Chapter 23::Table of Contents::Chapter 25

Chapter 24
Bus to Lima
Lima, Archeological Museum

Thurs FEB 8.

We were awakened a couple hours later by the bus driver dragging the ladder up to the top of the bus, and shortly thereafter by him honking the horn.

I climbed up to the top to hand down our wet packs (not too wet, just damp on the outside. They’d been covered with a tarp). Before I could hand them down, the driver started up the bus and drove out of the lot into the street. Then I got the packs down after my short ride on top of the bus. It had stopped raining, but the ground was wet and in no time at all our boots were caked with wet-cement-like mud. We walked over to a rest. next to the border, ordered up some colas, and sat there eating cookies ’til 8AM when the Immigration office opened.

We decided not to haul our packs over there and back, so N went over and got his exit stamp while I waited, and vice versa. While we were both waiting for 8AM we saw the 2 ladies from the police stand last nite. They were waiting for the border to open, too. Once our exits were stamped, we walked the 100m over to Peru.

First stop - pack inspection. There were 3 fellows in front of us from Denmark having some problems understanding that the inspection of their various bags would go much smoother if they would only give the Official a little cash to grease the red tape. When it came our turn, N made some comment about what a drag it was opening the packs and having to go thru the inspection. The official said for the price of a dinner it would go much easier. I gave him a US dollar bill. This was the right idea, but not quite enough of it. Earlier while waiting at the rest., a money changer had changed our remaining 280 Sucs. at 7:1 for 1960 Soles. N. gave the official another 100 Soles (50 cents) “One more” he said. So for a total of $2.00 we got thru customs in no time at all with no hastle and no inspection.

After a little bit of a run around we found the correct office to get our tourist cards. Our MCO’s worked like a charm and we were given 90 days without a question. Border crossings can’t get much easier. In the office getting our cards, we met a cute little German lady. Outside the office we were accosted by a money changer (they’re all over). I asked him if he took checques. He did. He took us to an office next to the bank and another fellow changed $100 into 20,100 Soles. Just as we were leaving, a very American voice asked us how the hiking was (referring to our obvious back packs) We turned to see an American fellow standing against the wall. We chatted for a moment. He was from Detroit I asked him what brought him to this office. “It’s mine” he replied. He gave us his card and told us to look him up in Lima.

We went off to find a collectivo to Tumbes. We found one, and the Germ. lady was already in the back seat. We rode to Tumbes, the only problem being with her passport at the passport check stop outside town. N & I had no problem, but they took hers inside and took quite a while looking it over, to the great dismay of the driver and us sweating passengers. Finally she got it back and we got to Tumbes without further incident. In town we found the bus company to Lima ($9, 18 hours) and booked seats on the 2 PM bus.

There we met a fellow from Calif. who had managed to get thru the border checks without getting his tourist card. We told him of his mistake and he had to go back to the border to rectify the problem. While waiting for the bus we met 2 frogs. A couple. The lady had met Chris & I just as we came into Baños from off Tung. We talked to the fellow for a while about Peru. We sat in the depot waiting for the bus, sweating, and writing. [1] Jim made it back from the border with his tourist card and Peruvian exit ticket. The border police were quite amazed that he’d made it thru the checkpoint without somebody spotting his lack of yellow card. He finally got everything taken care of.

The bus was finally ready to go, a big greyhound type job. Our packs got stashed underneath with baggage claim tickets and everything. Included in the baggage compartment was a turkey (in a box). Just before departing, Jim lost his ticket. He looked all over in pockets, pack, everywhere he could think of. Finally, just at boarding time, he found it in the front pocket of his pack. We got on the bus and headed South.

An hour later we were stopped at a police check point. They made everybody get off the bus and the officers in charge went thru all the baggage. Mine showed no signs of being even opened, but the Peruvian’s stuff was looked over closely. One fellow was carrying a bag full of magazines and comix. This greatly intrigued the Police who hauled him and his books into the back room for further investigation. We waited about a 1/2 hr. for him to be cleared.

We stopped next a few hours later for dinner. All the little vendors stormed the bus with mangos, peaches, breadcitos, etc. Back on the road we were stopped again by a flat tire. It took about 1/2 hr. to get it changed. Then even farther down the road they stopped at a repair shop and got the flat fixed, put it back on the bus, and drove off into the darkness.

