Hire Our Motor Home For The World Cup In Brazil

UPDATE: Our motor home is now booked up until August. Thanks for all your interest!

hire our motor home for the World CupSo you’ve bought some match tickets for the biggest show on earth and booked a flight to get there. The only thing you’ve got to work out now is where you’re going to stay and how you’re going to get around. Brazil isn’t one of the cheapest places in the world for any visitor – one question remains, then – a half-idea, a passing thought: How do I rent out a camper van in Brazil?

Well, here is how you can hire our motor home for the World Cup.

We’re not sure how it’s all going to work out – but from today we’re offering to hire out our camper van for the World Cup in Brazil. The camper currently sleeps three (but this can be increased), has a shower, kitchen, desk and solar-electrical system with enough power to run laptops, charge cameras and phones, etc  – and will come with an experienced chauffeur and a Portuguese/English co-pilot.

At the moment we are located on the Bolivia/Brazil border and, of course, we are able to drive to any of the cities that are hosting World Cup games. The internal configuration and specifications of the vehicle can be customized. Therefore, at this stage, we’re inviting everyone to register their interest and submit their ideas, requirements and itinerary.

Possible scenarios:

  • Luxury: Combine the camper van experience with hotel stays, using campsites and restaurants and short internal flights where required.
  • Overland: Live on board and experience the adventure of overland travel, exploring the complete Brazil as well as the opportunity to visit neighboring countries such as Uruguay and Argentina.
  • Media Support: We can become a mobile support vehicle for your media activities. You can live and work from the vehicle and you’ll have a Portuguese interpreter and a driver.

The interior can be customized according to the requirements.Four years ago, Earthcircuit left Europe, crossing Russia, the Far East and shipping to Canada. Since then we have traveled south through the Americas and after the World Cup we will ship everything back to Europe. The vehicle is a 5.5 ton Renault Dodge 50, a tough, reliable machine that makes the perfect overlanding RV – big enough to live in comfortably, yet compact enough to get anywhere. Your crew have years of experience in living on the road and dealing with all kinds of situations and environments. We can cook, clean, fix and guard – we can organize, arrange, translate and help out with any photography, video or copy writing. Get in contact using the form below to register your interest in joining us for our last adventure in Brazil and hire our motor home for the World Cup!

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Web Media Stuff: Web Content Creation & Idea Stuff Solutions

Web content creation and ideas solutions

Web content creation and ideas solutionsTraveling around the world for four years was always going to be a tour of the world’s odd-job market. We tried so many different things but few were ever going to be the start of a new career – more like special experiences tied to a special place. However, that all changed over the last six months during our time in Lima looking after a BnB and having proper internet at last. It’s not new, it’s not amazing but it has begun to pay the bills: WordPress design, graphic design and copy writing – in short web content creation.

Our Philosophical approach.

In fact, what we have started to do is more than those things: Our services are aimed at the beginner, the web novice, the owner of a small business about to embark on an online adventure. For it this situation which we are uniquely positioned to help with, for we have come to this industry late and this means we have plenty of real-world wisdom and understanding, fresh ideas and thinking drawn from a whole planet full of experiences.

And this kind of jack-of-all-trades approach is something I’ve always been good at – and something I’ve always enjoyed; a few varied skills and techniques coming together to enable that most precious of things: An idea, an ambition born of the entrepreneur’s imagination.

Our first job pretty much demonstrated this.

An experienced American attorney had come to Peru to set up business and he needed a website that could demonstrate to possible clients that he knew his stuff. Now this guy must have practiced 80% of his law in Michigan (or some such place) before the rise of the world wide web – but here he was in a strange country, learning the language, excited by the possibilities and sure, goddamn it, that he could make a success of it. He knew he needed a website but didn’t have the slightest idea of where to start. Which is when he responded to my advert and gave me a call. A few days later, a couple of hundred dollars richer, a few things cleverer about US attorneys and International Law and I’d had my first taste of what I reckon I’ll be doing for the rest of my life: More than just web content creation but, I dunno, ambitious-idea-stuff solutions.

How you can help.

