Our second day in the capital and we really can't wait to get the hell out of here. The air is so choked with fumes that we feel unable to breathe.
The people that we have met here are Lima's saving grace, we have chatted to many locals who have been genuinely interested to talk with us and not trying to sell us anything. That is not to say that the streets are not filled with vendors and the occasional touts.
One woman with whom I was chatting on the bus back to Miraflores commented that when she returned after 5 years living in the UK and US she was shocked to see that the economy was in such a poor state that so many people no longer had jobs but scratched a living on the street selling anything and everything - sweets and cigarettes, household goods, shoeshine. This woman, owner of an English School, was clearly one of the lucky ones. She told me of her plans to celebrate New Year with friends in an exclusive resort just south of Lima where the shopping was as good as Florida. Ironically, when we visited the LarcoMar shopping centre in Miraflores yesterday it was the brash Western marketing, the junk food outlets and slick restaurants that depressed me. In Cusco for all the poverty of the people that live up in the hills making there living from farming they are all happy in a way that arcade games and McDonalds cannot.
Our tourist activity for the day was mooching in the Plaza Mayor which is dominated by impressive buildings - the cathedral, the government house... and then looking around the San Fransiscan Monastery. The tour was conducted by a rather brisk woman in very rapid Spanish, a girl holidaying with her family from Guatamala was kind enough to translate for us. We looked around the huge monastery and underground in the catacombs. An estimated 25,000 people from all walks of life and of all ages are buried here and one circular burial chamber was full of skulls. A lovely sight.
After this Danny started to feel unwell again so we headed back to the hostel, before booking bus tickets for tomorrow night to get us out of here and head north to Trujillo. We can't wait to leave. Lima is not a capital city we want to linger in.
Day 313 complete