Gratefully we are off of Hellbus, we grab a taxi. Haven’t looked into what Lima has to offer much so when the cabbie asks where to, I tell him Milaflores. Lima is a huge city (9 million) of many different districts. From briefly looking into things the night before Milaflores was the one that stuck out. No idea what to expect though.
The taxi takes us from the bus station on the outskirts of town into the center of Milaflores. Drastic difference between the two places. Near the bus station is poverty stricken, run down shanties. Going towards the center the cityscape gradually gains infrastructure and balance. Roads improve, buildings get windows. Eventually there are green parks, statues and large ornate government buildings. Then come high rises and American food chains. And when we exit in Milaflores centro we may as well be in one of the nicest downtown areas of any American city.
We spot a hostel off of the central park called Flying Dog Hostel, pay the cabbie, and go check it out. Really cool place and a great location, if Milaflores is the type of thing you’re interested in. We weren’t too thrilled to be back in pseudo-America, would rather be surrounded by Peruvian culture than an adopted western one, but we also didn’t think we’d be here long, so we settled in.
We take a stroll to see what’s around and I remember hearing about a place called Larcomar which we are seeing on signs in the area. We stroll several blocks down to the waterfront. Looking down over the bluffs towards a handful of nice looking beaches and again the similarities are striking. Take this skyline, this ocean view, throw a Ferris wheel on the pier and you’d be in Santa Monica.
Then we get to Larcomar and instead of seeing traditional places or some fusion of cultures, we find one of the nicest American malls I’ve ever seen. A multistory complex overlooking the water with chain stores and restaurants. If you’re in Lima and you miss America (fuck yeah!), then this is the place for you. It wasn’t the place for us though, we were a little disgusted at the blatant adoption of western ‘culture’ here, so we barfed a bit in our mouths and headed back to the hostel.
On the way back we found a traditional looking restaurant and stopped in. Got our first Pisco sours and relaxed. The Pisco sour is a traditional cocktail here, although Chile may tell you it was stolen from them. Tastes kind of like a Margarita but with a frothy egg white topper. Drisdelle and I go for a traditional pork stew named after Cusco, the city we’ll be hitting next. MacKay gets a ham and cheese sandwich with a little duck in the pond action.
After a couple of Pisco sours we’re a little more relaxed. The stress and annoyance of Piura and Hellbus drains away, our initially negative opinion of Peru starts to subside, and we’re finally able to realign and enjoy our setting. Despite it’s overarching Americanisms, Milaflores is really a gorgeous area with beautiful green spaces, more of that colonial architecture splashed in amongst the modern, a university campus, and old, detailed churches. And like every city, the vibe you’re really looking for can be found there, in the nooks and crannies of side streets, stumbled upon serendipitously.
Back at the Flying Dog, MacKay crashes out for a bit. Drisdelle and I dip into the Jager I picked up at the Piura super station. The hostel has a great outdoor area in the back. A walked in lawn with a few different seating areas, a pool table, and a English looking bar of to one side. The buildings block out the city nose and it’s a good spot to chill out.
We meet a girl who’s in Lima for a conference, she had to give a talk so hasn’t really taken time to see the city and couldn’t offer much in the way of recommendations. I was having a hard time placing her accent. She said “Naa-ooo” like a Kiwi, but “Whereabouts” like an Upper Canadian. And the rest was risky Euro. She tells us her name is Sarah. She’s from Belgium but has lived in Auckland and Toronto for lengths of time. She was nice to chat with, had kind of a socially awkward shoulder scrunching giggle after most sentences. Sarah was going in the opposite direction as us, heading north then flying to Buenos Aires. We exchanged travel stories for a bit then went to wake MacKay.
We’d managed to chill the day away. Much needed after our bus blitz from Cuenca all the way to Lima. Now it was dinner time already. Gear up and hit the streets.
Outside the place is buzzing. The Milaflores night scene has exploded into the street and it is impressive. All of the restaurants and bars are slammed, dazzling lights and music everywhere in the places surrounding the central park. We cruise the strip scanning for our next scene. Every establishment has someone on the street pushing a menu at you or trying to solicit us into their place. Lots of people coming close to us with offers of “Weed Blow”.
One such guy in an Underarmour shirt and flat bill cap guess so far as to follow us down the street. “Where are you from?”, “Canada”, “Perfect, look look” He hands Drisdelle a business card. Canadian video club on one side. Less thinking, more drinking on the other. “No gracias”. He rolls up his sleeve, “I do tattoo, and have weed and blow too. Let me know what you want.” No gracias, moving on.
