Cats in the Park

Whilst walking through Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, Lima, recently, I commented to my friend that there seemed to be a lot of cats either in or around the park. IMG_0099     DSCN0800

Everywhere I looked there seem to be cats.DSCN1004 Oops!! Sorry, wrong park.

DSCN0801 ( They look remarkably similar to me.)

It seems though, the cat population of Kennedy Park used to be more than 100 and was a popular attraction to both tourists and a significant amount of locals. There is however, an opposing faction, people who don’t like cats. They have campaigned to have the cats removed and if necessary, put down. It would appear that a local priest is one of those unhappy with the presence of the cats and was even, allegedly, accused of killing or kidnapping some of the unfortunate creatures. Which he denies. Also, allegedly, he prevented the rescue of a cat which was trapped in the church tower.DSCN1066

Many of the cats have been adopted and now live in good homes. Those remaining being totally oblivious to the divide they have created in public opinion.   I have to include a pic of the house cat where I live. IMG_0209 Scrawny yet endearing. How could you not like a cat?  They are right up there with guinea pigs for me.

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Local Knowledge

Español: Bus del Metropolitano de Lima.

Español: Bus del Metropolitano de Lima. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It being a gloomy day in Miraflores, I decided to take a trip into Lima and perhaps visit Chinatown, which I have been thinking about doing for a few days now. I decide to go via the Metropolitano transport system and soon found myself back in the sock shop which I had been so thankful to find a few weeks ago. You can’t have too many socks.

Surprisingly, the owner of the shop remembered me from my previous visit and we chatted for 15 or 20 minutes about the various qualities of socks and then about my intended travels in Perú. She told me she was from Cuzco and offered me some advice for my forthcoming visit there. Local knowledge.

I then asked her about getting to Chinatown from the Central Station. She advised me of the best place to get a bus from, suggesting I went via a micro – a small and usually packed, minibus. I said I would prefer to walk and she said that would not be a good idea, as it could be a bit dangerous. She is not the first person to warn me about avoiding certain areas but the warnings are normally to stay away from them at night. Local knowledge.

Well, not always one to heed advice and starting to regain my old confidence (perhaps over confident), I thought I would walk to Chinatown anyway. After all, if things looked a bit iffy, I could always back track. The thing is, when things did look iffyIMG_0082, I just got more curious. I thought, “what a beautiful building this must have been”. Sadly its state of decay is no doubt due to a lack of money. My curiosity did not have to take me too far into the neighbourhood before I discovered that it was not just the buildings that needed money.

As I went around the next corner, I encountered a group of men just “hanging out”, I guess, for want of a better description. I avoided eye contact, so as not to provoke any reaction. However, one of the men detached himself from the group and approached me. Unlike any of my previous encounters here, in Lima, I felt exposed and vulnerable. No humour here.

The plus side to this is, no matter what I was feeling on the inside, on the outside I was calm, no drama here either. My pace did not alter, my direction did not change and as he demanded money from me, I just kept saying “no entiendo”, (I don´t understand). As it happened, I understood only to well and he was in my face for a good 50 meters. At first demanding and then, as we got further from his friends, begging, as he said he had no work and no money. This was begging with attitude.

Eventually, he relented, realising he was getting nowhere. I was thinking how glad I was it was not dark and how I should have listened to local knowledge. I never did get to Chinatown. I´ll go there soon, by bus.

San Isidro

Following on from last week’s walk to Barranco with Mike from South American Explorers, this week we decided to go to San Isidro another suburb of Lima which is adjacent to Miraflores. Apart from the exercise, we had a couple of other objectives; to check out the proposed new site of South American Explorers, which is moving home within the next few weeks and to look at Parque Olivar which is in the centre of San Isidro. IMG_0164 Apparently, the park contains more than 1500 olive trees, some more gnarled and wrinkly than me.IMG_0153

The park is very popular with families and also with newlyweds who apparently stroll through the park after their wedding ceremony. There is also a live music facility IMG_0163. No doubt the venue for the Morrissey concert. Although perhaps it’s a bit too big.

The park does boast several water features, the largest and most spectacular was sadly closed for refurbishmentIMG_0166. Although a sneaky look behind the tarpaulins, seems to confirm the rumour that it is in fact, being converted to a skateboarding park. IMG_0165.

The park and its environs are also popular with dog walkers and I confess to squealing with delight when I saw this little poodle.IMG_0161 It is actually wearing shoes. I did not get close enough to see if it was wearing socks.

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La Música Peruana

I had the good fortune to be invited to attend a concert of  traditional Peruvian music on Monday night   – 8th July, at the ICPNA in Miraflores.  I had seen some examples previously in Spanish lessons and also have watched some videos on you tube . There were several acts, all featuring guitars and vocals. .And, even though it was filmed on my lowly little Ipod, I have finally produced a video and uploaded it to You Tube.

It was not the usual type of concert that I would attend and it certainly did not evoke the the same feelings that a Hawkwind performance would. Nevertheless, on hearing that Morrissey was in Lima and due to perform, I am certain, of the two concerts, La Música Peruana was the more uplifting. I am sure in the coming months, I will get to sample much more of this blend of cultures. I am already weighing up the prospect of attending a similar show next week.

Barranco

Barranco is another district of Lima, neighbouring Miraflores and is described in various publications as being bohemian and home of many Peruvian artists. For me, and not wishing to appear too much of a philistine, it was somewhere to walk to and maybe take some photographs. I was invited to accompany Mike, who runs the South American Explorers club here in Lima. He likes to go for a walk regularly, for exercise and I need to keep building my strength for challenges I may face later in my travels.

