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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Shanty Town Tour

So, seeing as I have been a bit of a hermit the last few days I thought I would do a post about one of my favorite trips I have taken in Lima.  It was another tour set up by the amazing Haku Tours and was the Shanty Town Tour.  In Lima and other cities in South America the slums, are called Shanty Towns.  I have asked the reason, and the only answer I really got is that it is a nicer way to say slums.  We went to a district of Lima called Villa El Salvador.  It is where the tour operator Edwin, grew up. (Edwin if you read this and have anything to add in the comments or corrections to make, please let me know!)  To do this tour, Haku had to write a letter with our names and request permission from the community to allow us to come in and visit.  For respect and for our safety, as they do not like insiders coming in.  Even neighboring communities can not encroach on other communities without being invited in.  Our first stop was the market, about half way between our place and the Shanty Town to pick up some fruit and try some new foods.

When we arrived in the Shanty town, the first thing I noticed was the homes.  They were mostly just 2x4s or plywood and cardboard, or other materials that had been salvaged.  I also noticed the weather.  In Lima, there are mountains, and the farther up people live on the mountains, the poorer they are.  The people at the top are the very poorest, and we were at the top.  We bought bags of fruit to take to the children, as the can go days without eating and the fruit we gave them would maybe be their only food of the day.
The first people we ran into on our walk were mainly children.  The first little girl we saw had no shoes.  Edwin made sure she had shoes before we left.

The next people we ran into were a grandmother and her grandson.  The grandmother asked if I would take a picture of them and send it to her because they are too poor to have cameras.  So cute.  Just the sweetest people ever.

We continued on and wandered through some "streets and up a huge staircase that was built by the government so that the people would not have to walk up the slippery, razor sharp rocks all the time with no/insufficient foot ware.

As we continued on, we walked by the home of the only person in this Shanty Town that has trees and flowers in their yard.

Another of our stops was to a silversmith.  He makes amazing things all by hand, from pure silver, and sells them to jewelry stores.  He cannot stamp his creations with his name, so he gets almost no money for all that work.  He is also the only business man that owns his own business and has employees in the Shanty Town.  His works of art are amazing.

We saw lots of stray animals, mostly dogs, but I did find skinny versions of Jinx and Smudge.

We visited a community kitchen.  All of the women in the community take turns working in the kitchen and cooking with just the bare essentials.  They feed as many children and adults as they can each day.

We then headed to a preschool.  This is more of what we saw on the walk there.  We gave the girl in the next picture some fruit for her children.  She looked like a baby herself.

When we got to the school we saw the cutest toddlers ever.  Even though they have so little they were so well groomed and well behaved.  I did make a little boy cry because I peeled his banana though.  The children in Peru start out at school very young.  Their parents have to pay for it and they get evaluated often.  This determines which schools they will get into for the rest of their school careers.  Of course the children that do better on their evaluations, keep getting sent to the better schools and therefor have a better chance of being able to get out of the shanty town.  

This was a truly amazing experience.  We got to see how most of Lima actually lives.  It was a real eye opener and I would highly suggest this as a tour if you are ever in Lima for a few days!

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