At the beginning of our incredible online project, we’ll need all the help we can get. For the moment we have three ‘nodes’:

  • Our profile on peopleperhour.com needs endorsing! We’re using this website to connect with others who need help with their projects and the more people who endorse us, the higher we get in the rankings and listings. If we attract any clients outside of this website we can utilize the deposit and payment system that peopleperhour use without paying any of the commission fees that they charge.
  • Visit our website, browse our blog posts as they slowly go up – link to us and spread the word!
  • Like our Facebook Page!

The best thing you can do is tell anyone who is trying to get a website together, needs a logo designed or help with a poster, wants good copy to attract visitors or is looking for some ideas, help and input for their project – to get in touch with us!

 

A Short Ayahuasca Detour On A Long Journey

Ayahuasca is a brew of various plants traditionally found in the Amazon region where it is used by people there for ritual, cleansing and spiritual practice. Generally one of the ingredients is a plant that contains DMT, a hallucinogenic drug that is illegal all over the world although in Peru the preparation and consumption of ayahuasca is permitted. Consequently a great many foreigners come here to take part in a ceremony and have the trip of their lives. And if this earthcircuit is anything like an act of global exploration, we thought we’d better take this psychic detour too.

The Pros and Cons

In our time looking after the Bed & Breakfast in Lima, we had quite a few guests who were on their way to or from some kind of shamanic retreat in the jungle. None of them seemed particularly “woo-woo” kind of people on the way there and, equally, they seemed quite sane and unfrazzled on the way back. We tried to understand as much as we could, thinking that maybe it was dangerous or took about two weeks to recover or something that could seriously jeopardise our plan to exit Peru for Bolivia in good time. I was worried about my tinnitus and whether an unpicking of my neural pathways would somehow make it worse. And then, of course, there were reports of dodgy shamans mixing more powerful substances into the brew or taking advantage of the intoxicated, psychic travellers.

To be honest the biggest worry was having to sit down with a group of extremist hippies and listen to spiritual this and spiritual that until my chakras exploded or something. Or equally being fleeced for $100 by a shaman, who a year previously was working in a call-centre in small town England, in the company of a dozen gap year kids. We wanted some kind of authenticity while, to be sure, we were here as visitors, as tourists, as people passing through. But, on the other hand, the earthcircuit crew are no strangers to stupificants or euphoriants, hallucinatory or otherwise – we just had never tried ayahuasca before, and wanted to experience this most powerful of plant medicine in the company of someone who knew what they were doing.

To be sure, there was another little issue. We had quit smoking (again!) a few weeks previously and, feeling as grouchy and disjointed, we were especially interested by both personal reports and medical research of the power of ayahuasca to help with drug addiction.

The Path to the Detour…

So having travelled overland from Lima to Cuzco, a journey from the modern world to the ancient capital of an ancient people, we ventured further into the Sacred Valley of the Incas, beyond Urubamba, the flat land of spiders, turning off the road towards the snow-capped Ch’iqun, parking up and walking a kilometre or so down a track  past stone and adobe houses, between high walls and along trickling streams, until we arrived at the home of a good friend who has spent a good while living in this mystical land.

Our friend had invited a shaman from Iquitos to come and perform a ceremony in which five of us would undergo the ayahuasca ceremony. Iquitos, a town so deep in the jungle that it is unconnected by road, is the home for ayahuasca tourism and this shaman was a very experienced practitioner who took his job very seriously, growing up with the traditional beliefs of the Amazonas.

The ayahuasca ritual is commonly believed to be a cleansing ritual, in that the medicine helps to “detox” the mind by enabling powerful visions and experiences. In spiritual terms, the consumer often reports having revelations regarding their own purpose in life or the true nature of the universe, encouraging them to undergo a rebirth after which they try to be a better person. In keeping with this powerful feeling, people often vomit or have diarrhea – a physical detox. With this principle in mind, we were advised to abstain from protein-rich and heavy foods, caffeine and alcohol for three days to clean the body –  and fast completely for twelve hours before the beginning of the ceremony.

The special diet was not  difficult  but the fasting was surprisingly tough and I found myself feeling sick and vomiting hours before the ceremony – it seemed that a couple of weeks of hard traveling, climbing from sea level to the Sacred Valley’s high altitude and the sudden lack of food had combined to weaken my immune system and I had succumbed to the usual, various local pathogens.

