It’s an early September morning in the trendy Miraflores District. Unusually, the sun is shining through the thick clouds that engulf the city. I’m sitting outside a little cafe with a friend, as we decide what to do with our final Saturday in Lima.
We’ve become so accustom to the crazy traffic in Lima, that we don’t even notice the beeping horns and the revving engines on the street in front of us. Instead, we’re focused on breakfast. There’s a large papaya fruit smoothie, a coffee and scrambled eggs sitting in front of me, whilst we bask in the sun and watch a typical Lima Saturday morning unfold (aka another day of chaos). But today was the day that we were going to explore the city a little bit more.
After spending over 4 weeks in this city, I still hadn’t bonded with it. I didn’t like Lima. I had visited many of the main sights and experienced the Peruvian lifestyle in the city, yet it still held no significance to me. One of my friends said that it reminded them of a young New York which is my favourite city ever; but I just couldn’t see the resemblance. I just found it so hard to appreciate the city, especially as it sprawled out for miles in every direction – where should we even start to explore?
Despite the chaos, there was in fact one place which I had discovered that I loved – El Malecón. It is a 6 miles stretch of parks overlooking the Pacific Ocean. From this vantage point high above the sea, you can just about grasp the scale of the sprawl of city which is Lima. If you’re lucky to venture out on a sunny day then the sea will sparkle; but be warned that the sun is a rarity in Lima! It is not until you wander down the cliff side and get close to the dusty rocky beach below that the full power of the sea can truly be appreciated. The wild sea batters against the beach, taking no prisoners – a far cry from the tranquil sea that is portrayed from high above. This part of Lima has a very different feel from the rest; as there’s an expanse of space and fresh sea air away from the polluted, choking air that fills the centre of the city. There are exercise areas, a lighthouse, a shopping centre and parks dotted along the coast line. You could easily enjoy hours just wondering along the pathway, as I have.
El Malecon would be on the agenda for the afternoon; but this morning we were determined to explore the rest of the district. Full of food, we reluctantly left our sunny spot and headed towards Huaca Pucllana – a famed Inca Temple dating from 500AD. Locally the term ‘huacas’ is given to Inca Ruins that are dotted around the city; there are many since Lima was built on an ancient settlement. In the museum there was a scale model of what Inca Lima would have looked like; a far cry from the Lima I was seeing today. From the top of the temple you can truly appreciate how the city had grown around this temple, occupying every ounce of space available.
An interesting looking church caught my eye from this vantage point on top of the temple, and so we decided to head there next. It was an amazing architectural piece with massive metal rods bent into a semi-circle. We decided to explore a small side street to see what else we could find and luckily it opened up into a beautiful tranquil olive garden. We had stumbled across a little pocket of perfection away from the hustle and bustle that fills every other corner of Lima. A green park filled with beautifully kept olive trees and a pond. Finally I had found another slice of Lima that I loved.
Maybe the moral of my story is you just have to take that leap of faith when travelling by throwing yourself out there and just exploring. In a city as big as Lima there has to be one area that you like, or a couple of places in my case, which just shows that the first impressions of a place aren’t always true. Lima will never be one of my favourite cities; but there are definitely pockets of the city that I’ll miss!