“Love looks through spectacles that make copper look like gold,
poverty like riches, and tears like pearls.” – Peruvian Proverb
Honestly, before this trip, I do not know anything about Peru but Machu Picchu. Almost a decade ago when I visited Ankor Wat, Cambodia in 2008 when I was at awe with the ancient civilization when a traveller I’ve met on the road shared with me that I must soon visit Machu Picchu too. I got interested so when I Googled about it, I just can’t stop dreaming of going there since then.
However, my Machu Picchu dreams does not include any place else in Peru, but when I started planning this trip finally, I’ve read so much about Peru that I felt like the one week I planned for Peru will not be enough. Just like my homeland, Philippines, Peru may be poor, but it’s also very rich with natural resources, its people, and its culture.
After visiting Bolivia, I have a 12-hour layover in Lima before going to Rio de Janeiro. In my original planning, I thought I would be travelling with a friend/s, so I thought if they are not coming with me in Bolivia, I will just meet them back in Lima. But since none of my friends came with me, I thought to myself, I will just stay at the airport and rest.
However, I’m always hungry for adventure and I can’t seem to relax at the airport knowing that the city is just very close and I have time to explore it even for a short time, also the wifi is not free, lol! So yeah, I took the airport taxi and went to the city, I brought with me my quite-heavy-hand-carry daypack because the Information Desk said it’s quite expensive to leave bags at the airport’s lockers, I didn’t check how much because I already paid tax just for going out of the airport, around 30USD. It is also advisable to use the Airport Taxi even if it’s more expensive because it is much safer. I don’t want to stress myself anymore, so I pick the easy and safer options.
Since I have around 10-hours to explore the city, I planned to attend on 2 Free Walking Tours – Miraflores and Downtown Walking Tour and the Barranco Walking Tour. I am a huge fan of free walking tours because it’s not expensive (tips based tour) and you get the same amount of information or sometimes even better. The guides are usually cool and funny too! I picked the company Free Walking Tour Lima for my walks.
Miraflores & Downtown
First thing I noticed when I got out of the airport is it was very hot! Coming from highland Cuzco, I didn’t know that Lima will be this hot, I wasn’t prepared that I was wearing a thick t-shirt and my hiking trousers. Anyway, I will only be here for few hours so I didn’t change anymore.
The airport taxi dropped me at Kennedy Park aka The Cat Park because of the hundreds of stray cats roaming around there. I immediately saw the guy wearing green vest from FWT so the taxi driver ensure that I was safe before he left me. He gave me his business card so I can call him back if I need to go back to airport already.
From Kennedy Park in Miraflores, the group took the Metropolitano or the city tram to go to Downtown (Jiron dela Union station). Apparently, we are not going around Miraflores, which is fine because going there, my taxi driver have already showed me what it’s like. It looks beautiful and safe,however it’s not the place where you can learn more of the history of Lima.
In Downtown, we first went to Plaza de Armas or their main square, we were joined by more tourists to walk with us, this is the second meeting point for this free walking tour. Then at The Government Palace, we witnessed the Changing of the Guards, just like in Buckingham Palace in London. There were too many people watching too but since it was very hot at that time, I couldn’t last under the sun so I rejoined our guide at the shade at the park opposite.
If you’re Catholic, you’re lucky because we visited 2 significant churches in Lima, the Santo Domingo Church where all the images of the Peruvian saints are present, and the San Francisco Church where the catamcombs are found in its underground which anyone can visit too.
We had a quick visit to some museums like the Afro-Peruvian Museum where you can find exhibits of the early African slaves trade in Latin America, and the Spanish Inquisition Museum where you can see some gruesome scenes of torture during the times of Spanish invasion, and the Peruvian Historical Museum where you can find collections of historical flora and fauna of Peru.
After we walked around Mercado Central, our guide took us to a shop for the much-awaited part of the tour, the Pisco Sour tasting! Pisco Sour is an alcoholic cocktail originated in Lima Peru that is a mix of Pisco (liquor from the port of Pisco, Peru), lime juice, syrup, egg white, and Angostura bitters.
They showed and let us try different types of Pisco before they showed us how to mix a Pisco Sour. But what I have learned so far from this is not about mixing Pisco Sour, it’s how the latinos say their cheers. It’s not just as simple as “Salud!” it should be like this:
Arriba (put your arm up)
Abajo (put your arm down)
Al centro (health for all of you!)