The shaman came over to me, to ascertain whether I was strong enough for all this. I thought I was. I was lying outside on grass in the cool air listening to birds. I felt weak but relaxed. He asked whether I had taken anything like a hallucinogenic before. I replied I had – sure, I was venturing into the unknown but I wasn’t nervous or worried. I had people around me who I trusted in a place that was safe.

The Ceremony

We all moved into the main room of the house that had been cleared of furniture and laid out with mattresses and cushions. We sat cross-legged and in silence as the shaman spoke a few words about what would happen. He began an intonation and the smell of smoldering herbs and roots permeated the air. In front of him there was a plastic bottle of black liquid and I couldn’t take my eyes from it. This was the stuff, the ayahuasca, the spiritual brew itself – made from exotic plants that knew no home except in the Amazon jungle, a world away from my homeland and the natural substances available there.

The lights were turned off and a solitary candle lit – one by one, we were offered an egg-cup of the liquid and we took it down in one gulp. It tasted as foul as we’d been told it would but, to my mind, not much more than most natural concoctions. Possibly like very thick, bitter Valerian tea. Once we had all sipped the stuff, the candle was extinguished, the room now pitch black and, for me without my hearing aids in, there was an external silence masked by my internal tinnitus. Earthcircuit’s psychic detour had begun…

Work Exchange With Help Exchange

work exchange help exchange

work exchange help exchangeThere are quite a few websites out there which offer volunteering opportunities or work exchange for tourists or travelers.  And as we plan out our last few months of worldwide exploration, Help Exchange – or HelpX –  is one that keeps coming to our attention. It was started in 2001 by Robert Price who had spent many years traveling extensively and found that he could prolong his journey and enrich his experience by helping out at the various hostels and farms in return for accommodation and meals. It was obvious that this was a great way of getting to know a foreign country and interact with the people living there and he decided to set up Helpx. Twelve years later, Helpx is still going strong with thousands of hosts listed around the world, helping a ton of people to find the perfect work exchange.

There are a couple of elements that set Helpx apart – first and foremost is that there is both Free and Premium Membership. Premium membership costs 20 Euros for a couple of years and allows you to fully interact with the hosts. But what is also good – and available with the Free membership – is having your profile available for hosts to see. So instead of spamming a couple of dozen hostels, farms or eco-centers in a particular country, you can set out your plans and ambitions for everyone to see.  You can also do this on the Traveling Companion page where there are hundreds of posts put up looking for traveling companions – you can browse this list by country or region.

At first glance, Helpx is a pretty old-skool website but it is one of the original work exchange websites out there. And it’s as popular as it has ever been even in these days of Facebook and other social media. Helpx aims to connect like-minded strangers and is still relevant for travellers who want a unique, memorable experience as it is for the hosts who really value the energy and friendship that the volunteers bring.

Drive From Lima To Cuzco

Two Hours by Plane, A Day by Bus – Nearly a Week with our L.O.C.

After so many months in Lima, we were really looking forward to the drive to Cuzco. Time to let the cobwebs blow free and get some movement on again. For this run we had a couple of Londoners on board – a pleasure and a privilege for LOC Jigsaw to have a full crew and an opportunity to share a great travelling experience where every stop on the five-day journey will be something unique. The best thing about Peru is that it hardly matters which road you take – there are always going to be amazing things to see along the way and the drive from Lima to Cuzco via Nazca is no exception.

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Day One: Lima to Paracas

The long desert road down the coast is an easy drive and eased us all into the trip. Turning off the Pan-American Highway at Pisco which is one of the traditional centers of the Peruvian distilled grape juice called Pisco – surprisingly enough. Most of this town was destroyed in a powerful earthquake in 2007, the cathedral is still a ruin and, as we drive through to the coast and then south past foul-smelling fish meal factories  to the Paracas Nature Reserve, many of the buildings are still crumbling with gaps and piles of rubble between them.

We get to the Nature Reserve a little before sunset – enough time to pay the S/.5 per person entrance and drive over to the tiny port of Lagunillas where we camp up under an emerging starry sky.

