I set off to meet Kimi the lady who I had met on the cliffs earlier that day. With all the scare stories crowding into my mind about accepting invitations from strangers, I nervously waited for her, but I needn’t have worried about going into her house as she turned out to be the loveliest lady and ever so interesting. Her family are Japanese and despite being born and brought up in Peru she now lives in Japan although she is currently back in Peru for a long visit. We chatted about a wide variety of things, compared cultures and we ate together but a little later in the evening we walked to the supermarket where Kimi gave me a lesson about the different fruits and vegetables and foods which were on offer. I thought that I was quite knowledgeable about the fruit and veg in the world, but goodness; despite being quite widely travelled, South America has a lot of weird and wonderful stuff which I have never encountered before.
Kimi was incredibly generous and treated me to some fantastic ice creams so that I could sample the flavours. I would be unable to describe the taste to you, but both delicious. Sitting in the restaurant inside the supermarket which was incongruously named Wong’s we snaffled down our ice cream and chatted away nineteen to the dozen, before parting and I returned to my dorm in the hostel.
The following morning I managed to break the arm off my glasses but some wild sign language to a lady sat at a stall in the street worked and resulted in her pulling out a little stool and mending them for me in the gutter – all for the astronomical cost of fifty pence before treating myself to an hour’s open-top bus tour around the Miraflores district. That was slightly bizarre as the majority of the commentary was about the various parks and the shopping centre but it was quite nice to see the wider area. I think that the travelling finally caught up with me so for the rest of the day I lazed around on the hostel roof terrace, until that evening when I joined in with a trip to the Water Fountain Park in Lima. A convoy of taxis took us to a large park which contained half a dozen fountains. But these were not ordinary fountains. They danced! Music played and coloured lights and lasers flashed around the jets of water which spurted in different directions and shot up at different heights. Pictures were projected onto what is the widest fountain in South America as if on a cinema screen whilst the highest fountain in South America was floodlit and had a backdrop of Roman walkways and had hoards of people strolling around its perimeter. The water feature which began the hysterical laughter of the evening consisted of hundreds of arching jets which formed a tunnel through which people could run or walk. Some of the lads from the hostel soon discovered that by touching the jets they could divert the water and drench us as we ran through the middle. Then all hell broke loose at the next water feature. This was a large area with jets shooting up in the air from the floor in formation. People were hopping around between the jets and working their way to the centre behind the walls of water which shot up around them. And then the boys got in. They quickly got to the centre and stood there laughing when the jets suddenly changed direction and fired at forty five degree angles blasting them. One of them tripped over, landing in what he thought was a safe space when he got blasted from underneath and then there was carnage as they all pushed and pulled each other into the jets. I hadn’t laughed so much since setting out on my adventure but it wasn’t so funny when four of us had to squoosh soggily together in the back of the taxi.
On my final day in Lima I met up with Kimi and we got the bus into Lima city centre. I had expected that we would visit the usual tourist haunts but thanks to Kimi I had a far more adventurous time. She took me to China Town and showed me the streets which had been her playground, her old school and apartment and the area where her family restaurant had been. Together we explored the markets and back streets and ate in a little backstreet Chinese cafe. Returning early to the hostel I unpacked and repacked my entire backpack in the hostel lobby ready for my onward coach journey. I ate a dish called El aji de gallina – shredded chicken in a spicy pepper sauce and at nine thirty I took a cab to the Cruz del Sur coach station.
I had paid over the odds for the best bus – again I took heed of the horror stories about bandits and breakdowns on the night buses, but it was an extra eight pounds well spent. It was a double-decker bus with comfortable leather seats which reclined almost horizontal, we had a snack delivered similar to an airplane, TVs set into the seatbacks in front and a hostess service (a young lad who didn’t speak a word of English but kept the rest of the passengers amused when he attempted to explain things to me). The journey was long and we bounced along but it wasn’t too bad at all and at least we had no stops and the luggage was secure.
Arriving nearly two hours late into Trujillo which is ten hours north of Lima on the coach I located my luggage, ran the gauntlet of taxi drivers, choosing one who didn’t look too much like a rogue and set off to find what would be my home for the next three months