Wednesday, February 29, 2012

some stories from bombo lumene

so here we are in bombo lumene, one of the parks closest to kinshasa. just a few hours away, people come down here on day trips to swim in the river, or, if you're like us, you come and stay in one of the old belgian military cabins. since we are technically ministry of environment on official business, it's even better, we are here to play, and work, and eat wonderful congolese dinner prepared by the park warden herself - that's right, a woman runs this place. and not just any woman, a beautiful, feminine badass woman who has a brown belt in judo and did paramilitary training in eastern congo, completing her target practice shooting at real live poachers. she has lots of great stories about weak, pitiful men who just can't handle it out in the wild. i imagine her eating the heads off of live scorpions and stuff.

my collegue staying in the room next door got her ankles munched by a spider the first night, and when we saw her swollen infected wounds, it was upon my wimpering that the warden came and did a thorough search of my bedroom. she says the search came up empty, but still, i bet she didn't tell me that she bit the head off a live spider or maybe a snake.

so the view is nice, and there's a little river just a scramble down the ravine that you can swim in, though watch out you don't get caught up in the current because according to all the kids there's lots of dead bodies under those rocks. and there are adorable goats everywhere that follow you to the one square meter area in the entire park where you get cell phone reception. yes, it's only right there, ok for vodaphone, for airtel it's just over there, but in this spot it's like there's an invisible phone booth, you have to squeeze in next to the other guys to make your call. the guards all wear hunter green with berets, with their knockoff giorgio armani sunglasses and do a very serious, coordinated flag raising ceremony everyday, in front of the goats.

the second day, the phone booth was empty, and that's because everyone's battery died, as the park generator has had a blown fuse for a few days. we brought a tiny generator with us from kinshasa, strictly to power our computers to do our work, and nothing else, yet, everytime it starts up, it's like children of the corn, people coming out of the forest in every direction approching you with their phone charger.

so then they asked us to hook the generator up to a plug that lit up our entire house, which, unknowingly also lit up the entire guard village a few km away, and they wouldn't let us turn it off. it was especially annoying since all the lights in our bungalow go on with the generator and can't get turned off and is a ridiculous waste of energy. the light in my bedroom is right above my bed, and so all the mosquitos and bugs were piling up on my pillow for hours and i had to get the warden to come do a room check and tuck me in.

we quickly ran out of gas, obviously, but as it turns out one of the guard's wife was going into labor and needed a ride to the town, 15km away. our driver took her there in exchange for 20 liters of fuel which they would get in town. i was trying to get some sheets or something to put on the seats cuz i didn't really want to sit in a pool of embryo water or blood the next day but there wasn't much time. but it was the driver who said "hey, hold it in, i'm not cleaning this up!"

it was a girl. they said they are going to name her after the driver, which means they need to feminize the his name (boniface). or they could name her after our project, why not, that would be just as impersonal. anyway.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

