Entry #069: Sunday, March 23, 2014 (Lima, Peru)

Hola from Lima, my last stop in Peru. It's been...well, fairly uneventful the last few days. That's partially because I was just in transit, and partially because I haven't had much motivation these part few days. This lack of motivation might be due either to a kind of travel version of senioritis, or it can be due to the fact that I've come down with a cold (thanks to the fact that my tent-mate on the Inca trail had a cold), and I don't have Emergen-C to fight it. I've also been sleeping a lot more and have had a general sense of lethargy, so I'll just chalk it up to the latter possibility. And truth be told, all the coughing I've been doing hasn't contributed to my writing spirit, so let's get to this.

Anyway, back in Cusco on Wednesday, I woke up a bit late. By "late" in this context, I mean 9am. This really didn't come as any sort of surprise to me, since I was up the night before 4am or 4:30, writing and getting other stuff done. In fact, I had to set my alarm to wake me up at this point, hoping that I'd be able to sneak into the hotel's breakfast (which officially ended at 9am) last-minute. However, when I rushed into the dining area, it was clear that they had emptied the place out at least fifteen minutes earlier, and were now quite literally throwing bread rolls into the garbage. I asked for one, and the lady rolled her eyes a bit before obliging me. After this small meal, I went back to my room, did some final packing, and once 10am rolled around, went down to the lobby. My bus wouldn't be leaving until 2pm, there was a plug in the room, the place still had WiFi, and it was raining cats and dogs outside, so I just hung out in the lobby. (Here's one thing I decided to do: join that eHarmony website. Not because I am looking for or expect to find "that special someone", but because their whole system is based on answering questions, and I have an nearly obsessive love with answering questions and quizzes and polls and the like. Probably gonna cause some broken hearts, but them's the breaks, ladies.) At one point, a really bitchy customer was talking to the reception about the fact that...actually, I don't even know what the problem was, other than that one of the other staff had knocked on her door and spoke only Spanish to her (I think she was some kind of Northern European). Anyway, she told the reception that she was really upset, because she booked her stay on Booking.com, instead of a hostel website, and yet this place was acting like a hostel (which didn't even match up with her story). At this point, I risked retaliation from her and her bulky boyfriend by saying, without even looking up, "Did you actually ever read what the name of this place was?" When she asked what I meant, I noted that, both on the website and, indeed, on all the signs around us, the place was calling itself a "Hostal". Yeah, it was a bit of a jerk thing to say, but I felt like she had it coming to her.

Anyway, a short time after noon, I decided that it was time to go to the bus station. The hotel called one for me, and then set a price right then and there for us both to agree on: seven soles. Had I been left to my own devices, I would have pushed for five, but hey, at least no argument was necessary now. And it turned out to be a lengthy drive regardless; I became impressed how I had walked all that way with my bags in the heat. Eventually, we reached the bus station, and I got inside and got my ticket. I contemplated quickly going out to get some lunch, but I didn't want to bring my bags out into the rain, nor did I trust leaving them in the station. So, I just decided to stay put and eat some cereal and my unused Inca Trail Snickers bar in the meantime. I could also buy an empanada from their cafe, but really? s4.50? Nah, they'll be giving us a snack on the bus; maybe even a full, albeit late, lunch. Anyway, I stayed inside there until it was time to check in our bags and head on the bus. I got in my seat and immediately started getting comfortable. I also met a guy across the aisle from me from Canada. He seemed fairly nice, so it was neat to have someone who I could speak with in my native tongue if I needed to.

We then began what was to be a 21-hour bus ride. In terms of entertainment, we had a little TV in front of us that had some movies and such on it, but none of the options seemed that appealing. However, through their instructional video, I learned that my seat had a plug attached to it, which suddenly made this the best thing ever. I was able to bring out my laptop, and while the free on-board WiFi was shoddy at best, the fact that I had unlimited electricity meant that I was able to just watch some of the many videos I'd been holding on my laptop for just such an occasion. So that was nice. What wasn't nice? The fact that I was completely and utterly wrong about the whole food situation. See, Cruz Del Sur (the bus I was on) is considered the premiere bus company in Peru. So I figured their service would trump about all other service in South America. And I felt pretty damn spoiled on my trip from Buenos Aires to Mendoza in Argentina. A snack, a huge dinner, breakfast, and drinks provided every couple hours (even unnecessary champagne)...all that kind of stuff. Here? Not one single drink service. No snacks. No food served at all until 8:30 at night, and a dinner that seemed smaller than a Lean Cuisine frozen meal (and breakfast was smaller, without any sort of hot element). But maybe I'd be more forgiving if it weren't for the stewardess (is that what you call them when you're on a bus?). Not only did it seem like she didn't care about us, it seemed as though she actively despised every single person on the bus. I was legitimately disappointed with the whole affair.

