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Saturday, November 16, 2013

A Wander in Barranco

  I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.  It is gorgeous here, about 22c and sunny.  It is so refreshing to see that spring may finally be here!  I started off my day with a walk to the Bioferia and a stop at Starbucks to check Facebook and my email, but I was shocked when I walked in the house and my internet was working again!  I think I rely on the internet more here than most people, because it is my only connection to what is going on at home, and to the people there.  I miss imessaging my mommy and friends whenever I feel like.  So nice to have that back!

Wednesday night, I got an email from my friend Zuly at Haku Tours (endless plugs for them, best tour company ever!) asking if I would like to go on a walking tour of Barranco as there was another lady booked for it the following day.  Of course I said yes!  I had asked Zuly to make sure she lets me know whenever there are people going on tours that I have not been on, so I don't have to do them all myself. She has been fantastic at making sure she always lets me know.  I have been to Barranco several times, both on tours, and just wandering myself.  It is the next district over to Miraflores, is relatively safe and is only about a 20 minute walk from the apartment.  But, it is a very interesting community; artsy, trendy and full of lots of beautiful old buildings and gorgeous wall murals, so there is always something new to see.

We started out the morning with Marco (one of my regular tour guides) and the lovely Lisa from California picking me up at the apartment.  Something I love about Haku is how personal it is.  There were only the 2 of us on the tour and we weren't on a bus, we actually just took a street cab and got dropped of on a corner.  It really is just like going to spend time with some friends.   Our first stop was a park along the cliffs.  There was a mist in the air and it was a bit chilly, but we still had a view and a great history lesson.

We continued down the streets, past some lovely old houses that are now used mostly as public buildings, museums and galleries or homes of diplomats.

We made our way down to one of my favorite areas, Ermita Church or Iglesia La Ermita. The story goes that it was built when some fishermen were lost at sea in very thick fog.  They prayed for salvation and a bright cross appeared and they followed it to shore.  The church was built where the cross had appeared.  It was almost totally destroyed in 1881 by invading Chileans, and then even more so in the 1940 earthquake.  It is no longer in use but is still a beautiful place to visit.

From there, we went somewhere I had never been before.  Down a small street that led out to the cliff.  It was lined with cute little bars, restaurants and murals.  At the end, we came across some men playing guitar.  One of the men I had seen before played me La Bamba.

We walked back up the street to another place I love.  The Puente de los Suspiros, or The Bridge of Sighs.  It was inaugurated on February 14th, 1876 and has withstood the War of the Pacific as well as several huge earthquakes.  It is a place of romance in Lima with many young couples meeting here.  It is said that the first time you visit it, you must make a wish, and walk across without taking a breath and your wish will come true.  Not sure if it is true but it was worth a try!

We wandered down some more streets coming across a few interesting murals and people, which is common here.  

We made a quick stop at the Museo de la Electricidad, it is very interesting and shows the history, present and future of power in Peru.  I thought it was fun and worth a stop if you are in the area.  And it is free!  Marco also gave us a fun fact: Up until the end of the 90's in Peru, if you wanted a phone you were put on a waiting list and most of the time you were on the list for up to 10 years!  Can you imagine?  They also had some cool old Jukeboxes, TVs and appliances that look ancient to me but apparently were still used here until quiet recently.  It is amazing to see how Lima has advanced so quickly into a modern society.

This map shows the power grid and power plants in the Lima area.  If you look closely along the coast you can see Chilca, where Josh is currently commissioning a new Natural Gas Power Plant.

Our next stop, was somewhere that I was amazed to see, and I never even knew existed.  It has been open since 1915 and kind of feels like stepping back in time.  Apparently, this is where John Wayne, who was a regular here invented one of the most popular Peruvian drinks (and Josh's favorite), the Chilcano.  It is made with Pisco, Ginger ale and lime juice and is delicious!  John Wayne also met and fell in love with his 3rd and final wife in this bar.  There is still all of the original furniture and decorations.

Our final stop on the walking tour took us to the Plaza de San Francisco.  It is a gorgeous square, surrounded by old colonial buildings and the San Francisco Church, which is a replacement of the Ermita Church and was built after the other was shut down.  In the square, there is a statue of Venus overlooking a pond.  She is the last left of the original twenty.  All but her were destroyed in the Pacific War.  That thought made me sad, she is gorgeous!

That concluded our walking tour, so we hopped back in a cab and made our way home.  I wanted to stop at the Burrito Bar, which has the best burritos and margaritas I have ever had in my life, but sadly, it was too early and was closed.
If you are ever in Lima, and have done the touristy stuff downtown and in Miraflores, take a walk over to Barranco.  It is vibrant and gorgeous and very down to earth.  I will be headed back here on my own for more exploring soon!

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