DisasterOur travelling companions, Merrilee and Dan, are usually pretty happy people. Not today! On an earlier trip, Merrilee managed to submerge her passport, damaging the cover. They travelled back from Africa with the damaged passport, AND got from Victoria to Seattle with it, but the ticket agent in Seattle decided it was not good enough - Merrilee needed a new passport.
It is 7am, we are in Seattle, Merrilee needs a new passport. Our next flight leaves in an hour. Look at these two - would you let them travel with a suspicious passport? We abandoned them in Seattle and headed for Houston and Lima.
Amazingly they were able to sweet talk the folks at the Canadian consulte in Seattle into producing a temporary passport for Merrilee (which involved faxing a birth certificate from Victoria to Ottawa, ...) that afternoon and made the same flights the next day. Good thing we had a rest day in Lima.
LimaWe spent a day in Lima, wandering around the city. The concierge in our hostel gave us a map of the city and suggested we walk down to this main square. She also put X's on three areas of the map - don't go into these areas.
At the main square, the Plaza des Armes, we found the police. At noon there is a changing of the guard ceremony (people in funny uniforms strut around, brass bands play) at the presidential palace. It all takes place inside a compound surrounded by tall iron bars. The spectators are required to stand on the other side of the street. Police stand along the street.
The ceremony ends with the brass band playing el Condor Pasa/Flight of the Condor. Checking on this, it turns out the song actually a song written by a Peruvian with the melody covered by Simon and Garfunkle.
PucusanaWe came to Lima and the coast to do some bird watching. Peru has several very distinct bird habitats, some of which are best reached from Lima. The first is the ocean itself. Several Peruvian endemics (bird species found only in Peru) are most easily found at Pucusana, two hours south from Lima.
It happens it is the Easter long weekend in Peru. This means people travel to holiday spots, pitch their tents on the beach, and have a holiday. This beach is actually on the river, not on the ocean. The ocean in this area is cliffs, not sandy beaches.
The hill in the background is barren, as is most of the coastline in this area. It is a desert. We were told it almost never rains in Lima. Occasionally you get a mist and the mist might sort of fall, but no real rains. Lima (and Pucusana) gets its water from rivers flowing down from the Andes. These are cities in the desert.
The lack of rain has unexpected side effects, particularly in Lima. Since most streets appear to be late night lavatories, and since there is no rain to clean things up, many parts of Lima have a rather peculiar smell.