Day Two: Paracas to Huacachina

Woke up to strong sunshine, beautiful blue sea and an endless sandy landscape stretching behind us – this barren landscape is a unique desert and the reserve is home to many kinds of birds, lizards and sea lions, foxes and dolphins. We went in search of the Mirador de los Lobos which is a cliff-top overlooking an island where thousands of sea lions hang out with the chance of seeing whales further off-shore. The track we took skirted a salty estuary and became a wash-board road and then climbed up on to the cliffs. We abandoned the truck where our heavy two-wheel drive could do no more and continued on foot for a couple of hours across this incredible scenery.

From Paracas it was a short drive to Ica, to pick up some supplies and then Huacachina, a unique oasis set among enormous sand dunes. After playing it safe in Paracas, of course, we had to get stuck here, trying to park up at the bottom of an enormous pile of sand as darkness quickly fell. Sure, we thought it was a car park – but probably a car park reserved for the dune buggies that took tourists out on excursions around.

Day Three: Huacachina to Nazca

Again, today was a short drive up onto the plateau that is famous for the mysterious Nazca Lines. First stop is at the viewing platform by the side of the highway. It’s only a couple of Sols to climb a twenty-metre high steel construction, ignore any vertigo inducement and enjoy this small section of the enormous earthworks. From here you can see three of the figures fairly clearly: a Tree, Hand and Parrot. Just a little further down the road you can climb up small hillocks and from here, although you don’t get to see any more of the figures, you do see close up some of the perfectly straight lines racing off into the distance and you do get a feel for the enormity of the whole thing.

On to Nazca itself, we stopped at some ruins on the outskirts of the town on that road that would take us up to the Altiplano. Not for the first time on the Peruvian leg of our earthcircuit, we could park up in the remains of some ancient citadel called Los Paredones. While the rest of the crew explored the adobe structure and the rocky hillside it was built against, the pilot had to make some running repairs on our ship (the handbrake mechanism had been wobbled loose driving over the corrugated tracks of Paracas). Climbing into the mountains the next day demanded a working hand brake and it was better to do it here, more or less at sea level, while there was the oxygen available to remove and replace all the back wheels and drums…

Day Four: Nazca to the Edge of Space

Maybe we’re just getting used to driving in mountains, but it didn’t’t seem like a long climb up. But it was. About four thousand five hundred meters. 4.5km. Doesn’t sound much but our ship is a Low Orbiting Craft and this, a tiny village in the Cotaruse District where we finally came to a stop at 4600m above sea level was like the edge of space. Beautiful drive up; the gray desert giving way to sparse green vegetation and herds of vicunas as we crossed the Pampas Galeras Natural Reserve; the sinuous climbing highway leveling out as we crossed into the highlands. We had a late lunch with coca tea to alleviate the developing altitude sickness but, even at our sedate pace, we were traveling too quickly for any comfortable acclimatization. By the end of the day it was very much a near-death type of painful: Thumping headaches for the pilot, nausea and vomiting for some of the passengers. I tried to say hello to the locals but all I could hear was blood pounding through my head. I tried to appreciate the incredible night sky, brilliant stars closer to us than ever before but my banging head was hung low with hood up hat I might die in peace…

Day Five: Cotaruse to Cconocc

A fitful night’s sleep followed by another exhausting drive through sparsely inhabited lands was the plan for our fifth day from Lima towards the fabled Inca city of Cuzco. After remaining above 4000m for quite a few hours we dropped into the valleys that led to Abancay and the gateway into the Cuzco Province. We were pretty much starving by the time we stopped at a restaurant on the edge of town wandering if we had the energy or daylight to cover the final couple of hundred klicks to our destination. The pilot said no – the map revealed hours of twisting climb ahead – and the restaurant owner advised us to overnight at the Cconocc hot springs just a few kilometers on.

We had been thinking about finding a river to stop at; a chance to wash ourselves, the truck and our clothes so that we might arrive in Cuzco fresher than we were – and that wishful thinking appeared to have got us some hot springs! With raised spirits we turned off the road and dropped a few hundred meters into a hidden valley with a surging river and lukewarm water gushing out to fill several deep pools.

Day Six: Cconocc to Cuzco

After a few long days on the road, thermal springs represent just about the best place to park up and soak away the pain. And we did just that: loitering until the sun had climbed high above us and we felt ready for the final push. Cconocc proved to be the perfect step before the big city, marred only by the itchy bites from some kind of tiny fly.

