Thursday, December 18, 2008

A day in Lima

After a decent night’s sleep, we made a trip to the local mall with Magda to book our flight to Juliaca with Lan airlines, US$140. The flight is about 2 hours from start to finish, including a short stopover in Cuzco. Juliaca is at the northern end of Lago Titicaca, from where we will travel to La Paz, Bolivia.

The stretch from Lima to Cuzco takes about an hour and is the starting point for traveller’s heading to the ruins of the famous ancient city Machu Picchu, which Virginia and I will visit later on in our trip.

After booking our flight, Magda negotiated a decent fare for a taxi to take us to the tae kwan do academy where Gustavo was teaching a class of vicious little children.

Taxi rides in Lima are an insane experience, as we weaved in and out of traffic, crossing double-yellow lines as if they were there for just that purpose, horn ablaze, turning signals a forgotten consideration. “Um, is there a seat belt?”


Once we arrived at the academy, we saw the tail end of Gustavo’s lesson. Children as young as five were throwing murderous kicks and practicing their jumping technique.

On our way home from the academy, Magda wanted us to experience a Lima bus ride in rush hour, which turned out to be even crazier than the taxi, both of which were a bit more like a rollercoaster than any cab or bus ride I recall back home. The main difference was that the bus drivers seemed to be at war with one another, having competed in the exact same route day in day out, whereas the cab drivers had some level of comradery.

With eight million people living in Lima, and most all of them choosing horns over signals, rush hour is something of a musical composition, albeit one with eight million solo artists sounding off in total chaos, not even wondering if those street lines actually mean something helpful.

The bus ride took us home, where we spent the rest of the evening preparing for our early morning flight, which had us scheduled to leave the house at 4:30am.

And of course, what better way to end a day than with a shower?

Did you know that there are very few people in Peru that are 6’2” tall? Unfortunately for me, this is true.

I hit my head on the shower ceiling no fewer than 10 times. Not just a low shower spout built for someone 5’8”, but a ceiling that could only accommodate those about 5’10” or shorter. After some struggle with the concept, straining my neck sideways, slouching forward, kneeling – you name it – I figured all I could do to get it done without a headache was to assume the squatting position.

If you’re taller than the limited dimensions I write of above, you best be practicing your technique before you come to Peru, just to be sure, because it’s not the easiest thing for everyone to do for ten minutes at a time. Fortunately for me, squatting was a regular part of my theatre training.

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