Lima is a big city. Ten million people live here. We drive downtown.

Dante shares the day with us and guides us. We stroll along Lima’s pedestrian mall to the Plaza de Armas with its 1650 bronze fountain. The seats of power in Peru, the Plaza is surrounded by church and government institutions: La Catedral, Palacio Arzobispal, Municipalidad, and Palacio de Gobierno.  Police is at the ready; demonstrations are prohibited here.

We see shanties. There is no welfare system in Peru we are told.

Mass transit seems chaotic with 400+ bus companies vying for routes and riders. One sol per rider versus 60 cents in Cusco. We see drivers and their doorway assistants angling for curbs like rental car companies at LAX.  Cabs look like they have been in a derby. There are a few public bus ways; no rail in Lima.

 

Peru-BusFour hundred private bus operators in Lima compete for riders

Miraflores for lunch at a sidewalk café across from Parque Kennedy. Today Miraflores is Lima’s prosperous commercial hub and where residential condos – as well as hang-gliders — enjoy ocean breezes.  This trendy community is also home to ancient adobe pyramid, Huaca Pucillana, where young girls were fed most wonderful meals before being beaten to death and sacrificed as offerings two thousand years ago. We hear of much sacrifice and superstition, even a time when royals sacrificed their own.

A farewell cliff-top dinner at Larcomar.

Leaving Peru, a pleasure to visit. United first class for years of loyalty.

And appreciating all the more the many blessings we take for granted in America. Clean water, electricity, education… the good life. I’d asked Disnarda if she has been to the United States. “Only in my dreams,” she replies. Like cell phones in Peru, that dream too is ubiquitous.

 

Peru-kids Local children at play

Flight delays, lost baggage, fellow travelers all, tough trails, and exhaustion. These are enviable challenges. In Peru and from the jungles to the mountain sides, a stunning geographic tapestry – we see families living much tougher lives – hanging on to life and its precious moments in fundamental ways.

 

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