We only spent one night in Lima, which is in the middle of its "several consecutive months of mist" thing right now. Our quick impression was that Lima is absolutely massive, the views of the Pacific and the coastline in the city were more beautiful than we would have imagined, and, again, the disparity in wealth between the area we chose to stay and some of the areas we drove through and saw as we left Lima was still enough to boggle our minds. If you were transported directly into the Miraflores or San Isidro neighbourhoods of Lima, I imagine that one could easily find all of the comforts of home and enjoy world-class cuisine on a nightly basis. Still, some of Lima's other neighbourhoods had me double-checking that our taxi doors were locked as we rolled through, which I have never done before in my life.
Above all else, I'll remember the traffic in Lima and the chaos on the roads. While I'm convinced the driving in Peru is not based on a system of predictable rules, Lima takes it to the next level. On the way to our hostal, the two cars in front of our cab crashed into one another as we were merging onto one of Lima's main freeways. Thankfully, our cabbie managed to swerve around them before we joined the pile, but the experience gave some insight into his pre-driving routine, which was: (1) start up the engine; (2) cross himself and say a quick prayer; and (3) do up his seatbelt. The taxi drivers that pray before starting off with us in the back (this was not the first time) have the same effect on me that Rocky's pre-fight prayers had on Mickey (may he rest in peace). The sensation is completed when we discover, as we always do, that the seatbelts in the back are missing or broken.
Our next stop was the "oasis" of Huacachina, which really seemed like it was dropped into Peru from somewhere in Egypt. In all my travels, I'm not sure I've ever been to a place that stood out so much from its surroundings. I believe there to be a few different versions of the story, but the lagoon at Huacachina was said to have been created in the middle of the desert long ago from the tears of a woman who was mourning the death of her lover. It's a fairly big lagoon, so she must have been really upset. Long a vacation spot for the Peruvian elite, these days the small town is firmly on the Gringo Trail and largely dominated by the backpacker crowd, many of whom can't seem to bring themselves to leave behind the incredibly enjoyable sandboarding and dune-buggy opportunities. They must have better funding than us, though, because the town was the most expensive non-capital city we've visited, but one that was definitely worth a couple of days.
Unlike many tourists in the region, we bypassed flying over the famous and mysterious Nazca Lines (giant geoglpyhs left in the desert by the Nazca people some 1500 years ago), partly because of our fear of flying and partly because I just couldn't imagine any animal sketches providing me with more enjoyment than this one. Thankfully, our 18-hour bus ride to Cusco provided more than enough opportunities for sharp cornering and motion sickness and we didn't feel totally left out.
If we can make it work, we'll try for one more blog post before we start our trek on Thursday.