Saturday, August 6, 2011

Urban Peru: Cuzco to Lima

There probably aren't many travellers who've made it their business to make their way across to Cuzco and decided to give Machu Picchu a miss but that's what's happened here. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to but a combination of time constraints and an aversion to the tourist scrum that would surely exist there especially now at the beginning of August given that it's the 100th anniversary of the 'discovery' of the place, it wasn't a place that I felt as if I had to see. Two days to see Cuzco then, itself a historical hotspot made me feel as if I wasn't completely turning my back on Inca culture. And yeah, Cuzco was fine - pretty, historic, truly impressive plaza, cobblestone streets, blah, blah, blah but at this stage most of this is washing over me in all honesty. Where I should be oohing and sighing, of late I've been looking at my watch a little too much, trying not to be but becoming someone who's making a mental checklist of what needs to be seen in a city, seeing what needs to be seen and then moving on. It makes for an emptier experience and Cuzco was pretty much that unfortunately.
Lima, by contrast to Cuzco is all hard edges. What the city needs more than anything though is a good press officer. Just a few days previous at the Cruz Del Condor I’d heard a loud American girl proclaim that Lima “was the most depressing fucking city I’ve ever been in.” I‘m assuming she's not a resident of Saint Louis. And she was merely the latest in a long line of travellers heading south from this nation's capital bearing tales of misery and woe from the streets of Lima. And as is often the case, it isn’t all that bad in reality though it does try. You know that sense of danger or menace you get around train stations in large cities? Well, Lima has that sense throughout the city, especially in and around the city centre. It's a city of two parts - there’s the historic centre with the Plaza de Armas and Plaza San Martin and there’s the more tourist ready region of Miraflores by the coast. Most travellers decamp to Miraflores to bed down only visiting the city centre to take some pictures by daylight before scurrying off to be lit up by Miraflores' magical McDonald's neon. I spend 3 days there - this is more out of necessity than choice as the earliest direct bus to Ecuador was some 3 days' wait - and not once during the 3 days is there even a beam of sunlight which doesn't exactly add to the feeling.
Peru is stuck in something of a musical timewarp though and who'd have guessed that it'd be a 1980's gay disco fixation. Erasure are everywhere here and for those of you who lost track of the band in the early 1990's, I can report that the band are alive and well and touring in Peru. And Andy Bell is still wearing that fucking white t-shirt and no doubt dances that very same way too. Ah, nostalgia. It doesn't end there either. There’s a Groundhog Day feeling to travelling by bus in Peru. Every single bus ride I take I hear 'It Must Have Been Love’ by Roxette at least 4 times. This situation is compounded by the fact that I then have to endure the aforementioned in Spanish, a Eurovision-esque taste of Roxette, just what you need when there's still another 16 hours to go until Lima. The ups and downs of life on the road.


  1. Oh! The land full of culture and history also has great cities worthy of checking out. Cuzco is considered a World Heritage because of its architectural structure, graveled road, and most importantly, the history of the Incas. Lima is another city considered to be the "City of Kings."

    Megan Payne

  2. Lima is best known for its Incas. Being a place of mystery, archeologists go there to try and find out the mysteries of Maccu Pichu, that in itself is a historical marvel. I mean, it’s thousands of miles up in the mountains and there was no way for boulders to be hauled up there. The Maccu Pichu, like the pyramids, are an architecture marvel.

    Alphonse Daigle