Colourful, noisy, great differences, messy. People who would have asked me about my expectations on Lima, probably became these answers. Now that my plane has landed on Jorge Chavez International Airport, I know I was quite right on this one.
The first street I ever hit on Latin-American soil is the Avenida Elmer Faucett: an wide highway that cuts through the suburb of Callao, into the Lima-district of San Miguel. Via the Avenidas de la Marina and Pershing we find Residencial San Felipe. In this small green microcosmos in the Jesus Maria district, I find my apartment.
This taxi ride shows me already great differences. In Callao I see unpaved roads, but also beautifully painted advertising on walls and shop windows. In San Miguel the standard of living is a bit higher, but the hospitals strictly reserved for military or police families give me the feeling that some parts of society are ‘more equal than others’.
Residencial San Felipe has nice atmosphere with cheap restaurants and many small shops. The discussions on every corner are loud. But also here the dirty people selling sweets and cleaning shoes collide with the neat looking bank employees. Many security people make sure that everybody can feel as safe as possible. (When I see lots of gorilla’s in fitted suits in Germany, I would probably take another street. Here I’m calm and collected. Strange, isn’t it?)
When I speak about the differences in a small restaurant called Tabla Caliente, the people tell me to go to Santiago de Surco, one of the districts where the new rich play golf and watch horse racing and polo. ‘Take the overloaded combi and compare this to their jeeps and limousines!” they laugh.
In the next days I will try to unfold the beauties of this huge city. The lack of a proper public transport system is something that strikes me immediately. (In a positive way, that is.) The mentioned combis (small vans), ramshackle buses and the non-existing metro make this city (8.187.398 inhabitants) very lively.