Anyway, after my tiny meal was finished, and I couldn't stand having earbuds in anymore (probably my sinuses closing up in an early cold symptom), I tried getting some sleep. It wasn't easy at first. True, the seats reclined fairly well, and were comfortable regardless. However, the bus was haulin' ass. And when your bus is making turns in mountainous regions when going that fast, you feel it. At one point, I had to get up to use the restroom, and nearly got flung across two people's laps. Still, I managed to get quite a good bit of sleep on the ride, really only getting up after the sun came up. It was then that we got our breakfast (an insubstantial ham-and-cheese sandwich and cup of yogurt that had been sitting in a drawer next to me) and I determined that their service didn't match up at all with the Argentine one. Except in one regard. Not only were they on time, but they were early. Probably because of their ass-haling techniques, we arrived to our destination nearly two hours ahead of when we were supposed to. While this seemed cool in principle, I knew that I wouldn't be able to check into my hostel until later on anyway, so this would just increase that amount of time.

As we were coming into the bus station, the Canadian guy (we later became formally introduced and I learned that his name was Alejandro) asked me where I was staying. I mentioned how I had met the Peruvian girl, Claudia, on the Death Road, and she offered to book me a place at the hostel she worked at. It would be the same price as the B&B I was previously scheduled for, and hey, I'd know at least one person there. Alejandro hadn't booked anything yet, so he asked if he could tag along. Sure, I said, keeps my taxi cost down. Once we got off the bus and grabbed our stuff, we looked for a cab. All of them were offering the ride for 15 soles. My intention was to talk them down to 10, but I agreed to 13 (I would have held out a lot longer if I didn't have someone else with me who probably wouldn't have liked walking as far as I was willing to). So, we drove to the Pariwana hostel, where I immediately saw Claudia and said hello. I then tried to check in, but sure enough, could not do so until 2pm. However, they said I could go upstairs to enjoy breakfast, which was still going on until noon. So I did so, and Alejandro soon joined me. And before long, I had another surprise guest: Chris, the Irish guy I had met on the Death Road, who was visiting for a few days. We all had a nice chat while eating. During this conversation, I was looking around the restaurant/bar area, and it became eminently clear to me that this place was very much a hosteler's hostel, rather than a backpacker's hostel. So, not really my type, but hey, it's a place to stay. And who knows? Maybe I'll meet some folks regardless.

Anyway, at one point, Chris needed to go out to do some grocery shopping, so I decided to join him. It took us a while to find the nearest supermarket (though I found the fact that there is a Chili's in Lima to be pretty amusing), but it was all good, since it gave us more time to check up. Once we reached the store, we ended up splitting, since our needs were quite different. He was getting a wide variety of items, whilst I just got some water, fruit, and Mentos. I then went back to the hostel, where I grabbed my bags from storage and checked in. I then relaxed in my room, having some fruit as a kind of lunch, and tried figuring out plans for the rest of my time in Lima. Before I knew it, it was dinner time (told you this wasn't going to be the most eventful of entries), so I walked around the area. Unfortunately, I am staying in Miraflores, which is the tourist section of Lima. Being the tourist section of Lima, most of the restaurants are either a little bit higher in scale, or are simply higher-priced. To avoid this, I tried walking a few blocks out of the way to see if I could find anything cheaper. I eventually came across a Mexican taco place (the owner boasted the fact that both he and the chef hailed from Mexico city). I ended up getting three tacos for the non-discount price of s18. Were they good? Sure. Were they worth that price? No, even in the States you could get a much better deal. But they did the job, I guess.

