We’d reserved a hostel close to the airport, since we had an early flight home. The only problem was that the hostel was ridiculously far from the center of Lima. We asked the bus attendant about how much it should cost to get there, so the taxi driver couldn’t rip us off. She said it should cost about 30 soles ($10). We found a driver who claimed he knew where our hostel was and he quoted us 30 soles, so we were good to go. If you’ve actually read this whole e-mail, then you should know what is coming: he didn’t know where the hostel was, got lost, stopped to ask directions a lot, then charged us 35 soles. My desire to improve my Spanish was growing by the second. I took a deep breath and decided it didn’t really matter.
We had a pretty cool hostel for our last night in Peru. It was three stories high and had a brightly painted interior, nice common rooms, and friendly owners. Although the inept taxi driver had warned us that the neighborhood in Callao was dangerous, the hostel owners had no qualms, and we headed out in search of our last supper anyway, sans bags. The dining choices were limited—there was no tourist district here. We settled on a Chinese restaurant. We’d seen them throughout our trip, and finally decided it would be fun to have Peruvian Chinese food. We ordered the set menu and got a delicious wonton soup, tea, and I had chicken with pineapple, while Zac had chicken with broccoli. It was a satisfying last meal.
We visited a little with the other tourists at the hostel, most who were just beginning their trip. “Don’t worry, the sun does shine in Peru. Just not in Lima” I said, speaking like an expert. We also gave advice on Machu Picchu: “Don’t bother waking up at 3 to get in line for Huayna Picchu, just climb the other mountain.”
In case we weren’t quite ready to end our travels, our last night in the hostel helped us look forward to going home. The hot water for the shower in our room didn’t work, so we had to go down to the bathroom adjacent to the common room to shower. Then, there were people noisily socializing on one of the common areas outside our room, while we tried to sleep. And a lady was walking around, hanging up laundry on the roof, which happened to be right above our heads. We heard the crunch, crunch, crunch of the gravel under her shoes. It sounded like she was in our room.
Our taxi picked us up at 5 am and drove us to the airport. We saw a prostitute on the way, wearing a long trench coat over a black bra and panties. She was holding her coat open to show two ogling men what they might purchase. It was an unsettling sight, but somehow it rounded out the trip. We’d seen the main tourist attractions of Peru, but we’d also seen the occurrences of regular life: a wedding and a wake, a protest and a prositute. On the plane, we drank our last cup of room-temperature Inca Cola and bid farewell to Peru.