First there was a long climb up to attain the altitude that Cuzco sits at; a megalithic guardian watching over the Inca’s Sacred Valley. That section of road was in a bad state and slowed us right down for fear that the hand brake would come loose again. We picked up some hitch-hikers, local teachers happy not to have to squeeze on board their usual transit, and we picked up speed leveling out on the better highway heading in. Our low-orbiting craft purring happily with a full load and the destination in sight as if it could recall its previous life as a bus on the other side of the planet.

Smiles all round, then, as we curled around the hillsides, the city laid out below us. The end of an epic journey: not so much because of the distance – a mere six hundred miles – but because of the differences in the environments between the capital by the coast and this ancient place high up in the hills. The drive from Lima to Cuzco is the kind of journey Peru should be famous for.

How To Suspend A Vehicle Permit In Lima, Peru

Suspend a vehicle permit in Lima, Peru

As it turns out, Peru seems to be one of the easiest countries in South America to suspend a vehicle permit. Well, we had to phone them up lots and lots to hurry them along with the paper work but, at least, it is possible, doesn’t cost anything and can be done in most cities where there is a customs office. Most overlanders choose Cuzco where there is a popular campsite that will look after your vehicle. So many people have done it there, where the campsite owner will help you out and the customs people must be used to the process, that it is reported to be a fairly pain-free procedure – but in the capital it’s a straight-forward too: This is our experience in suspending a vehicle permit in Lima. And remember; the whole thing for us was pretty much free – we didn’t even have to pay for vehicle storage because we had the truck parked outside the place where we were staying in Lima.

Disclaimer! Although they use computers and have a rule book somewhere, your experience may well be different! We were told, for example by one Aduanas officer, that you could suspend a vehicle permit with a letter from a mechanics saying that it had broken down.

Stop Press (Dec 2013)! The Peruvians are changing the visa system for foreigners. Apparently they are going to limit the foreigner’s stay to six months stay per year. This may or may not have an effect on the vehicle rules or your plans…

Getting the Process Started

First park up your vehicle somewhere – the more off-road, such as a parking lot, the better. Then you go to the nearest cop shop and explain that you need a Constacion Policial. This means that a cop has to come and see your truck and make a note that it is parked where you say it’s parked. We didn’t have to bribe anyone for this, maybe because our truck was only a five-minute stroll from the cop shop, but you do have to pay an insubstantial fee for that report once they have typed it up.

You also need some kind of “proof” that you’re going to leave the country which is the reason why you need to suspend your vehicle permit. What we did was book some flights on the internet and then, before we had to confirm and pay for them, we printed out a screenshot of that section of the booking process. It had on it our names, the flights and the dates. I’m sure you all know the procedure. It all seems pretty academic these days of credit cards, refundable flights and the internet to actually transfer proper money to an airline just to come up with a bit of paper that hardly proves anything anyway. But, hey, you can do that too.

You then need to write a letter, in Spanish, to the customs people at the border where you crossed into Peru (in our case Tumbres), explaining that you’d like to suspend your vehicle permit because you intend to leave the country for a short while. You should include reference to the location of the vehicle and that it won’t be used while suspended. We used the old Google Translate for this.

Don’t forget photocopies of your passport, including entrance stamp, your driving licence and the vehicle permit that they gave you when you crossed into Peru. The next day you pick up the police paper and go down to Aduanas who have their main office right at the end of Callao past the big fort. Catch any bus going to La Punta. This place is open from 9.30 until 13.00 and then from 14.00 till 16.30. There’s kind of a strange queuing system going on outside. Theoretically you shouldn’t have to queue at all – you go into the reception, leave your passport and then, in the main office, you take a ticket, take a seat and wait there instead. But, if you want to be first with a ticket, you’ll have to arrive at the Aduanas before 9.30 or 14.00 and queue up outside before the doors open and they’re ready for business.

So, hopefully, by now, you’re sitting in front of an Aduanas officer who has some idea about what you’re after. Ideally, what he’ll do is phone up the border post where you entered Peru and kind of smooth things over with the guys there – confirming that you’re going to send them the documents that you have. (Take a copy of the phone numbers he’s using!) This guy in front of you may well re-write your carefully Google-translated letter that you composed into something more acceptable for Latin American bureaucratic-type people – basically something really formal, prosaic and IN CAPITAL LETTERS WITH NO FORMATTING.