Get to the bottom and decide a place from the top of the strip was looking good so back through the throng of pushers. “Hey Canada, you change your mind, huh?”. Haha no bud, we haven’t.
We settle in on an outdoor patio at a place called Rustica for dinner. Crank up the Pisco sour count and order up a meat bonanza. Skewers of chicken, beef, sausage, and pork. Maybe some chicken hearts and lamb. And the big cuts of meat. It was deliciously seasoned. And way too much for the three of us with a full salad and fries too.
After dindin we jump a taxi to Parque Reserva, a park near Lima’s center that features a dozen or so fountains. They’re all lit up at night and supposedly there’s some Bellagio type of thing there. Kind of a funny use of resources for the second most arid capital on Earth.
The park is beside a giant coliseum and we can hear a rock concert pushing against the walls of the place. Sounds alright, no idea who it is. Parque Reserva costs a buck fitty to get in and is immediately cool. Visually and in temperature. The first thing we see is a large multi-spouted fountain launching a geyser into the air with smaller support pillars of water. Colored lights running all through it and set in a Greek semicircle of columns. Fairly impressive display.
The next water show took the cake though. A long rectangular pool with a multitude of water spouts. The water would spiral or form a wall and lasers created 3D shapes in it, or things were projected onto it, like a dashing 50s couple dancing sort of swing style. There was a loud sound system playing music that the lights were choreographed to. It was a spectacular show, people were gathered around taking pics and video.
Here are ours:
(Videos to come later – the internet here is sloooooow, even getting pics up is painful)
There were some more traditional fountains and also an installation of arcing water that you can walk through. We went in and got some pics of it. We got a little carried away getting each other wet and a security guard yelled at us “Don’t play, don’t play”. Bunch of 30 somethings being told not to play.
A few more fountains and we were about done. Nice park. Great temperature with the water cooled night air.
On the way out some cabbies are trying to convince us to visit ‘Chicas del Lunas’ Moon Ladies? Great handle. Are those strippers or prostitutes? “Tall big long short” was a selling tactic haha. Got offered some more weed blow too. Just the ride thanks.
Back in Milaflores centro we hit the strip to sniff out a good watering hole. Flat Bill comes up to us almost immediately. Ha shit, not that guy again. “What the fuck Canada?!” Haha, nope. Not going in to your video bar Flat Bill. And no we don’t want weed blow.
We veer off the drag into the side street nooks and crannies. We pass by a club, no one hustling us to go in, ahhhhhh that’s nice. And what’s this hole in the wall beside it? We duck inside. Full blown heavy metal bar. Reign in Blood is cranking from the rafters. CD selection on display behind the bar is all old school Sabbath, Maiden, Dio, Merciful Fate, Slayer, etc…. Black clad clientele with alt haircuts and romper stomper boots. Gears and cogs decorate the dark wooden walls. Aside from some out of place Japanese school girls in the corner, we’re the least metal crew in the joint. Fuck yeah, this is the spot!
Amped up on Slayer we grab 3 litres of Pilsen and find the last available table. The bartender puts on Motley Crüe’s Looks that Kill video. Wow. MacKay and I delve into the vaults and rattle off a bazillion metal anecdotes at a pace like we’d taken up every weed blow offer all day. Drisdelle feels mostly out of place but the stream of cheesy awesome metal videos is pure entertainment for anyone.
We find out from the bouncer the place is called Crypto. I went to the bathroom and had to wait. A hottie comes out of the girls baño and I glance at the line of guys behind me. I wiggle my locks and point at the girls room. Got some smiley ‘go for it’ mimes and head in. First thing I notice is that the toilet seat is up. Diesel’s on the case.
Finish up and head back to the table. I inform McBurger and Agent Getz of my fine detective work and we begin profiling the baño hottie who, not gonna lie, was the best looking girl in the joint. Strong jaw. Not much in the chest area. Yeah, on second look kind of masculine. Adam’s apple? Can’t really tell. Possible tranny for sure. Now I’m not knocking trannies here, far from it, I applaud that level of self realization. I just think it’s great to have one in the metal vibe, head banging in the corner scoping for metalhead. Halford would be proud.
After 9 litres or so of beer and a plethora of so-bad-its-good old school metal videos, we, slightly reluctantly, decide to split. Take the long back way to avoid running into Flat Bill one more time, and back to Flying Dog. At the bar we’d decided we’re way too metal for this town, and we’re booking it straight to Cusco. Lima probably has way more to give, but we gots that rally blood and a time schedule ticking ticking down quickly. 20 hour bus ride, or 1 hour flight for 20 bucks more hmmmmm. Bedtime, gotta hit the airport in the morning.