I went back to the hostel, where I began filtering through some of my photos (I'm cleared up to Bolivia on filtering; not that anyone can notice, since I'm still backed up to Australia on uploading). I continued this up until about 10pm, when Alejandro knocked on my door. We had earlier arranged to meet up for a drink at the bar, so I brought up my water bottle, and he bought a beer, and we sat out on two deck chairs, discussing travel, specifically his travel, since he was in the last three days of a four-month trip. We were out there talking for about an hour, also watching some of the hostelers playing what I could only assume was supposed to be some sort of sexy card game. It's kinda funny, Alejandro (who is 35) assumed I was about 31 because of the fact that I wasn't more like the other people at the place. In any case, eventually an English guy named Sam sat down in the third deck chair near us. Even before saying anything, I could tell by his faded smile that he was completely drunk. When he did say something, it removed all doubt. I didn't mind all that much, but at about 11:30, I felt exceptionally tired, so I excused myself, took a shower, and went to my room, where all the power in me suddenly left, and I just fell asleep before I knew what was happening.

I ended up sleeping for a good eight-point-five hours, which I felt was a pretty long time, considering the fact that I had gotten a good amount of sleep on the bus, and the fact I really hadn't done much. But I think this may have been the first part of my cold taking hold on me and sapping away my energy. Anyway, I had a long breakfast (which just consisted of bread, cereal, and tea), and just sat there for maybe 45 minutes, relaxing and getting some hot liquids down my throat. I was curious if I'd see Alejandro to find out what happened to him the night before, but he wasn't there. In any case, I went back to my room to prep for the day. It was at that point that I really realized that I didn't have the same kind of enthusiasm here as I've had in other places. It's weird, I kinda like Lima better than Cusco, not because there's more interesting things going on (I'd say, actually, there aren't), but just because I feel like I can walk around (or just sit) without being hassled. However, my heart just didn't seem to be in it. When I've gotten to other places before, I've been raring to go out and explore. Here, it's been more of an "eh" kinda feeling. So I've been wondering if it was, as I said earlier, a kind of travel version of senioritis. After all, I have less than a month left; the end is clearly in sight. I also have done the last big adventure thing on my trip with the Inca Trail (Galapagos volunteering nonwithstanding). Maybe I've just hit that wall. However, as the days have passed and my cold has worsened, I think it's more just a case of me having to deal with being sick, which I haven't had to worry about in, really, a long time, and is just taking it all out of me.

In any case, I pushed all that out, and went to the nearby park where I would be meeting up for a free walking tour. I still say, free walking tours are one of the best early-on things to do in a town when they're available, because they give you a general sense of bearings. Unfortunately, it became immediately clear to me as I stood out there in the sun that I had made a mistake by not bringing a water bottle with me. I'd have to get one later. As more and more people came, I noticed there were more Americans than I'd probably seen in one place, but I somewhat gravitated towards a British-Filipino guy, mainly because he was one of the few who didn't already have someone to talk to (and it turned out he was in the same hostel as me). He seemed to have somewhat thin travel skin; he said he was tired of wearing the same sets of clothes all the time for a month. Having done so for a year, I can only relate, though not necessarily pity. Anyway, we started out the walking tour by...getting on a metro bus and driving to another part of town, which took a good half-hour. During this time, I was speaking with the guide a bit, but aside from that, he wasn't saying much. In fact, this continued for much of this experience. We did plenty of walking, I feel, but not so much "touring" in the sense that our guide (who, to his credit, is just a 19-year-old kid) barely said anything unless we were directly in front of one of our stops.

And the first stop was in front of the Grand Palace, where we were able to see the daily changing of the guard. We got there about halfway through the process, and it was...okay to watch, I suppose. However, there have apparently been protests lately (as far as I can tell, it's mostly because the government has been taking money from hospitals and health care and such). As such, a lot of stuff was blocked off by guards with AK-47's. You couldn't even get onto the sidewalk outside of the palace gates. What's more, the grand park near the palace and the kitty-corner cathedral was completely blocked off. It made the whole thing seem a bit empty. Our guide had told us we'd have fifteen minutes to watch the changing and do what we want before we continued (he did this a lot; he replaced actual information with "You have time to just do as you like here"), so I decided to get some water. However, as I was struggling to put my camera away to get some change, it fell out of my pocket and onto the ground. A slight cringe appeared on my face, but when I picked it up, I found it was functioning perfectly normally. However, it had landed in such a precise way as to nearly sever the wrist strap, meaning I'd have to buy a new one. It also jostled out the memory card, which I didn't realize for about an hour, meaning every picture I took there just disappeared into the æther. Thankfully(?), the places we visited in that time weren't particularly interesting, visually or otherwise, so nothing of real value was lost.