Once you have all that, you go to another window in the Aduanas building where they staple it together and send it off to Tumbres (or whichever border you crossed). This is the internal government postal system. Take two copies of everything. What they do is print a code on one set to give back to you as proof that you’ve sent everything off. They also give you a number and a web address where you can actually check on the progress of the documents and check when it’s arrived at the place where it’s meant to go. Incredible, eh?

Waiting for Permission

For us, there was some kind of public holiday going on that slowed things down a bit and we had to phone Tumbres up a couple of dozen times to see if they had granted us a suspension. In the end we had the phone number of the main man himself and his email address. He had a few concerns; chiefly that our truck was just parked on a street somewhere and not properly off-road. For us this was a gray area – the truck was actually parked in a gated community. For the man himself up in Tumbres, he was more bothered by the police report that said our vehicle was parked outside such-and-such address rather than at such-and-such address. Anyway, we sent him, by email, some completely inconclusive photos of our parked-up vehicle, possibly sweet-talked him a little, and eventually we got our vehicle suspension approved.

The next day, by email, we got back a letter detailing the suspension – it gave no time limit but merely said that I would have 3 weeks to leave the country once I had presented myself to the Aduanas and requested my tuck be allowed onto the road again. At first glance it seemed that this three weeks, added to the six weeks that we had been driving around Peru before the suspension plus the two weeks it took for the suspension to be approved, was almost the 90 days that the original vehicle permit is valid for.

But there was no evidence that this was a formal calculation. In addition, no reference, in that final document, was made to us actually leaving the country or the dates that we’d said we intended to be away.

Getting Back on the Road

Once we knew we were finally leaving Lima, we wrote up another letter requesting an un-suspension of the vehicle permit. Taking this down to the Aduanas in Callao, we sent that off (with photocopies of all the other documents, just in case) via the internal post system to Tumbres. Again you should have two copies of everything; one of them is printed with a code and given back to you.

If you’re in a rush at all, then, you can scan the code that the internal post system printed to prove that you’d sent everything – and then email this scan to the guy dealing with your case at the border. This means he can see what you’ve done and get on your case straight away.

A few days later, we received by email, a final letter that said we were good to go and that we had five weeks to get out of the country. We’re pretty sure that when you add up the time when our truck was officially on the road, it comes to about 104 days, not the usual 90… Print this out and get some more insurance here – $10 for a month. Yeah!!

Exit at the Border

A few days before our un-suspended vehicle permit was about to expire, we were at the border with Bolivia on the road between Puno and La Paz. We presented all the documents we had to the Aduanas officials there who seemed to be eager to find something amiss. One thing they spotted was that on the reverse of the original permit you get, there’s a section that possibly should be stamped if the permit has been suspended (Suspencion de Plazo). We replied that everything had been done according to the instructions from Tumbres – they phoned Tumbres (a much posher office than this one at the Bolivian border) and, well, everything was fine – we were free to leave Peru!

Five Things We Love About Lima

Five Things We Love About Lima
The capital of Peru is one of the oldest and largest cities in South America but for thousands of visitors it is only a brief but necessary stop to and from the many tourist attractions elsewhere in this amazing country. For this reason, many people fail to appreciate the wonders of this incredible city – an enormous oasis of life in one of the world’s driest deserts. To be sure, you have to love the mega-urban life, that hectic and bustling pinnacle of humanity – and you might need some time for that feeling to develop. So here are the five things we love about Lima; our take on things that you won’t read about in any of the guidebooks or hear about from your fellow travelers.

The Traffic

Probably the biggest city in the world not to have a subterranean public transport system, Lima’s traffic can get very heavy indeed. The peak-time commute is as bad as any modern city; the typical driving style is aggressive and the infrastructure varies from bizarre to crumbling. One of the talking points for all Limeños are the combis – the public buses that vary from lumbering, ancient monsters to the thousands of swifter vans. Many residents can’t wait to get rid and replace them with modern mass transit style buses but we think they are the saving grace of Lima’s public transport system. As privileged guests of the city, it is at first an interesting challenge to figure out their routes but, if you’re standing in the right place, you won’t have to wait long before you get to enjoy being squashed into a metal box that will hurtle down the streets, weaving through the traffic at speeds that are only safe because everyone else is doing the same thing.

