Lima - Monday, July 23rd

Lima Travel Blog

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Portada del Alva
Some random impressions and thoughts about Lima gathered in my first 3 weeks here:

CLIMATE:
It never rains in Lima.  At most there is a fine mist that comes down for hours in the late evening or night and eventually accumulates a bit on the ground.  Most of the greenery either survives well in a dry climate or is artificially watered.  There is a large water truck that comes by in each municipality (in the richer areas) and workers standing up in back spray water from a large hose on the grass and plants in the median and sidewalks.  Private property owners are responsible for their own watering.  Consequently you don't see a lot of grass here.
Portada del Alva...door to my room
  On the busier thoroughfares where there are entrance and exit ramps sometimes you see a green area with shrubbery spelling out the name of a company that sponsers the area and keeps it fertile.  It's very interesting.  The humidity is very high, especially in the areas of the city nearest the ocean.  Federico explained to me about the Humboldt current and how it brings the cold water up from the deep south and how it ends and turns back on itself in northern Peru and southern Ecuador.  The fish in the deep cold current provide food for the larger fish like sea bass and tuna and others caught in the offshore waters by the deep-sea trawlers.  The Andes rise up from the coast and don't allow the clouds to pass and that's why there are so many cloudy days in the coastal areas.
Etienne
  The pollution is also a factor of the hills ringing Lima and holding in the smog.  It's only thanks to the Pacific that some of that is blown away nearer to the water.  It makes sense then that the wealthier areas of the city are nearer the water and the poorer sections near the base of the hills and rising up into the brown, dusty hills.

CITY:
There is little to no city planning and that's what makes Lima an urban planner's nightmare.  There is no rhyme or reason to the building nor any codes.  In a way it reminds me of Warsaw.  You can have an office tower next to houses and commercial development, hotels, casinos all on the same block.  Casinos are everywhere.  For a poor city, it's unbelievable how many casinos there are.
Rosangela
  Each one seems determined to top the next in terms of flashing lights and elaborate facades.  They are called "Tragamonedas" which means something like "Get Money".  I guess they wouldn't do so well if they were called "Perdemonedas" or "Lose Money"!  Who are all the people gambling in there and supporting them?  It can't only be rich Limenos and foreigners.  It's sad to think of poor people losing what little money they have by gambling it away. 

SERVICES:
Electricity must be expensive.  There seem to be only low-wattage bulbs and the strain on the eyes can get to you.  Likewise with gas to heat water.  Lukewarm showers seem to be the norm, or very low pressure hot showers at the most.  None of the sink taps I've seen have hot water and that makes shaving difficult, not to mention the lack of hot water to wash your hands.
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
  Telephone landlines are cheap but it's 20x more expensive to call a cell phone.  Cell phone calls within the provider are moderate but to call a person with another plan is almost prohibitively expensive.  Can anyone explain why cell phone companies do this?

FOOD:
Peruvian cuisine is acknowledged to among the best in all of South America.  It comes from three influences, native Incan and Peruvian cuisine, Spanish cuisine, and Afro-Peruvian cuisine.  Some of it is a melding of the three and some is distinct.  It also depends where in the country you are.  There are three major zones - coastal, highlands (sierra), and jungle (selva).  Each has their own traditions and dishes that are formed mostly from what is available in each place.
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
  Obviously fish and seafood figures prominently in the coastal cuisines.  This is also where you have the Chinese influence as well as Criollo or African-Peruvian dishes.  There are more hot peppers in the north, the highlands are noted for potatoes and tubers and warming soups, as well as guinea pig (cuy).  The jungle has monkey and different kinds of fish from the freshwater rivers, as well as pork.  Chicken in Lima is a big thing.  Many restaurants specialize in roast chicken.  The spice and herb rub differs from ours and they are usually served with (soggy) thick cut fries and a small salad.  Some of the larger chains are Bembos and Pardos but I've also seen "Miami Chicken Grill" "Florida Chicken" and "Medi Pollo.
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
"  Is that a sick chicken on medication?  Haven't tried that place yet!  Food is everywhere, like in Mexico.  Whether prix-fixe Peruvian restaurant where you go at lunch to eat a full meal, or a more upscale modern restaurant, or Chinese Chifa, or cafe or pizzeria or...You get the idea.  Food is also prepared on the street.  You can buy empanadas and many other things from streetside carts.  I like the dessert carts and the snack carts.  The desserts are European in style and often have a buttery, flakey dough filled with a pastry cream or dulce de leche custard or jam.  The snack carts are piled high with crunch toasted corn kernels, bags of roasted nuts, Peruvian popcorn.  All of it is a feast for the eyes and taste.
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
  The food doesn't just stay on the street either.  If you're traveling on a bus or collectivo, venders will board the bus and hawk snacks and candy to the passengers.  At traffic lights it's the same.  They come right up to the windows to entice you with their product, usually available for pocket change. 