oh, le grand marché d'enfer

so, after all these years i finally found someone crazy enough to bring me to the grande marché de kinshasa: the chinese girl from my office who goes there every weekend (alone!).
so, it was an adrenaline fueled hour of complete insanity. you have to climb over bags of rice and boxes and piles of dirty garbage and jump over open sewers and people trying to touch you and pull your hair and talk to you.
and they sell everything, everything, but lettuce. didn't see any lettuce. but there were used shoes, used underwear, used garbage bags, mini expensive tomatoes, squash that looked like huge capers, peanuts, cruched peanuts, cabbage, smoked monkey heads. live fish, live caterpillars, dead caterpillars (bought some), charcoal, hair extensions, people who will cut your hair and then put in extensions, grey coarse salt, t-shirts that read "fart loading, please wait" with the little computer bar underneath at 15%, a huge jewelry aisle, brooms, gargantuan metal pots. all this, in a giant mud pit. i mean, ankle deep slippery stinky grey mud.
most of the women selling stuff were super nice, they didn't mind pictures, they yelled mondele! and then chinoise! and we would scream back, congolese! congolese! and then we would have a big laugh.
there were guys in knee high rubber boots lugging giant wheelbarrow things, and would help you load your stuff if you had a lot of it. then a school bus would come by, running over all the stands, splashing mud everywhere. and there were puppies, birds, chickens. my heart was racing. i was sweaty.
people are always sweeping, sweeping dirt, sweeping garbage, sweeping the mud and garbage into big piles of mud and garbage, mudbage, i guess.
i came with absolutely nothing in my pockets, no jewelry, not even any deoderant (reputably the most dangerous part of kinshasa) and came out with a whole meal for less than 5$.
we stopped at the insane fabric place, that is floor to ceiling african fabrics. insane. i bought some great wax batik stuff, though got as expected lost in their bureaucratic system, how is it that you need to interact with 4 different people just to buy a darn piece of cloth? There's the guys all holding scissors and going snip snip snip! can i help you! and you say, yes, i don't want 12 meters of cloth, i really just want two.
i refuse to cut this beautiful cloth!
and so you move on to the next guy....the next guy would have the line of religious fabrics, with jesus, the pope, or a lamb, the lamb of god, and then there are the ones of kabila, the international women's day, even fabrics with aboriginal designs of prada bags and high heeled shoes. so then you pick out your cloth, they write a code on a piece of paper, and then you take the paper to the lady who prints a receipt, and then you take the receipt the person you pay and stamps your receipt and then you take the stamped receipt to the guy with the pile of fabriks, where the fabrik you chose has somehow made it to the pile. in my case, my fabrik wasn't there, and i got an ugly orange neon fabrik with snakes on it and i had to start all over again. anyway, the people there were super nice there, and i guess because i was a little visibly stressed, they kept saying "a l'aise, a l'aise, madame" and it was sortof air conditioned, so it was nice, and as i came out of my heat/stress daze, i finally started to relax, but once i stepped out onto the street as my eyes were still adjusting two guys grabbed me and tried to throw me into some giant bricks, and they took my phone that i had down my pants :(
there were a million people around, and they all just kinda shrugged like, that's totally normal, just like that man over there with no hands, begging. everyday ho hum. and so a security guy who saw the whole thing said, oh, gee, that guy is the worst, he always does that! you know, you should have told me before he did that, i would have done something, but now, i don't think he's going to bring your phone back.
and so we walked back to the car.
they told me not to bring anything, it was my own fault, i even expected it, and changed the password on my phone beforehand just in case. 
so i tried to find some images of le grand marché on the internet for you, but none do it any justice - it's not nearly as empty and organized and dry and calm as what google tells you!
and so, that's the first and last time i'll go to the grand marche. been there, done that.
now, we're off to relax in the savannahs of bombolo-lumene with some well armed escorts, and no phone, no internet, just the sounds of whatever animals are still left alive. goodbye for now, kinshasa!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

kinshasa: home away from home!