Y pa’dentro (inside)
Salud! (then drink)
Fun isn’t? Try it next time you are having a drink with Spanish speakers :P
As soon as I got off to Barranco, I fell in love with it already! Barranco has a very laidback and artistic vibe. This is the place I want to stay if ever I go back to Lima. I feel very at home J
Barranco is considered to be Lima’s most romantic and bohemian district because it is a haven of Peru’s leading artists, musicians, designers, etc.
I got to the meeting point in Starbucks Barranco too early so I sat for awhile and people watching because it was a weekend and every weekend they have food festival called “A Taste of Barranco” in this area where there are outdoor tables with lots of Peruvian dishes. I was enjoying too much that I was so stupid to miss the group! When I realised I was there already too long already that’s when I asked some people around me and they told me that the group who were just standing few steps beside me left few minutes ago!
I rushed to the park opposite Starbucks which is the Parque de Minucipal de Barranco to find a group with a guide wearing green vest, but I didn’t find them. I was losing hope until I found another group but the guide is wearing orange vest and they speak English! I asked if they can squeeze me in and so they did.
After few introductions to Barranco being the summer getaway place of the aristocrats in the early times and nowadays it is the place to be for Lima’s nightlife, we continued walking towards the Museo de la Elektrisidad, we didn’t go in but just outside the museum we saw the last electrical train of Lima. Then we went to Plaza Chabuca Granda where we saw art pieces exhibited on the ground.
Then we finally saw the famous bridge, Puente de los Suspiros, where couple should cross the bridge hand in hand, making a wish, and without breathing! If you do this, your wish will come true! Well, I am not superstitious so I didn’t do it :P
The next sights after this bridge are the best Barranco sights for me. As you head down to Pacific Ocean, there’s where you see lots of bars and restaurants, and most especially street art! I enjoyed this part until we reached the Pacific Ocean for the lovely sunset whilst watching the surfers.
What I did not enjoy is going back because we have to climb back the steep stairs again! It’s not too high I think, but being exhausted from my previous hikes prior to this day and still recuperating from altitude sickness, it was such an ordeal! The group was just laughing at me because I told them I thought I am done with hiking already but apparently not! :P
On our way back, I’ve asked my guide if he could call my airport taxi using his phone, when he found out how much my taxi fare would be, he told me he will just hail a taxi for me. I was hesitant because I’ve read they tend to rip-off, but he assures me that I have nothing to be scared of. I also told him that it’s ok for me to wait for my airport taxi driver because I also want to try the dishes at the food festival in the plaza for my early dinner.
But he was insisting to help me hail a cab than calling my airport taxi, he also said it is not good for me to stay out longer if it gets dark, makes sense, so I gave in. He asked me to hide first whilst he’s hailing a taxi for me so that he can bargain the price with the driver, he said if the driver sees me as a gringo, then it will ask for higher price. When he finally had a deal, we bid our goodbyes and I thanked him for his help.
It’s a shame I forgot my guide’s name now and even the name of his company, I would have given him/them a good review, but I couldn’t remember and couldn’t find them online. I only know is that he was wearing an orange vest. During the walking tour and when I was the only one left walking with him at the end of the tour, I came to know him a lot more.
This is not only his job, he also have another job and he is also in university finishing his Engineering degree. He said he have heard of Dubai and wanted to work here once he finished his school. His family is not wealthy and he wanted to help them. When he told me how much an average salary an Engineer working in Lima is, then I realised that his situation is not so different with some of the people I know back home in Philippines.
I saw a more familiar scene at the airport. On my way to the immigration gate, I saw a lot of families and couples saying goodbyes to their leaving loved-ones with tears. I’ve seen a lot of airports already, but this is the first time I see heartbreaking scenarios very similar to the airport in Manila. Honestly, it saddened me too.
I may not have the same reason as these people why they chose to work abroad and be away with their families, I still feel their pain. I left Manila to work in Singapore because my boyfriend then wants to work abroad to earn more for his personal needs and of course I want us to be together. The reason that most people work abroad is poverty more than a career growth (at least with the developing countries like Peru and Philippines) that I feel if they have the choice of a better income, they will just stay with their family.
Family love is the main reason whether you choose to stay with your family or work abroad. The amount of hard work and sacrifice are the same. You may not earn much but you are at least with your family or you may earn more but you are yearning for your family’s presence. This love is the result of the willingness of each family member to sacrifice anything for the welfare of the family.
The love of your family makes you feel strong helps us to overcome the worst. It’s the family love that – looks through spectacles that make copper look like gold, poverty like riches, and tears like pearls.