Thursday, February 19

Peru: Lima & Outskirts


The best-kept secret of Peru is their inadequate sewer system which cannot process toilet paper in the waste system at all, ever, anywhere. Even in the capital, Lima, city of 9 million, you cannot flush used toilet paper down the commodes. Every single toilet has a small (therefore often emptied), lidded trash can next to it in which you dispose of your TP. You would think this would render the country terribly stinky, but it's not bad, it's fairly under control. Fairly. This is probably the most difficult culture shock for an American to accept.
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The second best-kept secret is the Peruvian's love for guinea pig cuisine, a delicacy. And if they really want to impress you, the guinea pig is presented on your plate in it's entirety, including the precious little head. That is so you know you are getting guinea pig and not rat, which would be an offense to your sensitive tastebuds, right?

Of course I visited the little critters to make sure they are housed according to PETA regulations. We want to eat happy guinea pigs afterall.
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We arrived in Lima at midnight and fumbled our way to the driver who was waiting for us. His vehicle was meant to transport 6 and we stuffed in 9 or 10. Even in the darkness, I could see the adobe slums, trashy streets and sexy billboards that suggests a big city. I was warned to keep the car doors locked at all times, don't stash my purse within view of the window and don't even think about talking to the "children" who approach the vehicle for handouts. The crime in Lima is higher than average. We made it to our room and I was in bed by 2:00 am, exhausted.-

These two pictures are of a street circle near a suburban home I visited in the morning.
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It's almost suicide to cross the streets in Lima, there are very few driving laws and less enforcement. So at the corner Starbucks (!!!), I propped my feet up with glee when I noticed this little breadman (in white, which I've highlighted with yellow) as he was determined to cross the street on his morning rounds with his oh-so-yummy breadcart, coming precariously close to hungry, little me. It was almost a reality TV moment, like Survivor or "Lima-Man" or something and I shamefully felt a little bit like a voyeur.

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The little guy made it, of course, but I did not venture out for bread. I could not look him in the eyes after the way I enjoyed his peril.
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Here is another bread man out in suburbian Lima. You can just walk up to him and buy the most delicious, fresh, warm bread; what an outstanding concept. It almost makes up for their lack of TP disposal.
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I spent very little time in Lima, click on that if you want to know why.

I don't have many touristy recommendations for you. The one touristy thing we did was to visit Huaca Pucllana, an archaeological site right in the Lima downtown area. Excavation is still in process, but certain areas are open for public tours. These are the remains of people who lived in the Lima area between 200 and 700 AD. Their lives consisted of farming, fishing, hunting and gathering, making textiles, pottery and tools. Their religious world was dominated by the sea and their religious activities involved banquets, breaking ceramic jars and sacrificing women and children.
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You can clearly see how the small, handmade adobe bricks were placed in vertical rows, resembling shelves of books, to build walls and platforms. These walls form enclosures, plazas, ramps, stairs and entrances. The bookshelf style enables them to give a little during earthquakes without breaking and fully falling apart. Brilliant, eh? And they are still standing today! I was so impressed. Right in the middle of a city! It was amazing to me. The ruins had been hidden, appearing as a grassy hill in the city, until the mid-2oth century. This is a relatively new find, which was also amazing to me, I thought there was nothing new under the sun.
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Around 700 AD, something happened to these people (not the ones pictured here, that's me and my friends, we are fine). It appears the people suffered an internal crisis, perhaps new religious and political ideas and they began to fade away. Also at that time, the Wari Empire arrived from Ayacucho, a strong militant group that transformed the site into a cemetery. After this group, the next noticable group to inhabit, was the Incas.
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Huaca Pucllana is inexpensive to tour and easy to get to (I walked to it). Location: Calle General Borgono cuadra 8 s/n. Miraflores, Lima. Here is their website, but it is written in Spanish & I didn't see an English option.
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Also in Lima is a market where locals sell their crafts. I don't know the name or location, though, but it is a great place to shop. There are fruit, vegie and meat markets all over Peru. Open-air, filthy and bug-infested. I spotted these huge vegetables (?) and took a picture hoping someone could identify them for me.
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Here is a neighborhood in the outer limits of Lima. These are what we would call "squatters" and over there are called "Invaders." They have strong rights and are difficult to remove. This is how much of the popluation gets their own home. They invade a piece of property, setting up a homestead of straw -- no lights, no water, dirt floor.

After five years, they are able to claim possession & then another five years, they can get legal title to the land. They often put up a flag thinking this gets them more rights.
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Here is a group of Invaders living on land right by the sea. Be careful if you are offered a great deal on beachfront homes in Peru.
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The Pacific shore skirting Lima and down along the Pan American Highway was amazing underdeveloped. About 60 miles out of Lima, I found abandoned chicken houses right on the beach.

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A little further south of Lima, you will begin to see the desert dunes. They are tremendous. What I found intriguing was the lush green fields scattered here and there. These are mostly asparagus fields. There is no rainfall at all, so they often irrigate with water from the Andean mountains, which get over 200 inches of rainfall per year. The men that work these fields are usually from bamboo villages in the dunes down near Ica.
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This was, appropriately, one of my last photos of the trip. We were hobbling back up the Pan American Hwy., heading back to Lima to fly out around 2 am. This was probably 100 miles south of Lima, but I'm not sure.

For Lima travel information, click here.

2 comments:

Fern said...

Heather had a hard time remembering the TP rules when she was in Peru!!!

Catherine said...

I am glad you (in the photo) are OK, at first, I thought something happened to you in 700 AD. You are looking good for your age.

Guinea pig tastes like chicken.

Lima doesn't sound too appealing, I'll stick to Europe if I go anywhere. I liked your Europe summaries, thanks.