hiddly hey neighborinos! 
so instead of emptying our NGO budget into the coffers of some dismal animal bullying hotel in kinshasa, we've kicked it up a notch: how about a furnished apartment! and as the sign outside clearly states in crooked homemade lettering, this is a "luxury furnished apartment." oh, but there's no sheets or towels. there are king sized beds with twin sized mattresses, and 2 cups and a plate. and a set of peach pleather chairs, giant industrial air conditioners in every room, but only one remote control for all of them - there's a whole new mearning to fighting over the remote - i f-ing froze last night!! the shower is one of those fancy million-jet cabin things with orange hued mosaic tile, only, there's just a metal tube that spits water. consider it a ghetto college student group house! with a view!
this little birdie knocks on my window in the morning
but what it lacks in character, it totally makes up for in internet! and the dishwasher, his name is pazi and he also makes eggs to order every morning at 7. i will add poaching to his omelet-only repertoire and we're all set. 
it's a short walk to the office. though still kinda sketchy, i guess. my roommates have all gotten mugged or kidnapped, multiple times, which puts the risk of something happening at, well, 300%? but that's only at night.
the great thing is that i don't have to go out for 45$ pizza, i can cook for myself! so i went to the store. had to be quick though, because the sun was setting, witching hour...all the street vendors, the cell phone people, the photocopiers, the broom salesman, even the guy hawking piles of wooden pallets and the used shoe dude were all packing up. i entered the K-mart, a miniscule replica of its namesake, 2 tiny isles of goods like you would find in a gas station. 
nothing has prices on it, they all have codes. 57, 33, 1094, and i tried every numerical calculation but no variable has any correlation to actual value, it's a total surprise. like playing bingo! the other guy in the store was just asking the lady, how much is a 75? what about an 11? and she would finish texting, look up annoyingly, type on the machine, and finally mutter something. but i did not have time for this. i was racing like on iron chef. which was a little difficult because of the security guy, an awkward old man in baggy jeans who i guess was trying to observe my inevitable shoplifting (the prices, as it turns out are horrendous). but you see, because of said danger situation i had neither a purse or bag - it wasn't like i was going to put this ham up my skirt (who trew dat ham at me?)!  this guy was hovering over me, staring, i could smell his b.o. and hear his breathing, inches away, and then when i would bump into him, or say excuse me, he'd look at his watch like, oh i'm just standing here, lululu, checking the time, lalala.
there was some laughing cow cheese that i swear is supposed to be refridgerated, right? there are no fridges here, oh except for the beer. so this cheese was on a shelf in between the cereal and the weißwurst that had a big white label on it that read "aged gouda." there was some salami labeled "american cheddar." hmm. quite the selection of cheese! that was the only thing with a normal text, everything else was either arabic, or eastern european letters with squigglies - i can't really tell the difference between czech or romanian.
i only had 30$ in m pocket, so i had to be economical. and as my dear brother has taught me, you only need 3 ingredients to make a decent meal. rice, onions, and vinegar. they didn't have any lemon. i blew half my budget on the vinegar, and filled in the rest with a hopelessly unripe giant avocado (should have know, the guy weighed it, and stuck on code 666!), a hungarian beer i never heard of and 4 yogurts, 2 of which i had to put back because i didn't have enough cash. wait, they take credit cards??? i'm coming back for my yogurt tomorrow!

Friday, February 17, 2012

muy bueno!

unlike my time in Lima, Quito has been a bit of a crash and burn. ministry meetings just gone awry, bad scheduling,miscommunication, institutional memory loss (this is when someone you met in october tells you they love your project and want to meet you in quito in february to engage more, and in february they have no idea who you, or your project is, what the heck are you doing in my office, go away) that kinda thing.
so, my week is basically open! but, as much as i'd like to go to the galapagos, i'm going to perservere and try and get what i came here for: data. so if the ministries don't want to hand it over why not go to the actual source: the military geographic institution, which is the ecuador equivelent of NIMA. so i get the question lady to make an appointment for us and the columbia consultant, juan.
so in the taxi ride i'm telling juan how some guy in the hotel told me that flights going to europe can't go straight to europe, that they need to refuel somewhere nearby, because planes can't fly out of Quito with a full tank of fuel, because of the altitude and the mountains and oxygen, or something (the guy spoke really fast). and i wondered, how did they figure that out? and the guy said "lots of lots of accidents!" and wow, whadya knowmy flight to amsterdam has a 2 hour Technicalzwischenstopp somewhere, probably Curacao. so, i'm trying to tell juan this in the taxi and first of all, it's one of these pimped out taxis, all low riding with the obnoxiously loud muffler. so, whenever the foot is on the gas it's PBBBBBBPPBBPB. and then, when we're stuck in traffic we can talk. so juan totally doesn't believe me, because, duh, planes fly at 33,000 feet, so why would they not be able to fly that high over the mountains with a full tank of fuel, and basically the rest of the time is just mocking my gullability. PBBBBBPBPB. oh look! there's a plane! it only has half a tank of fuel, what do we do??? whatever.
so we get to the military base and meet question lady there. the view is awesome.
killer view

