Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Start of Adventure and a Full Belly

August 18, 2012

It's early Saturday morning and I'm heading to Terminal 3 at Pearson International. Just as I thought that early Saturdays was over for me, here I am waking up at what seems like the crack of dawn to catch a plane. I'd still rather be sleeping...

As usual, the airport is a maze of both people and counters. I'm just glad that I'm not in a more foul mood because heads would roll. Our first stop is Miami: Wikipedia considers the Miami area "Equatorial Monsoon". The last time I was in Miami was with my brother and my mom when we drove to see the Florida Everglades, from Orlando. It rained poured buckets frequently. Nothing different this time either.

We arrive in Lima, Peru, pretty late. But, G-Adventures has sent someone to meet us at our arrival gate so that we are safely brought to our hotel, Hotel La Castellana in the district of Miraflores. Albeit, tired, the drive was a nice break from the ~6 hour wait in the tin can. Already, things look different.

It's time to put my head down and rest.


August 19, 2012

Finally! I don't have to wake up to a croaking alarm clock; instead, I get up because my body isn't used to the bed's texture. *el sigh* Time to drag myself out of bed to get my morning routine started. GADZOOKS! I exclaim, as I shovel a handful of tap water into my mouth to rinse. It's too late now... I just hope that I don't get myself sick. Better to use the UV'd tap water sitting on the sink (courtesy of AW).

It's about now when my mental state has started to turn around and I find myself genuinely excited to be on vacation; and I now derive interest in where I am and what's around me. Turns out, Miraflores is not near the downtown of Lima but a district outside of the main center.

Getting a taxi is a different experience--not that I have much experience hailing a cab in Toronto, but I've never had to bargain for the price of fare to get from one place to the other. With the limited Spanish we had, we settle on paying the driver S/.15.00--which apparently is a fair price.

The Plaza de Armas of Lima is (not surprisingly) Spanish inspired. The city is overcast with cloudy days and some light fog; it's winter now. But even then, Lima typically receives little annual rainfall  and while it's a bit humid, it's chilly.

There is a Sunday celebration parade that we're lucky to witness. Lots of colourful costumes, young people parading throughout the center of the city and just being happy (we later find out that this parade is a frequent Sunday event, in honour of a saint).

Deciding on lunch was one of those things that AW was both excited about yet wary because the last thing either of us wanted was for one of us to develop a gastro-intestinal issue prior to getting on the Inca Trail. But as usual, as internally conflicted as AW can be, we settle on getting lunch in a small hole in the wall of a restaurant... and we eat ceviche and Cuy. Cheers to adventure!

After lunch (and not having our insides explode in the bathrooms), we take a stroll to see one of the (many) churches in the core. It's not surprising to see the number of very ornate churches and the influence of Catholicism in general. We visit the Covento de Santo Domingo de Lima and Monastario Francisco. The Monastario is really cool... the "Catacombs" where you walk through and see the numerous human skeletons arranged in nifty geometric designs was particularly unusual. No pictures of people's graves, thank you. UNESCO world heritage site, check.

We cap our afternoon off and head back to Miraflores and walked around the Parque Kennedy.... more like CAT PARK!!! I've never seen a parkful of friendly felines just interacting with everyone. All of them strays too. I think I died and visited my crazy cat lady house. After AW pries the kitties from my clutches, we head back to the hotel to meet our Customer Experience Officer and the other members of our Inca Trail. The group is a mixed bunch of people from as far as South Africa to England and California and as new as 22 and as youthful as 62. Miro, our CEO is thorough and I'm already a little apprehensive about how I might handle the altitude but up front, I'm strong like bull, I insist to AW.

The day has already been a whirlwind of adventure (and risk) from where I accidentally drink the tap water, eat a rodent and walk through a church's eerie catacombs to view those who have been laid to rest there. As things usually go, for AW and I, we ended the night on an opposing note when we head out to the Pacific Ocean to dine at La Rosa Nauticca.

This restaurant is more than we had thought it was... this was high class dining and I was still wearing my Nike cotton tshirt and Lululemon pants. Go me! Just when I thought we already stuck out like sore thumbs, we stroll into a fine dining establishment in athletic gear without reservations or a lick of Spanish. Despite this series of awkward moments, we were seated on their patio (this restaurant is actually situated on the Pacific Ocean) away from their regular (appropriately dressed) patrons. That's ok b/c it meant that the seafood poo-poo platter we ordered could be eaten in whatever fashion I felt like eating it.

It would be noted that prior to this seafood platter, we had yet another platter of ceviche. And that empty glass is the remains of a picso sour.

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