I arrived in Lima, the capital of Peru after taking an overnight bus from the north. Again I was very impressed with the buses in Peru. Very comfortable with plenty of legroom. Movies and even a goodie bag with snacks.
I checked into my hostel. My hostel stays are working out at about ten euro a night for a private room.
The last two hostels I have been the only person in them. At least the second last one I had the company of a dog and two cats. The one in Lima was the only hostel I did not like. It was grubby, and the room was like a doss house. I checked out after three days.
I decided after two months in hostels, I needed to treat myself. I booked a one-bedroom apartment for a week at a cost of two hundred and forty euro. That is the same price as twenty-four hostel nights.
Lima has surprised me. It is a lot nicer than I had expected. The historic centre is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is very beautiful. More so then Quito and I am allowing for the fact that Quito was on fire when I was there.
South America Spring
Like the Arab spring, something is sizzling in South America. As most countries are under the equator, the seasons are in reverse from Europe and North America. The Arab Spring was, for the most part, about standards of living.
During my time in South America, there have been protests everywhere I have been.
In Bogota Columbia, there were student riots. Ecuador was almost a full-on nationwide uprising. Here in Lima, Peru as I did a walking tour, I could smell an old friend. Tear gas.
There was a protest in the city. The police were worried enough to set off smoke bombs.
Lima is interesting. It is the first place I have seen where wealth is on open display in South America. I am staying in the Miraflores area. A lot of people with money live here. I choose here because there are a lot of bars here.
From what I have seen in South America, the traditional city centres became dangerous areas to live. For example, Columbia and Peru had a lot of internal conflicts during the 1980s. It was not unusual for bombs to go off in El Centro.
People who had money started leaving the city centres. They settled in safer parts. The people with no or little money remained behind, and the centres became no go areas for many. Every El Centro I have been to I have been advised to leave before it gets dark.
The new affluent areas became safe areas for those who could afford it. Miraflores in Lima is a perfect example. I have never felt safer in my trip than in Miraflores. Why? The sheer number of police and private security people would be the main reason.
On Saturday I was walking on the Malecon by the seafront. There was a small Redbull event. Maybe one hundred well-dressed kids were watching a DJ making some rap music. I counted twenty-five local Miraflores security people there.
I wondered who they were protecting. Who were they protecting them from? I also wondered if the same event was in a poorer neighbourhood would there be any security.
On the streets that lead from poorer to more affluent areas, you will see a lot of police. It is not unusual for a person coming from a more impoverished district to be searched entering the richer district.
There are no physical walls, but there are walls none the less. I can see why a majority might be angry.
Bolivia and Chile are on my list of places to go after Puru. Both are not very stable at the moment. Chile is a perfect example of the problems that exist not only in South America but worldwide.
Chile is the wealthiest country in South America. Chile also has one of the biggest wealth inequality in the world. The rich, on average make 13.6 times more than the poor.
Chile also has a reputation for being the most expensive country in South America. At the same time, over 50% of workers earn less than 500 euro a month.
The people in Chile are no different to the people protesting in France. Worldwide people are angry. Angry with the ever-growing inequality.
When I see the rich as I wander around Miraflores I think would they be prepared to share their wealth with the poorer. I don’t think so. That is why the police are there.
Liberal democracies are going to face a choice. Make their societies more equal or lose something. There is one country that has managed to improve living standards in the past thirty years using capitalism.
China has proved you can have capitalism without the freedoms most people associate with capitalist counties.
Is that the model that people want? It will become an attractive model for many if the inequality widens even more in liberal democracies.
On Tuesday, I took the free Lima walking tour. I bumped into Anna from Russia. We had met on a walking tour in Medellin, Colombia. We both have blogs and spent a great day taking pictures of each other for our blogs.
We had a good chat on the good and bad sides of solo travelling. Traveling solo has many benefits. You can go where you want when you want. The downside is you get times of no contact with people and those times can be a bit lonely.
Where are you from?
Each city seems to have a particular scam that is more popular than others. In Lima, it seems to be the where are you from scam.
The last time I came across the where are you from scam was in Cuba. It is not a particularly clever scam, but a nice and polite person can be pulled in by it. I am lucky in that I am neither nice or polite.
It is quite simple. As you pass someone will ask where are you from. In all my years travelling, I have yet to meet anyone that asked me as I walked in a street where I was from that was remotely interested in where I was from.
It is designed to get you to stop and then the person has time to put into action the real reason they are interested in you.
Usually, it is to try and bring you to a place that is for their benefit. A shop, restaurant or maybe a bar where they have a scam arranged with another person. One thing you can be sure of it will not be for your benefit.
Most will have done some research. If you say Ireland they will know a little bit about Dublin and say they have been there.
Jim a man I know from Co Clare in Ireland told me he once was waiting at a traffic light to cross a street in an African capital city. As he waited for the traffic light to go green, a guy asked him where he was from. When he said Ireland the guy had said he had been there and he had an impressive knowledge of Ireland.
Eventually, a request for money in the appearance of a scam was requested. Jim, a well-travelled man, was experienced enough to know he was being scammed. He also was sure the man had never been to Ireland.
I have quite a simple solution to the where are you from scam. I wait until I have walked passed the person. Then I turn my head and say, Cork. By the time they say where is Cork, I am out of sight.
The Taripay Pacha. Is it myself?
On Thursday I will leave Lima and head into the old Inca lands. First stop will be Paracas. I am having a strange feeling I have been in Peru before. I have started to read about the Inca’s and I have made a remarkable discovery.
The Inca’s have a prophecy about the return of a tall enlightened person. This person will bring a new age of prosperity to the Inca nation. The more I read about it the more I think it could be me.
Ok I know people who know me are saying right now Pat you are short. In Europe yes but standing next to ingenious people here I am quite tall. Even more so in Bolivia. I think I could get on the national basketball team there.
This week’s videos come from the streets of Lima Peru.
A walk around Lima.
Where to stay when visiting Lima Peru.
Join me on my journey.
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