the place is full of dudes in jungle camouflage (we're in the city?) and they apparently aren't exactly fans of my excessive smiling or question lady's singing voice. SO grumpy, i mean, they demanded my passport as if they just found drugs in my large intestine. jorge laughs, "no le gustan a las gringas" and they snapped at him, "no le gustan a los colombianos tampoco!" and remind us that everyone leaves work here at 4:30, so we better hurry.
so inside is the 70's pastel colored vinyl floors, long boring hallways and those old school wooden cubicles, oh man, just like the department of commerce in dc! though here there were framed Landsat images from 1986 on the walls, or fuzzy areial photos of the volcano. great.
we meet a senor miguel something, in charge of satellite imagery. he's an old guy wearing a dark suit and tie, very serious sitting at a desk with *nothing* on it but a mouse and a screen. he's kindof dazing out the window - oh, how may i help you? and we say we're here for satellite imagery they might have, for this province here, and his old fuzzy eyes light up, instantly, and he says, have you heard of this new German satellite, called RapidEye??
well yes, actually, i live in Germany so i know those folks pretty we-
they have 5 satellites! they take images every day!
yes, of course, i know! so you have rapideye data? that's fantastic!  
no. we don't have any. but you can buy them! look!
and he turns his screen around and takes us to the rapideye page and types and clicks s  o   s  l   o   w   l   y  it's brutal, he starts searching for imagery, which, anyone can do, in fact, i already did this, because it's kind of my job, but i let him show it to us anyway. i ask him the prices, which of course are 11 times what we pay in Germany, this goes on and on.
at one point a lady screams over the cubicle "miguelititoooo! llamatitaaaa!!" so cute. he screams "gracias marcitaaaaa" and answers the phone. question lady whispers under her breath what we all know, they do have data (they are mapping the entire country from border to border), and there's a receipt on the desk for 200,000$ of RapidEye data, but, they aren't going to give it to us. so we should go.
but first, senor, i have a little question...i mean, he is as much an expert as anyone, right? and so i ask him, about the planes? and the fuel and the mountains? and he gets very serious. "the planes do not carry full tanks of fuel because of the high altitude and the mountains, they can't fly quickly over the peaks! there were many accidents." ahhhhh! i TOLD you juan! and i'm all yesss and punch his shoulder.
oops. totally inappropriate. here we are talking about plane crashes and i'm jumping for joy. we better go.  
so we go to the bottom floor, which is a more commercial space where you can buy paper maps and aerial photos and stuff. there's oddly a tour bus of old embarassing loud americans that sound like my dad  "hey jean, check out the size of that old map! it's huuuuuuuuge!"  but otherwise the place is empty. we talk to another old guy at a desk who tells us to go to the machine and get a number, and then when our number comes up he will help us, right here at his desk. but, why do we need a number if we can just ask you -
EL NUMERO! and he points to the screen which is showing the next number, which is B30. i touch the screen for the number and wow! there comes b30, what a surprise. 
so the guy shows us a map which indicates the coverage of aerial photos, and basically, for our region all the aerial photos are in black and white, from 1999, and don't have any cooridnates associated which means you have no idea in hell where they were taken, it's basically a pretty picture. and they cost 8 bucks each. 
he basically shrugs and says "mala suerte!" and says we could hire a plane or whatever, and so...there's a bit of a silence and i ask, what is this thing?
i have the answer!
it's a large bright box with letters flying across it and a choice of buttons (i had to take a sneaky picture), from very good, good, ok and bad.
and he says something like "that is where the judgement comes" and so i guess it's a rating system, like how helpful i was today? this thing is fantastic. i want to press all the buttons. i'm very intrigued, where does the answer go? do you get to see what i choose?
and well, sadly, he does because after i huddled with my colleagues, asking them what they thought, bueno? muy bueno? which one? we finally laugh okkkk, muy bueno! and he turns his screen around and there's a giant smily face with the number B30 on it!
and i have to say, of all the meetings we had this week, this one was definitely the most bueno of them all!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

i'm tell you not asking a question?

