When in Lima, Peru, keep in mind that you never have the right of way. Never. Even if there’s a little green man on the traffic light indicating you can cross the street, don’t dare stepping off the sidewalk without looking both ways. And don’t move if there’s a car coming (especially a taxi or bus) in any direction.
Because of crazy drivers, walking is still my preferred form of transportation. There’s less to protect you from being hit by a car, but at least you won’t be in the hands of one of those drivers.
Walking is definitely safer than biking, unless you’re on one of the approximately 2 private bike lanes in the city that runs down the middle of street. Crossing in the central crosswalk of a busy road takes a strong will.
Some things are worth crossing the street for, however:
1. Lucuma sorbet at 4D (the home of the most expensive ice creams and frozen desserts in Lima)
2. Chicha Morada and mango sorbet from the gelato place on Conquistadores
3. Stuffed yucca from Almazen at the Bioferia
4. Organic mangoes and Capulì from Piura at the Bioferia
5. Mesquite honey from Eco-Life, a supplier of Prana with an Andean mountain full of magical lucuma
When I’m walking I don’t even notice the barbed wire and palm trees this trip. At first the tropical paradise mentality contrasted dramatically with the guarded residential buildings. I do notice the lack of benches when I’m in Lince looking for a place to sit and eat my lunch. I did find a park, though, about 10 blocks from where I wanted to sit.
If I lived here I’d live in Barranco, Miraflores or Lince. Barranco is hip, cool, a little grimy, dingy, artsy and up-and-coming. There’s a beach, open air bars and restaurants, clubs, shops and a constant late-night party. Lince is residential and quiet. Miraflores is touristy but pretty and safe. Lince is a little off the beaten track, a little still beat down but gentrifying, and there are restaurants now accepting VISA. That’s a big thing because it costs more, meaning only people with money will eat there. People with money don’t eat in poor areas. It’s also where musicians who can’t afford Miraflores live for cheaper rent but want to be more central than Barranco. Last time I walked through Lince a woman stared at me from her corner store entrance and started muttering to herself about me. I imagine she was wondering what I was doing there or wishing I wasn’t there (I heard a lot of “ella” – “her”). But she probably would have sold me a banana if I really needed one. Sometimes you just really need a banana, even a gringa who insists on walking everywhere.