But yeah, overall a weak tour, possibly the weakest free walking tour I've been on in the entirety of this trip (though I've really only known about such things in Australia and South America). It just lacked substance; we got to a place, and our guide would say (paraphrased) "Yep, here we are; you have some time to look around." There were also a couple other little "gastronomy" stops. At one point, we stopped at a small diner to try some chicha morada (but not as samples; we just had to buy it ourselves). Now, while chicha is alcoholic, chicha morada (made from purple corn) is not; it's more of just a sweet juice. And damn, is it sweet. I can have a sweet tooth, but this stuff was way too much for me. It didn't taste horrible (in some ways, the flavor resembled a grape juice), but it was so saccharine as to just put me off. We later were given free samples of pisco sour (which seemed the same as the free sample of pisco sour I got in Chile) and a kind of passion fruit pisco sour, called a maracuya sour (which actually wasn't bad). Still, overall when we were given an evaluation form, I wrote in comments that I felt were tough-but fair.

The tour finished off at the Iglesia de San Francisco, which was convenient, as I was planning to go there regardless to check out their underground catacombs (and that's basically all the tour guide had said when we got there: "Here's the church of San Francisco. You should check out it's catacomb tour...and that's the end of the walking tour"). However, before doing any more touring, I needed to have a much-overdue lunch. So, I walked with the British guy, a Dutch girl, and the guide to a somewhat-nearby vegetarian restaurant, which was cheap and quite good. I ended up getting a lomo saltado, though considering meat is one of the primary ingredients, I had no idea how they'd manage it. (They used soy meat; problem solved.) I was supposed to get a dessert with the thing, but the portions were so sizable that I couldn't even begin to need/want it. I then walked back to the church with the Dutch girl, who also wanted to see the catacombs. During this, we briefly chatted, and it again struck me how different experiences can be. For example, she loved Cusco, and said she felt really unsafe in Lima. On the other hand, I still despise Cusco, and felt no sense of ill ease in Lima when it came to safety. It's no Pleasanton, but really, it didn't feel any more dangerous than anywhere else I've been.

When we got to the church, she decided to do a Spanish tour, telling me that she wanted to get a "real experience" in a way that annoyed me for some reason. I decided to do an English tour, but I'm sure with either version, I'd still get the same small sense of disappointment that I had. See, the place is absolutely gorgeous, and there are some amazing visual pieces there, from a choir loft that had intricately-carved wooden seats to a library that looked like what I'm assuming a Harry Potter library would look like. Fantastically cool stuff. However, not only could we not take pictures of any sort (which I can half understand, but still seems like complete and utter BS at the end of the fay), but the tour guide rushed us through the areas. We couldn't stop to read the information plaques or, hell, even just stand there and soak in the overwhelming ambiance. I asked if it was possible when the tour was done to just come back and explore the place on my own time and at my own pace. "No, tour only," was the response. It's such a goddamn shame; that's the kind of place that yearns to be appreciated. Still, even in the short time I had, it was a neat church to visit, and the catacombs, filled with the many remains of those buried, were a sight to behold.

After finishing that trip, I left the church, grabbed an ice cream from a wandering vendor, and then tried looking for a metro bus station. See, the public transportation system in Lima is pretty damn confusing. There's two different things called the "Metro"; one is an electric train, and the other is a bus with it's own lane. There's also a bunch of other buses all around, but for those, you jut have to know where they're going. I've never seen the electric train, but the metro bus seems like the simplest and most straightforward of all the transportation options. Unfortunately, I couldn't find the station, and my phone took that opportunity to stop getting in any signals for some reason, meaning I was navigating blind. So, I just figured I'd head to where I knew the nearest station was, which was about four or five miles down the road. This did acquaint me quite a bit with downtown Lima quite a bit, and I'm sure this was one of the cheaper places to have a meal in the city, but it was unfortunately a little bit too early for dinner. What I did look for, was a new wrist strap for my camera, and thankfully, after going into a half-dozen camera stores, I finally found a place that offered one. Not nearly as sturdy as the one that came with my camera, but it only needs to last a month, so I'm sure it will be fine.