so one of the ladies i work with has a crazy bright cheery singing like child voice, and ends every, and i mean EVERY sentence in a high pitched tone so it sounds like she's asking a question?
here is your coffee? (she is holding a cup)
um, no, i don't know, i mean, i wanted one but that mug is not mine...
i'm giving it to you, your coffee?
i don't know, is it for me?
oh, ok.
that kinda thing. and it's not becuase my spanish is lame, it's with other people too, like today she was all
hi jorge, we have a meeting at 3pm with the military geographic institude?
how the heck would i know, why do you always ask me these questions-
no, i'm telling you, we have a meeting at the IGM at 3?
oh, ok, i'll get you a taxi. 

this is so confusing?

oy ve

so this graf was just outside the ministry of environment in Quito, where we were having a kinda disastrous meeting regarding our Cuyabeno project...oops.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

a little bit of quito

come gitcher coconuts

cutest, boy, ever

hilly streets

house for sale

traditional attire

meat shop
quito is huuuuge

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

happy valentine's day

guess where all your flowers come from...boxes and boxes and boxes from Ecuador!

Monday, February 13, 2012

jesus, awesome calendar

courtesy of the chicken delivery company

it's the rule, a taxi has to rip you off

so it seems to be a rule anywhere really, that it's a taxi driver's job to rip off foreigners. it just doesn't happen any other way.
at the airport in Quito, there's a taxi organizing lady who arranges taxis, and tells you the price. 5$. then you get into the taxi and the guy is like, oh, did the lady tell you it's 5$? because she is wrong, it just went up to 7. and then he rambles on about la vida and gas and blah blah what are you going to do, just get out in the middle of this shanty town?
every other taxi has charged me the gringa tax, though i guess it's still cheaper than in D.C. where taxis also rip you off, even if you live there.
but the best was today, the young guy who took me up to the teleferico to see the volcano, he had the dangling mirror decorations with naked ladies, loud regaeton music - and a baby in his lap. and slightly older one in the front seat, hanging her arms out the window. now he warned me not to open my window, because people will reach in and steal stuff. but his little girl? like every latina she has diamond earrings, pierced a week after she was born...but anyway.  
so, not only were these way too young kids without a car seat (never heard of it) i think the seat belt would even be more dangerous. i hope his airbags don't work. he was also eating peanuts. with the shells on them. and driving a stick, and stopping at lights on 30% inclines. it was a little bit like the punks in berlin who beg with their cute puppies, i couldn't argue with the ripoff price.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

lima conversations

so one of the nicest places to have lunch is not the 3$ 3 course cantina (though that is also pretty awesome), it's when you go get some take away at the wong supermarket (omg i'm in the wong supermarket!) and eat grassy garden of the office! it's sunny, calm, and has great conversation.

the first day i learned a new, valuable word. all the ladies were telling my how my boss, who visited last year is so "churro!" from all the hand fanning the face and play fainting, i guess it's a synonym for guapo. really guapo. and i ask, of, do you think roberto, (the other bolivian colleague who visits often) is churro too? and all the dishes stop clinking and they kinda wrinkle their face like i gave them a paper cut in their eye. yes, roberto is...simpatico.
oooh can't wait to tell roberto!
so then the chicas were discussing our plans for the evening, sorting through the long list of dancing clubs with their assorted range of clingy sweaty dancefloor guys, and where you go to bring your boyfriend, or find one.
we should take aurelgrooves here, no, how about here, oooh there is even better!
wait, does aurelgrooves have a boyfriend?
yes. and he's churro!
oh, but that means we can't go anywhere, que lastima! 
well, wait, he's not in peru, right? we are in peru, so we will do what we do in peru.
and so i ask, no boyfriends for you, chicas?
the answer is always the same, hell no! too much trouble, estoy soltera, peru no nunca sola, hehe.

