On our first day in Lima, another friend hopped on board for our journey. His name is Greg, he’s a cool kiwi from New Zealand, and he speaks Spanish fluently. Greg, who is David’s old mate from summer camp, had been living in Colombia for a while. He planned to meet us here as soon as David told him we were making the trip. This is a huge move for the program. Peru has fewer English speakers than Asia did. I’m sure David and I would still be able to have the same experiences without a translator, but having Greg makes things significantly easier.
I am super pleased with the way we handled our stay in Lima. We did a great job of avoiding museums and site seeing old churches. Rather, we lived in Lima for a few days. We took the public transit, which was an experience in itself. The transit system consists of small buses that people cram into like sardines. Greg, David, and I towered over the little Peruvians that smashed into us on all sides. Uncomfortable? Absolutely. But we get off those buse rides thrilled with the unique cultural experience. Simply put, moments like those are what we look for on our trips.
Lima is a beach town on the Pacific Ocean. I’ve seen many beach towns, but none like this. The beach literally runs up to a cliff face above which the entire city is built. We spent hours walking along the their version of a pacific coast highway.
One of my favorite ways to understand and appreciate a major city is to experience the nicer areas as well as the lower class neighborhoods. Our hostel was in a quiet neighborhood called Miraflores. It is surrounded by swanky cafes, pubs, shops, and urban homes protected by electric fences. On one night we stumbled into an old mansion that was converted into an upscale bar. We bused to the downtown area and saw something very different. This region (note that there are 42 neighborhoods in Lima) was fiercely intense. Loud, dirty, and absolutely no gringos to be found.
Lima is an amazing city for many reasons, but its architecture may be my favorite. We walked along Latin American city streets that opened up into beautiful green European plazas surrounded by churches and government buildings. I felt like I was instantly transported to Spain.