December 29, 2011

Ceviche y Sol

Siesta hour, day 1. We are no worse for the wear and tare of our long day on the plane. A restful night in the hostel in Miraflores and an early lunch with two types of fresh ceviche for a whopping 16 USD (44 Soles) is helping us kick the pernicious cold we have both been sporting. We ate the ceviche in a sweet cafe that is aptly named El Parquito (Little Park) because it abuts the immaculately maintained Kennedy Park.

Ceviche for lunch on our first day in Lima. Ceviche israw fish oxidized with lime juice and onions. Miraflores is a sight to behold. It's the high end section of Lima which caters to tourists and the upper echelon of limenan society. It is rare to see homeless people on the street and children don't hassle you with factory made bracelets. Why? Lima takes its image seriously. The city of 9 million does not want to have a reputation of being dangerous, impoverished, or uncomfortable. Artisans and vendors exist in Miraflores but only in stucco compounds designed for year round use as Inca art markets. Street vendors selling food have squeaky clean stalls--still peppered with ads for soccer and gambling, but clean. The idyllic facade is maintained by the police. At each intersection on the edges of Miraflores, one policeman (who surprisingly appears to be unarmed, rather than the usual semi-automatic rifle) sits in a plastic lawnchair in the shade of a tree or weedless flourishing corner garden. They are friendly and shepard the tourists when asked for advice or directions. Yet they also shepard beggars and street vendors-- i.e. they don't let them in Miraflores, which lends the district an air of exclusivity, to say the least.

Peruvians do not take holidays lightly. I bought two soroche pills today for the inevitable altitude sickness of our 8 hour bus ride to Huancayo tomorrow. Credal, the altitude sickness (soroche) pill, is composed of Zinc Acetate. There are no listed side effects to the drug online, but one warning did say that "Crespa is made from zinc acetate, so if you are allergic to zinc acetate you should not use this drug". When looking online, it appears that the drug has a stronger placebo effect than a physical effect. It is composed of zinc and various minerals which helps boost the immune system and regulates your breathing which aides in restful sleep despite the thin air of Huancayo's 3259 meter elevation.

December 12, 2011


I took this photo in the Peruvian Highlands in 2008. It's quite different from Chile, but it's a nice teaser! Click on the photo if you want to enlarge it.

Here's to a casual 2653 mile long meander--i.e. the length of Chile. Will and I are leaving on December 28th to backpack throughout the Atacama desert and Patagonia. We are flying into Lima, Peru and plan to chicken-bus-it to Northern Chile from there, with detours abound.

Why Chile? When it's winter in Maine, it's summer in Chile, and we're keen on following the tilt of the earth so we can catch some rays that shine longer than 3:30 in the afternoon. Though bear in mind that Chile won't necessarily be all sunshine and rainbows. This 3,000 mile long country happens to hit some of the lowest latitudes you can visit without actually being in Antarctica. The Atacama is the 2nd driest desert in the world; some weather stations have never recorded precipitation, while others might receive 1 mm of rain per year. However, some locations in the Atacama receive a marine fog known locally as the Camanchaca, providing sufficient moisture for hypolithic algae, lichens and even some cacti (Wiki). Patagonia, located in Southern Chile, is characterized by glaciers, lakes, fjords, and phenomenal backpacking. Some folks refer to it as the New Zealand of South America. There are few roads traversing the rugged terrain, so the primary form of transportation is via fishing boats and ferries.