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South America, Pt. 5: The Scam


Wrapping up the final days of our South American holiday last year with a little bit of unintended fraud on the way to Lima, Peru.

I had never seen a kombi-ute before

I just realised I hadn’t published anything for the entire month of March, mainly due to the fact that we haven’t traveled anywhere in the last couple of weeks. Today has been a slow news day, thus I’ve finished all of my work, and I’m waiting to pick the dog up from the vet from being spayed so I thought I’d have a look through the photos in my phone and try to piece together the final days of a journey that took place almost nine months ago. It will be pretty brief because I’m just relying solely on photos and the results of looking for something similar on Google. I’ll get Anna to have a look through this piece too before I publish it to see if she can shed any additional light, but I am really just tying up the loose ends of our South American adventure.

Thursday, June 30
We got up on time to catch our flight from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in order to return to Lima, Peru, did the stinky drive past the favelas to the airport, but when we went to check in they had no record of us being on that flight. The woman at the counter apologised profusely, said it must’ve been a booking error, however, there were some business class seats available on the flight we were trying to board that morning, so she gave us a free upgrade as compensation for the hassle. Man, I wish that would happen on long-haul flights. We made the most of our luxurious five-hour flight and touched down in Lima. It was definitely nice to be back. We loved it in São Paulo, enjoyed Rio, but we definitely felt a lot safer in Peru.

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Anna really loved the tiles at our new hotel

We caught a cab from the airport to our new hotel in Lima. Rio is three hours ahead of Lima so it wasn’t time to check into our room yet, but we thought we would try our luck anyway. We approached the desk and asked, but when the man looked up our reservation it turned out they weren’t expecting us until the next day. What a strange coincidence! To make up for their little boo-boo the hotel upgraded our room, but we would have to wait an hour or so for it to be ready. That wouldn’t be a problem, we left our luggage at the hotel and went to get a bite to eat.
On our way I started thinking about what had happened with both the plane ticket and the hotel room and how both occurrences had been way too much of a coincidence to be possible. “Anna, you don’t think we accidentally left Rio a day early, do you?” She checked all of the bookings and confirmation emails and it tuned out we were still supposed to be in Brazil for another night and weren’t really deserving of those upgrades and improvements. I guess anything is possible if you believe strongly enough in what you are saying. That definitely explains Trump’s election, anyway.

The weather wasn’t particularly great, but it was still nice to walk around, checking out the neighbourhood, so that’s how we spent most of our first day back in town:

Friday, July 1
We were staying in the Miraflores region of Peru, an area known for having cool shops along with great bars and restaurants, but it is also close to Pueblo Libre, home to the Larco Museum, described by Wikipedia thusly:

The Larco Museum (Spanish: Museo Arqueológico Rafael Larco Herrera) is a privately owned museum of pre-Columbian art, located in the Pueblo Libre District of Lima, Peru. The museum is housed in an 18th-century vice-royal building built over a 7th-century pre-Columbian pyramid. It showcases chronological galleries that provide a thorough overview of 4,000 years of Peruvian pre-Columbian history. It is well known for its gallery of pre-Columbian erotic pottery.

There are several permanent exhibitions at the Larco Museum, such as The Gold and Silver Gallery, a collection of crowns, earrings, nose ornaments, garments, masks and vases, wrought in gold and decorated with semi-precious stones. But that’s not what we were there for —  Spending a Friday afternoon in Peru looking at erotic pottery could be both interesting and amusing so we went to see what all the fuss was about. They weren’t kidding either, the pre-Columbian civilisations of Peru were pretty damn explicit when it comes to their crockery.

Next on the agenda was Iglesia de San Pedro (Church of St. Peter) one of the more famous of Lima’s landmarks. We hadn’t actually planned to go there initially, but we were nearby and recognised it when we saw it. We attempted to enter past all of the heavily-armed guards, but it was too much of a hassle, so we decided to take a look at another cathedral across the road. Neither of us can recall the name of the place, but it was pretty cool, lot’s of carved wooden sculptures and a bunch of tiny caskets inside. These things were really small!
From there we took a walk around the area until it was time to grab a drink and something to eat so we pulled up a seat in a bar where you sit in wheelbarrows.

