Somehow we had survived the long trip over the Atlantic on the bumpy, over-crowded, old plane and touched down in Lima, bleary eyed and exhausted. We hauled our backpacks on for the first time and made our way out through the maze-like Jorge Chavez International airport.
Despite it being the crack of dawn, the city was already loud, hot and crowded – so we joined in the madness. A couple of days before we had tried to be proactive and had arranged a taxi through our hostel to save ourselves some trouble. Unfortunately, as we were about to discover, nothing is ever that simple when backpacking.
We (unsuccessfully) searched and searched for our names on a little sheet of paper but after doing several laps of the arrivals terminal and repeating ‘no gracias’ to thousands of eager taxi drivers we decided it was best to make our own way to the hostel.
After eventually finding a cash machine which accepted our cards, we had to guestimate the exchange rate, find our way back through the terminal, tried (and failed) to get a payphone working before a kind local taxi man offered us his mobile. Finally, after getting through to our hostel, our taxi driver arrived looking a little flustered and before we knew it we were bundled in the back of his barely working cab and were racing through Lima’s noisy streets.
We looked on stunned as miles of bright, ramshackle homes, shops and roads passed us by. I could not believe the crazy driving; racing other taxis, almost getting run off the road by buses and only narrowly missing millions of pedestrians on their way to school and work.
Exhausted but exhilarated by the culture shock we arrived at our hostel; 1900 Backpackers Hostel – welcome to Peru!