There’s a free walking town in the Centro Historico area of Lima. I wouldn’t have had a clue how to get to Lima city centre from Miraflores so everyone met up with tour guide Jonathan next to the big roundabout outside of the hostel. Getting into the centre of Lima involved catching a bus that essentially ran on train infrastructure. You bought a ticket, passed through a barrier and walked down to a platform. The bus pulled in and drove down a single narrow road that was walled off at the sides and used only by buses. At the desired stop you got off onto a platform and passed through a barrier onto the street.
Central Lima is not perhaps as hectic as would be expected. There are plenty of people around but it’s certainly doesn’t have the hustle and bustle as somewhere like Hanoi or Mexico City. Centro Historic has some nice colonial architecture and a very impressive main plaza. In London I’ve often scoffed at people standing ten-deep outside Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. Well at noon today I was doing something similar, watching some sort of ceremony taking place in Lima’s main square. Jonathan was a decent guide with the right amount of information, jokes and seemed like a decent bloke. We finished off the tour with some pisco samples. This alcoholic beverage is proudly Peruvian, despite Jonathan’s accusation of Chile’s attempts to claim ownership of pisco.
My attempts at the Spanish language came a bit of a cropper this afternoon. Often gesticulating, smiling and throwing in the odd “si” works. The first problem came when they wanted to know my name. I thought they were asking what I would like to drink and my reply of, “Sprite,” got a funny look! In this conversation I was struggling a bit and wasn’t entirely sure what I’d ordered. The girl serving then gave a big speech in Spanish that was incomprehensible to my vocabulary of about fifty words. They had to find an English-speaking person in the kitchen to come out and explain that I had ordered the spicy chicken and this would take an extra 15 minutes.
So far most Peruvian people I have met seem to be quite laid back. The exception to this is when driving. People here must wear out their car horns from over-usage. Today I saw two ridiculous examples of road rage. In the Centro Historico there was a queue of cars waiting at a red light. One car left a gap of about five yards behind the vehicle in front. No big deal as he can’t go anywhere and this won’t have any impact on how quickly anyone got to the destination. According to the car behind it was a big deal though. The driver here was apoplectic with rage. He pressed his horn as hard as it would go, furiously pointed at the gap and screamed at the driver in front to a point where he was almost foaming at the mouth! Then during the evening a taxi dropped off some passengers at a junction. The car behind was clearly not happy about the taxi blocking the turning lane. He let his feelings known at the taxi with the obligatory beeping. The taxi driver gave an exaggerated shrugging gesture, sniggered to himself and then got out his sandwiches and proceed to eat them while still blocking the turning lane. Even by stereotypical Latin behaviour this was extraordinary petulant. After about 30 seconds on the horn the car behind gave up and drove around the taxi!
I was hoping to find some football to go and see while in Lima but there don’t seem to be any midweek games being played. The Peruvian league isn’t the greatest and the national team haven’t qualified for the World Cup in donkey’s years. That said, football seems very popular in Peru with plenty of shirts spotted while out and about. The national team shirt is iconic, with my mate Drewy claiming it to be the best kit in all of football.