Our first impression of Lima was very good. Probably because we arrived at night:) The streets looked cleaner, the roads better, the air less polluted than in Bogota or Santa Marta, and hell yeah, they have street names, not just numbers! And what the heck, the street names are indicated on the corners of the streets? Amazing!:)
The very first night we got introduced to Cusquena and pisco sour, which was a very pleasant encounter after the tasteless beers of Colombia. The following days we got all through the local delicacies. Ceviche has nothing to do with the Colombian ceviche. It has many forms, but the most traditional one is slices of raw fish with onion and lemon and some kind of spicy sauce. Lomo saltado is a traditional beef dish, served all around Peru. Aji de gallina is chicken with some delicious sauce. Lucuma is a fruit only present in Peru and the juice and ice cream made of it are fantastic. Chicha morada is the traditional drink of the Inkas, it is made of dark corn and it is not alcoholic as one would expect. Inca kola is the local favorite of all ages. It is so popular that when Coca Cola was unable to compete with it, it decided to buy into the company instead. Other dishes include causa, sopa criolla, sopa de zapallo, etc. All pleasant dishes, for really low prices. The number of Chinese immigrants also brought and developed their own dishes, that’s what is called “chifa” all around Peru. The local burger chain is called Bembo’s. The locals love it but it is not that great.
The first few days we visited a number of pre-inka ruins and learnt that Lima is not only Miraflores and Barranco. We saw a number of shantytowns and apparent poverty in contrast of some rich neighborhoods.
The driving in Lima and in whole Peru is crazier than that we experienced in Colombia. Any driver is ready to sound his horn at any time. In fact, sounding your horn is a warning, meaning “I am coming, don’t even dare to cut in front of me”. The lanes painted on the pavement are purely guidelines, most of the time the locals judge there is space enough for 3 cars on a two-lane street. In peak traffic times getting from point A to point B in the city can be tricky and painfully long. I will never forget all the tricks my taxi driver was applying in order to get me to my destination: he had a normal horn in the center of the steering wheel, plus an additional one on top of the gear shift. Nevertheless he must have been realized at some point that in the noise of a dozen or more horns, he needs something unique, so around his neck he was wearing a kind of whistle that the local police is using, and he was not hesitating to set his lungs free, while leaning out the window with almost full body. In the midst of all this sound cavalcade and anxiety, the relaxing tunes of Chopin’s Waltz in A minor piano play was gently oozing from the radio.
The bus system is similar to that of Colombia, except that the buses are slightly better. The driving habits of the bus drivers are not different from that of the car drivers though. In the race to pick up passengers first, they can easily crash into one another.
The hospitality of Peruvian people is amazing, we have met great people in Lima, Cuzco and Ica. Some funny facts that we observed or found out later about the people:
- In Peru the median age of the population is 26 years
- Nearly half of the population is English teacher or at some point of his/her career has been an English teacher. The other half is working in tourism….some of them are also English teachers though:)
- In Peru all girls are single:)