Lima felt like my South American home-base, just as Delhi was my Indian home-base and DC is my North American home-base. And they don’t earn this title because I like them. They earn this title because they lure me back time and time again like little black holes, smugly manipulating their way into my plans by having the things I need in the places that I don’t necessarily want to be.
Some people might like these places… they might even find them charming. But they just don’t suit my personal interests. Anyway, I passed through Lima twice; the first time in September during its foggy winter season as I was on my way to Chile; and the second time in February during its hot, dry summer when I hung around the city for a week waiting for a flight.
Albeit a sprawling capital city of which I am not typically a fan, Lima proved itself to be diverse and vibrant, and in the end I thought that I might actually come back someday by choice.
- Witch’s Market– The only authentic witches market that I visited in South America. The very famous market in In La Paz, among others, was a disappointment, because the only real witch-y items on display were some dried llama fetuses and bottled herbs floating in alcohol. The Witch’s Market in Lima some real “wow” factors besides fetus. A sidewalk vendor haggled with an enthusiastic crowd over the price-per-organ of the snake that he was slicing open. A row of stalls displayed the curious combination of frog tanks and blenders. Upon further investigation, I learned that the blenders were for the frogs, and frog smoothie is good for the liver. I love my liver but I’m vegetarian, so I passed and moved along to ponder the uses for shrunken monkey heads, animal blood, and eyeballs of various sizes. You could do some serious voodoo with this stuff. The Witch’s Market is located near the Gamarra Metro Station. Nobody outside of a 1 block radius of the market knows where or what it is, so you’ll just have to wander around until you come upon some dried alligator corpses.
- Barranco District– Every single book, website, and magazine says that tourists should stay in Miraflores. Miraflores is full expensive condos, overpriced restaurants, and its main attraction is Parque Kennedy, which is chock-full of flea-ridden cats that spray every vertical surface imaginable. Barranco, on the other hand, has ocean breezes, nightlife, and beautiful old mansions. Its moderate bohemian culture entails evening musical performances in the main plaza and a fantastic AYCE vegetarian buffet in an old railroad car named La Virgen de Guadalupe. Barranco has easy access to surfing via a well-landscaped pedestrian street, and easy access to the rest of Lima via microbuses.
- Punta Hermosa– This small, but uppity town 45 minutes to the south of Lima gave birth to one of the best surfers to come out of South America, Sofia Mulanovich. If you want refuge from the big city for a day or two, you can lounge on one of the many beaches with the flocks of other escapees. However, too long of a lounge is not advisable, because from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the sun is strong enough to cook bacon. And you’ll be hard pressed to find a shady patch of trees, because the entire Peruvian coast is a desert. And lest you forget that the entire Peruvian coast is a desert, don’t bother trying to find a shady patch of trees. Bedbugs near ate me alive at two separate hostels, so beware! Despite the burns and the bugs, I’d go back for the waves and the spectacular sunsets.