After a couple of wheelbarrow-bound drinks it was time for dinner, which meant going to ámaZ for Amazonian food. Ranked as one of the 50 Best Restaurants in the World, ámaZ is described on theworlds50best.com like this:

Amaz head chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino may have learned his craft abroad but this menu is pure Peruvian pizzazz. With extensive knowledge of the Amazonian region and a tireless approach to fresh, traditional forest ingredients, the US-Italian chef adds wild jungle touches to classic Latin American dishes such as ceviche, tacacho (fried mashed green bananas) and cecina (dried pork).

This second 120-cover restaurant pitches such hearty gems as chorizo oil-drizzled snails, lime and raw fish, and garlic Amazon peppers. Drinks are not forgotten either, with the cocktail menu also featuring rare and unfamiliar fruits from the Amazonian larder. At once colourful, intriguing and democratic , Amaz wholeheartedly celebrates its food’s rainforest roots.

That sounded pretty damn good, especially those snails, so they were among several dishes we order and the snails, which were of the river variety, were huge! The ones we received came with some sort of roe and the egg we ordered was of some specific Amazonian bird served on a particular bark, but unfortunately I can’t remember what species either was. The menu changes all the time so I am unable to find out what they were. Anyway, it all tasted pretty spectacular:

After dinner we walked around to find another bar for some Friday night drinks. All we really came across was a dodgy looking reggae-themed bar, one that I vowed to return to in Part 3 of this story, that was relatively empty. Still we made the most of it, but we couldn’t have a big night; we were flying out tomorrow.

Saturday, July 2
It was our last day in Lima, it’s not a particularly big city and we had seen most of it, both over the last couple of days and when we were first here two weeks previous, so we decided just to spend the day wandering around, trying to find new areas we hadn’t stumbled across already. We also wanted to return to some of the places we liked the first time around. First stop — lunch.

I can’t recall the name of the restaurant, but the place where we went to eat did meat in an exceptionally big way, as well as bunch of local fare and we decided to make our final non-airplane-food meal count so we grabbed a bite to eat. Most of the dishes they served, especially the meat dishes, were obviously intended for sharing. We got some sandwiches, as well as some mixed pig intestines and vegetables. Always goes down well.

For the rest of the day we just walked around, unsuccessfully trying to find new areas to splurge in and also for Anna to find another ring, just like she buys in every country we go to and had bought when we were here a few weeks earlier. She managed to find one, however, unfortunately for her it broke not long after. We also saw some cool street art and even cooler cars.

Before long it was time to return to Jorge Chávez International Airport and make our way back to New York City. We had had a great trip and some interesting experiences over our two weeks in South America, such as eating guinea pigs and shitting in shopping bags. I also managed to grow an excruciatingly painful pimple on the side of my nose that even hurt when my t-shirt brushed against it as I got dressed each morning and was still there with a head toward the end of September, regardless of how often or how hard I squeezed it!
It may not have been necessary to stay overnight in the Andes in order to arrive at Machu Picchu, but it was worth any hassle to get there and take in that view. We already knew that trek through the Andes would be painful at the time but would turn out to be something we would appreciate in hindsight and that is most definitely the case. We loved São Paulo and didn’t mind Rio de Janeiro either, but I would definitely suggest that everyone go to Lima at some stage if they’re ever in South America, even if it’s just for the ceviche. Seriously, it doesn’t matter if you’re allergic to seafood, that would be the way I’d like to go. Still, we have so much more of Central and South America that we haven’t explored yet, so we’ll definitely be back.

Now all we had to do was to make our way through all of these wheelchairs to get on our flight back to the United States and hopefully scam some more free upgrades…

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About Dr. Tan's Travels (102 Articles)
My name's Tim. I'm a freelance writer and former ESL teacher from Melbourne, Australia, who taught in Daejeon, Korea for six months in 2007 and, until February 2015, had taught in Singapore for seven years. My wife, Anna, is an ophthalmologist. Between March 2015 and July 2016 we spent a month in Pondicherry, India, three months in Bonn, Germany, and 12 months in New York before returning to Singapore, all for training and work placements for her. The reason I wanted to keep this blog is because I suffer from epilepsy and have a terrible memory, therefore this would be a great way to help me remember our travels. I will do my best to keep it updated and even continue writing now that we're back in Singapore, but there is one problem; I have a pretty severe phobia of anything medical.

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