The World A to Z

L is for Lima

Choosing an “L” destination took on a bit of a twist when I decided to start focusing on making sure I get to every continent without going bankrupt – HA! I’ve done a LOT of Europe, touched Africa, Asia, North America (that’s an easy one), and while I spent a day in Quito on the way to the Galapagos, I was feeling like I hadn’t really done South America justice. (Yes, I know I didn’t mention Australia or Antarctica, those are “on the list”).

That means “L” needed to be somewhere in South America. Lima, Peru looked interesting, so I picked up a travel book at my local bookstore and checked out the attractions.

After all, if I’m going to spend the better part of a week somewhere, I want to make sure there’s enough to do. I made that mistake in Dublin and was bored. It quickly became apparent there was enough to see to keep me busy. Greg also spotted a few things to add to the list of things we wanted to check out.IMG_2381

We decided if we could swing it, we might even try to add in a side trip to Machu Picchu. In the end, that was more than we could afford. Lima would have to do.IMG_2368

 

I found a GREAT hotel bargain on skyauction.com. We ended up in a 4 star hotel in a VERY swanky neighborhood for a little less than half the posted discount rate. IMG_2345One of the best surprises was the view from our room overlooking a little park.

Our second night there, a local group threw a Christmas tree lighting ceremony complete with fireworks … and we had a bird’s eye view of the whole party.The fireworks even exploded at eye level!

In Lima, we put on comfy walking shoes and headed the 10-or-so blocks to the city park that lines the bluffs above the coastline. IMG_2322

 

 

 

Flowers, sculptures and views of the Pacific make it a wonderful place to walk, sit, people watch and more.

 

Waving from over LimaWe even noticed some adventurous souls taking off on parasailing flights. By the end of the week, we even built up enough of a sense of adventure to take to the skies over the city for flights of our own.

Before that, though, we wandered through an ancient olive tree grove with its twisted, gnarly trees beckoning us to imagine a world decades ago when the trees were planted and young, weighted down with olives before the harvest.

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We trekked to the old city center to marvel at the workmanship inside the cathedral and enjoy the old town square.IMG_2359

 

 

 

We visited the Incan market and picked up some beautiful souvenirs. Undoubtedly we paid too much, but I find it hard to really barter the prices down too low when the workmanship is so stunning and detailed.IMG_2379

We popped into a grocery store near the hotel a couple of nights for wine and snacks to share in the room as we rested our feet after long days of walking and marveling at the variety of architectural styles, the startling socioeconomic differences of the neighborhoods and the Christmas shopping crowds in the stores.  We even watched as young protesters on motorcycles “took over” an intersection for what seemed like 10 minutes, reminding us that Peru’s history has been full of political upheaval.

The seafood was off-the-boat fresh in the restaurants along the coast; mere blocks inland we opted for Peruvian wild game specialties. IMG_2332We picked up bananas from a street vendor one day and I was utterly amazed at the punch of flavor. Bananas transported to markets and grocery stores in the US are as different from the vine-ripened, freshly picked ones as night and day.

The week in Lima flew by, each day different from the one before and fascinating.  We were sad to see the week come to an end, but ready to head home and begin planning our next journey.

The World A to Z

G is for Galapagos

By Judy

One of the goals of my plan to see the world is to get to every continent at least once. As I considered where to go for “G” I realized I had never been to South America. After consulting my handy new atlas (I figured I needed a solid reference book for exploring my options), I came up with the Galapagos Islands. Now, I know the islands are not technically ON the continent … but they are owned by Ecuador and you have to go through that South American nation to get to the Galapagos.
So … I checked out how and what to see, made reservations at an Eco-resort, Finch Bay, on one of the islands and booked my flights, planning a full day in Quito and a half day in Guayaquil as part of my trip

.Quito
All I can say is WOW! First, you should know that much of the plant life on these islands, which are actually right on the Equator, goes dormant during part of the year. It’s not as lush and colorful, but it is MUCH less crowded. That’s why I went in October.  The plants and animals are amazing.

Red ground cover

One of the most remarkable things is that there are, according to our guide, no natural predators for the animals and birds that live on the islands. Because of that, they have no fear of the people who come to see all the unusual species that live there. It is illegal to approach or touch them, but you can get really close – for pictures and observation. On one day, a magnificent Heron stopped by the resort pool for a drink … just walked right up and started sipping.

great blue heron drinking from pool

Another day, we watched a mother sea lion nursing her baby in the shade of a bush.

Nursing sea lion pup

On the front porch of our bungalow, as I sat reading early one morning, about a dozen finches came over and hopped around on the small table just a couple of feet from me.

Finch on side table

And then there are the Blue Footed Boobies.

Blue footed booby flock on lava rocks

These birds are camouflaged with bright blue feet to swim in the tropical waters. I could go on. It seemed like there was something amazing at every turn.

I can’t wait to go back during the regular season to see the amazing colors. It is truly magical and unique. The only thing I wish I had done differently is I wish I had purchased a prescription snorkel mask. Next time … because snorkeling is way too much fun to only do once.