Day 0-1: August 21-22, 2007.
New York and Miami, USA and Lima, Peru.
My flight was delayed by weather at La Guardia. Barely drizzling. Ridiculous. As a result, I missed my transfer in Miami. There were no more American Airlines flights that night, so I took LAN, Peru's airline. I had to run through the airport in Miami because the LAN flight was already boarding when we landed, but fortunately I had made the new ticket arrangements at La Guardia when I realized I wouldn't make my connection. The other passengers trying to get on the flight who hadn't gotten tickets in advance were in a stickier situation.
At the gate, Spanish was clearly the first language of the Miami staff, as well as 99% of the passengers. I was too tired to muck around in Spanish but since no one seemed able to communicate with me in English (and remember this was still in Miami, not even out of the US yet), I was forced to get by with what Spanish I could muster. Good leg room on the plane at least and the food was fine.
When we landed I picked up my backpack in baggage claim, avoiding the horde of people trying to sell cell phones, rental cars and such to the tourists coming off the plane. I went outside and bargained for a taxi to my hotel. It's much cheaper to go out and bargain than to have the airport staff call a cab, but apparently it can also be dangerous and you have to watch out for kidnappers.
It took about half an hour to get to the hotel and I was disappointed to discover there was no hot water in the morning. Bummer.
I decided to go out fro a while since it was still very early in the morning but I couldn't sleep. I walked around Lima and saw the plazas. They were pretty and the walking started to give me an appetite. I had breakfast at a cafe but the vegetarian omelet I ordered was ham not mushroom so I had to send it back and get it switched. At least when they brought me the right one it was tasty.
After some more wandering I had lunch at a chinese restaraunt and tried Inca Kola - the second most popular drink in Peru after Coke. It tastes pretty good, like bubble gum. Apparently it can be foudn in the US some places under the name golden cola or something to that effect. During lunch a little boy came and asked for food. I had way too much so I gave him the rest of my lunch. There are a lot of poor people all over Peru, but it seems like there are actually less in the big cities than in the country. It always feels the other way round in New York.
I went back to the hotel and met the tour group at 2PM. It was only me and a family from Virginia. Not exactly what I'd been told to expect since I heard the age range was 18-40. Note to self, don't trust travel agents.
I skipped the city tour since I had already seen most of it and this seemed like my last opportunity to do anything in Lima. Based on a recommendation from a friend in NY, I took a taxi to Miraflores to go paragliding. Unfortunately, there was no wind to paraglide so I waited on the cliffs for a couple hours with a bunch of other people but we didn't get to fly.
I took a taxi back to central Lima and met up with the rest of the group. I watched some tv in my suite and then we went back to Miraflores as a group for dinner at a restaraunt called Cafe Cafe. I had the ceviche (it was good and spicy) and the beef stew (which was actually like roast beef and mashed potatoes) and combined it all with a bottle of Chilean Malbec. It was a tasty wine and actually was very interesting combined with the spicy ceviche. All the spice disappeared from the wine after such spicy food and it seemed much sweeter. Plastic cork bottle though - not terribly great stuff.
After dinner we drove back to central Lima, again piled 5 in a cab meant for 4. Watched movies until 2AM or so and then drifted off.