When we arrived in Lima, we thought we would just be spending a couple of days and moving on. As this is no doubt not the first time this has happened, I don’t know why we were surprised when we were still here a month later. A series of car problems and waiting for Lacey’s very important replacement Kindle to arrive and be released by customs kept us here. Luckily for us, as far as capital cities in Latin America, or any country for that matter, Lima is actually a pretty nice place, quite charming in its own way. It is a HUGE city in the middle of a dessert, but sometimes this fact is easy to forget. Driving into the city, you pass shanty towns and rundown neighborhoods typical to most large Latin American cities, but then all of a sudden you find yourself in some neighborhoods where you have trouble deciding if you are still in Peru or maybe somehow you were transported to LA and you are staring at the Santa Monica coastline.
Our first week in Lima we stayed in the upscale neighborhood of Miraflores, where many of the cities’ tourist hostels are located. We actually found a hostel that has a large walled courtyard where they allow us folks in vehicles to camp. It is actually quite a nice place, and we met lot’s of other overlanders and made some new friends.
Miraflores is kind of like a mini city within a city. Just a few blocks from our hostel, you find yourself at the seaside, looking down on the ocean from cliffs lined with beautiful parks and high end high rise apartments.
A few blocks in the other direction and you are at Parque Kennedy, three blocks of sprawling grass, lot’s of trees to provide shade on a hot day, and benches for enjoying that shade. And of course cats. Wait, what…cats? Yep, the park has a few glaring (thanks to Miro of Raising Miro On the Road of Life for teaching us this new word ) of cats that live here. The first time we visited the park, we were strolling along enjoying the park when I noticed a cat hanging out under the tree. Then I noticed a couple of cats sleeping up in the branches of one of the trees. I commented to Luis about it and soon we were seeing cats everywhere. Almost every tree had at least one cat napping in it’s branches and as many more where sprawled out in the grass. What was more surprising was that most the cats actually looked quite healthy and well fed. It took us a few more visits to the park to find out how this many cats can survive in a park in the middle of this huge city. It turns out there is a group of people, mostly a woman and her husband, who come to the park and feed the cats twice a day every day. There are 3 or 4 glaring of cats here and each one has to be fed separate from the others. They also bring medical supplies and vaccinations and give medical care to any of the cats who need it.
One of our favorite places in Lima is the Circuito Magico del Agua, located in the Parque de Reserva in downtown Lima. It is a huge park with 13 fountains of varying sizes (no, the irony of a huge park full of water fountains in the middle of the desert was not lost on us). Some are interactive so you can get in and get wet. During the day it is a great place to cool off in the Lima summer heat, but at night is becomes a colorful lighted world of water. All the fountains are uniquely designed and at night the water combines with great lighting to create a great show. They also have a crazy light and music show at the main fountain that reminds me of Las Vegas or Disneyland come to Latin America. At first I played the adult, content to stay out of the water and watch the others have fun, but in the end, I just couldn’t resist. It’s much funner to get a little wet now and then.