With the day into Lima centre resounding as a more impacting window into the city and possibly the country than expected we wind up our final painful days in Lima sticking to what can only be called the pretty bits of the city. While any city in the world has areas with more appeal than others, rarely is the contrast as stark as in Lima, where the divide between have and have-not isn’t a gradual scale, it’s a cliff. On our trip into the town centre we chatted to a local guy on the bus who helped flesh out the picture on regional Lima. In his words central Lima is rapidly being overtaken by other areas with little other than government administration remaining in the flagging centre of the city. Earlier in the week we went to buy new camera gear in San Isidro, shortly north of Miraflores which seems to be the main business district in Lima. Comparing the elaborate gardens, shiny tall buildings and abundance of cafes of San Isidro we can’t help feel that Limas historical heart is suffering a slow decline into disrepair.
For now we’re taking in the seaside suburb of Barranco which adjoins Miraflores, just a short walk along the foreshore. The city here sits atop ragged cliffs that meet very close to the shore with barely a road and a thin strip of beach separating the cliff base to the Pacific Ocean. These cliffs are made up from the typical sandy scree that dominates coastal Peru, seemingly far too unstable to support the buildings that sit atop them. But support them they do, with posh apartment blocks and even a mall carved into the cliffs along this strip of coast Lima seems to sit above the ocean, not quite meeting it, a separation that seems a little odd for an Australian. Along the walk we are surrounded by yet more lawns, gardens and promenades; there’s no mistaking it, we are definitely in the pretty parts of Lima.
And just because we’re not in Miraflores it doesn’t mean we can’t indulge in a good bit of coffee hunting. The modern hunter gatherer instinct is in full flight as we sniff the air and observe the wind; otherwise known as consult the iPad. Success. Coffee down we take the day enjoying being able to take the day as we please. On the way here we had been approached randomly by a German traveller reduced to begging on the street having just been robbed of everything from a taxi, sounds familiar. This guy was the definition of ragged, yet another victim to the long list of involuntary donors to the Peruvian economy. My heart goes out to this guy, he was us just a few days ago but sadly I have nothing to give. It’s a sombre moment, I can’t help feeling as though tourists are just fruit on the tree to desperate Peruvians, just bad luck if you happen to be on a low hanging branch, as we were.
The adventurer in me can’t help feel that we’re still well and truly in the bubble and not seeing Peru at all; the traveller who has just been robbed of everything is happy for the security and comfort. It’s a conflict that we’ve never really felt before having the good fortune to have travelled safely on many other occasions. For this very reason we are acutely keen to get out of Peru, hopefully the last big step in finally moving on. We’ve been waiting in Lima for a credit card to arrive but as we have now learnt the Peruvian post, being a government organisation, is slack beyond belief so we will not wait any longer. Finally making the decision to move on from Lima and Peru is a notable weight off our shoulders, a relief that we’re finally getting onto this trip again.
As we wind up our time in Lima I find it hard to really say what I think of this city, we’ve definitely been in the bubble. On the other hand, a fair bit of Lima is the bubble, many areas have been metaphorically thrown to the dogs creating clear divides between areas particularly in terms of security. Lima makes me think of a political election map with regions denoted by colour according to the political parties they support. Here though the colours represent areas worthy or not worthy of security and investment rather than political alignments: or do they?