“Bienvenidos a Lima , said the sign that I could barely see through my foggy eyes at 2:10 am on April 25th when I got off the plane. “Lima, la ciudad del amor y de la polución” be its name because the capital of Peru has an impressive number of couples and cars.
The first real contact I had with Lima was at 3 am though the unwashed windows of senior Pedrito’s car. He was sweet enough to pick me up from the airport at 3 am at a fairly expensive price. But I guess when it comes to safety the wallet shouldn’t stay closed. The ride to the hostel was sobering. I was in a different country, I was speaking Spanish with my driver, and I was judging the views I was seeing. I shouldn’t call them views though. They were more like flashbacks of stories I used to read on other parts of the world. From my seat in the car, the outskirts of Lima seemed to fully represent those stories, with small unmaintained houses, cars that are falling apart, and as much garbage as the pieces of land can hold. As we were coming closer to the centre the quality of the neighbourhoods improved gradually, houses started to look cheerful, parks with palm trees appeared and the views became beautiful. The highway in Lima goes around the beach and as we passed by I could hear the sound of the ocean and almost taste the salt in the air. That was the Lima I was looking for. Miraflores is the Lima destination for tourists. Everything here felt like a flower purposefully designed to have guests explore. My hostel, a small house, seemed to fit in this description so well.
I woke up in the morning rested, as if my four hours of sleep were eight. Maybe because my travel companion kept telling me I was going to miss breakfast. The highlight of the morning wasn’t the breakfast itself but the rich coffee that I was served. It’s dark colour, its creamy texture, its delicious flavour, everything about that coffee told me that I am in the right place. From there the sun started shining and smiles flowing.
Veronica, our hostel Pucllana hostess recognized us as we were wondering the place. She received us with hugs and kisses and her warm welcome just added to the contempt I felt inside.
Closer to noon the adventure began! I had my cute dress, my unwashed but somehow perfect hair, even my jewelry matched the South American spirit I could feel within.
Five minutes walking distance from our hostel we discovered the Pucllana ruins.
Interesting facts we learned there:
– The Lima people were the first culture of the region. They were conquered by the Wari, which in turn were conquered by the Incas.
– The ruins show that layers were added in time over the pyramid, which was used to worship the moon and the sea
– The pyramid is filled so it’s wasn’t used to store anything
– When the Wari buried people from high class they did it by sitting them in fetal position, surrounded by materials which reflected their work, and they killed and buried a newborn with them to bring them luck on the other side. Talk about child abuse!
– Being a human sacrifice for the gods was the greatest honor that anyone in these cultures could hold. Doesn’t make sense to us in our culture but ancient cultures from this area believed in life after death and in giving oneself to the gods
– Llamas and alpacas can combine to create “mini-llamas”. Due to my high curiosity I did a google search on this breeding and I found out that a “huarizo” is a cross between a male alpaca and a female llama and “misti” is a cross between a female alpaca and a male llama. Here’s more information: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Llama_cross_breeding_with_a_alpaca?#slide=1
– Guinea pigs are not pets in South America. They are delicious food – Cui on the menu. Yum!
– San Pedro cactus is hallucinogenic. Prior to being sacrificed, people would have some to unite with the spirits
Located in Miraflores, Larcomar is a touristy shopping area located on top of the beach cliffs. The views from here are heavenly with a full sight of the ocean and surrounding cliffs. Its stores are not important because the plaza has so many restaurants with ocean views that make any entry to an enclosed space seems like a waste of time and energy.
El Parque del Amor and other parks
From Larcomar we continued on a boardwalk which took us from park to park, one more beautiful than the other. To be noted was the park of love. Lima is a romantic city not because of the language, the architecture, or the services, it is romantic because of its people and how they cherish the love they have for each other.
Cats in the park!
On our way back home we ran into a market in the middle of a cute little park. And my surprise was great when behind the market I discovered a great number of cats enjoying their dinner. All the advice my doctor gave me not to touch animals in foreign countries was instantly forgotten. I stopped and petted one that seemed more in the socializing mood. Her purring made me feel like purring 🙂
Random Italian dinner
It seems I have developed as habit of having Italian food everywhere I go. Lima was no exception. My delicious lasagna was complimented by my companion’s pasta. And to become full classy we had a glass of wine to accompany the food.
The bottom line is that Lima is a gorgeous city with a mix of old and new like no other. It may have crazy traffic but just the smell of the ocean and the love atmosphere pay off for that.
In Lima Part 2 which will be coming up shortly, I will be going over the historical centre which has a completely different charm 🙂