If Lima was a person, it would be The Hunchback of Notre Dame — hideous on the outside, so much character on the inside. It is undoubtedly an ugly city. I had previously read similar things on Trip Advisor but took the reviews with a grain of salt. However, I have to confirm that The City of Kings certainly doesn’t look like its fit for a king. From what I saw, it’s not like a pretty European city where you happen upon charming little streets with sidewalk cafes ideal for Instagramming. Despite Lima being muy feo, the redeeming factor for me was all the history (duh). There are so many museums and places to explore that I barely put a dent into everything I wanted to see. I’ll have plenty of other opportunities to explore the city so I’m okay with taking my time but for now here’s a recap of my first Lima trip:
La Palacio Gobierno
The Government Palace (also known as House of Pizarro) is the Peruvian version of The White House. Pizarro finished construction of the palacio in 1535 and in the spirit of disrespecting the indigenous culture, he built it over a pre-existing burial ground. Like our White House, it has undergone many transformations through the centuries and from what I understand, the President and his family live there only part time – At least that’s what I heard when I was half listening to the guide so don’t quote me on that one.
Honestly, the palace was marginal at best. I was by no means blown away and reading the history behind the building of the palace was more interesting than the palace itself. If you ever come to Lima, you wouldn’t be missing much if you skipped this jawn. Next!
Convent of Santo Domingo
Also known as The Basilica of Our Lady of the Rosary and Covent of Santo Domingo, this structure took more than five decades to build because it began at the same time as the foundation of Lima (The end of the 16th century). The convent is the final resting place of Santa Rosa (Our Lady the Virgin of the Rosary if you want the official long & dramatic Catholic name), the patron saint of Lima. It is also the former home and final resting place of my main man, one hundred grand, San Martin de Porres. We were not only able to see his tomb but also his old living quarters. Although his former room was decorated with replica furniture, they had his real bed on display in a glass case in the corner of the room. I
always tend to forget that colonial people were fun sized and the teeny tiny frame of San Martin’s bed quickly refreshed my memory. After we toured the various rooms of the convent, we climbed 137 steep steps to the top of the basilica where there was a fabulous sweeping view of a fabulously ugly city. Unlike the Palacio, this place was totally worth it.
Before coming to Peru, I hadn’t learned much about Chinese immigration outside of the US context so when I heard about Barrio Chino I thought, “ A Chinatown in Latin America – WHAT?! That’s mad interesting!” And that sentiment lasted until I discovered it’s not really different than any other Chinatown in America. In fact, even though Philly’s Chinatown could never rival NYC’s or San Fran’s Chinatown, it’s still has to be better than what I saw. Since I had seen an Anthony Bourdain episode that talks about Chifa (the term used here to refer to the fusion of Cantonese and Peruvian culinary practices), I was super hype to try it. And maybe I was let down because I had such high expectations or maybe I went to the wrong restaurant but I wasn’t blown away like Anthony was. I feel like I’ve had better Chinese from this place I used to live next to called iTea (shout out to Dorothy). You can definitely skip this along with the Government Palace if you should ever find yourself in Lima.
Okay, yall know how much I love and care for Dunkin Donuts. There is nothing better than a hot sugary cup of B rate coffee from Dunkin to take the edge off. Morning, noon, and night — It just doesn’t even matter because I’m always in the mood for Dunkin. So naturally, when we passed a DD on the way to the convent, my eyeballs almost fell out of my head and my heart almost stopped from the excitement. I told myself then that I wasn’t going to leave without buying my beloved medium hot coffee with cream and sugar.
But word to Our Lady the Virgin of the Rosary, when I finally arrived to claim my prize, these people served me up the most disrespectful cup of coffee. This cup coffee was so offensive I would like to consider it a slap in the face and a personal affront to me and to the Dunkin Donuts establishment. I asked for a medium cream and sugar and they hand me a cup of watery coffee with WHIPPED cream on top and two packets of sugar to mix by myself. The horror and calamity of it all is almost unimaginable – I know.
As a matter of fact, the wound is still fresh and I’d rather not discuss this anymore. Don’t go to Dunkin in Lima unless you want your coffee flavored with whipped cream and the salt from your sad, sad tears. The end.
Next time I’m in Lima I hope to see the catacombs and Francisco Pizarro’s tomb and if I’m being optimistic, maybe I’ll also get to see the nice ocean side neighborhood called Miraflores. I’m sure I’ll keep you all posted – Until then, cherish your Dunkin and hold me in your thoughts the next time you take a sip.