I finally found a metro station, and had to pay a lady to let me on (you need to normally buy a s5 card, and then pay s2 per ride; I just gave the 2 soles to the women, who had her own card). The bus took me the rest of the way to my destination, where I got off and explored the nearby market, hoping to find a cheap set-menu place. Unfortunately, it was just a meat and produce market, so I continued on and went back to the hostel, where I did some more photo filtering and relaxing until later in the evening. I had heard there was a barbecue night in the hostel, so I figured I'd give that a shot; hey, maybe I'd meet some other folks enjoying barbecue. On the way up, I saw Alejandro, who told me about the remainder of the previous night, which ended up with some of the other folks inviting him to go out to a club, and things got crazy, and he stayed out until 5:30 in the morning, and it was one of those things where stuff just fell into place and the like. In any case, we both went up to check out the event. Turns out, it wasn't really a big thing; it was just a dinner option that people could order. Alejandro went down to get some money, and I ordered a BBQ dinner for myself. Nope, they said, I needed to have placed an order before 7pm (and there had been no indication anywhere that I had to do so). So, I tried ordering something different on their menu. Nope, they didn't have that. A different item. Nope, not that either. A third item. Nope. Feeling a bit frustrated at their lack of food (and their desire to keep selling me drinks despite me constantly saying I wasn't interested), I left. I felt a bit bad about ditching Alejandro, but I figured he was old enough not to take it personally (and one of our previous conversations was about overly clingly travel acquaintances, so this was a good test).

I decided to go into the nearby park, where I had previously seen some stands selling food. And indeed, they were there that night, so I got myself a turkey sandwich, and suddenly heard music. Not club music, but local music, sung live. I tuned, and I saw in a small lowered stage, there was some kind of local festivity going on, with singers and dancers. And everyone there seemed Peruvian, and they all seemed to be a bit older. It was a bit odd, but the music was good, so I just sat down at the base of a tree and listened. As if to make things nicer, a couple of neighborhood cats came up to me as I was sitting there, and it was just a nice little moment. During this time, I also got a small bag of popcorn, and just sat, eating, listening, and enjoying the warm balmy night, the pleasant music, the feline company, everything. It was definitely a moment where I was glad the hostel dinner didn't work out. Just one of those out-of-the-blue experiences, y'know. Anyway, when that was finished, I finished off my meal by buying some picarones, which are a Peruvian sweet bread ring, I guess you could say they're almost donut-like. Think of a donut that looks like a onion ring and tastes like a funnel cake, and is served with a very thin syrup. That's the best I can think of. After eating, I walked into a bookstore and just browsed it for a while (that's one thing I like about Lima; lot's of bookstores), and then went back into the hostel. I did some work in my room, but again found myself getting really tired really fast, and before I knew it, I was hitting the hay.

Once again, sleep really took hold of me, and I was out for about nine hours. When I woke up, I wasn't feeling particularly great, but I knew that once I got some hot drink in my throat, things would improve a bit. I had breakfast (though this time eschewed from the cereal, as the whole milk was only making my cold worse). I then went back to my room, and basically just sat around dry coughing for two hours. Y'know, getting a cold in a place where there is nothing even remotely similar to Emergen-C (which has been my go-to preventative and curative item for the past eight years) really sucks. Anyway, I stayed in there until it was lunch time, and at that point, I figured I'd go out and get some ceviche. After all, pretty much everyone and their mother has said that Lima is the place to get ceviche in the world. So, I looked at the map provided by the hostel, and it made it pretty clear that there was plenty of ceviche to be had on a street called Calle del Mar. So, I walked down to this street, and then walked along it. There were a couple of places, to be sure, but not that many, and all the ones that I saw were quite expensive (s40+ for a meal). I walked down the street for about an hour before giving up and just eating at a small local place, where I got a noodle-based chicken saltado dish (tamillo saltado, maybe?). It wasn't what I was looking for, but it got the job done, so I just continued walking.

I think this walk may have perfectly encapsulated my time in Lima so far. One major issue with Lima is its size; it's really big, and stuff is not at all centrally-located. And if you don't have a car or aren't willing to pay for a taxi, it's hard to get places. And when a cold kinda saps your enthusiasm for walking, it makes it even more difficult to really go to all the big sites. I can't vouch for how the next couple days will go, but part of me is doubting that my Lima visit will be defined by visiting major sites. I may miss about 80% of all the cool things the city has to offer. But what I have been having are a bunch of little moments. Like the singing and dancing in the park. That was a little moment. I didn't have a camera at the time to capture it, and there wasn't even too much to capture, but it was a little piece of the life that exists there. Similarly, this walk was filled with little moments that weren't terribly exiting, but provided a kind of narrative in their own way about the city of Lima. For example:

