SOUTH AMERICA – THE JOURNEY PART 21
LIMA, CAPITAL OF PERU
I had that gut feeling, you know when you’re giddy and butterflies flood your stomach?
I was wandering around in a state of perpetual happiness. People tried to shake me from my hazy state with degrading words that dripped from their tongues. “Ugly”, “dangerous”, “you’re wasting your time” they heckled.
Of course I took no notice. Instead, I headed into a steamy night and I knew it would be the start of a passionate love affair…
…with Lima, the capital of Peru.
The city isn’t usually synonymous with attractive, must-see or amazing;
smog and ugh are more in line with people’s perceptions. Yet as I wandered around the coastal streets of Miraflores I felt a magnetic pull that will, no doubt, keep me here for the next few months.
I was captured by the plush neighbourhood, the playground for the rich and beautiful. Their pale skin and European heritage has defined their privileged lives in a city which exudes poverty in a plethora of suburbs.
Miraflores’ towering apartments, surrounded by sculptured parks, dominate southern Lima’s skyline and is juxtaposed against the quainter version of Barranco, one of Lima’s oldest suburbs with colonial buildings.
Despite the roof of pollution, which obscures the hills on which destitute neighbourhoods sit, the sun battles to make a daily appearance. Sometimes it succeeds, on others I’m wrapped up in my winter woollies, finding it hard to belive that in a month it’s supposed to be beach weather.
To embrace the coming summer months I’ve checked out bizarre flavours of ice cream, such as ceviche. It’s the local raw fish dish which is ‘cooked’ in the acidity of lemon and twists in flavours of chilli and onion. The ice cream is an acquired taste (great with a strawberry sorbet) but as for the actual ceviche dish, I’ve begun to crave for my daily dose.
Although my palate has warmed to the local food, my legs haven’t embraced the salsa-shimmying music that permeates Lima’s nightclubs. The hip-wiggling locals shake their thang on the dance floor, leaving me and a handful of other gringos, looking on in amazement. This quickly morphs into horror (will we have to attempt it?) and then boredom (we attempted it, couldn’t do it and now want to listen to different music).
However, despite my love for Lima, as with all relationships, the city has several characteristics that drive me mad. Here are a couple:
Bricheros who prowl the affluent tourist areas hunting for foreign females for an all-expenses paid for life. It goes something like this:
I sit on a bench and a brichero casually sits next to me. Headphones are swiftly shoved into my ears so I can feign deafness. If this fails, I have suddenly lost all capability to speak or understand Spanish or English. But they don’t give up that easily. I then have to feign blindness as I hide beneath my fringe and sunglasses. When this doesn’t work, and it often it doesn’t, (they’re bloomin’ persistant) I throw my best Scouse snarl their way, which as I’ve learnt over the years, can work wonders to get rid of people.
Los ancianos who I have rather stupidly rented a room from. The oldies are in their 70s and keep tabs on everything I do. When I get home after a night out, I’m told the next day – through a smile – “Oh yes, you came in at 5am. We couldn’t sleep until we knew you were safe.”
Through gritted teeth I manage a smile. But when they start to call me to see where I am, I’m less tolerant. This, thankfully, has stopped but the house hunting for somewhere else most definitely has not!
So my time in Lima will continue possibly for the next six months. Or until I get itchy feet and decide I need a love affair elsewhere…
WHERE ON EARTH?
- The capital of Peru, situated on the Pacific coast
- Has a population of 8 million
- Suburbs range from plush (San Isidro, Miraflores) to ‘keep right out’ (Gamara)
- Is cold up until mid December, but summer lasts until March