Staying alive in Miraflores

I travel with cautious optimism and a belief in the goodness of people, and for the most part, this has fared me well. As soon as I leave the baggage area at the Lima International airport, I am greeted by a well dressed elderly man with a slight hunch.
“Taxi Senor?”
He seems harmless, and is standing in the area designated for taxi pickup, so I nod and he grabs my bag.
“How much?” I inquire.
“Forty soles Senor.” I’m not fluent in Spanish, and being weary from travel, I agree and follow the gentleman to the taxi. Outside the airport, I see it isn’t a taxi at all, just a regular car, but I still keep up my optimism in my decision.
“Miraflores por favor” and I tell him the name of the hotel. The drive starts off uneventful enough, but the driver takes an unexpected turn down a small dark alley, and thoughts begin to creep in that this last day of 2011 may just be my last day ever.
Hearing the revelry of NYE partyers in the buildings surrounding me, I close my eyes and pray that I will make it out of this alive and intact. The taxi driver eventually emerges onto the highway along the pacific ocean coastline, and pointing ahead states “Miraflores…”
I arrive to my destination safely, and give the taxi driver a hug.
“Muchas gracias Senor!”
He laughs at my broken Spanish, and we part ways.

*****
I wake early on this first day of 2012, a new year in a new city. I am ready for exploration and adventure. I head down to the beaches of Miraflores, to take in the Pacific Ocean of South America.

I am struck by the fact that the beaches are not sandy, but covered with smooth round stones. As the waves come in and roll over the beach, the symphony of sound that is made from the water receding over the stones is a musical wonder of nature.
I go for a run along the edge of the Miraflores cliffs, soaking in the sun until my body is drenched in sweat. I find a park and dry off on the cool green grass, and read for a spell until my skin turns bright red. Time to move on.
Wandering the city streets of Lima, I find the Pucllana Pyramid, built in the 4th century A.D. by the Incas.
From there I head into Colonial Lima, the historical center, with monuments and edification’s such as the Paseo de la Republica, San Martin Square, and the Cathedral Basilica. Architectural beauty abounds.

Lastly, I see the San Francisco Convent, and find that it contains the largest collection of religious art in South America, and home to underground vaults known as “Catacumbas”, the Catacombs. Intrigued, I enter the beautiful building.

As you enter the dark depths below the church, you feel like a grave robber of old, or maybe Indiana Jones.
They estimate that over 25,000 Peruvians were buried in these catacombs. Walking along the unearthed graves, you see pile after pile of bones; tibias, fibias, skulls… it is surreal and creepy to say the least.
Peering down into deep wells, with skeletons strewn about at the bottom, skulls hanging precariously on the sides of the well, you check your footing to make sure that one doesn’t misstep and tumble down….

*****
Although I only had one day here, as I watched the sunset set over the ocean on my way back to the airport, Lima left me satisfied that I survived the city on my own, and with a feeling of wanting to return and explore more of Peru.

2 Comments

  1. This was my last big hurrah for awhile. 2012 is the start of a new job, which will most likely take up most of my time.

    So my travels will most likely be local, which in itself can be quite adventuresome.

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?