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Callao (Lima) Day Two Trip Journal

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January 28, 2010, Callao (Lima) Day Two

Yesterday, while driving with Bartolome during our tour of the city, we asked a lot of questions about Lima and Peru.

First of all, we noticed buses everywhere – big buses, little buses and in-between. There is no other public transit in Lima – no subway, no trains. There are over 1,000,000 cars in the city and over 200,000 buses. Bartolome said, based on traffic and the number of stops the bus makes, it can take four hours to cross the city. The buses are not air-conditioned. The buses are privately owned, so there is fierce competition among the drivers for riders. I don’t want to be a bus driver – their hours are awful. Many of them begin at 5am, work until three or four in the afternoon – take a two-hour break – and drive again until 11pm.

Thankfully, we visited Lima during the season that is not earthquake prone. The earthquake season is in October and November – with a big quake approximately every 40 years. Bartolome told us that during those two months, many more people attend church than is normal, praying that the city will be spared.

We asked about the cost of living and the salaries. The minimum salary is $180.00 per month – the average is $400.00 per month. Houses cost about $50,000. There is a 19% sales tax on every purchase – included in the original purchase price. In addition, they pay an 8% income tax.

The currency in Peru is the Nuevos Soles – the exchange was 2.8 Nuevos Soles to $1.00.

This morning, we decided to take advantage of a free shuttle service one of the jewelry stores was offering from the ship to Miraflores. Our driver was definitely a future racing car driver. He was driving very fast and changing lanes as rapidly as he could. And, no, there are no seat belts in these vans.

Upon arrival at the shopping center, we were handed a Pisco Sour … very tasty and very potent. I think they figure if they can get you a bit inebriated, you may purchase one of their baubles. And, we did (purchase a souvenir, that is, versus getting inebriated).

Teddy bears, made with alpaca fur, were definitely a hit – reasonably priced and very, very cute. Our cabin steward just became a father about a week ago, so we gave one to him for his new baby son (who he won’t see until August).

Then, off to lunch with our friends from the ship. It’s so much fun to try the local dishes and learn how they combine ingredients in various menu items.

In lieu of taking the shuttles back to the ship, we hopped in a taxi. Squeezing five adults plus a driver in a small car for a 30-minute ride was a bit of a challenge, but we made it. One person in front and four of us in the back. I felt sorry for the driver, as I was sitting forward in the back seat and my knees were directly pushing into his back. However, he didn’t seem to mind and he got us back to the port in a very timely manner (maybe it was the knees in the back that made him go faster!)

We will be sailing all night, enroute to Pisco – our last stop in Peru.

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John Moen is a cartographer who along with his wife are the orignal founders of worldatlas.com. He and his wife, Chris Woolwine-Moen, produced thousands of award-winning maps that are used all over the world and content that aids students, teachers, travelers and parents with their geography and map questions. Today, it's one of the most popular educational sites on the web.

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