WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE with a 27 hour flight? During my flight from Taipei to New York, I had to make do with glitchy movies while trying to sleep according to the Jet Lag Rooster app’s suggestion. The long and tiring formalities during my connection in JFK airport reminded me of why transits in USA should be avoided. But then, a great tasting hummus spread and Greek yogurt in JFK made me almost forget the hour-long queues that just occurred. My flight from New York to Lima on LAN was uneventful, fortunately.
Upon arrival, I quickly noticed how the Lima airport is better with advantages such as fuss-free customs, plenty of ATMs, English-speaking ground staff and more. However, my backpack have decided to stay another night in New York. I took the news surprisingly well. Not a surprise actually. Since my brother Kennie foresee that I will have to claim for insurance, just before I board the flight (Thanks, but no thanks, bro~). As I said, the staff was helpful, but I now I had to find a decent change of clothes.
MY FIRST IMPRESSIONS OF LIMA are that it is way much easier than I thought it would be. Maybe that is for Peru in general. I’ve always had stereotypical scenes of tout-filled dirty streets like India, the hassle and crowding like China, and the slow and confused employees like Indonesia. It seems that only the third one is true. Service is somewhat slow compared to East Asian standards, but still, they do smile.
Determined to leave Lima for my next destination, I know that I had to buy myself some clothes with my credit card so that I can claim for insurance. The helpful lady at the tourist information center suggest Larcomar shopping mall in Miraflores, which is an affluent neighborhood for Limenos, comparable to what Malibu is to Los Angeles. I arrived at the shopping area at 9am. It opens only at 11am. I tried many ATMs from different banks but could not get it to work. Cash withdrawal via credit card was a failure too. I had only a few hundred US dollars and I changed it all to New Peruvian Soles. Without any other ways of getting cash, my plan is to use my credit card as often as possible (which will be a big problem outside big cities), and pay in cash only if there are no other possibilities.
As soon as the stores opened, I rushed in the GAP and Nike stores, grabbing a few essentials, all the while reminding myself of the insurance claim limit. As swift as a shopping fox, I finished what I came here for, took a cab and got to the bus station just in time for the 1pm bus.
PREMIUM-CLASS LONG DISTANCE BUSES IN PERU ARE FREAKINGLY COMFORTABLE. One of their best companies is Cruz Del Sur (Oltursa is a close second), and they provide luxurious reclining seats with full service on board. Passengers have to check-in baggage as they would do on a flight, have their personal identification checked while a video camera records just like in the immigration counters, and they serve drinks and meals like an airline would. The only difference is that the seat reclines up to 140 degrees, just like flying business class! All these for a fraction of what a flight would cost.
I had a perfect second-floor front seat view. The sceneries were amazing!
THE ONE STREET TOWN OF PARACAS CATERS MOSTLY TO TOURISTS. My hotel room was small but clean, yet I can’t get over the view of the badly littered beach. Packed with vacationing Peruvians, it feels kind of touristy. Food here can be expensive. I had a very unpleasant vegetarian pizza at a pizzeria. Their pisco sour was good though.
After a long flight and a hectic day, nothing matters more than a good bed. Fortunately, I am happy with mine. Hola, Peru. Everything is esta bian!
Perfect seat with front row views
The Panamerica road to Paracas looks dusty
Bus meals resembling those on an airline
Lima can be hectic and heavily littered at some places
Lima airport is quite compact. The most recommended way to get to the city is via Green Taxi. There is an official kiosk when exiting the baggage claims area. Taxis do not have meters so customers and the driver have to decide on a price beforehand. Make sure communication is clear, be it US dollars or Peruvian soles. A taxi to Miraflores costs 60 soles.
There are 2 money changers inside the international arrival baggage area, more can be found outside at the main hall. Although rates may be cheaper in the city, it will be easier (and arguably safer) to change some money while in the airport. There are Global ATMs in the arrival hall, and more ATMs on the second floor of the airport. Most ATMs require a commission when making an overseas withdrawal. Until now, only Scotiabank ATMs do not require a commission and has an upper limit of 600 soles per transaction. It is worth trying at different ATMs because some of them won’t take foreign cards.
Prepaid SIM cards are the easiest way for internet and calls. There are only Claro kiosks in the airport. Other telecommunication dealers such as Movistar can be found in the city. Claro’s staff in the airport speaks decent English, and their packages are the cheapest. There is either the “pay per day” package with unlimited calls and data, or the “pay as you go” package. With the “pay as you go” deal, activation fee is USD$10, and the fees are settled before leaving Peru. This can be done at any major Peru airport, or at the last city before leaving Peru. I find the connection quite stable even in the outskirts.