Lima did not leave the best of impressions on me when I first visited back in September as just a lowly trainee (check out Lima, Round One). I thought it was ugly and lacked charm
even though it was rich with history. Well, I was just in Lima about two weeks ago for a diversity training and spent a lot of time exploring a different part of the city. Even though the trainings were taking place in Surco, our hostel was located in a neighborhood of Lima called Miraflores. Now for all ya’ll who haven’t heard the word, let me enlighten you real quick. Miraflores, established as a district in 1857 and overlooking the Pacific, is a super hip and fancy part of town. I’m talking all kinds of restaurants, bars, shopping malls, department stores, and clubs. It is very bougie or as we like to say in Peruvian slang “pituco.”
Anywho, coming from the middle of nowhere Amazonas, I definitely lost my mind when arriving in the big, fancy city and all the ill sentiments I had of Lima from my first visit slowly melted away into a dark abyss of Starbucks and fast internet. The one thing I loved most about Lima this time around was the food – Lawd, Jesus la comida. There was falafel and pizza and shawarma and sushi and tortilla chips and margaritas galore. And in all of this food there was also just a little itty bitty piece of my sanity. Being at the office from 9-5 every day, hanging out with friends, and getting food and drinks afterwards really made me feel like I had my old life in the States – maybe something even a little more glamorous because I was out there making it rain Soles (Peruvian currency). Surprisingly enough, I have way more expendable income on my PC stipend than I ever did back home and so I was able to enjoy myself without pinching every penny. Now I know most people don’t come to Peru to get a piece of America but if anything is worth it, its drinking Starbucks while overlooking the costa verde of Miraflores.
The second neighborhood I got a chance to explore was Barranco, literally meaning ravine in Spanish and referring to the ravine in which the neighborhood sits overlooking the beach. Whereas Miraflores seems to be for Yuppies, Barranco is definitely more for the hipsters of the world. The fact that Barranco is home to many of Peru’s artists and musicians gives it even more hipster street cred. Charming is the word I would use to describe this neighborhood with its old colonial structures that are juxtaposed by modern murals. Of course, since I spent majority of my free time stuffing my face, most of the time I spent in Barranco revolved around food. The first night we spent there, we at this vegetarian pizza place called Veggie Pizza Peru. I’m not gonna lie, the pizza there isn’t exactly pizza — It’s more like a crispy tomato sauce bread with cheese but nonetheless it was one point. Next we hit up this gelato place called Blu and it had all kinds of flavors including Peruvian fruit flavors like chirimoya and lucuma. But because I was all about my American luxuries, I skipped the Peruvian flavors and got me a cup of coffee flavored ice cream instead. And the second day we went to Barranco we ate at a place called Burrito Bar that is infamous among PC Peru volunteers. Maybe some of you think that burritos are common place in Peru but being a traditionally Mexican food, they arent seen too much here – nobody in my host family has ever even eaten one before. Instead of getting a burrito, though, we went the tortilla chips and margaritas route. And to end the culinary world tour, we spent two nights hanging out in a bar that played to old school hip hop and was owned by two French guys. Its called the Moustache RestoBar – don’t really know what the mustache reference is all about but it was definitely a great, chill place to hang out after dinner.
As volunteers, we often have to pass through Lima when going to training or when travelling to other parts of Peru and now that I know that there’s more to Lima that meets the eye, I’ll make sure to explore whenever possible in the future. And after being able to experience different parts of Lima, I no longer feel like its the soulless city void of charm that I once thought it was and I’m exited to see what else the City of Kings has to offer over the next 2 years.