Welcome to Lima!

By: Sarah MacLean

Greetings from Lima, Peru!  Well, technically just above Lima on my flight to Cuzco.  It’s been great to be back in Peru after being here for a few weeks of volunteering three years ago.  I just spent the weekend exploring the capital city, and now I’m looking forward to a great three weeks in the second-largest city.  Here’s a bit about my time in Lima (pictures to come when I have better internet):

After a difficult farewell from Chile (I’ve learned how hard it can be to say goodbye to the city you study abroad in), I arrived in Lima Thursday evening for the next stop on my adventure.  My first thoughts during my taxi ride through the city centered on something like “Dorothy, we’re not in Santiago anymore” and “Wow, I can actually understand everything the driver is saying!  I knew Peruvians would speak slower than Chileans…”  Arriving in Magdalena del Mar, I was greeted by Anita, a family friend of a friend who I had met when I was in Lima before.  I spent the weekend at her home and she was gracious enough to give me a tour of a different part of the city each day.

On Friday I explored Magdalena and Pueblo Libre on foot , visiting the Larco Museum and the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.  The museum is home to an incredible collection of ceramics, so I explored room after room of pottery stacked from floor to ceiling.  After seeing on the map that the university was so close, I figured I would walk the extra way to see what it was like after I spent this semester studying at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile.  Of course, I’m partial to the Chilean version, but the Peruvian university seemed very nice, as well.  As I was walking back, it seemed that all the people in each store were glued to the television to watch Colombia play Brazil in the World Cup.  Since coming to Peru, it’s been really interesting to see how much people are invested in “El Mundial.”  I expected there to be a lot of excitement in Chile with their national team competing in the tournament, but I underestimated how much a lot of people in all of Latin America tune in to the World Cup!

That night, Anita and her family took me on a tour of the historic district of the town.  I had seen the Plaza de Armas and the national cathedral during my last visit to Lima, but it was really nice to see the area at night.  We couldn’t walk around too much because the guards were expecting a protest, but I really enjoyed seeing the space that joins together the Peruvian government and the Catholic Church (especially since the Plaza de Armas in Santiago was under construction during my entire stay!)

Saturday involved a nice walk around Miraflores and Barranco, two of the nicest communities in the city.  We walked along the park by the sea and I got a geography lesson of the city from Anita and her husband.  We drove down to the southernmost part of the city to get a great view of all the different communities, which was really fascinating for me, the geography nerd.

On Sunday, I paid a visit to the Hueca Pucllana, a pre-Incan temple right in the middle of Miraflores.  After being asked by three separate people if I was sure I didn’t want the tour in English (could have been the blonde hair and blue eyes that tipped them off), I joined the Spanish tour of the grounds to learn about the history of Lima’s oldest inhabitants.  For me, the coolest part was the juxtaposition between the gigantic temple and the modern buildings surrounding it.

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The afternoon included a visit to Callao in the northernmost part of Lima.  We visited the port and saw one of the fortresses from the era of Spain’s rule over Peru.  It was quite cloudy when we visited “The Point,” the end of a small peninsula in Callao, but it was still a really nice visit.

My final morning in Lima included a walking tour of the central market in Magdalena by Anita’s grandson.  I could hear the pride in his voice as he showed me around the little shops, explaining what I could find in each store and where to find the best seafood.  We passed a store for just about every kind of product you could imagine, from fruits that I had never heard of (in Spanish or in English) to Peruvian flags in every size that you could imagine.

Here’s to a great three weeks in Cuzco!