The Weather

During the winter months, Lima suffers from a coastal fog that sits over the first few kilometers of land, graying out the sky and making everything damp in the mornings with a fine drizzle called garúa. If you don’t move much, this humidity will get into your bones and no amount of clothes will stop you from feeling cold. But the minute you start exercising – a brisk walk or cycle ride, say, or even just getting active in the kitchen, you’ll feel warm again. It’s a strange environment which, in many ways, is perfect, however. You’ll never need an umbrella or sun block and pretty much none of the accommodation – even the modern apartment blocks – require heating or cooling.

The Nightlife

Like any world city, Lima has a wide range of entertainment for its citizens of many different classes, cultures and interests. There are the uber-posh nightclubs in Miraflores, the more accessible events in Barranca and dingy disco-bars all over the city. But away from the hype and mainstream, you’ll find plenty of things happening, suited to the more alternative minded and rooted in a more genuine creativity. On a Saturday night, heading for Plaza Francisco Bolognesi would be our advice. The best events we attended were all located a few blocks around that area – a drums and dreadlocks all-dayer at the Casa de la Maestro; electro at the beautiful
Asociacion Guadalupana; and the rough and ready hardcore parties hosted in the Socialist Party HQ. Cheap drinks, no need for heavy-handed security and pretty much gringo-free.

The Food

Peruvian cuisine is seldom held in as high regard as that of other nations. I feel they have missed out on the Western appetite for quick, tasty finger food like what the Mexican’s offer with their tacos and the Italians with their pizzas. Maybe, too, it is not as exotic as Indian or Chinese – nor as established among foodies as French or Japanese. But a Peruvian menu is as iconic as any of those, a fantastic blend of criole and chifa recipes stocked with all the ingredients unique to the Andes and the fruits of the Pacific Ocean. And, of course, in Lima, you have the chance to enjoy the full range that Peru offers. Keep an eye out for places where the office workers go – avocado and ceviche starters, chicken soaked in milk and biscuit, alpaca steaks or shredded beef – a typical menu for $3.

The Architecture

If you confine your stay to Miraflores, you’ll only get to see anonymous apartment blocks crowding out the sky. You might venture into the Historical Centre and be rewarded with fine examples of colonial architecture or, visiting Barranca, you might glimpse the few remaining traditional, art-deco buildings that are famous for that area. But the true gems of Limeño architecture are to be found all over the city where the residents are well-off enough to build their own homes. Each home is unique – I imagine their blue prints are torn up after the thing has been built so that its creative individualism is preserved. Windows are rarely square. Lack of rain means no one has to worry too much which way the roofs slope – and cheap materials, cheap labor and lax building regulations mean that there is opportunity for balconies, turrets, twisting staircases and random rooms and terraces. After the uniformity of some of the world’s housing stock, it is a pleasure to wander the residential streets of areas like San Miguel and Surco.

Traveling For Five Months Without Moving

Parked up in San Miguel

Or how to look after someone’s Bed and Breakfast

Our experience of house sitting a BnB was one of the strangest things we’ve done on our journey round the world. Low on funds, too early to go home yet, we almost jumped at the chance to live for free in the Peruvian capital. And we fully understood, as we were screaming down the PanAmerican Highway from Colombia to reach Lima in good time, that there were some learning curves ahead of us, plenty of unknowns (of the known and unknown variety) and the responsibility of looking after someone’s real life business.

The Deal

The deal was for us to look after the great Peru RoadTrip Bed and Breakfast for a little over four months. The owners had their own challenges in the US to meet and they were keen for us to take over pretty much everything as soon as we got there. We’d have to be pretty much around the house for the whole time, to welcome guests and sort out their breakfasts. We’d have to be online pretty much all the time, to accept reservations, answer queries and track incoming flights that we’d arranged to be met. The thing is that most of the traffic for this place was landing at the airport late in the evening and leaving again early in the morning back to the airport to continue their flights to and from the tourist destinations around Peru. It was a comfortable place for a layover but would it be comfortable for us?

We checked out the BnB’s profiles on the various listings online. It looked posh. We checked their reviews. Sixteenth place on Trip Advisor’s list of 100+. It had the most positive reviews of any establishment on AirBnB’s Lima section. The pressure was rising.

