¡Hola, El Perú!: Entramos Lima

From El Parque del Amor in Miraflores, on the cliffs of Chorrillos overlooking the Pacific 

I never really saw Lima, which is really diverse. Lima has a wild kind of energy. It has poor areas and it has comfortable, from what I could see. As tourists, we never saw the poor. That was for a place like Cusco. Lima was my first look at South America. I have never seen this continent before.

My first thoughts about South America are from an American eyes of the 60s. South America was the home of Eva Perón, Carmen Miranda, Simón Bolívar. It was Rockefeller and Nixon being spit upon. It was filtered through media, and a little bit of real from what little I got from our textbooks and The Weekly Reader. Another ignorant American, and still am. Then came the 70s and the death of Allende and the bodies flowing in the rivers and the death of Che. Today, it has not changed for us, the media still is not interested enough. Much was spent the last decade on homeless children, the financial mess in Argentina and the elections which allowed a more relevant choices for the benefit of local, not international, peoples. Much can be written about the demonetization of Hugo Cháves and our total misconception about South American politics, socio-economics and our own relationships to it.

The beautiful Casa de la Literatura Peruana was the former train station,  Estacion de Desamparados. Note, the colorful banners a take off on native retablo doors.

I am lucky to have many South American students, mostly Brazilian, but a wide range of Spanish speaking students from Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela. This has forced me to change my perception, to look further and try to understand what I don’t know. As it is, it is always a privilege to be allowed to visit another country, money aside. You are allowed to be a guest, to be treatedwith respect and patience, as we are notorious, as Americans for our misconceptions of how other people live. Visiting another country is not a sideshow, it is not for easy entertainment. The people are not props for us to photograph to take back and gloat over our own good fortune. And what we might think is poverty, may be viewed by some as actually a life of well being.

Lima was in winter when we came. I said to Sheila, our guide downtown, is this just today. No, this is for the winter months. I remember that grayness that New York can take on, and someone joked about Seattle. The light lent a certain richness to some of the color.

Great idea for a fence in Barranco

Lima’s scale is wonderfully human. The architecture is varied. Downtown of course has the beautiful Baroque Spanish architecture of the official buildings. I was impressed with the beautiful tilework within the Convento de San Francisco (left), which came  (I guessed automatically) from Seville. Absolutely beautiful but unfortunately (¡Ningunas fotos, por favor!) Barranco was a treasure chest of turn of the 20th century residences. The area outside the airport was more industrial in that kind of Long Island City/Bronx kind of thing. There were sections of that kind of European modern. Sheila made fun of it, but it still has those interesting spatial proportions and the colors of Lima are really wonderful, especially in that grayness. Reminded me of how the Finnish had all those kids clothes in those pastelly colors.

And of course those post-Modern structures showing off the real hipsterness of the Larcomar shopping mall and nearby casino.


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One Response to “¡Hola, El Perú!: Entramos Lima”

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