Lima at Last!

Our journey finally ended in Lima from March 17-21, 2011. Seems like such a long time ago now… we had a lovely visit, staying with Nelida Silva, a friend I made at the TedXAmazonia conference in November last. I gave a Nowtopia talk at a “Charla Solidaria” sponsored by Programa Democracia y Transformación Global, a non-party left group in Lima, Peru. I also gave a Critical Mass/bicycling talk for Cicloaxion, the local activist group we met there, thanks to Octavio who contacted me ahead of time…

This was a typical scene in downtown Lima, gorgeous old colonial buildings painted in bright colors.

Wandering around Lima was a great pleasure. I have to admit that I’d been a bit worried about it, having heard countless fearful accounts of people getting mugged in Lima, how street crime is out of control, etc., but we didn’t have any bad experiences. In fact, we walked around and rode the combi vans all over and never even felt like we were in a risky situation. Lima is great! Of course we only saw a part of it in the four days we were there, but we did get around a bit…

We were heading to a small anthropological museum when we saw this plaza in the distance. After we came out of the museum we walked over to see what it looked like more closely.

The plaza was filled with campers under cardboard roofs. Sugar workers were occupying the plaza, turns out they’d been there for three months, demanding that the government take steps to preserve a national sugar industry. It didn’t seem that their protest was getting much traction, but the occupation was impressive nonetheless.

Sugar workers demand a law of national protection.

Hard to imagine living in this space for months, but these folks had been doing just that.

It's quite a picturesque plaza, surrounded by beautiful blue colonial buildings.

Plenty of traffic whizzing around at all times, too.

Somehow a poignant juxtaposition, the welder's mask and the Peruvian flag, flying over the cardboard village.

We did plenty of touristic wandering around too…

The colonial architecture of Lima is well-preserved, and painted in great colors. Here's a mustard-colored building... Plazas are generally color coordinated, so you can quickly figure out where you are by the color scheme, once you have it figured out.

Plaza San Martin is all white, very stately... adjacent to it is the Cathedral of Pisco where we had to have our pisco sours!

Pisco sour at El Bolivarcito, the cathedral of pisco...

Not far from Plaza San Martin we found ourselves walking along a narrow street that smelled of rot, but had a familiar charm. We found a building covered in murals and graffiti and we poked our head in to discover an anarchist social center called El Averno! Of course in all of Lima we’d stumble on this place!

The facade of El Averno.

A closer look at one of the murals on the outside of it.

Everyone gives, everyone receives at El Averno.

We loved the art and politics and spent a half hour being toured around by a very intoxicated poet, with whom we exchanged stories and jokes.

Neither yours nor mine, but everyone's... Freedom of Thought, Freedom to Create.

I liked this aging bus painting...

There were plenty of freight bikes rolling through the streets of Lima, in addition to some commuters too…

Love those freight bikes!

Mostly we saw recreational riders in the wealthier parts of town. Along the coast we saw this guy in a teensy bike lane.

Roomy bike lane!

Our friends from Cicloaxion took us on a night ride all over the center of Lima, ending in their bustling Chinatown with a big Chinese meal.

We pose in front of the Peruvian Supreme Court...

Moon over a colonial mansion in Plaza de Armas.

The Plaza de Armas is painted a lovely yellow and was full of locals hanging out during our visit.

Our great hosts... Octavio at right.

We went to a cheesy nightclub with folkloric dancing one night. We also took combis and taxis all over the city, seeking out museums and restaurants recommended to us. It was fun, but we were pretty tired during our last days of traveling, after a month on the road.


This is a small plaza we stumbled on, but typical of a lot of nice neighborhoods in Lima.

We went to a weird market called Polvos Azules, a gray and black-market paradise chock full of pirated DVDs, electronics, sunglasses, crazy t-shirts of Jesus on various soccer teams, and anything you can think of. From there we cabbed over to the Museo de Nacion, a grim structure that happened to be housing a grim exhibit on the dirty war in Peru that saw thousands killed by the military in the southern Andes, and hundreds more killed by the Maoist lunatics of Sendero Luminoso (followers of A. Guzman). Here are a few photos from the exhibit, which really brought home the sadness and futility of the whole period in Peruvian history.

The National Museum... or Mausoleum?

The military made militias out of local residents and they were pitted against the Maoist insurgency.

A funeral procession for victims of one of the many massacres in that era.

Adriana took up her spot next to these impressive women.

We were staying in Miraflores, one of the more upper class parts of Lima. Just a few weeks before our arrival the new “Ciclodia” had begun on the adjacent boulevard, Avenida Arequipa, every Sunday. Much like the Ciclopaseo we visited in Quito, and the Sunday Streets going on now in San Francisco, the Ciclodia is a weekly closure for bicyclists and pedestrians.

This three-seater was paused at one end of the Ciclodia, and behind him is a banner demanding politicians pay attention to climate change... it was also Global Day of Water.

This march for Dia del Aqua took place on the same avenue.

Ciclodia in Lima.

I wrote about Ciclodia and transit in Peru more generally over at Streetsblog, so I won’t repeat it all here. But we had fun with our bookends of Ciclopaseo in Quito and Ciclodia in Lima.

Fun in the streets.

A farewell portrait with our Cicloaxion friends.

Not far from our digs in Miraflores is a sprawling ruin of the original Lima culture, something I’d never heard of before getting here. We found our way to Huaca Pucllana and took the guided tour.

Huaca Pucllana, mud brick ruins under Lima of the original inhabitants, c. 400 AD.

The ruins are surrounded by modern city.

A fairly uninspiring ruin, they tried to bring it to life a bit with these characters.

We were about a mile and a half from the beach where we went on our last day. There’s a big strange sculpture in a park on the bluffs overlooking the sea. The park is called Parque del Amor, the park of love, so you can see why this hideous piece is there:

We couldn't stop laughing when we first caught a glimpse of this sculpture. But the park that hosts it is in fact a fantastic place that does attract lovers, especially at sunset.

We were wrapping it up and enjoying our last day in the sun...

Hours later we returned to the Park of Love for the sunset...

A great place to take in the sunset.

Dozens of couples fulfill the tourist photographer's need for subjects.

Good vibes to the end.

Going, going, going...

And into the sea it goes!

Nothing left but to indulge ourselves with a final ice cream before heading to the airport and back to San Francisco... a fantastic trip! Great way to turn 54!


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