Eating Ceviche and meeting Davids family
After our legendary busride between Puno and Cusco we were glad that we had booked a flight back to Lima. It was not just the comfort of liveable temperatures or reduced risk of burned bridges that was the primary factors in our decision making, but rather the fact that flying back would give us a bit more time in Lima with Hanne Beate and David. The trip back to Lima went like a breeze and we were once again met at the airport by Hanne Beate that for the occasion had even made us a sign! Although it was mostly to keep the taxi touts away it was our first welcome sign and it was duly appreciated.
We only had a couple of days in Lima this time around as well but we managed to squeeze in some last minute souvenir shopping and one of the culinary highlights of the Peru trip, Ceviche. Ceviche is basically raw fish in lime which first does sound kind of weird.. To my surprise it doesn’t taste like raw fish since the lime has marinated the dish in advance. Its a delicious dish and a must eat if you are in Peru! Since we had Hanne Beate and David as our personal guides we were confident that the choice of restaurant was top notch. Finding a place to eat ceviche in Lima is not hard, but as with all national specialities it’s wise to ask the locals where the best one is served.
After finishing up at the restaurant we headed out to Ventanilla to meet Davids family. Ventanilla used to be a smaller city that now has been engulfed by the rapidly growing metropolis of Lima. We took one of the numerous small minibusses that run through the city in place of a public bus system and payed a few soles to get us to our destination. As a digression I have to say that I’m impressed by the amount of minibusses crisscrossing the city, giving the means to transport yourself anywhere at anyplace at anytime. It’s not perfect, but the entrepreneur spirit that caused these ad-hoc bus companies to flourish impresses me. On the other hand I ended up in a seat that had less leg space than a Khmer Rouge prion cell and I can’t honestly imagine what they thought when they installed the seats..
Meeting Davids family was both frustrating and highly enjoyable. Frustrating because of my lack of spanish skills and enjoyable as the family did their utmost to make us feel right at home. David has two sisters and one brother, Rafael, Gisela and Natalia. Natalia just had a baby, Ashley, who we were lucky enought to get to play with even though she was a bit sick that day. We even had time to visit Davids grandparents who lived nearby in what seemed to be a close knit community. I didn’t understand a word of what Davids grandfather said and even though Hanne Beate did her best to translate I was often left with the universal workingly nod and a smile 🙂 You do although not have to understand what a person is saying to feel welcome in their house and we definently felt welcome and thankful for letting us come and visit.
The following day it was time to explore the flashy and touristy part of Lima that most tourists live and hang out in, Miraflores. Before we headed down there we were invited to Mundo Libre, an institution that works with streetchildren that David works at now and Hanne Beate has worked at previously. Visiting institutions like these make you appreciate the work other people to do help people and really gives you an insight into the complexities that an institution like this has to deal with. David was one of four social workers there that worked there as a part of their education. The streetchildren at Mundo Libre was not just fed and tutored, but also received one on one sessions with different types of therapy trying to ready them for a life outside the street. Although our visit at Mundo Libre was brief it was both educational and inspiring to see how things are done in a country that is so different from my own.
Miraflores is a radically different part of the city compared to the poorer suburbs and it has attracted numerous investors due to its location on the beachfront facing the Pacific Ocean. It’s flashy casinos and sea view restaurants was for us a stark contrast to the Lima we had seen so far and I understand why most tourist end up here as it has a more cosmopolitan feel than the rest of the city. We were really lucky with the weather and had the pleasure of enjoying one of the few sunny days in Lima during this part of the year. With the sun shining down on the beach below us Miraflores showed herself from her best side and I have to say that it was well worth the visit. Dining with a clear view of the Pacific as the sun slowly dipped from bright yellow to a darker shade of orange was spectacular. If you ever go to Lima chances are you will end up in Miraflores. It’s a great place to be, but don’t let that put you off from discovering the other sides of Lima as well!
As a conclusion to my initial sceptism towards Lima I have to say that they were thoroughly misplaced. Lima has gotten a dodgy reputation among backpackers and is likely to keep this for a while as the tourists in Peru are still going to flock to Cusco for some Inca action. Don’t let this stear you away from Lima as a stopover to your destination up in the mountains. Lima is a big and complicated capitol, but it has plenty of gems if you are prepared to look. Next time I’m going there it will definently be with a surfboard under my arm and money to go paragliding over the beaches in Miraflores!*