FRI FEB 9,

We spent the night driving along the coast thru desert.

About an hour after dawn we passed an overturned bus. It must have happened shortly before we passed because passengers were sitting out along side the body with their luggage. It was hard to tell in passing if anyone was injured or killed, but the bus was resting on its squashed top. A little later an ambulance passed going the other way.

We stopped for breakfast at a little road side joint in the middle of nowhere. Still in the desert, in fact it was desert all the way to Lima. We were stopped a couple more times by police at check points. At the last point, just outside Lima, there was a Peruvian Military Base nearby. We saw soldiers in formation, running, jumping, and standing still. Just outside the base was a big billboard advertising the Army, or something. There was a painting of a soldier in full combat gear, storming barbed wire, dodging bullets, firing his machine gun mindlessly with a gruesome, blood and guts expression on his face. Right out of Sgt. Rock comics. Underneath the billboard it said “Accion y valor”

We finally arrived in Lima 24 hrs. after our departure. We claimed our bags and were immediately accosted by taxi drivers offering to take us to the Hotel Europa (the local “gringo” hotel). Another fellow came along and told us of an even cheaper pension. We (N, J & I) decided to go with him. His cab had no muffler. The sound it made was truly incredible. The combination of low, unmuffled roar and reverberation thru the taxi made hearing anything else impossible. The sound was to ears as pea soup fog is to eyes. It wasn’t painfully loud, it just made your ears so busy hearing it that they had no time to hear anything else.

The pension he took us to wound up being a private house, it was also full. So he told us of another place for “2.50, no more” and off we went. This time to an office building with apartments. Again another private home. This one was the home of an elderly couple whose children had obviously grown, leaving them with a couple rooms to rent. They wanted $3.00 each but we talked them down to $2.50. Too much to pay, but we didn’t feel like strolling about Lima with 50 lbs on our backs, looking for something better.

The place was like staying with Grandma & Grandpa in the city. The living room had pictures of the kids on the walls, a big sofa where Grandma would sit doing her knitting, a T.V, a big dinning room table, and cheesy magazines in the rack. The bathroom had a toilet, with a seat, that you could put the paper into, a tub with a shower and a shower curtain, sink with medicine chest, and hot water. The bedroom had 2 soft single beds, a closet, table and chair, bedside table and lamp, and venetian blinds over looking the street and the park. Definitely not your typical sleazy gringo flop house.

The 1st order of business was to find the tourist office. The telephone book proved useless. Then we tried to find the S. A. Exp. Club. Again - not in the book. So we decided to head out into the street. I’d tried calling Donald Cross, the fellow from the money house at the border, but he wasn’t in. Once in the street we went to a travel agency, in the hopes they could help us find the tourist office. We finally located the office on their series of very confusing maps, only to discover that the office was closed ’til Monday. Our next attempt was to find the S. A. Ex. C. The travel office proved no help.

We wound up going next door to a book shop and buying a map of Lima. There we met a fellow who had lived for a while in Missouri. He owned the shop and was very helpful in orienting us to the city and helping us locate where we thought the S. A. Ex. C. to be. We thanked him for his help. He happened to have a big black cat that looked just like Buckwheat (named “Blacky”).

Back into the street. We stopped at another tourist office on the way to the S A Ex C to check our directions. There I called Donald Cross. He told us to go to the office of the Lima Times and ask there about a cheap place to stay. Our original intention was to stay until Monday, but we didn’t want to spend any more time than necessary with Grandma & Gramps. So we thought we’d look for a cheaper place and move there tomorrow. Donald told us when we come back thru Lima to give him a call and he might be able to give us job looking for gold(!) somewhere in the mountains.

Our directions confirmed, we did indeed find the SAExC. Just outside the door we met a Kiwi who told us the folks upstairs were very helpful. Even tho we arrived after 4 PM (closing time for members) the fellow invited us in. It was a private residence, strewn with maps, photos, and books. The guy in charge seemed like your typical Calif. gung-ho climber type. He showed us the books and maps he had for sale (double price for non-members) He had no more books than the ones we already have, except for one outlining climbs up volcanoes & peaks in Ecuador & Peru. We passed on that one, wanting more info on hikes than climbs. We did, however, buy a nice road map of Peru (borrowing money from Jim to do so) Jim was interested in going into the jungle to live in the tree tops. He got what info he could. Thus having found the S A Ex C, our business in Lima was more or less complete. We didn’t really need the Tourist Office as we can check there on our way back thru.

We decided to check the Lima Times office just for GP but they had nothing to tell us about places to stay. So we began wandering around the plaza, looking for a place to eat. Then we ran into Maryanne (N’s kiss on the cheek friend from Baños) and her 3 French friends, Josette, Maria & Ben. They, too, were looking for a place to eat. Luckily we ran into them near the end of their search. It seems to take them about 1/2 hr to locate a suitable place. Finally the 7 of us pulled into a not-too-fancy Walgreen-type rest. We ordered up Milanesas with fries and they ordered omelettes. [2] During our meal the waiter told us they had banana splits for dessert. We were sold on the spot. The Frogs were staying at the hotel Europa but gave us the address of another place near there that was even cheaper. After dinner we said goodby and strolled back to Grandma & Gramp’s, saying “drugs” and “sex” to the men and women, respectively. Nobody had any of either to offer.

Back home we showered, and sat around reading Jim’s Time mag. We’d decided to leave tomorrow, Jim to the jungle at Tingo Maria, and us to Arequipa. We’ll see the sights in Lima upon our return.

SAT FEB 10,

Awoke after a good nite’s sleep to roaring busses on the street below.

Breakfast was part of the $2.50 deal and consisted of bread, jam & coffee. We consulted our city map & handbook to find that the Archeological museum was within walking distance. We figured we had time to see it before catching the bus in the afternoon. [3] It was a beautiful day for strolling thru Lima. Brite sunshine , flowering trees, birds, well kept houses , all made the city seem very friendly. Near the museo a fellow stopped us and started talking English. His Grandmother had been English and he tried to practice whenever possible. We talked for a while and continued on to the museo.

The museo had an excellent collection of Inca and Pre-Inca artifacts , mostly jugs and pots. There were some pieces of weaving , some carved stone pieces , some gold , silver & bronze, but mostly pottery of this design: [4] a large jug with a hollow handle ending in a pour spout. The body of the jug was formed into every imaginable shape from animals to corn to fish to mythological beings to houses to faces (deformed , happy, etc.) to pornographic poses (BJ’s, bung-holers, masturbators , etc.) Most were superbly crafted and colorfully painted . There were a few dioramas of major ruins, Macchu Picchu, Wiña Wiña, etc. and some oversized jugs in the courtyard .

We strolled around looking at the pottery and photoing what light & reflections would allow. At the end of our tour, N wanted to buy a book of ethnographic morphology in Spanish. I considered it unneeded and extra weight. He didn’t buy it but walked off in a huff. I strolled back to the apt. about a block or so behind him. I stopped and bought some empanadas along the way.

Back at the apt. N had to talk fast to keep from getting charged for another day. Gram & Gramps thought we were staying another night. He told them a story about having a dream about his Uncle and wanting to leave right away. We called TEPSA and after 1st not having room on the 4:30 bus, they suddenly did on second call. So we put on our packs, said goodby (Jim had already left) and walked over to the bus station. It was a zoo. We finally got our tickets and bags checked, so there was nothing to do but wait.

Which we did in the bus station cafeteria (TEPSABOR) over a lunch of pseudo-chinese food. We were joined by a Fr. Canadian fellow. The 4:30 bus left about 5 and we drove out of the city and back into the coastal desert towards Arequipa. [5] I watched the sunset out my window. It was spectacular, the sun finally disappearing into the ocean as a bright red shimmering blob.

At the dinner stop we bought some dried figs.

The TEPSA bus had less knee room than the Roggero, so I spent most of the night wriggling to and fro trying to get comfortable.


[1]   While waiting I went next door for a good fish dinner, N’s guts were green so he abstained.

[2] and salchipapas, sausage & fried potatoes

[3] Jim stayed behind as his bus left in the morning.

[5] Going out of Lima there were stands after stands of watermelons. It’s summer in S.A.

Chapter 23::Table of Contents::Chapter 25