Fly like a butterfly, sting like a ...
Bee stings hurt. They don't happen very often but just as I sat down in the Miraflores park to enjoy the great fresh bread we bought (bread with ham and onion baked into it) I felt something crawling on the back of my neck. So I brushed it away and was rewarded with an incredible stinging pain. Hurt like hell, but then went away bit by bit over the next couple of hours. Ate the bread in the hostel we were staying at.
As we were in our last days of the big trip we decided to not worry so much about money spent on taxis. We took a taxi into and out of downtown Lima instead of using the bus. Taxi was about 6 soles whereas a bus would have been about 1 each, so splashing out just over a dollar for all that comfort and safety. Well, not a lot of extra comfort and safety but it's definitely more convenient.
Before coming into Lima we'd heard that it wasn't meant to be that good. Everyone we'd met that had been here and even the guidebooks told us that it's a bit of a dump and should be avoided. We saw some really crappy places from the big bus we arrived on but Miraflores looks very nice and when we got into the centre of town we were pleasantly suprised at how pretty the buildings were.
Of course the centre and all the important official buildings are based around the Plaza de Armas (there's one in every town) and in Lima it's quite big. It was also off limits when we arrived as they were performing the changing of the guard at the palace nearby. But we got to walk around it eventually. Also walked around plenty of shopping streets and down to the San Martin square as well. To be honest, it looked very good and we were pleasantly surprised.
In the evening we ate fish (in-between flicking the invading ants off the table) and I tried Chicha, a purple maize beer (but not really alcoholic). Seen lots of people drinking it around here, but normally from old plastic bottles as it's home-brewed. This was the first time I saw it on the menu so I had to have a taste. It was very very sweet, perhaps I can compare it to strong Ribena or perhaps a Hungarian fruit soup. Anyway, definitely different, definitely not beer.
Would have like to have tried Cuy (Guinea Pig) as well but that's mainly a dish of the highlands and they price it up for the tourists around Lima, so I think that'll have to wait for another visit to Peru unless I fatten them up from the pet shop myself.
After all that it was an early night and an early start to make our way back to Budapest. We started the journey when we caught the taxi to the airport at 10am on Friday. The international airport, not domestic, which caused the taxi driver to up his fare by 50% en-route, which in turn caused me to open the door as we were driving along until he reduced it to something more acceptable). We finally arrived at the flat at 7pm on Saturday.
We had a 3 hour wait as we changed plane at Bogota but that went quite quickly as we had to sort out the mess with our rucksacks. The LAN Peru people at Lima told us that we wouldn't have to pick up our bags at Bogota and that they'd be transferred to Paris automatically. Rubbish. We had no boarding card for our next flight so we had to argue our way out of the transit area to check-in with Air France. However, the lovely Air France lady told us that it would be very rare for our bags to be transferred automatically in Bogota and we should check. So we had to argue our way through security (helped by a great guy who spoke English and had all the security clearance we needed) back into the baggage reclaim area. Found our bags just lying on the floor, picked them up and went back to Air France check-in. Got the boarding cards for the flight to Paris and to Budapest, plus assurance that our bags would be transferred automatically to Bp (they were telling the truth this time). Argued our way back into the transit area. The whole business took about 1.5 hours. Not bad. We even got to the world outside the airport (the taxi rank) while we were running around doing this, so you could say that we even managed to visit Colombia. Bought some coffee. The rest of the time we spent chatting to an old friend from school who we happened to meet there. Found out that she's been in Bogota for just over a year teaching English. Got some good gossip from back home. Strange how you meet some people. She recognized me after no-idea-how-many-years and called out my name. Cool.
The flight to Paris was fine. It was a bit hampered by a load of Colombian school/college kids on a big trip but they were fairly well behaved if restless. Couldn't sleep on the flight so watched lots of films.
The wait at Paris wasn't so great as Charles de Gaulle T2B is small and fairly empty. We passed the time just sitting in a crap waiting area chatting to another Hungarian girl that we'd just met. She'd been in Buenos Aires for 2 weeks on some sort of exchange program. We exchanged stories about B.A., the buses, the steaks the smog etc.
Then it was just a shortish hop back to Budapest. My phone was working after 2 months of not being charged up so we ordered a taxi and tried to dash outside to catch it. We were stopped by customs asking if we'd taken any drugs and which countries we'd been to in South America. They took a quick sneak peek into our bags and then sent us on our way. Managed to get the taxi and be zoomed back to the flat in the back of a nice BMW.
Freezing cold, we put the heating on full. Ran a hot bath. Called the parents to let them know we were back safe and then collapsed into bed. Slept for 12 hours straight before getting up the next day to hunt for food.
I'll try to do a summary later on with a selection of pictures. There really are a lot of good photos that need to be put next to the blog entries so it's easier to figure out what I'm raving about.
So ends Timbo's Travels in South America. Stay tuned as we revert back to our normal programming of The Hungary Years in a few days.