From my penthouse to Barranco and back, I clocked up almost 14kms. Fortunately, although it was somewhat hazy, DSCN0687_341 the sun was shining and it was a good day for walking, if there could be such a thing. We walked out of the centre of Miraflores towards el Malecón, where I walked last weekend and headed south. It was not as busy as last Sunday but I imagine many of the people were working. They do seem to work very long hours here.

It must have taken us an hour and a half to reach Barranco, stopping at  Larcomar on the way for a pit-stop. Consisting of shops, bars a cinema and the all important servicios, Larcomar is built into the cliffs facing the Pacific Ocean. At the oceanfront, Barranco and Miraflores are separated by a gulf IMG_0121, so you have to walk inland a little way to cross a bridge. I didn´t mind on the way there but I resented those extra paces on the way back.

Apparently, Barranco was very fashionable, a hundred years ago and more. An affluent area and a popular place to live and to visit. Many of the buildings have fallen into various states of disrepair since though, as Barranco was largely deserted it seems by those wealthy residents.DSCN0700_354

More recently, the influx of artists and artisans, has seen some restoration and it is a very popular place for evening entertainment, with a number of restaurants and clubs. There are some rather stark images between the carefully restored and the sadly neglected but there are also some quaint reminders of times gone by. Although some could have you wondering if they were coming,IMG_0125 IMG_0126or going.

The partly restored church IMG_0133, might look even less dilapidated if it were not for it´s rooftop scavengers who are probably stripping the roof quicker than it can be covered.DSCN0697_351

After crossing the Bridge of Sighs, I inadvertently got into a conversation with a guitar playing local busker, who was waiting for his percussionist, who had been persuaded to take a photograph of a couple next to a statue. It was not really a conversation because his accent was so strong, I could not make out a single word. It has been quite a while since that has happened. It soon became apparent that he wanted to perform for us. I declined and Mike and I headed off, only to be pursued by the dubious duo. They had us boxed in as we were headed for a dead end, so we gave them a few coins and they played for us.IMG_0138Finally managing to understand their accent, when they asked us where we were from, I replied, “Inglaterra”. The drummer responded straight away with his one word of English, “Beckham”. It made me feel quite nostalgic for the good old days when most non – English speaking people knew two words – Bobby Charlton. I pointed out that David Beckham and I have something in common, we are both recently retired. Chuckles – at least they understood me.

It was time to head back to Miraflores and I have to say, I was glad to get back. It was a great walk though and another is planned for next week.

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Lima in The Sunshine

What a difference the sunshine makes. After 10 days of mist and gloom, I awoke today to glorious sunshine. I decided to have a hearty breakfast for a change and head off to the seaside.

Breakfast was good, scrambled eggs with mushrooms and some type of local cheese. In the menu it was called, “French Conneggtion”. Very clever, very nice.

I got to the seafront around 11 am and it was reasonably quiet. But the attraction of a sunny day at the seaside was too good to be missed for many. The rather bleak and almost empty place that I had visited the week before was transformed. Local families, tourists, skateboarders and runners were filling the park areas. Street vendors appeared and the taxi rank became full as the taxistas dropped people off and then waited hopefully for a return fare.

The restaurants started to fill up rapidly as lunchtime approached. Now I can see the attraction of El MaleAcon in Miraflores. DSCN0568. Apart from the parks and the restaurant area, there is action taking place in the sea DSCN0570 and in the air. DSCN0608 Although the air did appear somewhat congested at times DSCN0607. There was a queue of paragliders waiting to take off. It was like a bank holiday at Gatwick Airport.DSCN0603. I did not see any pilots come to grief but there were some close encounters.DSCN0612 It is not one pilot with two chutes, unfortunately the other one is just out of the shot. Probably, fortunately for him, as they looked to me to rather too close for comfort. As exciting as it looks, don´t expect any aerial shots from me in a paraglider. They do take people up on tandem flights but unsurprisingly, I did not see any.

According to a local woman, the area has also got an attraction for those who, having become disillusioned with life, decide to jump without a chute DSCN0585. The authorities in there efforts to deter this, have erected canopies on both sides of the bridgeDSCN0584.

A bit further along from the bridge is El Parque del Amor, a park in which, after dark when all the families have gone home, lovers come to the park to do whatever it is that lovers do in parks. There is even a huge statue to celebrate this fact.DSCN0595

After such a tiring day, I went to the Lima suburb of Jesus Maria for my evening meal, in search of a restaurant serving typical local dishes. I had a nice meal of trout with golden potatoes and a delicious salad, accompanied by a cold beer. As tasty as the meal was, the occasion was marred by the clumsy attempt by the waiter to rob me of some of my change. The irony is, that what he tried to take from me, was less than the tip he would have received.  Nevertheless, for me, it was a good day to experience Lima in the sunshine.

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Huaca Pucllana

Huaca Pucllana

Yesterday, I visited Huaca Pucllana, the site of a preIncan pyramid/temple which has lain undisturbed for centuries cunningly disguised as a hill. It is still being excavated, which you can see, is painstakingly slow.

DSCN0527 The bricks are made of mud so they were obviously confident of there not being much rainfall. The design and construction make it resistant to earthquakes. DSCN0523The people that lived in the area cultivated the land and had a healthy diet of Coca ?????????????????????????????????which was supplemented  by ????????????????. This has been superseded in modern times by….DSCN0469 .

I am not sure which is the faster food as I have never tried catching a guinea pig.

Joking aside, for anyone coming to Lima, Huaca Pucllana is well worth the visit. All visitors are escorted round the site by knowledgeable guides, including English speakers.

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