Monday, September 1, 2008

26 August 2008

Lima ~

Today is the last full day in Lima and in South America. Our flight leaves to the US early tomorrow morning. Instead of waking early and paying for a room, we decided to awake all night and perhaps catch a little sleep in the airport. To accomplish this, we planned for a lazy day bumming around the city.

After breakfast, I went to the park to read and to write. After about 5 minutes, a young Peruvian woman stroke up a conversation with me. We talked for nearly two hours. She lives a tough life, working long hours while living in cramped quarters with her family. She wants to come to the Sates, but she doesn’t know how to, either legally or illegally. We discussed the possibilities for awhile. I am uncertain if she saw me as a vehicle to enter the United States; I suppose I never will find out. Whatever her motives, she soon began to persist on giving me a personal tour of the city. After multiple refusals, she gave me her email and left me with my books on a cold, misty bench.

A few others stopped by for some brief conversations until Adam finally came by, and we picnicked in the park. By this time, I was quite cold from having sat in the misty park all day. To remedy the situation and to use up some time, we got on a tourist bus for a city tour. The tour was supposed to take 3 hours but approached close to four hours because of traffic. I felt happy to be in a bus instead of being out in the pollution during rush hour. I am quite positive that the perpetual cloudiness of Lima not only makes the city quite gloomy, but it also amplifies the effects of the pollution, keeping it close by and potent.

The content of the tour was good. First, we drove by all the sights of Miraflores that we were already intimately aware of. Then, we drove to the center of the city past the main plazas and Lima’s Plaza del Armas. After cruising around for awhile, we exited the bus and entered one of the many churches in el centro. This was one of the original churches of the city. We toured the catacombs underneath the church where over 25,000 people were buried. That’s a lot of bones.

The tour was a good way to spend nearly four hours on a day where we were trying to waste time. However, besides this, I very much disliked the concept of the tour. First off, the bus was a large, clean, touring bus with clean wide windows and viewing dock on top. The sole purpose of the bus was to serve as an observation tool. I definitely felt like I was in a zoo, but I’m not sure what role I played. At time, I felt like a caged animal in a conspicuous transparent box, allowing everyone to see me on display and to point at me and to make awkward gestures. At other times, I felt like I was watching a caged environment. It felt wrong to sit in an observation bus, observing a city as if it was an animal in captivity. I didn’t like either role and never plan on taking a tour bus again.

Before heading to the airport, we caught a late night showing of “No te metas con Zohan ”at the Cine Bar. The Cine Bar is like any other movie theater but you have a table in front of you and are served drinks during the movie. What a great idea.

Photo Credits:

1. Lima's Plaza del Arma (Photo of post card from Flickr)

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