy that would be here in an hour and cost 50 soles. The man helping us also made a few calls and informed us he could have a cerrajero come over for 40 soles and it would take 30 minutes. “me gusta tu cerrajero” my girlfriend said and we all shared a laugh. He called up his guy and we went outside to wait for him to show up.
For the next 30 minutes we waited, wondering what this mysterious cerrajero would be like. “I bet he’s going to be wearing a black trenchcoat and come riding in on a motorcycle” I said, jokingly. With each arriving car we speculated on whether or not the person inside was the cerrajero we were looking for. All of a sudden, a man all in black pulled up on a motorcycle. He threw one leg over the motorcycle and pulled his helmet off. “This has to be him” I said. Sure enough, this was the man we were looking for, matching my description almost perfectly. He followed us up to the room and opened up a toolbox filled with various equipment. Within 2 minutes, he was into our room, instantly justifying his wage and making me reconsider everything I thought I knew about home security.
Although we were a bit disappointed in giving up an hour of sleep and 40 soles, it was well worth it for the story. We also learned a new word in Spanish we wouldn’t soon forget. In the morning we would be heading to Cusco and beginning the next chapter of our adventure!