The cosmopolitan vibe of Lima took me a little bit by surprise. Since we’re staying in Miraflores (an upper-class neighborhood), I expected a big, modern city, but I didn’t think I would like it so much. Last time I was here I made a point of staying in the historic center, far away from the “western world” fakery of Miraflores.
Miraflores is full of Starbucks, large department stores, and fast food chains (KFC is the most popular), but it also has beautiful parks, really well marked bike lanes, and trash cans lining the sidewalks. It feels like a big city, but it also seems highly functional, something that isn’t always true in a south American city. It’s a nice change of pace.
We spend a lot of time in grocery stores here. There are several good ones, and we walk slowly down the long deli counters and bread aisles. Many of our recent destinations didn’t have so many options, causing a sense of wonder and extending the time it takes to run errands when we go to buy a few simple things… Veggies have always been available, so I’m glad that I have learned to make spaghetti sauce from scratch (the pre-made stuff down here is terrible), but after two days making meals from the goods available at a corner store, you start to run out of options.
Hands down, the best thing about Peru so far has been the juice stands. The most comfortable of these stands are usually located in the central market. Just today we pulled up a couple of stools at one of these and enjoyed a guanábana and mango juice, two sandwiches (avocado and stir-fried beef, respectively), and a slice of fig cake for 11 soles (about $4.25 USD).
We’ve met a lot of people during our trip that have extended offers to stay with them when we eventually get to their city. Lima is the first place where we’ve been able to take advantage of one of these invitations. After a few nights staying in a hostel, we met up with Sarai (whom we met in Ollantaytambo), and she convinced us to stay a little longer and crash at her place. She lives in the neighborhood of Lince, about 30 minutes north of Miraflores. Being in someone’s home after all of this time traveling certainly feels nice.
Lince is a place where you can’t walk around with a camera without people commenting that you should be careful. In my recollection, this is only the second town where multiple people on the street told me to watch my back (Valparaiso was the other one). I don’t doubt that in a working class neighborhood like this, things get stolen a little bit more frequently, but sometimes I wonder if Peruvians give themselves enough credit. On the street, everyone is generally very nice and willing to chat. With my #gentedesudamerica project, it is really almost no problem to take photos of people (so I have no excuse for not taking more…).