The time has come to view the mountain of administrative crap we need to do and realise that most of it is behind us rather than in front. Admittedly Charlie has been in spreadsheet organisational mode and I’ve, for the most part, just been looking pretty: and doing a great job of it might I say. None the less, with great teamwork ‘we’ have dealt with much of the pain we’ve had thrown at us so we now have some emotional headspace to get back into travelling. For this past week we’ve been doing nothing but having coffee, shopping and going out for lunch and it’s only just now that I realise that this is some peoples view of a perfect holiday. They can have it. This past week has been little more than an exercise in tedious entrapment. Although its only a day to get out and about its symbolic weight is immense, we are finally letting go of this recent turmoil, it no longer needs to own us.
Staying in Miraflores is perfect for us right now but it’s undoubtedly a bubble, a heavily policed sanctuary to those who can afford it. The true pulse of a city is so often in its historical centre, so it’s onto the 301 blue bus and off we go. In a cramped bus squashed for room the release in tension for being able do some good old fashioned sight seeing is giddily exciting. We do overshoot our bus stop so we end up on the wrong side of the river, metaphorically and literally, we’re not in Kansas anymore Toto.
If I were to take the desperation and despair of the sad deserts of northern Peru and impart that to a city scape; I present to you, Lima north of the river. There’s not a complete building to be found with rubbish simply everywhere set to the backdrop of that colour that is becoming synonymous with Peru’s desert coastal regions at least, dirty dusty brown. It’s possibly our headspace after the recent dramas but there’s no feeling welcome here and unwilling to even get the camera out, we make our way to the bridge. Are we becoming one of those tourists? With so much of natural beauty and wonder in Peru it does amaze me that this nation can do dog-shit ugly with the best of them, there’s nothing redeeming about this scene, not even an elaborate wordplay into gritty cultural underbelly seems possible. Its just simply dire.
And as we cross the bridge the true realisation hits us. To the north of the river, little more than an industrial stormwater, lies the post apocalyptic wasteland we have just left behind to those with fewer options. Casting our eyes a few degrees south reveals climbing church steeples, palm trees and a sea of formidable historical architecture. The contrast is as striking as it is offensive. It’s in this snapshot that a sad element to Peru that has been hinted at all along is laid out before us clearly, Peru is a bit of a mess. From Visa international blocking our cards because ‘there’s heaps of fraud in Peru’ to our hostel guy saying that you don’t use any government service as they don’t work among many other hints, there’s an unavoidable conflicting atmosphere in this country. And here is an example of economic abandonment that I’ve never witnesses personally before, and we wonder why there’s a safety/ crime issue in Peru; look no further.
We head south into greener pastures, or just some pastures that have some green at all. Again the contrast between north and south is staggering, mere minutes ago we were leaving a scene of despair we now walk streets flanked by grand architecture. Some of the rubbish issue that we’ve become accustomed to is still present but grand plazas and colonial buildings are the perfect way to overcome a bit of aesthetic disturbance. While central Lima isn’t in the realms of Quito it’s none the less all the things you want to see in a South American city: grand, historical and with centuries of stories to tell.
After a soaking up the sights and basking in the warmth of being tourists again we slowly sign off the day and head back to the bubble. Full of conflicting feeling our minds race with the sights we’ve just seen and the concepts we’ve witnessed. Outside of our own challenges in Peru the picture we’ve had painted is one of vast class gaps, corruption, crime and natural wonder, a heady mix of factors. This day trip has given us far more than the day of sight seeing that we intended, we finish with yet another small window into another part of the world, indeed a great reminder to the reason we travel. Much of the world isn’t nice, pretty or safe, but every part of it gives you a better understanding of how much you do not understand.<