South America | Peru | Central Peru | Lima – Everything’s different
Most of you know that I have just left for Peru, some of you knew that I was going to at some point, some of you had no idea and maybe one or two of you are thinking ‘Who’s Mark?’
I arrived in Lima last night for a quick whistle-stop introduction to Pervian city life before I head off into the rainforest tomorrow.
The flight over was an experience; after hour upon hour of deep blue atlantic water I glanced out of the window and everything was green – as far as the eye could see. We were flying over the Brazilian Amazon and the scale of everything was quite a shock. Stretching out hundreds of miles into the distance was this carpet of green with huge brown rivers snaking backwards and forwards. Everything was on a much bigger scale than I am used to, the expanse of forest, the wide rivers, even the clouds were much bigger – some of them with torrents of water falling from them as they were being wrung dry.
After the forest came the slopes of the mountains and soon after we were descending into the murk of Lima. At the airport I was advised not to go looking for accommodation in the centre of town but to go to the more upmarket bit of town ´Miraflores´. After a thrilling taxi ride across town (with a driver professing the benefits of chewing coca leaves to keep him awake), I ended up in a nice hotel, had some supper and then caught up on my sleep.
This morning I decided to get the bus into the centre which was not quite as adrenalin-fuelled as the taxi ride but was interesting all the same. Highlights of the journey were, the guys hanging from the top of palm trees hacking off branches (tree surgeons at a guess), one guy speeding down the pavement on his motorbike and somebody trying to fight with one of the passengers through the bus window. I had the benefit of sitting next to a policeman who was on his way to work – which also came in handy for finding the way to the town square. Lima is famed for its damp, grey, sticky mist for most of the year making it not the most pleasant place to walk around (having said that, it looks like the sun is trying to come out as I write). I had a tour round the Cathedral and afterwards caught the end of the changing of the guards at the parliament. The guards reminiscent of brightly coloured toy soldiers as they goose-stepped around the grounds. Whilst this was in progress, large vulture-like birds circled over the parliament buildings – not sure if this was symbolic!
Next up is a visit to the bone-filled crypts of the famous catacombs before heading back to the hotel. Early start tomorrow since I’m getting the morning flight over to Puerto Maldonado and from there, the boat down the Rio Tambopata to start my work in the Tambopata National Reserve. I’m really looking forward to this, but there´s still a bit of aprehension since it´s difficult to know what to expect in terms of living conditions, the work and the people. However, I´m going to make the most of it since it´s not very often you get the opportunity to do something as different as this.