The Taxis of Miraflores


This blog entry about the events of Wednesday, December 17, 2003 was originally posted on December 18, 2003.

DAY 60: Just south of Lima is the affluent oceanside suburb of Miraflores, a place that despite its fancy restaurants and hotels, is suggested as “the better place to stay for budget travelers” according to Lonely Planet.  Perhaps this is why the South American Explorers moved their clubhouse there, so it warranted a visit.

I MET UP WITH LARA, the girl from the British Island Guernsey that I met the day before, who was also on her way to the ‘burb.  We shared a taxi for the twenty minute ride down the Expressway.  As with most major cities, traffic is inevitable and we were caught in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam, which wasn’t exactly that annoying — until our taxi was about to run out of gas.

“Uh oh,” Lara said.

She noticed the driver shifting gears and trying to juice the engine with more gas.  But it was no use and suddenly we were stranded in the fast lane of the highway.  The driver pushed the car onto the grassy divider island in the middle and tried to mess around under the hood.  It didn’t look good.

Lara and I tried to hail a taxi on the highway but most of them were already on route somewhere with a passenger.  Luckily a random guy flagged us over to the middle lane and we ran through the sea of slow moving vehicles to his car.  He gave us a lift to the center of Miraflores and asked us for five soles, which seemed reasonable.

LIKE SOUTH AMERICAN EXPLORERS, American Express had moved offices to Miraflores, and without an address published anywhere.  Lara only had travelers checks in sterling and needed AmEx to change them to at least travelers checks in US dollars so any of the other banks would at least touch them.  As independent travel is just a series of tasks and goals, the task at hand was to find the office — with the help of South American Explorers, since it was our only lead.  I was hoping that perhaps my $40 membership fee would come in handy after all.

The clubhouse  was very similar to the one in Quito, with a living room, book exchange, map room and guides.  But that’s where the conveniences stopped.  You would think being an organization specifically created to help travelers around South America that they would be able to tell you where the American Express office is, but they drew complete blanks. 

What SAE lacked in off-the-top-of-their-head knowledge, they made up in effort.  An American guy there used guidebooks, phonebooks and maps to track it down — it took almost an hour to get us all sorted out, in a visit I thought would be just two minutes.

Before I left, I asked the guy where he would suggest I might want to be for Christmas.  Dumbfounded, he simply said, “You should go…wherever you end up.”

Gee, thanks pal.  Bah humbug.

LARA AND I WALKED ACROSS TOWN to the AmEx office near the Gutierrez Oval rotunda, which I referred to as “Plaza America” (picture above) because it was one concentrated cluster of American chain restaurants:  Chili’s, T.G.I.Friday’s and — what I call the “American embassy” — McDonald’s.  She changed her pounds into dollars after signing her signature over a hundred times, after of which she need a pick me up.  Being “Plaza America,” in no time we were inside a Starbucks. 

The familiar decor and ambient jazz music transported me back to the States, and we sat and talked for a couple of hours over iced mocha frappuccinos.

We took a leisurely walk to the waterfront, where there was park after park after park along the edge of the cliff that overlooked the Pacific.  We shot the breeze as the ocean breeze gently shot by us on a gloomy overcast day — but at least it wasn’t raining we thought.  We walked by familiar places I had been to before with my friend Johnny in 2001 — the Parque del Amor and Punta Sal’s cevicheria — and took a photo in the same spot I took one with my cab driver two years prior.  Lara realized that she wasn’t getting hassled as often as she usually is because she was with me.  In fact, I had to pose as her boyfriend when a Shady Shoe Shine Guy started harrassing her.

BLOG READER “MOMAN” SENT ME A TIP that his Australian friends Gabrielle and Marni were flying into Lima after their stint in New York — where they had just gone on his soon-to-be-popular tour of the Bronx.  I had contacted Gabrielle via email and we planned to meet up at her hostel in a quiet residential area of Miraflores.

Lara took a cab back to the city while I journeyed off the Lonely Planet map to the Aussies’ hostel.  I waited in the lounge area for a while, eavesdropping the conversation of a girl on the phone who had just gotten her camera stolen out of her locked room.

After waiting patiently for an hour and a half, I left a note on the girls’ door and was about to leave, but fortunately I went to the bathroom long enough that I finally bumped into them on their way in.  They had been stuck in a taxi for two hours with a clueless driver that didn’t know where anything was, and was too much of a man to ask for directions.  I don’t know what it is about the taxis of Miraflores.

