That's Lima. It is also a home for more than 9 million people. One of the biggest cities in Latin America. Lima is often left in the shadow of other cities of Peru, like Cusco and Arequipa which both offer a great variety of tourist attractions. Lima is definitely not the prettiest or most interesting place in Peru but I also believe that it should be appreciated a little more because there are plenty of cool things to do and nice places to see.
Living in a huge city like Lima can be a truly interesting experience. Every day you learn more about this chaos that somehow controls itself and makes it work. - The first day I arrived, I could not understand the city, it seemed like a huge labyrinth. But once you explore a bit and get to know the names of the places you start to put the pieces together.
In order to share some bits and pieces, I have gathered a few things that are either very common in Lima or things that have surprised me while living here.
Transportation & Traffic Jams from H*LL Oh boy, where should I start with this? As I chose to live in one of the most known districts of Lima, called Miraflores I decided to accept the fact that I'd have to commute to the university (located on the other side of the city) every day using the public transportation. I had local friends warning me about the traffic before I arrived and I just thought they'd be exaggerating. '' It can't be _that_ bad.'' Little did I know, after almost 3 months adventuring with the buses around the city I can confirm that the traffic jams are horrible!
The word traffic has a whole new meaning after trying to get from place A to B, especially around 6-8 in the evening when supposedly the whole city gets off from work. This subject might deserve a proper post of its own as I have so much to say! But I promise you, it is an experience of one of a kind!
The differences between districts The city of Lima consists of 30 districts that each have their own characteristics. The most known districts among tourists are Miraflores, Barranco, San Isidro and Centro de Lima as most of the most popular sights are located in these areas.
However, these are only a fraction of the city and they do not give a proper image of Lima. In order to understand the size and volume of the city one have to get out of the touristic areas and explore the other parts of Lima as well.
While exploring the city one quickly notice how distinct the districts are from one another. In some parts of the city, the border of the districts can be easily seen, not only from the signs but from the landscape. You might find yourself wondering between luxurious villas and rich suburb areas and suddenly after crossing the district line, you find yourself looking for a pavement as you notice there's no asphalt on the roads and you see dusty unfinished brick houses everywhere.
This is mainly due to the fact that each district has their own leaders and they are responsible for the cleanliness, safety, and branding of the area among others. For instance, wealthy districts like Miraflores and San Isidro have noticeable safety system on the streets; just outside my apartment there is a security camera on the street and the security patrol (serenazgo) is on its duty day and night.
Whereas, poorer districts like San Juan de Lurigancho and Ate are hardly supervised when it comes to the general safety. They simply do not have the resources to establish common security system. In this kind of areas, you can see shanty houses built on the side of the hills with no electricity or water system, and that really shows the real contrast between the rich and poor in the city.
The weather One of the first things that I noticed when arriving in Lima was the white sky. Wait a second, isn't the sky suppose to be blue? Well, not in Lima. The locals often refer the sky as a donkey belly as it truly seems like there is a donkey laying on top of the city.
But even the sky is grey there is still somehow light and I sometimes get an urge to wear sunglasses because the brightness hurts my eyes. But limenos don't do it, so I have tried to deal with it.
Another interesting aspect when it comes to the weather in the capital is that it hardly ever rains. The average rainfall of the year is literally under 0mm. However, once in a blue moon there is a humid fog which is called llovizna here. It doesn't wet you but it feels almost like you'd be standing next to a fountain.
Fashionable dogs Limenos and Peruvians, in general, seem to like pets! One of the most popular pet in Peru has to be the llamas and alpacas. However, I'm sorry to disappoint you but you will most likely not find those buddies here in Lima. You'll have to go to the Sierra (Mountains), where there are plenty of them.
However, Limenos seem to love dogs! What's funny about that? Well, it seems to be some sort of trend or even a custom, that the dogs are dressed up. I dare to say that if you spend a day in the center of Lima, you can't avoid coming across a dog wearing a colorful costume; a jumpsuit, a tie or anything that you can think of. Some of the owners seem to enjoy planning their outfits according to what the dog is wearing (or the other way around) and it certainly isn't unclear which dog belongs to who.
One explanation for this phenomenon is that some believe that if your dog is dressed well, it's a sign of the wealthiness of the owner.
Usually when you go to another country and talk with the locals the first question they tend to ask is; ''How do you like *place the name of the country*?'' but here in Lima the first question is one of these;
''What is your favourite dish here?''
''Have you already tried ceviche/ají de gallina/any typical Peruvian food?''
The food is important here. Well, good food. Lima is full of restaurants; something for everyone. There are high-end gourmet restaurants that are known all over the world as well as super cheap menu options where you'll get a delicious meal including starter, main dish and dessert with a glass of juice only for 10 soles (around 2,5€). In the past years Lima has definitely become an international food tourism destination and Peru's tourism board has understood the potential that Lima has and is currently running many campaigns around the Peruvian cuisine. Therefore, if you want to eat well, come to Lima.
Lima has a big Asian population and it can be seen on the streets as in every corner there are chifa restaurants. These restaurants serve Chinese or oriental dishes with a Peruvian touch and I swear it taste amazing! There are also maaany super good places to eat makis - in all kinds of flavours imaginable.
Underappreciation of archaeological sites Have you heard of Pachacamac? Well if you answered no, don't worry, I did not have any clue about what was it before moving here. In fact, I guess I had never heard of it.
In fact, it's an archaeological site located around 40km away from the central Lima. It's a huge historical and cultural complex which covers over 600 hectares of land. There are some major constructions such as pyramids from the cultures such as Ichma and Inkas. It is truly a great place for those interested in ancient cultures and great views to the Pacific Ocean.
It's not only Pachacamac and the other archaeological sites on the outskirts of Lima metropolitan but also you can find many impressive and interesting historical ruins inside the city. One huaca worth visiting is located in Miraflores, it's known as Huaca Pucllana, big historic site constructed by the Lima people long before the Inkas. I have seen only a couple of advertisements about the site even I found it has a great potential to become a great tourist attraction. Even some of my local friends haven't heard of it.