Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Greetings from Sunny Lima!

Just kidding! I haven't seen the sun since I left Barcelona on Friday. Lima is CLOUDY. And damp. And cold! And pretty dirty, too. But I like it! The people are nice, the food is fantastic, everything is cheap, and the wifi at Starbucks is FREE! Which is the main reason I'm sitting in one right now, looking out over the cliffs at the Pacific Ocean, which I hadn't seen since August 2006.

And so, life is good. Spent a restful weekend eating and wandering around Miraflores and Central Lima. On Sunday I checked out the Inquisition Museum, which wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped (meaning not as gory as I'd hoped), and then sort of accidentally took a tour of this old monastery, which turned out to be the Monasterio de San Francisco and which is quite stunning. We were lured in by a sign promising a visit to the underground catacombs, which - I'm not kidding - were straight out of Indiana Jones. Bones everywhere... thousands and thousands of people down there. Most of the bones were just in piles, strewn about, but thousands of them were neatly organized. Or at least the femurs were. How they know which femurs are pairs, I don't know, but I didn't inspect them too closely.

This delightful adventure was followed by a stroll through the Plaza de las Armas, where I realized that what one taxi driver said is indeed true: Lima is much more beautiful by night. At night, with the city gently illuminated and glowing, you don't see the dirt and crumbling buildings so well and it really seems like an entirely different city. It's downright beautiful.

Yesterday I embarked on an entirely different type of adventure, one which I certainly never saw in an Indiana Jones movie. You see, I got scolded at Immigration in Atlanta on Friday for having only 2 spaces left in my passport, so I decided it was time to pay a visit to my local US Embassy. Apparently the Embassy used to be more centrally located, but a few years ago they moved it verrrrry far away to the neighborhood of Surco. Not sure if this was before or after a car bomb went off there in 2002 to "celebrate" the visit of one George W. Bush.

Anyway, after agreeing on the fare with the driver (very interesting) I took the long ride to the massive, rather ugly and very well protected embassy. I'll take ugly any day if it means I get efficiency in return. I don't think I waited more than 10 minutes altogether. I just walked in and told them I needed more passport pages. Filled out a form and was told to come back in the afternoon. Incredible. Even more incredible is that when I went back in the afternoon, MY PASSPORT WAS READY! Granted, it kind of looks like I might have put the pages in myself, but no matter. It has an official sticker saying I didn't.

Back to the taxis. This was daunting for the first five seconds. But actually it's great because you know you're not going to get driven around town and ripped off because there's no point - you've already agreed on the price! And everyone is exceptionally friendly. Service here kicks the butt of Spanish service... which, I should point out, is actually an oxymoron. "Spanish service." Ha!


Ilmi said...

I dropped my lens cap into one of those wells full of bones. Had to go down a ladder and get it. A significant portion of the monastery burned down the next day. I was convinced it was the dead seeking their revenge.

huy said...

Noelle, this story is e-spectacular!

NoellieBellie said...

Thanks Huy. You´re so naaaiiice.