well, i have a churro man and i'd rather not dance with sweaty peruvian guys.
to which they answer, what is a 24 year old like you doing in a relationship?
aw, you think i'm 24, you chicas are the best.
part I: happy hour. so sour!
well, where we ended up going thankfully did not have any sweaty guys, just some good old fashioned 2 for 1 drink specials, salsa and merengue, with blinding lasers and fog, girls in hot pants and sportsbras sponsored by pisco, and lovely decorations in the bathroom - cornerstones of any latino dance joint.

ooooh lasers!

and besides, the area around me on the dancefloor was clear like a nuclear bomb zone with my gringa moves that would repell anyone crazy enough to dance with me.

just a couple of colleagues

even the nerdiest, awkwardest guy from the office was a rico suave on the pista. shake those hips.

lovely bathroom decorations

only one who braves dancing with the gringa
he asked me, can i tell you what you're doing wrong? TODO!
but i'm only 24, i have plenty of time to learn! 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

mmmm SUSHI

in addition to well-lit streets, paved roads and sidewalks, a party culture and beaches, lima has sushi. lots of it. i've sampled it all, from the supermarket packaged stuff to fast food sushi to the stuff with lamb and chicken in it, but tonight i went to matsuei which has been said to be one of the top 10 sushi places in the world.
well, to be honest, i will still, hands down, opt to eat sashimi off the bathroom floor of kotobuki any day of the week. that might change after my trip to tokyo but anyway, matsuei was pretty top notch.
while the selection of fish wasn't all that impressive (the classics, plus a few newbies), it was more the creative style, peruvian influence kinda thing that does it.
i made a reservation for one (sad, i know) at the bar, and when i arrived they had written my name (correctly!!) on a little card and handed me my hot towel. the menu was long and confusing, so i just asked the sushi chef to give me whatever is Peruvian for Omakase. 
he was super soft spoken, like he was saying something but he was on mute, so i just nodded and smiled, and answered Si! and so he made me some 5, 6, lost count, special tiny courses that were pretty insane.
first there was some paper-thin see-through sliced variety of fish in a tangy sauce. YUM.
then he started making some crazy cone fish roll things and swinging his hands around a little flashy like tom cruise in cocktail. at first i thought, i should order that next! but turns out it, and everything else he slaved over from now on was all for me!
the most normal looking thing was actually this:
eat me
which you are thinking, ok, nicely sliced avocado thing but what you don't see is the tempura octopus inside the rice, and the little stuff on top is seaweed with bits of papaya. don't know what the white is. cheese? doesn't matter. DOUBLE YUM.
didn't even touch the soy sauce, as everything came with its own pairing of TASTY.
there was lots of chopping and super intense precision cutting, and then there was the octopous on rice, which you think, bo-ring, but the octopus was cut in a way so that when he ran the blowtorch over it, these little bits curled up into spirals to make perfect fleurs de lys.
at one point he made a california roll with cream cheese and i wanted to throw my wasabi in his face, but it was for the british people sitting behind me. they deserved my wasabi in their face for ordering that here. fake crab meat, really, people.
then i was served some sort of raw sardine thing (once again, i asked him what it was but the only answer I got was lips quielty moving), where the skin was cut like argyle. INSANE.  
i picked up some pointers for style and new frontiers for the next installment of the wading river home-made-sushi lounge (fyi annika, it will cost ya!).
so i don't know, taking pictures of all of it was tacky, and as much as I tried to e  a   t   s   l   o   w   l   y  to preserve the experience or document it i couldn't. 
30 minutes and 30$ (that's it!!) later, i was out the door.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

el bus.

