Lima, Peru: Ministry of Silly Walks and Peruvian Men

18 May

I’ve been dismissive of Lima in the past. Unfinished cement box houses, cheap casinos, choking air pollution, no formal public transport and loco drivers does not endear a city to me. Plus I’d been warned not to stop at traffic lights after 8pm for fear of being car jacked or simply mugged.

Six years after my last visit much has changed for the better. The Metropolitano ‘Bendy Bus’ system, running on special lanes, is good value and fast. We borrowed a Metro card from our hotel, topped it up and travelled from outer Miraflores to the centre and around for less than AUD15 for the two of us.20140517-161601.jpg

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Stuart looking quite at home in Lima.

We’d arranged to meet up with Angie M at our hotel the evening we arrived. With a flight delay from Cajamarca and heavy traffic caused by one broken down vehicle we arrived exactly an hour late, at the time when we were supposed to go out to dinner with Angie. We’ve renamed Peruvian time ‘Inca time’. We’d misheard David Groves’ accent when he said, ‘In good time’ to say, ‘Inca time’, meaning whenever the last/slowest person in the group was ready. Inca time is always at least an hour after we would expect to depart.

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With the divine Ms Angie M. In the lobby bar of Hotel San Antonio Abad.

Pero no problemo, the good people of Lima eat around the clock!

Swiss-Peruvian fashion brand manager and model Angie is a former girlfriend of our son Tristan. She also has a boutique leather goods label of her own – Cotto. We’d met several times over the years and I’ve followed her career with interest. Angie communicates faster in three languages (Spanish, English and Portuguese) than most people can manage in their mother tongue. With her local knowledge we were assured of a fantastic meal and Danica in Miraflores did not disappoint. We watched the pastry chef construct intricate desserts through the glass.

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Angie & Stu shared dessert.
With Angie’s help we were able to answer some of the cultural questions that had been nagging at us. For example, ‘Why is it that Catholic Peruvian men perceive no cognitive dissonance in being married with children while having affairs and kids with other women, as well as generally flirting with every female under forty?’ Answer: Because they believe that is the ‘normal’ way for men to behave and most women don’t challenge what seems to be the Peruvian status quo.

Angie also gave us tips to plan an interesting excursion for our one day in Lima, first to MALI, the art museum, then into the colonial centre.

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Serendipitously it was ‘Museum Day’ with free entry to all the exhibitions. Our favourite was the Castillo de Huarmey showcasing the Wira cultural artifacts, mostly weavings, ceramics and intricate ear ornaments, found just thirty years ago in a large mausoleum site.

It was apparent that women were held in high esteem by the Wira. What’s happened in the intervening centuries to change that so dramatically remains an open question. Your thoughts are welcome.

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The park next to MALI.

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When public toilets are few commerce fills the gap.

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Lima’s Plaza Mayor is bordered by the Government Palace, the Basilica Cathedral, an arcade and other impressive colonial buildings. It’s protected by two concentric circles of police security and riot cops with shields stand at the ready next to the cathedral.

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I wasn’t game to photograph the riot police but I snuck this one while the elderly woman distracted them.

We were just in time for the midday changing of the guard at the Palace. Completely ceremonial with full brass band, red jacketed goose stepping soldiers in highly polished helmets marched onto the forecourt to ‘Carmina Burana’ and Simon and Garfunkle’s ‘El Condor Paso’. It felt like a Monty Python skit. I’ll upload the video when I get faster than glacial wifi.

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The next piece of luck was passing a busy vegetarian restaurant, Manantial, in Calle Filipino. We chose the ten sole (AUD cc) two course lunch menu of herb tea, vegetable soup, then spinach, tofu and vegie stir fry for Stu, and beans, tofu and vegies for me followed by pineapple jelly. All fresh and tasty and served with a smile. Loved it!

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More strolling and people watching then an easy bus trip back to hotel and we were ready for siesta.

Final note on Lima: I recommend Donatello Restaurant in Miraflores. Old school Italian with the excellent vegan pizza.

And so to Cuzco!

20140518-035802.jpgLima Cathedral is beautiful but terrying for small children

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2 Responses to “Lima, Peru: Ministry of Silly Walks and Peruvian Men”

  1. Brian Mitchell May 18, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Thanks for the commentary. Nice looking vege meal.

    • Sharon Tickle May 18, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

      Thought you’d like Lima’s basilica too Brian. Quite bloodthirsty branch of Catholicism from the look of some of the art. Much more dramatic than Europe. Sxx

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