Colonial balcony detail, Lima
Sat, July 31:
We travelled to Lima today, for our final stop before returning home, with Jenn feeling "funky" again. We said goodbye to Johan at the tiny Puerto Maldanado airport. No more guide!
Arriving in Lima, the pickup from Hotel Esperanza was nowhere to be found. We got a taxi there anyway, only to find that this hotel was disgusting. Dark, dirty, a completely unwelcoming front desk, with sheets and towels in the room that were still wet. No way we'd spend the last four nights of our vacation in these grim surroundings.
Backpacking down the streets of Miraflores, the next hotel we came to was a Casa Andina. Why not splurge? How expensive could it be? Very, it turned out. Decision time. After phoning a couple of other hotels and finding none of them had all four nights, we decided to spend one night in the Casa Andina. It was a "Private Collection," which explained the outrageous price. Funny they didn't mention their two other locations when we were dithering about price. We only found out about them after checking in. So we booked the next two nights at a regular Casa Andina (at a third of the "Private Collection" price) and, eventually, booked a Radisson for the final night. Three hotels in four nights!
Miraflores is an exclusive residential/tourist neighborhood of Lima. We were right near the John F. Kennedy park and the central traffic "Ovalo," and chose the first restaurant that looked appealing on the pedestrian-only "Avenida des las Pizzas." But no pizza for us: we had "parilla." That's a mixed charcoal grill, served tabletop still on the mini-grill. We didn't tell Anica until later that the mix included "mollejitos" (gizzard) and "anticuchos" (skewered lamb hearts).
Determined to get the most our of pricey hotel, Anica and I went swimming in the very well-heated indoor/outdoor pool. It had a waterfall at one end that you could swim under. We all wore the fluffy white robes and lounged in our king-sized beds watching Direct TV. Jenn was feeling worse; dinner didn't help, and she was up in the night.
Sun, Aug 1:
Today we walked down Av. Jose Larco to the cliffs and Larcomar shopping centre, which is built into the cliffs. It was another typical winter's day in Lima: overcast and heavily-polluted. We couldn't make out much of the hills around the bay, although a few people were surfing below Larcomar.
The pier below Larcomar
We decided to see "El Origen" (aka "Inception" in English). Unwittingly, we bought tickets for a screening at their "Cinebar," where a waiter serves drinks and snacks to spacious seats with night-club style tables in front of them. It's always interesting to see a movie in another country.
Dinner, unlike lunch at TGIF's, was more Peruvian: Pardo's, a polleria chain. I had chicha morada (purple corn soft drink) one last time.
Mon, Aug 2/Tues, Aug 3:
Trying bravely to enjoy her time in Lima, Jenn suggested we take the double-decker sightseeing bus-tour (picture us riding on top of the bus with toques on - 13 degrees celsius and windy - squinting at colonial Lima through smog-strained eyes) on Monday morning. By early the next morning, she was in a hospital. In between, the stomach pains got so bad (gastroenteritis plus who knows what?) that we had the hotel call a doctor. The doctor was very decisive: get in an ambulance. We ended up at a very good hospital. There were a couple of scary hours in emergency, but soon IV treatment got Jenn some relief and blood tests, ultrasound and x-rays ruled out anything further. It cost a lot up front, but the care was spectacularly attentive, and we did have travel medical insurance.
The Archbisop's Palace, Plaza Mayor, Lima
Jenn was checked out of the hospital just after 6:00 PM on Tuesday, feeling better than she had in days, armed with a couple days more "cipro," and confident that we'd make it home. The doctor had struggled to explain how she could have gotten so bad from what may have just been "traveller's tummy." His English faltered, he paused, smiled, shrugged and said "Peru."
While Jenn was in the hospital, with Anica at her side, I had gone back to the hotel, packed, then taxied back to the hospital after checking in at the new hotel. Being a Radisson, it was more luxury than we were used to, but we had little time or spirit to enjoy it. We spent our last night in Lima praying that nothing else would go wrong.
Peru was hard on our health for many reasons...maybe it was the crack.
Wed, Aug 4:
We made it home! We've never been so happy to be home. Overall, this trip was full of wonderful experiences, but the health concerns had become completely overwhelming in Lima. If we'd hadn't already done "our big world trip" this could have scared us off long-term international travel. Thankfully, the flight home was uneventful. TACA - great airline (with their logo of mean-looking macaws flying in attack formation), but...oh, Canada...home sweet home.