why take a taxi when you can ride the bus? for 20 cents!
if you are on a street and want to go somewhere, you can try and get a taxi, but seeing all the people leaning into taxicab windows and screaming robber! thief! you said 8 sol, not 10! seems like it's a lot of tiring, aggressive haggling.
so take the bus. 
they say the bus is a confusing and complicated affair. not really!
if you are on a street and want to go to another street, you stand where all the other people are standing and wait for a bus with the name of the street you want to go to. when that bus comes, it has the street you want to go to written on the side in 10 different fonts. and in case you are blind or illiterate, there is a guy hanging out the door, screaming the name of that street such as "arequipas-arequipas-arequipas!" and the bus slows down and as soon as you even think about maybe taking the bus the door guy is looking right at you, banging on the bus, which makes it stop for a millisecond and then you jump on as it takes off. the other people who want to get on, sometimes they bang on the bus, to make the driver think it's the door guy, but somehow it's not the right signal and the bus is going even faster and so those people are grabbing anything they can to get on, my hair, my bag, whatever. 
the driver usually has a co-pilot friend or whatever and doesn't even seem to be aware of anything, he's just chatting away, yet in some sort of telekenetic trance with the ticket guy and knows exactly when to stop. and the music is awesome. and he drives soooooo fast. 
so then you pay the ticket guy, you tell him a vague destination on the route. the best part is that he doesn't want you riding for free or anything so when your stop comes he'll call you out, as if the stop is your name, like hey you! square olivo, get off my bus! so you never miss your stop! that's not so complicated, it's fun!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

biking lima

so i landed in lima, peru late saturday night, having had very little time to research anything about the place. at least i wasn't as bad as the guys from montreal in the plane. they said they we're going to maccu piccu. i asked if them how they were getting to Cuzco, and whether they were going to train or hike. huh? what's Cuzco, you mean Pisco, like the drink?
anyway. i left my hotel early on sunday morning to explore. around the corner i noticed a lot of people on bikes. everyone has pretty fancy road bikes, or pimped out cruisers that have tassles and blast latin music. wow, is lima the progressive bike-friendly city of south america? i stop at a little tent that is renting bikes by the hour. fantastic! they give me a beat up low-rider mountain bike thing with lumpy wobbly wheels and a kick stand that rattles against the spokes of the back wheel. and i'm off on the widest bike lane ever. 
i quickly realize that's it's actually "Cyclodia" and they have shut down the major street, no cars allowed. pretty nice though, until i reach the end of this calm stretch, at a tremendously busy intersection with honking cars and buses. 
the peruvians are content to turn around and go back down the avenue and bike a tiny loop like it's an amusement park ride. there are little water kiosks and places to fix your bike, which will eventually break down every 300m. um, i rented this bike for 2 hours, it's going to get very boring, very fast. 
so i turn off, and sneak under one of the yellw ropes to go explore something else with my ride. the people in the yellow vests are screaming after me "senora! senora!" as if i've just taken a bumper car out of the rink or something. i'm not wrong in thinking i can ride my rented bike a bit around lima? i mean, i'll bring it back, they made me leave my passport as collateral! 
and how many cyclists?
and off i go. and well, no, lima is not exactly a progressive bike friendly lanes? safety? que es eso?
7 lane roundabout! gah

4 wheels or go home

most streets are 4 laned dusty messes of honking jostling cars like in a demolition derby. at one point i select the bus lane, thinking it would be either more appropriate or safer, but there it was some sort of death match. the buses have these horns, not regular horns but the quintuple 5 note arpeggio things, or the eardrum blasting air horn like at a soccer game. they wait until they are right behind you to HOOOOOONK! and then the ticket guy who hangs out the door is screaming at you, and the driver is smiling an evil grin, showing his gold teeth, the passengers are staring at this weirdo on the bike, and then another bus comes in and tries to squeeze you - it seems all they are missing are razor blades on the hubcaps, which would make their day complete. 
murder buses

so then i went on the sidewalk, and that's even worse, people grab their kids and glare at you, and the police whislte with their whistles and scream some more senora! senora!
it was exhilarating. i found some side streets to rest/hide. took some cool pictures of run down buildings, and landed upon some sort of cultural parade with all these people with flour on their faces and colorful hats and such. pretty crazy.
cultur-y stuff

i returned my bike on time, somehow completely sunburned despite the cloudiness, and my chain was flinging grease all over my back and legs. and there you have it, biking in lima.