Lima at Last!
Our journey finally ended in Lima from March 17-21, 2011. Seems like such a long time ago now… we had a lovely visit, staying with Nelida Silva, a friend I made at the TedXAmazonia conference in November last. I gave a Nowtopia talk at a “Charla Solidaria” sponsored by Programa Democracia y Transformación Global, a non-party left group in Lima, Peru. I also gave a Critical Mass/bicycling talk for Cicloaxion, the local activist group we met there, thanks to Octavio who contacted me ahead of time…
Wandering around Lima was a great pleasure. I have to admit that I’d been a bit worried about it, having heard countless fearful accounts of people getting mugged in Lima, how street crime is out of control, etc., but we didn’t have any bad experiences. In fact, we walked around and rode the combi vans all over and never even felt like we were in a risky situation. Lima is great! Of course we only saw a part of it in the four days we were there, but we did get around a bit…
The plaza was filled with campers under cardboard roofs. Sugar workers were occupying the plaza, turns out they’d been there for three months, demanding that the government take steps to preserve a national sugar industry. It didn’t seem that their protest was getting much traction, but the occupation was impressive nonetheless.
We did plenty of touristic wandering around too…
Not far from Plaza San Martin we found ourselves walking along a narrow street that smelled of rot, but had a familiar charm. We found a building covered in murals and graffiti and we poked our head in to discover an anarchist social center called El Averno! Of course in all of Lima we’d stumble on this place!
We loved the art and politics and spent a half hour being toured around by a very intoxicated poet, with whom we exchanged stories and jokes.
There were plenty of freight bikes rolling through the streets of Lima, in addition to some commuters too…
Mostly we saw recreational riders in the wealthier parts of town. Along the coast we saw this guy in a teensy bike lane.
Our friends from Cicloaxion took us on a night ride all over the center of Lima, ending in their bustling Chinatown with a big Chinese meal.
We went to a cheesy nightclub with folkloric dancing one night. We also took combis and taxis all over the city, seeking out museums and restaurants recommended to us. It was fun, but we were pretty tired during our last days of traveling, after a month on the road.
We went to a weird market called Polvos Azules, a gray and black-market paradise chock full of pirated DVDs, electronics, sunglasses, crazy t-shirts of Jesus on various soccer teams, and anything you can think of. From there we cabbed over to the Museo de Nacion, a grim structure that happened to be housing a grim exhibit on the dirty war in Peru that saw thousands killed by the military in the southern Andes, and hundreds more killed by the Maoist lunatics of Sendero Luminoso (followers of A. Guzman). Here are a few photos from the exhibit, which really brought home the sadness and futility of the whole period in Peruvian history.
We were staying in Miraflores, one of the more upper class parts of Lima. Just a few weeks before our arrival the new “Ciclodia” had begun on the adjacent boulevard, Avenida Arequipa, every Sunday. Much like the Ciclopaseo we visited in Quito, and the Sunday Streets going on now in San Francisco, the Ciclodia is a weekly closure for bicyclists and pedestrians.
I wrote about Ciclodia and transit in Peru more generally over at Streetsblog, so I won’t repeat it all here. But we had fun with our bookends of Ciclopaseo in Quito and Ciclodia in Lima.
Not far from our digs in Miraflores is a sprawling ruin of the original Lima culture, something I’d never heard of before getting here. We found our way to Huaca Pucllana and took the guided tour.
We were about a mile and a half from the beach where we went on our last day. There’s a big strange sculpture in a park on the bluffs overlooking the sea. The park is called Parque del Amor, the park of love, so you can see why this hideous piece is there: