Miraflores to Arequipa
What a quick few days we've had. We've heard negative feedback regarding Lima and I can see that if you aren't staying in Miraflores. Miraflores is an entirely different story.
We flew Jet Blue from Ft. Lauderdale to Lima, which was an easy flight. We were asked before we left about our continuuing travel because we were taking a one-way flight. After providing a receipt of our flight from Buenos Aires to Madrid on April 16th, we were approved to board.
Our flight attendant was a pill though and refused to speak Spanish even though 90% of the flight was Peruvian. I even had my hand at translating for the sweet grandma next to us that they don't serve sandwiches on international flights.
When we landed, immigration was super easy. We had filled out our papers on the flight, so we were ready to keep left at immigration to hand over our info. The woman asked how long we'd be staying and we got our first stamp! That was quite the feeling. We are on the road officially.
We had a bit of a catch when we landed. Our hostel was sending a taxi driver for us and we were told he would be there with a sign. No go. Between not having checked baggage and under 5 minutes in customs, we had landed, deplaned and were at the baggage claim in under 30 minutes. We tried to call the hostel, but no one picked up. As one of the pushy local taxi companies tried to help, even offering to call our hostel, the guy arrived from the mass of people, holding a sign with our names. Bienvenidos!
Our hostel, Family Backpackers House, was a bit dingy, but in a prime location in Miraflores, one block away from the cliffs and around 30 minutes from the airport without traffic.
We crashed very hard and woke up around 8:30 for a mediocre breakfast of bread and butter and Tang. I was nervous to drink it because I was unsure about the water, but to date the water and fruit have all been 100% okay.
We spent the day wandering Miraflores, including getting a sunburn from walking along the Costa Verde. What an incredible space! Park after park along the cliffs invites you to relax and stay awhile.
We stopped at WONG for snacks for the bus trip-basically a smaller version of Walmart, with everything from groceries to linens. We grabbed lunch of Chicharrones and fresh juices from La Lucha, near Parque del Kennedy, and then returned to Lover's Park to relax under the shade of the trees before our overnight bus to Arequipa.
We had our first moment of realization that we had zero responsibilities. No emails to check. No calls to return. Nothing to do except be for a bit. To be honest, I'm sure we are quite yet comfortable with the idea yet. Ha!
The hostel had booked us a taxi to the terrapuerto, like aeropuerto but terra meaning land. We checked our main bags and boarded the bus in VIP. Definitely do this if you ever travel by bus. We had large leather seats on Cruz del Sur. Our learning lesson was to not take the row in the very back. Our seats didn't recline as much as the seats in front of ours.
The bus ride was about 15 hours, starting along the old Pan-American Highway. It was slow moving at first. Once we were out of the city, our driver began flying. It was tough to sleep with all the movement, but we each got a fair bit of twilight sleep to keep us moving upon arrival in Arequipa at 11 am.
The process of retrieving your checked bag was hilarious. They staple a tag to your bag when you check it and that's how you have to retrieve it. Every passenger stands around the counter with their baggage claim ticket watching anxiously for their bag. Once you ID it, you just call out until you get the attention of the porter and yell which bags are yours. They take your ticket, match it to the bag and then toss it over the counter to you. It made us laugh so hard.
After a perilous taxi ride along the very narrow streets, we arrived at Los Andes Bed & Breakfast. We met our Spanish teacher for the following day and then slept a good bit. The view from our room is amazing, with a prime view of the volcano rising over the town.
We wandered the streets for a bit, including the main square before settling on a quiet alley behind the Cathedral called Paseo Catedral. We were called by every host/hostess to come in for happy hour-Booze-the universal language. We grabbed an umbrella covered table just in time for the daily afternoon rain to start. We ordered pisco sours and the Menu del Dia for S/.15. 15 soles for a 2 course meal, including soup, onion and pumpkin (not together) and a main course. It was pretty good.