- Riding in cabs here has already resulted in more near accidents in two days than I've experienced my entire life to this point. Now, I should mention that I am a cautious driver and I do feel a bit of anxiety if I am sitting in the passenger seat with anyone I don't think is cautious enough, so perhaps it's all in my head. But despite the biases in my perception, I feel like this cannot be true. There are no rules of the road here other than "don't get hit". Drivers weave in and out of their lanes, or just drive in two lanes simultaneously, with the white lines being more "guidelines" than anything else. Fitting three cars in two lanes at 40 mph? No problem. Why come to a stop at an intersection when you can slow down a bit, honk your horn a few times to allow those with the right of way that you're about to endanger their lives, and then just fly through oncoming traffic? Why wait to merge when you can just cut off a driver while honking at them repeatedly? Want to throw it into reverse while cars are approaching? Go for it. Just honk first. The horn here seems to be a way to alert everyone that you're about to put them in danger, so even if they have the right of way, they should back off...now.
- As terrifying as riding in cabs is, being a pedestrian seems almost as dangerous. The strategy everyone employs is to simply step in front in traffic, usually in a pack, and hope that cars don't hit you. Waiting for a clearing in traffic is, clearly, for suckers. Twice now, cars have come within a foot of me when crossing the road since, as I noted earlier, stopping at intersections is somewhat optional. Mrs. Done by Forty is already used to this pedestrian experience and thinks that it is cute that I want to wait for the speeding, ever-lane-changing, don't-really-stop-at-an-intersection cars to pass me before crossing the street. She just goes for it, and I don't know if I am being smart or wimpy.
- On the plus side, Mrs. Done by Forty found a cool little hostel/hotel in Miraflores (a kind of nicer, touristy area in Lima) where we got a suite for $80 a night. It's large by Peruvian hotel standards (and the bedroom is bigger than ours at home), with a little living room, kitchen and table for two. It's a good deal compared to what we could find on Orbitz (everything seemed to be from $85 up to $190 or higher) or even airBNB (we found one tin studio for $55 a night, but just about everything else was $80 or more). They also have a simple-but-free breakfast each morning of coffee, cocoa leaf tea, rolls, jam, fruit, and cheese. We love the hotel. Due to the painfully slow internet connection, it's hard to upload pictures...but here is one. We are the room on the corner of the third floor:
- There is an odd bathroom custom here: because of low water pressure, you can't flush toilet paper in Peruvian toilets. After being um, used, it must be placed in a wastebasket. It is taking some getting used to but, so far, so good. At least as good as can be expected.
- To make sure I spend as little time on said toilet as possible, I am only drinking bottled water and avoiding any raw fruits or vegetables that would have been washed in water and then served. So, I can't eat a salad, but can eat a banana, or any other fruit or veggie as long as I cut off the skin. Again, so far, so good. But please say a prayer for my sensitive American stomach.
- We're spending a couple days trying to export soil and plant samples that Mrs. Done by Forty has been trying to get exported out of the country for over a year, for an article she is hoping to publish. Part of the problem is that last year Mrs. Done by Forty found someone willing to leave the boxes of samples in their home, which was awesome, but couldn't get them to the UPS office. The larger issue is trying to navigate the mess of international red tape, and figuring out which permits (US and Peruvian) are actually needed to send them out. After a couple cab rides, we now have the boxes in our room and will go down to UPS today and see if we can put this old problem to bed.
- Lima is probably the most expensive city in Peru, so cabs and eating out are eating a bit into the budget. Add in the fact that we only changed about $60 at the airport (to get a better exchange rate in town) to Nuevo Soles (the Peruvian currency), along with the sad realization that all the exchange places were closed on Sunday, and we were running pretty low on Soles come Sunday night. So, we got to play our favorite game: Can We Afford to Eat Dinner Tonight? We counted out all our exchanged money and had about 58 Soles ($20.71), mostly in change. A lot of restaurants were out of budget so, instead, we went to a Peruvian supermarket and it was pretty awesome. Packed with people and full of different foods, going to the market is one of the things I really like doing when I travel. I like seeing how people buy their food, what different foods they enjoy to eat, and what it costs. Wine, especially wine from California, was overpriced. We saw Barefoot, typically a $5 or $7 bottle, for 32 Soles (about $11.50). It just got more expensive from there. But fruits, vegetables, bread, and meat were all a pretty good deal. We made a small dinner that somehow ended up being mostly carbs and sweets (I'm looking at you, Mrs. Done by Forty) for under $15, including a bottle of champagne and some fresh juice for mimosas. Here's a picture of our haul:
Here is a quick grocery breakdown, for those who like that sort of thing:
- Two guargueros (a caramel filled desert): 4.60 Soles ($1.64)
- Flan (Crema Volteada): 4.39 Soles ($1.58)
- One Cherimoya: 3.43 Soles ($1.23)
- One Plantain: 0.59 Soles ($0.21)
- One Baguette: 0.99 Soles ($0.35)
- One bottle of (not-great) Peruvian Champagne: 16.00 Soles ($5.71)
- One litre of Orange, Mango, and Maracuya juice blend: 7.79 Soles ($2.78)
- 2.5 litres of bottle water: 2.65 Soles ($0.96)
- Total: 40.50 Soles ($14.46...and no tax!)
Well, we're off to try to ship these boxes and then the plan is to trek to Barranco, what's supposed to be a bohemian coastal suburb of Lima. My mission today is to eat as much ceviche as possible without getting sick. Wish us luck!