Sunday, April 8, 2007
Almost a week in Lima
So it's been almost a week in Lima, and I'm a bit surprised about how I feel about it. I expected much worse really, even after first arriving. Everybody talks of the danger, the poverty, the pollution. Even the locals seem down on poor Lima.
Those things certainly seem to exist, but Lima is also wonderful in many ways. The coastal areas of the city are alive, refined and metropolitan. Yes, there is obviously crime and danger, but I wonder how much of the fear here is held over from the past. Every building is surrounded by a gate and razor wire, often with armed guards in bullet proof vests, but all this feels vastly overdone. It seems as if the terrorism has largely been tamed here.
There is no litter to speak of. None. Less than Seattle, far less than Paris, as a matter of fact on my cab ride home I couldn't spot any at all. The streets are clean, sidewalks plentiful and of polished concrete.
The weather is gorgeous, parks are many and beautiful. Palms grow everywhere and the coast is breathtaking.
The people here are incredibly friendly, easy to smile, seemingly always willing to help and very patient. The sheer volume of public affection is almost contagious, they are so interested in each other as people. It somehow makes you want to be that much friendlier to everyone, to smile back and laugh.
The vast majority of Lima lives in devastating poverty, that there is no mistaking, but it's a city that seems to be developing, pulling itself up by it's bootstraps and trying to emulate coastal European cities in it's atmosphere. It often succeeds.
In short so far I'm amazed at how much I like Peru, and doubly so Lima. Central and South American never had a big draw for me, but the people, climate and history really are something special. Combine that with the amazingly low cost of living and one wonders why more ex patriots don't settle here.