The day starts in Quito with a painfully early gift of ‘breakfast in a bag’ (no one eats it). The owner of the guest house drives us back to the airport as today we leave Ecuador and head to Peru.
Thankful for the lack of any headrest screens onboard, we take the opportunity to do some school work on the flight to Lima (reading and journal writing today).
Mia now features in seat-24A-lady’s journal. It was the sweetest moment as she lent over to tell Mia that she’d been inspired to get her journal out and start writing too. A journal she’d had since she was a young girl. She shared with Mia the importance of a journal and some of the pages from when she was a child.
I didn’t catch her name – she’s an American college student from North Carolina who had just visited her boyfriend in Quito and was on her way to visit her mum – who was starting a second career helping women in business – just outside of Lima. Her Spanish was impeccable.
We arrive at Lima airport… and a dog ate my apples. Well not quite, but I’d bought three apples at Quito airport to keep the kids going and they were sniffed out, confiscated, never to be eaten again. I felt like a trafficker… a criminal! Sorry Peru, I genuinely didn’t realise.
We’re collected by an overly efficient tour guide from the tour company. This is the only section of our trip that we’ve fully pre-booked from the UK. Trying to wing-it around Cusco, Machu Pichu, the Sacred Valley, the jungle, posh trains, small planes and Lake Titicaca didn’t feel like fun and offers so much room for error. This is a section we really wanted to get right.
There’s only our family being collected, yet our overly efficient guide continues to hold our name board up high in the air (with the name still facing us) as she walks us the 300 yards through the pretty empty car park to the van.
We’re not good at being herded, it brings out the worst in us, and Andy and I flash each other several looks of annoyance on the way. It’s only a 20 minute journey but we each have a headache by the end of the transfer to the hotel – she didn’t shut up, her favourite phrase being “All roads lead to Rome”… *eye-roll*.
We are staying in the Miraflores neighborhood. It looks quite bohemian as we drive through, several coffee shops, bike repair shops, cool looking bars and restaurants. We’re told it’s well policed and an area that tourists will be safe in. The hotel is nice and we have massive rooms, but I am MOST excited by the sight of a big white bath! With a plug! HOORAY!
We ditch our bags and have lunch at a street cafe overlooking Parque Central de Miraflores – the five of us sit in a row, facing outwards, Paris style, with Andy and I like bookends.
The children need a good post lunch run around and initially we’re disappointed to find out that Parque Central is a ‘look-nice’ park rather than a ‘climb-on-stuff’ park, so we find ourselves inventing silly races for them to burn off their energy. An hour of obstacle jumping, hopping, forward rolling, dressing up, walking backwards and other silly antics later… and we’re done. Energy: burnt.
We have one afternoon in Lima and decide to take a taxi to see the old town for a bit of historical building gazing and culture. We arrive to see the cathedral, the palace and the beautiful town square. We also happen upon a huddle of riot police hiding just around the corner – always a comforting sight.
We take a walk a couple of streets beyond the square and stumble across a very impressive convent. Inside we find ourselves needing to explain the long line of confessional cupboards (sorry, I’m sure they’re not called that), as the children hadn’t seen them before. Several graphic images of Jesus on the cross help to lighten the mood and trigger some interesting conversations.
Sushi (and pisco sours) for dinner. Tomorrow we head to the jungle!
- two refillable water bottles, but only lost for 3 minutes (left on the plane and then retrieved)
- replacement socks
- local sim