Tuesday, June 3rd, 2003 – Day 105
Enforced day off for 2 reasons. I have been trying to change my flight (June 16th to late July) from Santiago to New Zealand for the past week without success. The staff at Quantas in Buenos Aires have been trying their best but there are only three flights a week. It seems there no seats available in July and August. They will try again today and will give me a final decision by tomorrow morning. If I don’t get an extension, I need to fly to Lima tomorrow or the day after. If I do get an extension I will do a Jungle tour and take a slow boat back towards the coast.
Secondly, today was a series of national strike which closed most of the shops and transport in the city. Thousands of trade unionists and striking teachers marched today through downtown Lima in defiance of a state of emergency that put the armed forces in charge of maintaining order.
Protesters also took to the streets in other major cities, including here in Iquitos – (located in Peru’s Amazon jungle 620 miles northeast of Lima). In Arequipa, the second largest city 465 miles southeast of the capital, local leaders called a general strike to support the protest. More information from the BBC.
Most of the shops and markets here closed. Anyway, Instead of doing anything today, I decided to sit it out and wait for Quantas to email. Spent the morning watching the Irish movie the Boxer which is OK even though Daniel-Day Lewis in Last of the Mohicans is one of my favourite films. Also watched some of the ice skating film Cutting Edge.
Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size
Iquitis – Peru – This is a picture of the Casa de Fierro, or Iron House, which was designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1889 Paris Exhibition. The walls, ceiling, and balcony are plastered in rectangular sheets of iron. Said to be the first prefabricated house in the Americas, it was shipped unassembled from Europe and built on-site where it currently stands.
Did nothing of interest the rest of the day except do laundry. Only 4 Soles for quiet a big bag. Also visited the tourist office on the plaza to investigate jungle lodges and tours. Will come to nothing if my flight out of South America remains the 16th of June. Watched 10 Things I Hate About You – predictable and Bamboozled , a Spike Lee film which was actually quite good. I had never seen it and deals with the entertainment industry’s inability to produce TV shows that render African Americans in roles contrary to the stereotypes fostered by a history of deeming and negative portrayals.
Anyway, had a few drinks in a pub that had a live band on and went to bed around 2.00am.
Wedneday, June 4th, 2003 – Day 106
Still waiting for the expected email from Quantas. Real bloody hot and humid this morning. My shirt was soaking 2 minutes after I left my accommodation. Anyway decided to book out. It was either Lima or Leticia today. Cost was 90 Soles for 3 nights of comfort. Left my bag there and waited. Bored, so went to the Colombian embassy to check out visa requirements for Irish people. We didn’t have to get visas up until last year when this happened. So after that happened, all Irish people are suspected IRA terrorists, like all Colombians are drug dealers 🙂 In other news the teachers strike is over.
Anyway, they said I didn’t need a VISA and just go to Leticia (50 US by plane or boat) and get stamped in for 90 days. I didn’t believe them as I had checked this with there London Embassy. Anyway, we had a nice chat about Ireland and the cost of taking a year out. GOT the email from Qunatas at 10.30am. Looked like they could get a seat for the 30th of July. Ok, later than I wanted anted but better than racing back to Santiago to fly to Auckland in 12 days. Decided against (1) A jungle tour (2) Leticia in Colombia and decided to head to Lima instead. Went to a travel agent to see if I could fly out that day. No problem, there was a TANS flight at 5.20pm for 61 US inclusive. OK, book it I say, and they told me to come back at 3.00pm. Fine and spent the day walking about. By 1.00pm, the thunder storms started again and didn’t abate until I let at 5.20pm. Paid 6 Soles for a moto to the airport. My bags were physically checked and off we went on a pretty full flight. They put the two gringos on the flight in the middle emergency seats so as to give us more leg room. The guy was American and was doing a 10 day of ALL of Peru. Anyway all we got was a glass of coke and a bag of crisps for the 2.20 flight. Arrived in Lima about 8.00pm. Got my bags quickly. Taxi fares run from 10 to 35 Soles to Miraflores. Best thing is to walk to the highway to catch a cheap cab. Didnt gret that far, but walked about 200 yards until an official taxi guy offered a fare of 17 Soles which is OK. Took about 30 minutes to get to Central Lima. First thing you notice is the smog and the cold. It wasn’t freezing but you needed a jacket. Told the taxi driver to the hostel I picked from the Lonely Planet which said I could get a single room for 12.50 US. It was called BBB but when O got there they said 6-person dorm was 10 US. Well, I couldn’t be bothered with dorm life especially in a city. So I asked them to mind my bag for 20 minutes while I checked out some hotels. On the corner of park Kennedy I saw a hotel called Hotel Las Palmas. While is has an official rate of 35 US per night for a single room, I bargained it down to 20 US per night. Not too much more than a dorm room in a hostel. At least I have telephone with Direct Dialing, Fully Carpeted, Color TV, Private Bathroom. Queen Size Orthopedic Bed and hot water.As I only got into my hotel at 10.00pm, I watched The Fast and the Furious on TV, had a shower, haircut, shave and went to bed.
Click on the picture to see it in it´s original size
Flight from Iquitis to Lima – Peru (04-06-2003)
“Lima once ranked as the richest and most important city in the Americas and was considered to be the most beautiful colonial settlement in the region. Founded in 1535 by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish Crown’s “City of Kings” quickly became the center of power and trade for the entire American viceregency that stretched from Quito to Santiago. Lima was home to some of the Americas’ finest baroque and Renaissance churches, palaces, and mansions, as well as the continent’s first university, founded in 1551. For 2 centuries, the capital also served as the headquarters of the Spanish Inquisition.
An earthquake decimated the city in 1746, leaving more than 4,000 dead and few buildings standing. Today, the capital of Peru is a sprawling, chaotic, and mostly unlovely metropolis, and many visitors dart through it as fast as possible–if not bypassing it altogether. Peru’s blistering poverty is more apparent here than perhaps anywhere else: Depressing shantytowns called pueblos j?venes lacerate the outer rings of the city. And as if that weren’t enough, for most of the year an unrelenting gray cloud called the gar?a hangs heavily overhead, obscuring the coastline and dulling the city’s appearance. Lima has calmed down since the chaotic 1980s and ’90s, when the city was the scene of carjackings, kidnappings, embassy takeovers, and strong-arm political maneuvers. But the city still feels schizophrenic; outer suburbs such as Barranco are relatively gentle oases, worlds apart from the congestion and grime of the rest of the city. Though middle-class Lime?os from residential barrios are again venturing downtown along with foreign visitors, there are still plenty who consider central Lima off-limits.
With a population of eight million–about one-third Peru’s population–and as the seat of the national government and the headquarters of most industry, Lima thoroughly dominates Peru’s political and commercial life. The country’s best museums, restaurants, and nightlife are here, and many of the classic colonial buildings in the old centro are slowly being refurbished.”