I am excited to venture off to a new unexplored continent, South America. In this trip, I will be visiting Peru and Bolivia, hitting many cities in between. The challenge about this trip is that, unlike Europe, traveling between cities is not as easy as it sounds. South America is full of high mountains and some places are only accessible by bus. This means that you probably have to waste many hours on the bus just to reach the next destination.
For the above reasons, my traveling plan in South America has to be disciplined and it has to stick to the plan. Obviously, I am maximizing the places that I'm visiting. This time, my traveling companion will be my buddies Domeny and Caroline, and later joined by Stephen.
Hopefully, I'll get to see some llamas and alcapas in this trip. Let's go!
As you can see from this picture, this is all I'm bringing to my two week South American trip. I was able to efficiently pack my belongings and only bringing the essentials.
By sheer coincidence, we bumped into our friend Yvonne and Henry Chan (another Henry) at the layover stop in San Salvador. Yvonne told us that tomorrow will be the last day of a large local food festival, Mistura. This just simply means that we cannot miss this annual festival. Thanks for the info!
We arrived at Lima late yesterday night and woke up early to explore the city. To our surprise, there isn't much to do in Lima and the city is actually quite silent. It is possible because it is a weekday and everyone is working. Hopefully we'll see a more lively night life crowd.
In the morning, we went to the Larcomar outdoor shopping mall which is located right by the sea. Again, the shopping mall looks very empty.
Right after, we hopped on a tour bus to get a basic understanding of the city, Lima. Below is a picture of Plaza De Arms, a very popular plaza for gathering.
Here are a few interesting facts about Lima: First, it is city built on a desert. It is one of the only few cities in Peru built in close to sea-level altitude. Every other cities is built on at least 3000 feet high. You'll know the difference once you go to other cities. Second, since it is the capital of Peru, about 1/3rd of the country's population lives in this city. Third, this is the city where the healthy food trend qunioa comes from. I will tell you more about how qunioa affects the lives of Peruvians later.
On our day, there was the changing of the guards with a whole calvary group at the plaza.
After exploring the city, we decided to follow Yvonne's advice and went to the Mistura food festival. I must say that the number of participants in this food festival is close to tens of thousands! Every singe line up is long and the picture below is just a small section of their barbequed food.
The food festival is divided up into multiple sections: dessert, barbequed food, ceviche (raw fish), drinks etc. Every single line up for food is so long that sometimes you don't even know which line you are lining up for. Although people don't really speak English in Lima, thankfully they are friendly enough to use hand gestures and guide us. For example, we weren't lining up for the correct line but they let us bud in, which leads to my next story.
In Mistura, there is a system to buy your food. First, you have to line up to exchange your cash for food vouchers. After, you have to line up to order your food and pay them with the food vouchers. At the end, you have to line up again to pick up your food. Now, imagine you are in a food festival with tens of thousands of people. Each time you line up, you're expected to spend at least 45 min to an hour each. Multiply this number by 3, approximately 3 hours, is the time you need just to get your first dish.
Obviously this is not the most efficient system and I don't know why the organizers would choose to do so, for crowd control? Anyway, after knowing the inefficiencies, we decided to divide and conquer just to get our food fast. I think at the end of the day, I wasn't full at all.
For your information, ceviche is by far the most popular food dish in Mistura.
At night, we went to the Magic Water Circuit to check out the fountain of dreams. Really, it is just a large park with many water fountains. At the end, they have a massive water fountain show.