  • At one point, I saw a body lying in a driveway. Just lying there. "Asleep or dead?" I wondered, "Asleep or dead?" It was genuinely difficult to tell; I couldn't even see the chest moving up and down. I didn't wasn't hoping for this to be the second dead body I've seen on this trip, but what was I to do? I contemplated just moving on - If they're sleeping, they might not like to be woken up - but I really couldn't do that. If they were dead, somebody needed to know. What's more, if they weren't dead, but needed immediate help, I might be the only person who would relay that message. And if I had just walked away, I would never have known what the deal was, and that would drive me insane. So I called to them to see if they'd wake up. They did (and I discovered that it was a woman). I asked her if she was alright, and she half-nodded, but put her hand to her mouth to indicate she wanted something to eat, all while staring at my grocery bag. The bag only contained a large bottle of water I had just bought for myself, but I figured she could use it more, so I handed it over, wished her well, and went on my way. I was half-satisfied for following my gut to check that she wasn't dying, and half-concerned, seeing as I had just given her my water bottle, with my germs, and now she might have come down with a cold (likely worse when you're homeless).
  • Once I reached the coast/beach (I have a hard time really calling it a beach when it's mostly just smoothed-down rocks and pebbles), I was walking along, and found all manner of things washed up along the shore. Shells, fish bones, etc. At one point, I found a full, albeit dead, crab, just sitting on the rocks. Later, I found a lower jawbone of something with really sharp teeth. It didn't look like any shark I'm aware of (and was pretty small), but there was definitely something that could cut you up if you're not careful.
  • For a little while, I was walking out onto a jetty, where some other people were enjoying their Saturday afternoon. Some were fishing, some were playing with their kids, other were just chilling. I went out as far as I could, watching the waves come in, as well as watching the crabs walk around.
  • Finally, at one point (when I finally got to a weird point where the was sand, but it stopped about thirty feet from the water, only to be replaced by rocks). I saw there was a small gathering going on, but it wasn't until I got closer that I realized that it was a wedding. There was a few people in the stands, guy on keyboard with another on violin, and the presider saying what appeared to be the kinds of things you say at the end of a wedding (in Spanish, of course). I could have just continued on my merry way, but I decided to stay and watch for about ten minutes. In those ten minutes, the couple said their "I do's", kissed each other, did some sort of together thing (they may have been lighting a candle, but I could only see their backs), and before my very eyes, became a married couple. I found that to be a singularly surreal moment. I had never seen these people before, didn't know their names, or anything like that, but here I was, a witness to what may very well be the most important ten minutes of their lives. (I also tried to exploit the moment by asking the ice cream vendor, who was standing next to me, also watching with a dumb grin, if I could have a free popsicle, but no dice). 
I kept walking along the shore until I was finally able to make it back up onto normal land again (not a small feet, as there were large cliffs standing between most of the city and the beach). It turns out, I was heading into the the southern Barranco district of Lima, known to have its own nice little culture. I'm not sure exactly what kind, but it seemed like an okay place. Before long, I ran into their fairly newly opened Contemporary Art Museum. If I had waited until Sunday to go in, it would cost me 1 sole instead of 6, but I figured I couldn't be sure I'd ever be back this way, so I just paid and went in. It was fairly small, but had some interesting art in it. There were two sections in particular that tickled my fancy: first was an area with images made up of a composite of other things (like an image of a sad woman looking out a window made up of bright, colorful toys), and the second was just some pictures of a guy wearing a realistic owl mask in various places, which is the goddamn scariest thing I've ever seen in my life. However, I couldn't stay there forever, so I moved on. I was hoping I'd find a ceviche place here, so I kept an extra sharp eye out. As I was going, I first passed by a little weekend craft fair of sorts, where all sorts of doo-dads were being sold. It was relatively cheap and not so obviously touristy. If I were one to get souvenirs, this would be the place I did so at. They also had some cheap food, but nothing I was looking for. So I kept going until I saw a small little place advertising itself as a cebicheria (why they change the "v" to a "b", I have no idea). And there, in addition to some papas doradas (grilled potatos), I got some basic ceviche de pescados. According to Wikipedia, "The classic Peruvian ceviche is composed of chunks of raw fish, marinated in freshly squeezed key lime or bitter orange (naranja agria) juice, with sliced onions, chili peppers, salt and pepper. Corvina or cebo (sea bass) was the fish traditionally used. The mixture was traditionally marinated for several hours and served at room temperature, with chunks of corn-on-the-cob, and slices of cooked sweet potato." And that's about right. As for my review: eh, yeah, it was okay. I'm admittedly a bit biased, because while I think seafood is fine, I don't think it's all that special. So while I'm glad I tried it, and would try it again if easy and cheap to do so, I wouldn't go out of my way or pay a large amount to get it.

