A number of weeks back, I traveled to Lima, Peru, as usual, for work. Unfortunately, most of my nearly forty-eight hours below the equator were spent within the confines of the five star hotel where my firm's large pharmaceutical client was conducting a rather typical and dull advisory board. After the meeting, though, I did have the chance to join the group on a brief but fulfilling bus tour around the city. Naturally, my camera ran out of battery power just as we were entering some of the truly rich and vibrant neighborhoods of the city, away from the modern and sterile business center on the coast where we stayed. Lima is, without a doubt, the most overtly and obviously socioeconomically diverse city I have ever visited in my life; there are incredible infusions of Spanish and French influence and houses of great wealth, and then visible shanty towns made up from corrugated iron shacks. While I regret not taking advantage of the free airfare and staying around the city a few extra days to explore, I recognize that, unlike most cities in Europe, it may not have been the most friendly for a young, single woman traveling completely alone, without any knowledge of the language whatsoever. I suppose that is just the frustratingly pragmatic and cautious side to me, which, so often, I loathe and wish I could cut out, dissect, remove, or at least, ignore and bury from time to time.
For the majority of my stay, the sky was a monotone gray, a thick pool of fog gleaned from the surface of the Pacific Ocean and hovering between us on the earth and the heavens. Apparently, it does not rain in Lima, ever; at first incredulous, I was convinced by the frequent open air courtyards in the colonial buildings, and the lack of a draining sewer system throughout the streets of the city. The pattern of geography from mountains to hills to coast prevents all precipitation; there is only the familiar heavy fog. I found this to be at once beautifully fantastical and unsettling and sad.
Love Park is a contemporary and now iconic locale, featuring this incredibly moving and inspiring monument, two lovers entangled in a passionate embrace, and a long wall of Gaudi-inspired tile work. According to our tour guide, lovers to be married come here often; his tale was a bit cheesy, but endearing nonetheless. The statue is a magnificent piece of work, mounted upon a pedestal atop a fountain pool; it is easy to understand why such a piece would regaled as giving lucky boons to impending nuptials.
These large brick buildings are some of the oldest architectural structures in the western hemisphere; from a distance, they almost appear to be large dusted hills, unimpressive and strange in the midst of so flat a city. Up close, however, the intricate detail of the craftsmanship and the ingenuity of these structures is evident. Unsurprisingly, people in the 1970s did not recognize these buildings as some of the earliest examples of human civilization and urban development; they were used as mounds and jumps for motorcross races. Thankfully, attitudes have advanced since then, and the entire area is now under restoration and being preserved.