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Out of the airport in Lima and on the road, the less than perfect traffic flow: buses, cars, and their lesser companions moving in a general direction without the predictability of lanes, indicating their will and size by the intensity of their honks, reminds me of Bombay, makes me feel less of a stranger in this hitherto unvisited city. The cab drive up to our hostel in Miraflores – a relatively nicer part of the city, we are told – offers views of the seemingly boundless Pacific, lined by pebbled beaches and high-rises – fleeting views made shorter by a cab well over the speed limit. We have half a day in the city, enough time to try out two tipicos, local specialities – the cebiche, made of raw fish and lime with onions and chillies in the Peruvian version (countries in SA have their own versions of the dish), and pisco sour, made from pisco (a kind of liquor distilled from grapes), lime juice, egg whites, and bitters, and prepared by our affable host at the Backpackers Family Hostel. One is advised not to consume both of these in quick succession – their high acidity being compounded – online advice we flouted and got away with. An evening walk around the neighborhood takes us to the Parque Kennedy, a small park made memorable by a street play in a small amphitheater-like setting, El Parque del Amor (or love park) with its statue of two lovers in embrace, and LarcoMar, a shopping center overlooking the ocean, whose elevated view of the sea at night reminds me of the Queen’s necklace – the spectacularly lit night-view of Marine Drive in Bombay; another image drawn from a lexicon of the known to describe the unknown. Next morning we move on to our next destination, Cuzco – capital city of the Incas.

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