I then walked to the nearest metro bus station, where a woman completely ignored my pleas to let me use her card (I can only think she thought I was trying to sell her something). When I got back to the Miraflores area, I went to a nearby pharmacy and got some cold medicine. I was also hoping to get some Vitamin C, but it was in lousy tablet format, and cost a hell of a lot. I can only hope I got some Vitamin C from the fish in the ceviche (well aware that there is none). I then went back to my room, did a bit of work, wrote a bit, and then just spent the rest of the night coughing. It was a pretty violent-sounding cough, too, despite the fact it was almost completely dry. On a fun note, I did go back and randomly read a couple entries in my old college blog, The Lobotomist's Dream. I genuinely don't remember what led me there, but it was interesting to see how it holds up (hint: some things do, a lot doesn't). I was actually hoping to get this blog entry finished, but it got late quickly, and I didn't want to tempt fate by depriving my cold of sleep.

So again I slept for something like eight or so hours. And this morning, I woke up in possibly the most "No-denying-that-I'm-sick" kinda way. If you're at all squeamish, skip ahead a few sentences...but the fact is, there was so much mucus being produced in my facial region that my left eye was stuck shut. And then there was the phlegm in my chest causing me to cough in the weird descending-volume way where it almost sounds like you're crying. And then my voice also sounded pretty rough. So when I saw Alejandro at breakfast (and gave a simple, straight-laced apology for ditching him), it was pretty clear that I wasn't at 100%.

After breakfast, I was actually a bit unsure of what to do with myself. I actually usually did feel better when going outside and doing things, rather than just sitting in my room, but at the same time, I felt like I should be convalescing myself in order to work the virus out faster (the last thing I want is to arrive in the Galapagos and be immediately known as the sick guy). So, for the most part, I've just been staying inside, trying not to exert myself too much. I did make a couple of exceptions. First, I went out for lunch. I didn't want to go to far, and as it turns out, I didn't. I found a nearby hole-in-the-wall place that had meals for as little as s10. On my way in, I saw one of the folk that I had done the Puno island boat trip with. However, with my decreased energy not coming out in a "Hey, wow!" kind of way, he thought I didn't recognize him, and I think that hurt him a bit. But regardless, I went in, and had a nice little meal, which included a starter (I saw something on the menu called tequeños, which I'd never heard of before, so I got those; turns out, they're fried breadsticks with a small amount of cheese in the middle). I also got some chicken, though they messed up my order and gave me french fries instead of beans. I mean, truly, who needs both rice and fries? Not this guy, I' tell ya what. It also came with salad and an unlimited glass of chiche morada (though I could only have one helping of that sweet stuff), and it was only s10. Not too shabby. Afterward, I went to the nearby grocery store to get some supplies to last me the rest of my time in Lima (as well as some shaving gel, since the bottle of shaving oil I had gotten before this entire trip has finally run dry).

I then went back to the hotel, where I continued writing and relaxing, hoping my body would use the time to build up its defenses. I later went out to get some dinner. I was hoping to simply go to the same place I had gone for lunch, but they were unfortunately closed. So I walked around the area, and again found some cool stuff happening in the park, namely some kind of community movie being shown. I also saw them serving some more food types I haven't eaten before (bombistas, maiz con leche), but I didn't think it would be wise to stay out too long. I just got myself some quick food and some more medicine and went back to the hostel, where I just wrote, went through photos, and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Oh, and one thing I forgot to mention is that at one point, I bought a bottle of Agua Con Gas instead of Sin Gas. Basically, carbonated water, which - even when de-fizzed - ain't great.

So yeah, told you it was pretty uneventful. Hopefully the next time you hear from me, the worst of my cold will have subsided, and I'll have done some more interesting things in the area. In the meantime, I'll just head to the grocery store to sniff oranges and hopefully get some Vitamic C that way. Catch you later!

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