31 Jan 2012

Peru - Lima and Mancora

From Mendoza we had the usual choice to make in terms of how we travelled to Lima, a flight of a few hours or a bus ride of immense proportions - in this case 56 hours.

We chose the flight from Santiago option which meant travelling by bus once more from Argentina to Chile across the andes, which is another spectacular road, up to over 4000 metres above sea level through what is effectively a massive canyon.

Unfortunately, for various bus trip type reasons, we were well late arriving in Santiago, which meant that when we finally did arrive we had to muscle our way through the gaggle of equally frustrated co-passengers, thrust a suitably large tip into the sweaty palm of the bus’s baggage handler so that he took an overly professional interest in our bags rather than anyone else’s, then sprint 400 metres or so through the bus station’s maze of kiosks/food outlets/music pumping stores out into the street to find a taxi, which with nearly 60 kilos of luggage (all those liquid xmas presents) got the heart going to say the least, to then leap into a cab whilst offering another cash bonus if he got us to the plane on time, which he did at speeds well beyond those recommended by his vehicle’s service history.

Anyway, we made it, the calm of the airport enveloped us and we were delivered to Peru a few hours later for Xmas and New Year - marking the psychological half way point of this trip (week 19 of 34).

It’s been two years since we were last in Lima and once again the city has changed for the better. The sights out of the window along the road from the airport (make sure you experience a Lima airport welcome at least once in your life- cwazy!) into town and the chat with the taxi driver always seem as good a yardstick as any to get an initial take on the state of the Peruvian economic/political and social situation, and although the gloom of austerity focussed Britain is a few months behind us, any comparison between the two is stark.

Maybe shedding the London cabbies’ Eeyore gloom and doom approach to life is harder than we thought, we do not expect taxi drivers to be bundles of joy, but listening to our Limenian driver expound the virtues of his country’s situation right now, its (and his) bright future (even though it will be hard work) with lashings of eternal optimism - well it was a joy to behold.

Yes the traffic flow (or lack of it) is still dominated by combis (‘public transport’ buses) pumping out clouds of thick black diesel fumes, yes it is still grubby, messy and chaotic but it is smarter than it was two years ago and there is visibly more success on the streets and in the restaurants and shops. 

And indeed Peru is enjoying more foreign investment than ever before, the currency is approx 7% stronger against the dollar than it was in 2009 (the english pound isn't!) and everyone we spoke to in our 3 weeks in Peru was positive about the present and future - albeit with a slight question mark over the new president’s (Humala) chummy visit to Venezuela to see his mate Chavez – who knows where that might lead...

After a few days enjoying Lima’s spectacular hospitality (thank you Ceci/Humberto/Nico/Francis/Linny/Sam) we flew north to join Kathy, Luigi, Laura, Giulia and David in Mancora for xmas and new year – amazing, beautiful, happy happy times...we even caught some fish..:)


  1. Hi there Pam and Ben!

    Marvelous sunset in Peru. Wish I was there for here it's cold too. Freezing -10 degrees C.

    Regards to Joran van der Sloot. He is going to stay for a while in El Peru, though not in a very comfortable place I am afraid. If he is not lucky he is going to make a trip to the USA afterwards. The Americans like to talk with him about Nataly Holloway I heard.

    Greetz and have fun


  2. Happy 2012 to you too! Here it's cold cold. Strange days, it was Spring last week - daffodils in Russell Square... We miss you - thanks for your amazing stories - so many beautiful places and people... Big kiss and warm hugs
    An Igor Lucas en Sander