Hotel Envy


The second day of my Peruvian vacation went much better than the first, even though it started with an errant stab of a fork sending a chunk of omelette straight into my lap. I set out on foot for The National Museum, soon getting that “I got a bad feeling about this neighbourhood” feeling. This time I stopped to ask a policeman for directions; he ended up negotiating with a half-dozen passing cabs to get me the best deal there!

The museum was chock-full of fantastic artifacts from pre-Incan Andean culture, and a lavish recreation of The Royal Tombs of Sipan. But it stopped dead at scale model of the Macchu Pichu area; I guess most tourists, like me, hop on a plane and take it from there…

In the afternoon I took the hotel shuttle to the Miraflores district, and met some nice Americans who I later found out were Jehovah’s witnesses! The shuttle dropped us off at the Larco Mar Shopping Centre, which was clean if a bit small. More impressive was its location, carved into the bluffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean—that’s the mall in the bottom of the photo above. And more impressive still was the Marriott Hotel right behind it. Too bad it’s double what I’m paying at the lowly Sheraton.

Actually I shouldn’t knock my hotel—except for the location, it’s been fantastic—they let me check in at 8am the day I arrived, gave me a fantastic room with free (albeit slow) internet access, a pass to a VIP lounge with with all the triangle sandwiches I can eat, and a free ticket for something called a Pisco Sour, which I’m heading off to try right now…

Ok, I’m back. Boy, you can really taste the egg whites! Apparently the bartender thought I was drinking my Pisco Sour too fast; halfway through it he brought me a sandwich—what is it with this hotel and triangle sandwiches?!

Anyway, back at Larco Mar a stranger stopped me on the street and started chatting with me in English. Still in damage control mode from yesterday I quietly repositioned myself to avoid attack from behind, but there was no need. Lucas Alvarez, as he later introduced himself, is the director of Nuevo Horizonte a foster home and trade school for street kids. Turns out that on the banks of the river I crossed yesterday are scores of caves where some two thousand homeless children live, all destined for a life of crime or prostitution until Lucas and company came along. At his facility—which I might add that the Peruvian government refuses to subsidize—kids make tourist maps from recycled materials. Needless to say I bought one!

What I didn’t buy was a replacement digital camera for my trip tomorrow to Cusco and on to Macchu Pichu. After hearing the plight of those poor cave kids I’m half-tempted to cross the bridge again tomorrow with an offering of the battery charger and cables from my stolen Nikon, to complete the set.


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