I was a bit nervous about Peru. The Shining Path terrorist group may be a thing of the past, but the Lonely Planet guidebook still warns that tourists need to be careful of thefts. The "dangers" section mentions kidnappings outside Lima Airport - apparently they bundle you into a car, drive you to a cashpoint machine and empty your bank account.
As backpackers in the 80s and 90s, you protected yourself from robbery by carrying your valuables - money, passport, ticket - in a money belt or neck pouch that went under your clothes. Times have changed. Sad but true, the Mandow Godden luggage contains two laptops, one iPad and three smartphones. (And it's an even sadder fact that they get a significant amount of use.)
But you can't protect two laptops and an iPad in a money belt, and after our experience in Chile, we are a tad paranoid.
Our hostel in Lima had arranged an airport pick up and given us a password. We were under no circumstances to get into a taxi EVEN if the driver was displaying a card with our name on it, unless he/she knew the password. "Contrasena" we whispered conspiratorially. "Sol," he said. It was like being in a spy movie. Then, when we arrived at the heavy-duty security grille that serves as the hostel door, the driver would use his mobile to ring up to reception and someone would come down and let us in. And so it worked - we arrived unscathed.
Ironically, after all that, the hostel was a total dump; the sort of place you might have stayed in at 22, or possibly 32, but not at 52., or even 62. The room smelt of sewage, Sam's bed had long black hairs on the sheet, and the window appeared to open out onto neighbouring rooftops. OK, so you might have needed Spiderman powers to get across to remove our valuables, but as I mentioned, we are paranoid.
We spent the evening huddled over our possessions, leaving the hostel only one at a time to get dinner. I was reminded of a night my mother, brother and I spent in Paris when I was 10. Mum had booked a cheap hotel in the centre, only to discover after we settled in that it was actually a brothel. David and I slept blissfully unaware, but woke to find my mother bleary-eyed, a chest of drawers over the doorway. Now I think about it, there's a touch of sadness in us protecting our devices as mum protected her children...
Anyway, then, as now, we moved to a different, more up-market place the next morning.
Photo note: I realise we didn't take many photos of Lima, and none relevant to this blog, so this is not one of ours. We apologise for any inconvenience. Normal service will be resumed shortly.