It’s been around a week since I landed in South America with a lot of great experiences and new things to learn! Our first stop is Lima, the capital of Peru with around 8 million inhabitants, the biggest city of our tour. We decided to stay around two weeks here to get an insight of the Peruvian/South American lifestyle and move on from there.
In Lima we are workawaying at a school for disadvantaged children which is located in the north of the city of Lima, about 1 hour from the centre. We are staying with the family that runs the school. The classrooms are on the ground floor and we live upstairs. The area where we stay is poor and therefore is also not that clean and secure as the centre and you cannot rely on public transport at all. You see a lot of lost dogs and dust everywhere, but people are really nice and especially the family helps us out with everything and shows us around the busier places around here. It is summer vacation in Peru at the moment, so some children come for a “summer-course” only 3 times a week. The last few days I was helping out with the smallest children aged 3-5. The other days we help with maintenance around the building.
WHAT ABOUT THE PEOPLE?
Obviously there live mostly hispanics here in Peru but there are also a lot of indigenous people. In terms of people’s behaviors I noticed a huge difference. And it’s like probably everyone, let’s say, in the Western countries imagines it, except it is even more extreme. People are very, very relaxed and laid back with everything they do and like to talk a lot about everything and anything. (Yeih, so my Spanish will a little better that way 😉 ) I learned pretty soon that a given time doesn’t necessarily mean anything close to it and that people here practically don’t finish anything, except their meals. But especially the poorer part of town where we are staying looks like a huge construction site itself. Also the school needs a lot of stuff to be renewed or replaced and we are trying to help with that but it is hard as there is so much you could change. But a look at the streets and other buildings quite clearly shows you that nothing in this “barrio” is in better condition. And I think that shows a lot of a populations mentality. But now coming from the laziness to the only hectic thing here in Lima..
.. THE TRAFFIC
The traffic is crazy. Never have I seen so many cabs, buses and trucks cramming into a street. They drive up so close to each other and the most reckless driver wins here. It’s so much fun to sit in the back seat and watch the spectacle (and secretly hope you don’t die). And yes, they honk for everything. You want to drive by this car and it seems like turning to your lane – you honk. You are that car that wants to turn to another lane – you honk. A person stands on the side of the road – you honk. A car wants to cross into your road from a side street, but is not yet – you honk. Just because – you honk. And all taxis will honk at you if you stand or work on the sidewalk, and especially for “white” people.
The cuisine has a lot of variety here and they cook with the fruits and veggies that grow around here, like avocado, purple mais, potatoes. They use a lot of meat, almost with every meal. And of course they make use of every part of the animal, for example sliced cow heart on a skewer is a national dish, Anticuchos. As well as raw fish dipped into a spicy lemon sauce – Ceviche. We’ve tried some of them already. Peruvians also love to eat guinea pigs. My boyfriend wants to try them, I am still a little skeptical as the animal is still in its shape and you also eat the head. Feel free to google it to see what it looks like!
We arrived and were kind of prepared for the summer after the European cold but we didn’t expect it to be that warm and humid. Lima is a city next to the Pacific Ocean and it barely rains. Temperatures rise up to 30 degrees and the sun comes out time to time. But it will only be this way on the coast. Some places in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia are on 3000+ m above sea level. Now it’s the rainy season there with mild days and nights and during the winter you need to prepare yourself for cold temperatures.
So far I think I am still not realizing what is happening around me and that I am actually here. And will spend half a year in South America, too! Definitely a lot of adventures to look forward to!