Gabrielle, Marni and I all had had a crazy day, which warranted a nice night of dinner and drinks.  We walked to Larcomar, Miraflores’ new oceanfront shopping and entertainment mall.  We laughed at the tourism bureau’s write-up of it in their latest monthly tour brochure:  “You probably won’t find anything that you haven’t encountered in other destinations…”

This was nothing short of the truth — it was a modern mall with restaurants, shops, arcades and a movie theater — even singing nuns doing Christmas carols.  We went to a fancy restaurant which overlooked the night lights of the bay, where I introduced them to ceviche and the regional cocktail pisco sour.  I used this rare dining occasion to eat something other than something South American:  beef stroganoff.

The three of us strolled down the oceanfront parks at night until I bid them farewell around 10:30 since they had to wake early for a morning bus headed north to Huaraz.  I hopped in a taxi back to central Lima. 

In the fast lane, two plastic buckets had fallen into the road, and my driver hit them head on thinking they would just go past — but one got stuck under the car near the tire and got dragged the entire run down the expressway.  The driver wouldn’t stop on the shoulder to get rid of it; instead he just put the blinkers on and drove slower the whole way.

Perhaps it was just bad luck, but I’ll take a taxi in New York City over one in Miraflores any day.

Next entry: A Pair of Turtles

Previous entry: Across Lima and into Mordor

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Comments for “The Taxis of Miraflores”

  • Wow…day SIXTY…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  03:11 PM

  • Absolutely OFF DA HOOK that you met Gab and Marnie!! Hopefully you’ll catch up with them when you eventually return to Oz!!

    That cabride on the other hand…running out of gas and then with a plastic bucket underneath? Geez, I’m surpirsed the axel didn’t catch fire!

    Keep on keepin’ on…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  03:39 PM

  • So what you’d you say Erik?

    Have you gotten you $40 worth? Because from where I’m sitting we’re only up to about $25.60.

    How could such a nice town have such CRAZY taxi drivers?

    Anyway… I’d better hit Post before Love Penny blind-sides me!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  03:56 PM

  • i’ll take a plastic bucket over a muffler that was being dragged by a car on Tunnelle avenue. the damn thing was sparking up.

    anyway, i am feeling under the weather….could be the reason how Td0t’s been able to post before me.


    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  04:14 PM

  • Erik: i guess that “take a picture with me” works afterall….

    Great pics. Its good to see faces in your stories.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  04:15 PM

  • Look at you with all the girlies! They can tell you’ve swung a machete. You exude manly jungleness (which is fine, since you showered).

    You look good for a guy who’s been on the road for SIXTY days. Wow. 60 down, 420 to go—think of all the people you’ll meet, all the places you’ll go, all the things you’ll see, all the odd-ball stuff you’ll eat, all the BLOGs you’ll write… all the BLOGs we’ll READ!

    Keep it up buddy!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  04:47 PM

  • day 60…only 9 more days till you know what!!!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  05:36 PM

  • Jeez - Fridays, Starbucks, McDonalds - are you SURE you’re not just in Oregon or something? The whole world really is turning the same all over.
    The office holiday parties are in full swing back here - one good thing about both Liza and I being freelancers is that we get invited to ALL our different clients’ shindigs. And nothing puts you in a holday mood like free booze. I’m sure they’ve got them down in Peru too - you should crash one in your best pair of conversion pants and soak up the corporate-sponsored love.

    Posted by dunlavey  on  12/18  at  08:06 PM

  • it is scary how american corporations are taking over the world. i feel disappointed knowing that the other cultures are exposed to our evil fast food industry as well. and then scientists wonder why the obesity rate is skyrocketing in other countries. depressing.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  09:09 PM

  • looking good, son..

    nice to see your face once in a while.

    you are startinf to look like indy jones..

    again take care & God bless.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  09:14 PM

  • do they have a “parque de la sesenta y nueve”???

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/18  at  09:22 PM

  • yes… 9 more days..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  05:29 AM

  • yes… 9 more days..

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/19  at  05:33 AM

  • I’m drunk in a NCHUZ (no camera hook up zone)....i already typed up the next entry, but it will have to wait until I can connect my memory stick to a computer…

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/20  at  02:06 AM

  • Fuck…the latest entry is all typed up on my laptop and set to go with pictures, but this fucking computer lab has some protection software that won’t let me hook up even my floppy adapter…  guess that makes me NIZ for 2 days…  Hope to post sometime on Sunday with 2 days worth of stuff…with some AMAZING photos of sandboarding!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/20  at  02:37 AM

  • an NJ update:

    last week, some man SHOT some guy @ the willowbrook mall!!! IN FRONT of SPENCERS! HA! how funny is that?!

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/21  at  05:56 PM

  • nikkJ: feh.

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)  on  12/21  at  06:02 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

Next entry:
A Pair of Turtles

Previous entry:
Across Lima and into Mordor


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