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Friday, November 18, 2005

Dirty nails complete a look...

Hi there...

I know, I haven't been online in a while...I've been running around South America, what else...?

Anyway, I'm going to try to play catch up today. I have a free day in Santiago, Chile and I'm just taking it to walk around, email and write a little and drink lots of coffee. I've become hooked on a coffee drink that they serve in Chile, it's called Cafe Helado, which basically tranlates to coffee with ice cream on top. Uh-huh....not the BEST thing to be hooked on. But, nonetheless... So, sitting in a coffee shop is a pretty enjoyable treat in Santiago.

Ok, backtracking...
Lima. As per usual, I got up at the crack of ass in Cusco to go to Lima. I wasn't connecting to Santiago, until 9 PMish, so I had a full day to spend in Lima aimlessly wandering with maybe two hours of sleep logged. At best. I had heard dreadful things about Lima and wasn't really looking forward to it. Dirty (check), congested (check), and ugly (check). Since I had only passed thru for the splurge night at the Marriott a week ago, I had some exploring to do to form my own opinion. As it turns out, I really enjoyed it (EXCEPT for how freaking dirty I was after walking around all nails turned grey, my white beater....yeah, not even CLOSE to white anymore (I threw it out), and my legs had a film of dust on them that I had to SCRUB with the Sheraton/Santiago soap bar to get off...yeah. You should've seen the shower drain when I finally showered in Santiago. Mmmm...hmmm. Images, images.)

When I got in, I went straight to the Plaza de Armas, chatting with the cab driver all the while (I'm really good at chatting with cab drivers. They always give me their cards when I leave their taxi. I guess I'm not intimidated to talk to them and sound foolish b/c it's only the two of us there to hear...I dunno. I give my best Spanish in cabs, though, I'm realizing). The Plaza de Armas is gorgeous. It has a huge fountain in the middle, with tons of benches surrounding. The buildings on the Plaza consist of the Presidential Palace which is a massive, white gated mansion that is offset by the municipal buildings on the other side, which are a bright shade of pumpkin color. It's aesthetically pleasing and while I'm sure you're thinking "pumpkin colored?" I really, really loved sitting in the Plaza. You would too. It's a highlight of Lima, for sure. The Catedral is on another side, and after being approached by a student named (didn't catch it) who just wanted to chit-chat with me, and for those of you who know me...I'm NOT exactly a morning person (though I'm getting better, I SWEAR!), I ducked into the Catedral under the guise of being REALLY interested in like, God, b/c you have to pay to go in and the chatty student wouldn't pay. There's a lot of ducking out like that, b/c you're constantly approached as a solo traveler. The only time I'm TRULY alone is when I'm hiding in my hotel room. Alas, in Lima, I had no hotel to hide out in.

Then, from the Plaza, I walked to the Plaza de San Martin, which was fine but underwhelming. Off the Plaza, though is the Hotel Gran Bolivar, a regal and uber-fancy hotel that I was told by a Peruvian author of my friend Michael's to visit. So, I checked into the hotel which was lovely, and parked myself on the terrace to down about 3 Cafe Americanos con leche while I wrote in my journal and caught up with myself. From there, I went to the neighborhood of Miraflores, first noticing at this point, the grey of my nails....where you can look out onto the ocean. I walked the whole area, it's young and more trendy than the other areas of Lima that I've checked out today, and full of shops and restaurants. I walked to the water, where there is a huge promenade of about three levels on the coast that overlooks the ocean. Lima is overcast most of the time, so you see a lot of fog as you look out onto the water, but regardless, it was calming and I was just completely happy being there with my Pisco Sour. Then, OBVIOUSLY, needed food. (I swear, if I don't get to a gym soon.....) So, I went to Astrid y Gaston, which was recc'd to me by everyone I met. THE restaurant in Lima. As I walk in, I feel at home. The deeply colored walls with great artwork on them, the open kitchen where you can watch the chefs cook, the waiters in their expensive, tailored suits, the hot looking Peruvians in clothes I wish I packed.......and me, in my sweatshirt and gaucho pants and Pumas, my messy ponytail with dirty nails and mammoth North Face backpack to complete the look. But, without missing a beat, they sat me right down amongst the men in business suits smoking cigars and took care of me. GREAT MEAL, they even let me hang out there until closer to my flight even though they were closing before dinnertime (I was kinda there in between meal services). And, then... I went BACK to the airport for my PM flight to Santiago, Chile...where I forgot to turn off my computer before putting it through the X-ray machine and jacked it for about a day. Yeah...sometimes there's just too much to concentrate on when you're schlepping from country to country. These are my issues.... :)

More soon...


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