There were three points, though, that gave us comfort: This was a Bed and Breakfast, not a hostel or a hotel. Basically this means that there isn’t a front desk that has to be manned all the time. Sure, we had to be available pretty much 24/7 for 19 weeks but we knew well in advance when guests were arriving or leaving. With the help of a properly updated schedule, most of our time would be our own. We just couldn’t go very far.

Secondly, we would have a supporting cast: a cleaner would come in six days a week; a driver would handle all the pick-ups and drop-offs, city tours and stuff; the corner shop would stay open all day and supply all the things we’d forgotten to get. And there would be a family relative in town who would help if something seriously went wrong.

Thirdly, of course, we would get to live in a posh house with all the posh, modern conveniences, in a great, ready-to-be-explored city, for pretty much nothing at all. That was the thing you see; our situation was perfect. We were skint, a little tired of beaches and historic towns up mountains, and we wanted to sit still and do some serious stuff on the internet. We actually craved an urban and online life for a while.

At the beginning it was a little crazy

Getting started was kind of getting thrown into the deep end as there was a small flurry of guests just as we began our stint. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of Fawlty Towers – an ancient BBC comedy set in a guest house – but at least we had that benchmark to rise above. You see, to be honest, we’ve had no real experience in handling people who’ve paid money for you to look after them. Handling the public, sure, or clients and customers in the various jobs we’ve had to do in the past. But tourists who arrive in a strange country after a long flight from their comfortable homes, maybe tired, nervous… That took certain skills.

You see, at first, I was just as nervous and tired as them: Coming down the stairs to greet some latecomers exhausted after being on a delayed flight, I slipped and fell a couple of steps before recovering myself as best I could in front of a suddenly wide-eyed and alarmed family immediately below…  Or I’d go outside to help carry their enormous pieces of luggage in, only to lock myself and the guests out. Once I counted a couple of extra kids in a family of four who actually turned out to be large sports bags partially out of sight, on the beds, behind the puzzled parents.

Dunia took over the meeting and greeting – I was better employed behind the scenes, answering and attracting potential guests, composing messages that gave solace to anxious travelers and making sure our schedule was up to date and that everyone knew what was happening. If the schedule wasn’t right, things would go quickly wrong. Fortunately, most of our guests book through AirBnB, a popular online service that takes care of the listings, the bookings, the payments and the review system. In my limited experience, most of the accommodation websites out there accept a very small deposit from the would-be guest which means (a) half of them don’t even turn up, with no real incentive to alert you if their plans change, and (b) if they do stay, you have to get the money out of them – because they tend to arrive late evening and leave very early, this was no easy task at least, for us.

So with AirBnB and a schedule set up on Google Docs (which meant I could update and check it from any device), things were at least straight forward even if it was all a learning process at first.

And what we thought of it all

As mentioned this was one of the most bizarre experiences we’ve had in the last few years on the road. Crossing Russia by land but quick enough to get jet lag was pretty bizarre. And taking the short ferry ride from the “European” city of Vladivostok to South Korea’s Sokcho, stepping, all of sudden, into deepest Far East Asia, was pretty bizarre. Rehabilitating cucumber seedlings in Canada was a little strange and, of course, Burning Man was very interesting. Building websites parked up on Mexican highways is unusual, to be sure – as is staring down into Nicaraguan volcanoes, nine hours in a Panamanian speedboat and selling photographs to Latvian traders for a week’s wage. But in terms of the fullness, the completeness, the entirety of the experience, suddenly having a guest accommodation business aimed at families with suitcases for nearly five months in a city I never thought I’d visit. In our humble opinion, that’s one kind of very weird.

As travelers, this is pretty much what we hoped for: Walking down to the shops, four months in, saying hello to all the familiar faces, having some lunch with loads of office workers at the best (but no one knows it) restaurant in Lima. You look at the traffic, the random bits of rebar sticking out of the ground, the hastily pasted up adverts on the lampposts, a typical district in a developing city and you think, none of this looks unusual, none of it feels strange – you’ve become accustomed to the place and could well imagine Lima to be your home for ever. And thanks to Peru RoadTrip for giving us the opportunity to feel all this.