San Salvador was just…meh. Supposedly it has the best nightlife in Central America but we didn’t really have time or energy to explore that. The city is sprawling, noisy, crowded, polluted, and dirty. We wanted to see more historical sights but everything is so spread out and we were just kind of tired and focused on making it to our flight in one piece. So we wandered around the centro for a few hours and didn’t do much else.
I know we missed a lot in San Salvador, but it wasn’t one of our favorite cities, and honestly, we were pretty burned out. Luckily we made it to the airport and we’re now at home sleeping for about a week to recover from all our 8 months of adventures! Thanks for following along everyone!
We heard a lot about the magic of Cuenca when we first journeyed through Ecuador but we never made it there on that jaunt. On the way back north, we made it a priority to stop in this city full of colonial beauty. Although Ecuador’s third-largest city, Cuenca seems worlds smaller than Quito or Guayaquil. It has a very old-fashioned, livable charm to it. The only downside was that it is the most expensive city in Ecuador, with hostels and food costing much more than in most of the country.
Thanks to the awesome power of Couchsurfing, on our first day in Lima we met a friend, Jorge. He helped us a lot with some venue-searching we were doing for a youth orchestra from Zach’s hometown, which is coming to Peru this summer. Jorge lived in Barranco, and just from our first meeting in a coffee shop there, we could tell it was an awesome area. We were able to find a free B&B in the neighborhood and moved in for our last few days in Lima.
Barranco is historically the poorer, bohemian neighborhood of Lima, although just like it’s NYC counterpart (Greenwich Village) it seems to me like it’s becoming more expensive and upscale then it probably used to be. Still, it definitely has a multicultural vibe and relaxed, “enjoy life” atmosphere. There’s an abundance of classic old cars parked on the streets, and the buildings are all colorfully painted or covered in cool graffiti-style murals.
The main plaza of Barranco is also just a few blocks away from Lima’s best surfing beaches. Being the Bohemian barrio, Barranco also has the best nightlife in Lima, all week long. We went to a salsa club with a live band on a Tuesday night, and the place was crowded with awesome dancers. Our salsa is terrible but it was super fun just to watch the band and the dancers who make it look so easy.
After several days in Barranco, neither of us was ready to leave. We decided to add it to the list of places we could potentially live someday. But we have to see the rest of the world before we decide!
Coming into Lima we were not sure what to expect. There have been a few big cities in South America that we have really liked, but a lot of the time they are just BIG CITIES and full of trash and smog and grumpy people. I tried to come into Lima with an open mind but deep down I expected the city of 7.5 million to drive me nuts. However, after our bus dropped us off and we took a friendly taxi to our hostel and we sat trying to grasp the history, culture, architecture…. I soon realized that my idea of what we would find in Lima was very, very wrong.
The downtown was clean, with tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and people everywhere. All of the buildings were colorful and old but not built crazy tall like in New York City. And best of all, the people were friendly and helpful and seemed generally happy.
We spent three days in central Lima wandering, watching, learning. It was nice to be in such a walkable city, with something new and entertaining on every corner. We made friends, enjoyed the fast internet, ate good food and lots of cheap soft serve ice cream. Life was good.
Every Sunday there are big shows with traditional music and dancing. It was nice to be entertained without Soles falling out of our pockets. These guys wore very colorful clothes and danced a fast and chaotic jig.
After three nights in central Lima, we found a barrio near the beach where the more bohemian folks hang out. However, we did have enough time for one last ice cream cone.
Arequipa was exactly what we needed after out time in the jungle and our 60-hour bus marathon. Coming from Bolivia, Peru seems ultra-modern and paradisiacal. There’s fast Internet! There’s soft serve ice cream! What a dreamland. We stayed for two nights in Arequipa, taking leisurely strolls around town and enjoying the fantastic architecture and mountain views. Arequipa seemed to us a very modern, well-off, and livable city. We’d love to go back and spend more time!