From Quito, Ecuador to Lima, Peru (and the little hiccup!)

Street art in Quito

14 December

Before arriving in Peru, we stayed another night in Quito, and our flight was around 9pm the following evening. We really didn’t do much in our final hours there, as we were both very under the weather with blocked noses and congested chests – probably a result of a combination of all the cold-water snorkelling, the wrong foods, the air-conditioned boat, and Nic forgetting to include the fishermen’s friends in the Galapagos luggage! So we just did some laundry and found a little vegetarian restaurant called El Mantle (I think!) in the new town in the hope of having a small dinner, and received 2 gigantic plates of spicy vegetables and brown rice – delicious! We couldn’t eat it all, so they gave us doggy bags and we finished it for breakfast the next morning!

Nic at the vego place with her yummy spicy veggies and rice

The next morning was a little adventure – mission: to post the snorkelling gear home! The previous day we had hunted down 2 cardboard boxes at a supermarket, which John used to create one large box to fit the rather cumbersome sized fins. Very clever, that bloke. We then used our trusty phrasebook to valiantly try to explain to the patient woman behind the counter that we wanted to send the gigantic parcel ‘certificado’ in the hope it would reach its destination. It took some time, but mission was accomplished! Now, we just have to wait to see if it arrives!

Fast food Indian lunch

The rest of the day was spent slowly, VERY slowly, walking through the new town looking for bookstores that sold English language novels so we could ‘stock up.’ The reason we had to take things so slowly, was Nic was having trouble with the hills. No, she hadn’t become ridiculously unfit – the chest infection and altitude made it feel like Jabba the Hutt was sitting on her chest when a hill was attempted. Found a fantastic second hand bookstore run by an English chap who had lived in Quito for 23 years. We had a good old natter, and Nic found another Louis de Bernieres novel to sate her appetite, as well as a Stieg Larsson (she wants to see what all the fuss is about with The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo).

KFC, Quito style

Lunch was had at an Indian place that sold cheap, ok food and we filled ourselves to the brim in the anticipation of no time for dinner – all for less than $10 (including beers!). Waddled SLOWLY back to digs where we relaxed and blogged till it was time to leave. The hosts at Casa Aliso were so incredibly kind. They let us continue to use the room for the day until 6pm without any further cost. Patricio, the owner/manager insisted on bringing Nic hot water and lemon to help her chest, and made us the gift of a handmade wooden box (crafted by his sister) filled with chocolates, because we were ‘special guests.’ I guess it does pay to use the one place when popping in and out of a city – they went above and beyond in so many ways. We had no idea how much we would miss Quito and Casa Aliso after the night ahead!

Our driver, Fermin, cleaning the glass from Nic’s seat

16 & 17 December

Well this was the night from hell. When we landed at Lima, it was 11pm on the 15th. We were both tired and looking forward to bed, and Nic was deaf in one ear because it hadn’t unblocked due to her stuffed head. The driver was late, but that wasn’t really a concern. We got our bags in the boot of the car, got ourselves in the back seat, locked doors, windows up. Were waiting at traffic lights when a guy smashed Nic’s window and grabbed her handbag from her lap and took off. We had trouble getting out of the car because of the central locking, and by the time we managed to do so he had completely disappeared. Nic lost her passport, phone and a stack of cash (cash not covered by insurance, of course). This happened around midnight. Our driver took us straight to the police station and helped us make a statement. Luckily, John’s stuff was still in his possession, so Nic got on his phone and cancelled credit cards, rang Telstra to put lock on her phone and sim, and notified the insurance company. By the time all this was done, we got to the B&B at about 1:30am. What a shit of a day.

Plaza de Armas, Lima

Got very little sleep. Woke full of stress and grief and lists of what needed to be done before leaving Lima in 48 hours. Our first full day in Lima was spent in taxis getting to the Australian Embassy and doing the paperwork and running around to get a new passport. Luckily we had a photocopy of the original, but not of the Brazil visa inside (still trying to sort that one out). Ran around getting photos and making special requests to fast track the emergency passport as we were flying to Cusco in 2 days. Back at the B&B, we had to fax a copy of our e-ticket to prove we were leaving to assist in the fast tracking.

Tiny cab in Lima

We then had to get a copy of the police report, both for the passport, and for our insurance purposes. This was an adventure in itself. It took the rest of the day – with half an hour alone just in the offices of the station trying to print the one page report on 3 different archaic dot-matrix printers. Throughout all of this, our host continually commented on how well we were coping and how positive we were. We were making a conscious effort to not get sucked into the negativity, but it was bloody hard sometimes. Finished the day on the balcony overlooking the garden and the ocean with a bottle of red and a gigantic packet of chips!

The steps down to Victor’s studio (with a guy cleaning the roof below)

View from our window

The accommodation in Lima was quite an experience. It is called ‘Second Home Peru’ and is run by Lilian Delfin, daughter of famous Peruvian artist, Victor Delfin. The B&B is one big gallery, with his works throughout the house and gardens, all for sale. We also had the opportunity to meet the artist at work in his studio. Before this visit, we were not at all familiar with his work, but were still a bit star-struck! We were smitten with a raunchy sculpture, but being now broke, didn’t even entertain the idea of purchase! Second Home Peru

Nic in the Plaza de Armas

Waiting for the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace…in the heat!

We made a bit of an effort to be tourists on our second full day. We went to the Plaza de Armas in Centro Lima and prepared ourselves to watch the changing of the guard at the presidential palace at noon. For some reason, there was something bigger than a simple changing of the guard planned for this day, and it didn’t kick off till about 12:45pm. There was much pomp and ceremony and for a full 20 minutes or so we watched the marching band (which ultimately blocked everyone’s view of the rest of the action), before getting a bit bored waiting for the president, and deciding to go and get some lunch. Glad we did – we beat the rush.

Nic and the Christmas llama

After lunch, we toured the Museo San Francisco (the convent museum). It contained the most amazing library – the largest collection of old books in Lima, and the most lovely decore – even had 4 large skylights to make reading easier (unusual for this time period). The catacombs were pretty amazing, too. They were only discovered in 1951, and contain the skulls and bones of 70,000 people. Having been built in the 17th Century, it’s surprising that the basilica still stands, due to the earthquakes, unlike most things built around that time or before.

Nic bloggin in our B&B

John, in the many mirrors in the bathroom

Caught another of many cabs back to the Australian embassy to collect the passport at 3pm. From there we went to biggest shopping mall in Peru to try and find replacement gear for Nic. Not at all impressive – had nothing on Erina Fair! No luck, just a junky wallet (but no cards or cash to put in it!).
Took another long cab ride back to digs and had another dinner of wine and chips, and prepared with anticipation of leaving this bloody city!

One of Victor’s sculptures in the garden

The mock Tudor house, built in the early 1900s

Sunset from our balcony

About bontaks

Nic is the the 'Bon' part of 'Bontaks.' Together we are Nic and John - two travel-addicted teachers who enjoy every opportunity to go places, meet people and experience life.

2 Replies to “From Quito, Ecuador to Lima, Peru (and the little hiccup!)”

  1. WHAT NO FISHERMENS FRIENDS!!!!!! as for the robbery-bastards….I reckon it was an inside job…But you guys are indeed amazing and havng each other to support each other makes such a difference. love you guys and glad all was ok.Hugshenrixx

  2. Nic and John – your Lima story tops our "almost" pick pocket in Quito when Karen had her pocket cut open and wallet grabbed but dropped by a pick pocket. Your Isabella II friends from Maryland – Bill and Karen

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