First Impressions of Lima
Lima, Peru caught me entirely off guard. I can’t quite explain it, since I didn’t really know what to expect in the first place. I think it is similar to the feeling I had in China. I think I underestimated the size of the country. I underestimated the “feel” of Lima. And I most certainly under estimated the population.
What I learned today is that Lima has a population of approximately 8.6 million. As a frame of reference, Wikipedia lists it as the third most populated country in the Americas–with approximately 200,000 more people than New York City. (See http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Largest_cities_in_the_Americas)
So my first impression of Lima is that is a sprawling, huge city. It looks like there houses built into desert mountains. There are people everywhere. Parts are nicer than other parts. But what you can’t get away from are the people. Everyone was gracious and very nice. But dang there were people just everywhere.
We started the day by taking a cab to the bus station. We intended to take a bus to the bus station but needed to recharge the metro card someone had given me. We wait for the bus to our first destination, Miraflora, a shopping and touristy district in Lima. There were about three long lines for the bus since it was the first stop. Once the bus arrived, people were pushing to get on the bus. A fight almost broke out because someone tried to skip the line. And they let soooo many people on the bus.
After about a 40 minute (packed) bus ride–we got to Miraflores. First stop: Starbucks. (Gotta love Capitalism!) We pass by a sports bar playing football with several Americans standing out front–and of of course we instantly recognize the Redskins jersey. We chat it up with some nice strangers and finally arrive at LarcoMar–a beautiful shopping area with breathtakng views of the Pacific Ocean. There are several familiar stores in the area–Uggs, Quicksilver, Adidas, Converse, Gap as well as popular US restaurants. But again–I was amazed at how many people were in the shopping center for a Sunday evening.
After Miraflores, we headed back to the bus station–and I can honestly say, I had NEVER been on such a crowded bus in my life. The bus was so crowded that the doors would no longer open. One person would maneuver their way off…and five people would get on. Someone stood so close to me, I could smell their funk on the shoulder of my fleece for HOURS later lol. But despite it all, I really enjoyed getting a feel for how people live in Lima. All I kept thinking was “this is what 8.6 million people looks like on a bus.”
We finished the day by going to the Mega Plaza-one of the largest outdoor shopping centers I have ever seen. And of course-it was crowded. Long lines for the movies, to check out after a purchase, for just about everything. And then back on the bus. Fortunately, on the way home, we had to stand the entire 40+ minutes, but at least this time there was no one digging into my back and stepping on my toes…
Well this is part one of Lima–heading south tomorrow and will pick up Lima on the tail end of the trip. Lima has been cool so far, but I am definitely looking forward to fewer people.