L is for Lima, T is for Tango

Trip Start Aug 17, 2007
Trip End Sep 06, 2007

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Flag of Peru  ,
Sunday, August 19, 2007

Well I guess the Tango is really for Argentina, but Lima is a city of contrasts.  Lima is known as the City of Kings, but it is also the city of handsome men in the ¨Latin Lover¨mold, beautiful women with long dark hair, all wearing jeans and high heel boots. 
There is much squalor here, but the new mayor has been on a campaign to clean up the city and is succeeding very well.  There is an increased police presence, new roads are being built, the streets are being cleaned up, and buildings repainted. After all the of scary things we had read on blogs about the crime and pick pockets in Lima it was a relief to see that this had changed.

The Main Square in Lima is a delightful colonial style plaza with Spanish Neo Classical buildings in shades of cream, pink and butternut yellow. Gustav Eiffel had visited and worked here and his influence is easily seen in the main area of Lima, if has a very Parisian feel to it.

This afternoon we joined a group of Canadians and one American to go on a tour of Lima.  Our first stop was to the Park of Lovers, a pretty park located on the Pacific Ocean.  A walkway of mosaic wall tiles created a beautiful frame for views of the Pacific Ocean.  A large statue of 2 lovers in an intimate embrace creates the mood for the park.  While we were there we saw a wedding party having pictures taken.  Our guide Roberto really broke up the group by telling everyone in our group that we were going to this park because Al and I were in love,  he had observed us holding hands.

We ended our tour with a visit to the catacombs.  I have visited catacombs in Vienna and in Paris, but never ones like this.  Long narrow low passageways filled with repositary bins full of human bones, a different bin for each type of bone.  Finally we get to a well 15 meters deep filled with human skulls.  This was not my favorite part of the day and it was hard not to think about being in there if another earthquake aftershock should happen.

Returning to our hotel we encountered Lima gridlock.  Lima has a population of 8 million people, all of whom like to drive very fast.  To prevent this there are the biggest speed bumps I have ever seen, you certainly would not want to tangle with them!  Traffic eventually just crawls along, or comes to a complete stop.  When this happens vendors rush out amongst the cars to try to sell pop, water, chocolate or candy.  Many look to be young children of perhaps 10 years of age.  Definitely not too safe.  While we were stopped in traffic I looked over to see a very young child asleep in a cardboard box beside a construction site where graders were at work. Perhaps the father was one of those operating a grater.

For our evening meal we explored our neighborhood, an area a little on the seedy side, but it did improve as we got closer to the main square in Miraflores. We found a nice, small restaurant called the Rincon Chami on Esperanza and Al managed to order us 2 beer.  Fortified by the beer we became brave enough to try to order off the menu and ended up with some wonderful kabobs with a tangy mustard dip and wonderful potatoes.  Peru is where potatoes originally came from and they have literally hundreds of varieties.  Dessert was pie de Limon and the best coffee I have ever had, very strong!  Tomorrow we shall try the famous Pisco Sour when we go for happy hour.

Did I mention that it is the end of winter here.  The locals are wearing heavy coats, scarves, hats and gloves.  I am wearing a long sleeve shirt, vest and hiking pants and am feeling fine.  However they have no heating in their houses here, which also means that there is no heating in our Hotel, and it is very chilly in the evening.  I am so grateful for my flannel pj´s and matching warm fuzzy socks!  We have not had any trouble with jet lag, it is much easier flying South then it is flying East of West.
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