Whatever I was expecting from Lima it was not surfers and paragliders, olives for breakfast and old VW bugs and vans on the streets. Nor was it Saturday night dancing in the Parque Kennedy, just a stroll from our hostel in upscale Miraflores. Old and young, they were all out in force, in jackets, scarves and boots (high-heeled for the many fashionistas) against the chill, dancing, strolling, snacking, until way past my bedtime. There were more people out in the park at night that during the day, it seemed .
In the neighboring streets the waiters wage polite but determined warfare, with each other, and with us, but very good humoredly, for patronage and the restaurants don’t close down until the wee hours. My fantasies of daily ceviche are easy to realize here.
Each Sunday there is a fifty-block ‘take back the calle’ street fair on Avenida Arequipa, where in addition to the bikes, skateboards, rollerblades, baby strollers and dogs, there was high-energy dancing, tai-chi -like something, free sports drinks, climbing walls, acrobatics, even an outdoor beauty parlor, all of which we surveyed from our rented bikes.
Later in the day, down on the seaside cliffs, we gawked as the ‘parapentes’ parasailors stepped the cliff and tacked effortlessly above the Sunday strollers and shoppers at the Larcomar mall which also sort of hangs from the cliff. When is the last time you did something for the first time -that thought has been with me recently, but somehow I avoided the opportunity to glide in tandem with a presumably experienced glider for twenty minutes and sixty dollars. Maybe next time?
All this activity took place under a chill and dreary cloud – the garua, a sort of fog bank, which blankets the coast from ?April to December. Thankfully, it doesn´t seem to quite reach the ground.
I think it’s partly because of the cold Humboldt current which comes up the coast. The surfers, and we could see dozens, were of course in wetsuits but the waves looked nicely formed and regular, so much so that we were wondering how boats could access the nice yacht harbor we saw. According to the guard, it’s not always quite so rough, and sometimes the harbor is just closed. Also it was a private harbor behind high walls, holding only local members’ boats of the Wellcraft and catamaran type Anyone thinking of sailing to Peru should read the comments on noonsite.com (and avoid Paita).
The two best attractions we saw, other than the streetscapes of Miraflores, Barranco and the center of the Old Town, were the Larco Musuem and the nighttime display of fountains at the Parque de la Reserva I think it’s called. The museum is nicely presented, with signs also in English, the pottery is admirable and you can learn a good deal about the various cultures which preceded the Incas in this area.
The park is popular with everyone. The fountains are colored and lit and computerized; we laughed and laughed as people tried to wend their way dry through the randomly timed jets of the Labyrinth, then tried it ourselves. Wouldn’t want to get too wet though. It’s the dead of winter here, July and August, temps down to the fifties at night and always gray It doesn’t seem that anyone has heat, just jackets and scarves and for us the comforting press of heavy blankets in our hotels. I’m really glad to have my flannel pajamas which emerged from four years of zip-lock but are most welcome now.
I’d also like to mention an ambitious construction site we saw. Like everywhere downtown traffic can be horrendous. The solution here is to make a tunnel beneath the Rimac River starting just about where Pizarro planted his flag to found the city (in January when the sun is shining say the guides) It’s a three year project – in the meantime the river has a little channel alongside. That’s the famous Pan-American highway which runs the length of the continent that they’re burying.
Next, off to the desert. I hope I’ll be able to add my buckets of photos to my SmugMug site but right now seems not. Things are going to be a little rough for a while. Later!