Click on picture for slide-show
or here to access the set.
It's winter in the southern hemisphere and I'm savoring its crisp, foggy taste in Lima. The garua blots the sky, the light is flat and seems to come from nowhere and the city looks frozen in time because there's not much of a difference between morning and afternoon, or night and day. Although we are at tropical latitudes, jackets are needed most of the time.
However, I like it. I've heard stories of how horrible Lima is, how it's not worth wasting any time here or how dangerous it is to walk the streets, even in broad day light. All crap! For two days now we've been exploring the streets of this gigantic urban sprawl. It's no Paris, of course, to keep you fascinated for weeks, but it has an unmistakable big-city charm given by the combination of elaborate colonial architecture, proud neo-classic republican buildings, as-ugly-as-can-be contemporary high-rises, ultra-modern glass and steel headquarters of international corporations and hip nightlife-r-us neighborhoods. Of course Lima wouldn't be Lima without the endless downtrodden, run-down streets with crumbling houses, some of them decayed colonial gems, streets that best reflect the nature of this gigantic town, born by the will of the gold-hungry conquistadors as a showcase for the power of Spain, and built by the blood, sweat and tears of the indigenous, the poor and the desperate, who were looking for a home as well.
We walked everywhere in daylight and in the evening and took cabs for the endless rides between the interesting neighborhoods (indeed, we didn't walk those dirty streets with tottering houses, I still have some shreds of common sense left). We had cheap lunches and then blew $100 on dinner at an overpriced Italian restaurant which we selected just to make ourselves feel better and to forget all that chicken and rice we had swallowed in the last weeks.
We'll fly to Cuzco tomorrow and won't be back in Lima again, so my adventure of discovery of the misty, cold streets will have to stop prematurely. There will be more big towns later in our trip: Buenos Aires, Cape Town, Cairo, Barcelona. They may rank higher in sights and beauty, but I'm almost sure that Lima could easily win the award for the city with the most crazy cab-drivers. And speaking of cabs, a lot of them are Daewoo Tico, which were produced in Romania in the nineties. How did they get so popular here?