Some notes about today.  It was basically just a preparation day.  I did laundry, paid my bill and chatted with Rosangela and Etienne, went to the center to by my bus ticket (more in a bit about that), bought some Merrell trekking shoes and dropped off a bag at the Explorer's Club to pick up when I get back from the northern circuit.  On the way to buy my ticket I got in a rickety taxi.  The driver's side mirror was patched up with clear tape, the body had many welds on it.
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
  Who knows how many engines had been dropped in it?  And it rattled at any speed.  So, going down the central expressway, the driver mumbles something about his cable breaking and pulls off to the side.  He lifts the hood and starts to fiddle around with the distributor.  When he pulled a cable out of the trunk and started to hook it up and then thread it through to the floorboard, I started to get nervous.  What had gone wrong?  Well, it appears that the accelerator pedal cable had broken and the the cable he jury-rigged was the replacement.  So I had the spectacle of him driving and pulling on the cable to make the car run!  And to add to it, his door didn't shut so it was swinging open.  Oh my, I wanted to laugh or cry or scream.
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
.laughter prevailed and I did it silently so as not to distract him.  My life was literally in his hands! 

In the evening I met Janet at a chifa, Chinese restaurant.  The one she picked was upscale and she invited me to dinner because I won the bet with her that I could dance better than she thought.  There was a buffet set up and I was anxious to try the famous chifa that I had heard so much about.  I was assured that it was different than American Chinese food, but....well, let's just say that I know firmly believe that every Chinese immigrant is required to take a class on international Chinese cooking, because I've eaten Chinese food in several countries now and it's all remarkeably the same!  But it was good, and I filled up on the buffet with crab soup, the stir fried vegetables, fried rice, pork and beef and shrimp, and then a nice fruit and desert table.
Poem in Miraflores Ovalo
  It was a great meal. 

That's all for now.  I say goodbye to Lima tomorrow.  While I'll miss some things, especially the friends I've made in the few weeks I've been here, I won't miss other things.  It's time to move on and see some of Peru!
flack_mon says:
Scimmia, you asked, "Cell phone calls within the provider are moderate but to call a person with another plan is almost prohibitively expensive. Can anyone explain why cell phone companies do this?" I believe it is both some actual cost (the company is charged differently for calls placed to other companies and using those other companies towers and simply to promote people getting their friends and family to join the same cell company. I have heard that Verizon is better than AT&T in southern CA but I don't change because I call my dad and sister free AT&T to AT&T... or it's just because those companies are evil and trying to get all your money! :)
Posted on: Sep 10, 2007
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Portada del Alva
Portada del Alva
Portada del Alva...door to my room
Portada del Alva...door to my room
Etienne
Etienne
Rosangela
Rosangela
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Kuo Wha Restaurant, Miraflores
Poem in Miraflores Ovalo
Poem in Miraflores Ovalo
Lima Hotels & Accommodations review
I found out about this lovely B&B from the family that owns D'Osma B&B in Barranco. It's located just a half block from the park and ocean on the nor… read entire review
Lima
photo by: rsvpme