After driving myself crazy in Santiago, I decided that my foot had gotten better to continue my travels, so it was on to Lima, Peru. Talk about an intimidating arrival! Picture coming through customs and out through the small door to be faced with a wall of hundreds of faces all staring in your direction, name boards in hand waiting for someone just like you.
Ever been waiting for a taxi for a while in Sydney? This is IMPOSSIBLE in Lima. Just about one in every seven cars in Lima is a taxi. Apparently you can just go and buy a taxi sign at the local hardware, so anyone can be a driver! The best part is you get to set the price and bargain a taxi driver down. He says 10, you say 6. He says 7, you start to show a slight interest but then begin looking down the street for the next taxi. He hesitatingly says 6 and you’re in the cab and on your way!
The foot didn’t get all that much better, so it was back to the doctors for a different opinion. I had to stay in the same suburb of Lima for another two long weeks.
Funniest things I encountered in Lima:
– The waitress who takes your order and then rushes to the neighbouring restaurant to return with your meal…
– The taxi driver who pulls up outside your cafe midway through your meal and asks if you needed a taxi…
– The tourist restaurant street where as you’re walking down the strip, a feisty young waitress jumps in front of your path and asks you if you’re having the fish or the pasta…
– The street hawker of increasing evils. He asks you if you want tattoos, then pirated dvd’s, then girls, then marijuana, then cocaine. Talk about an investment portfolio!
When arriving in Lima, if you don’t have a lot of luggage, go out the front door of the airport terminal and turn right and head out onto the main street. You can pick up taxis there that are three times cheaper than inside the terminal. A typical fare to Miraflores can cost between 20-30 Soles and you are expected to negotiate your price. But be wary – there are LOTS of taxi hustlers.
I’m such a tourist…
Have you ever walked around Sydney and seen the multicultural mix from everywhere? I’ve always loved the differences and unique perspective that each culture brings. But it also goes without saying that tourists always look like, well, tourists. With their daggy clothes or the Australiana paraphernalia draping from their necks down to the camera bag bulging with maps and local tourist guides. You know what I’m talking about, I’m sure…
Well now I am the one that is wearing the daggy clothes, draping Brazilian paraphernalia wherever I can and ordering food in a weird accent with little success in making yourself understood and ending up eating whatever they happen to bring. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who has just learnt a little English? Think of your reaction, the different things you said and did, and now put those characteristics into someone else who is trying to talk with you. It’s pretty weird being on the other side of it!
Some people say I have been brave to come here on my own. I don’t think so. Brave is the Brazilian girl who I met last year in Sydney. Renata spoke no English before she came, was traveling alone and was in Australia for around six months. She overheard me talking with my tutor Rafael at Sydney Tower. When we all went to eat something afterwards, she didn’t accept my offer to translate when ordering, she just jumped in line and used symbols and what little English she had learned to order her meal.
Most travelers will travel in groups or as families and have some connections at their destination, such as work organized contacts or relatives. But to travel alone is to rely on yourself completely. If you feel tired during transit there is no nap for you while someone watches your things for you. There’s you and no one else.
When you arrive at an airport, there’s no one to pick you up, to meet you or to help you get to your hotel. Actually, that’s not entirely true, there’s plenty of people willing to help you get to your hotel for four times the price!
From the two airports I have now arrived at, I realize that I shouldn’t grab the first option that comes my way. It’s usually quite heavily priced, and through my lack of understanding of the new exchange rate, I’m probably being ripped off completely.
In Santiago, the first price was 10,000 pesos for my taxi. I later learnt there is either a bus or an airport shuttle that I can order for around 2,500 pesos.
In Rio, the guy wanted me to pay 160 Reais, I knew the price was nowhere near that much for a taxi to my hostel and so talked him down to 50 Reais (which was still above the normal 40 Reais price)
Solo travel has its rewards at the same time… It keeps you focused and challenges your personal limits. You know that you and you alone can walk into a new situation and walk out the other side of it without too many worries.
You are changed as a person because your experiences only make you stronger if you don’t let them beat you, and also you have a better understanding about the different types of people that exist in this planet of ours.