Our initial attempt to enter Colombia was, bizarrely, thwarted by Jason’s status as an Irish national. Apparently there was a little problem with IRA training camps in Colombia a few years back. So now, Irish people must obtain a visa prior to entering the country. Jason did not know this.
Thus, our flight from Cuzco to Bogota was truncated at Lima, but the fun didn’t end there. Bed-bugs plagued our drafty Lima hotel, and festooned the backs of my arms, calves, midriff and eyelid with about forty bites over three days. Bed-bug bites are itchier, redder, and longer-lasting than mosquito bites. And they create quite a visual effect with a white bikini, as I was to learn in Taganga, Colombia.
Despite the evidence, Jason theorized these were all undiscovered mosquito bites from our trip to the Manu jungle, and not recent acquisitions, and that there was no reason to switch hotels. His position changed only on the third night, noticing his own pustule-ridden ankles.
The combination of parasites, trips to the Colombian embassy, and a low-level illness weren’t conducive to seeing much of Lima, unfortunately. And we didn’t take many photos, as both our cameras had broken by that time. But it was nice to get a little feeling for Lima. I’d just read two books by Peruvian writer, Mario Vargas Llosa, set in and around Lima, and it was resonant to see a few of the places he talked about.
Lima itself is was shrouded in a light grey fog for the whole three days. Apparently it’s like that for much of the year. There were some charming colonial buildings, though I can’t claim to have seen that many of them. The Larco Museum contained an excellent collection of pre-Colombian gold, silver, pottery and erotic art (naturally, the erotic art exhibit is the most popular).
And one night we happened to stumble into an Italian restaurant that was home to a local celebrity chef. All through this journey we’ve talked about the various markers of levels of wealth or industrialization in a country (presence of local tourism, concepts of fashion, methods of construction, etc), but here was one we hadn’t thought of — the capacity to support celebrity chefs.
Amazingly, Jason actually received his Colombian visa in a day and a half — much quicker than estimated. Even more surprising, there were no penalties for our flight schedule changes. We’d actually saved money in Lima. Though somehow that wasn’t making me jubilant.