For all of you who don’t know, Cieneguilla is the place to go to get a break from the sometimes dreary Lima weather. As beautiful as Miraflores is, and as much as I enjoy this city; six months of overcast skies can take its toll on anyone. If you ever find yourself getting a little punchy and irritable (warning signs include an impulse to walk into traffic with an extended arm just for the satisfaction of forcing the cars to come to a screeching, honking halt) do yourself a favor and plan a weekend escape to one of the many relaxing clubs of Cieneguilla.
The best thing about Cieneguilla is that it’s really inexpensive. You can probably negotiate a taxi from Miraflores for 30-40 Soles, but you’re better off going by collectivo. Collectivos are communal taxis that gather at various appointed spots all over Lima depending on the destination. Generally the collectivo drivers are people who work in Lima, but live in the various outskirts of the city. They accept passengers for their commute just to make a few extra Soles at the end of the day.
The collectivos for Cieneguilla can be found near the intersection between Aviacion and Javier Prado. They’re usually parked right across the street from the KFC waiting for passengers. Fare is 3 Soles per person (4-5 on weekends and holidays) and once all available seats are taken they fire up and go (don’t worry, they don’t try to squeeze extra people into the back of the vehicle). The ride takes between 45 minutes and an hour depending on the traffic.
The place I generally go to in Cieneguilla is El Colono Inn. Colono is a casual little resort where you can order lunch and then hang out for the whole day if you want to. Some of the resorts charge a small fee for this service, but it’s just part of the deal at El Colono. While you’re there, you can take advantage of their amenities such as: a swimming pool, ping-pong, pool tables (a little warped but functional), fronton court, deck chairs for lounging in the sun, or, my personal favorite, the various Sapo games.
For those of you who don’t know what Sapo is, let me just tell you that you’re missing out on a grand Peruvian tradition. Sapo is a game to be played with friends out in the sun while enjoying some form of chilled, preferably alcoholic, beverage.
The game consists of a little platform with a cast iron frog (or Sapo) sitting in the center. The Sapo has his mouth wide open. Surrounding the Sapo are various holes. The object is to get as many points as possible by throwing little gold coins at the Sapo. If the coin goes into one of the holes, you are awarded anywhere between 50 and 2000 points (depending on the hole). If the coin enters the Sapo’s mouth, you are awarded between 4 and 5 thousand points (depending on the particular Sapo game you happen to be playing). If the coin actually goes into the Sapo’s mouth, it’s called a “Sapo” (surprise, surprise), and if it happens you’re basically assured of victory. The best thing to do if you get a Sapo, is to scream “Sapo!” loud enough so that everybody at the resort can hear it, and then run around screaming like a maniac for a good ten to fifteen minutes. Believe me, if you get a Sapo, you should make sure you let everybody know because chances are you’re never going to get one again.
If you should decide to spend the night, the rooms at El Colono are only 40 Soles during the week and 60 on the weekends. Be warned, it’s not the most luxurious place, but the rooms are clean and the beds are comfortable. The showers have hot water, although it sometimes takes three or four minutes for it to kick in. Every room has a TV, but the cable isn’t the best (although they do broadcast a noon NFL game that DIRECTV doesn´t have). The food, however, is very good.
Really, the best way to enjoy your escape to Cieneguilla is to go with some friends, kick back in the sun, drink some drinks, have a ping-pong tournament, and just generally relax. It’s a great way to take a break from your day to day life, and it’s surprising how much a simple weekend away can rejuvenate you. There’s just something about walking around barefoot on grass that soothes the soul. Sure, it’s not like going to the Bahamas, but at a price of 50$-60$ per couple for the whole weekend, how can you go wrong? Check it out!
El Colono Inn Av. Nueva Toledo Km. 23–Cieneguilla–Lima, Peru. Telephone: 479-8118 Fax: 479-8224. e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org. Web page: www.elcolono.net.