Monday, July 18, 2011

Las escenas de Miraflores...

Wow!  We're now up to over 1500 hits as of tonight from Brazil, Israel, Chile, Peru, Germany, France, Russia, Mexico, Latvia, and the United States!!!  Thanks everyone!

Ahhh I loved you.  Lima was the city that started off my adventure.  As I mentioned before, I spent the day with my old Peruvian friend, Pilar, and my new American friend, Nicole.  Nicole was (currently is) spending 3 whole months travelling around South America and I'm pretty sure that as I write this, the answer to the question Where is the world is Nicole? would be Chile.  :)  Nicole was an important part of my first day and the beginning of my trip.  She was travelling by herself as well, shares a determined and independent spirit, and taught me the importance of writing things down along the way as there would be so much to experience that there was no possible way I'd be able to remember it all.  Gracias.  She also plunged right along with me in the slightly daunting task of only speaking Spanish, even to each other despite both being American, and regardless of what language anyone spoke to us.  After the first day, I felt so proud of myself and knew that no matter what came up, I'd be okay.

Nicole, Pilar, and I actually stayed in a place called Miraflores.  It was along the coast and felt incredibly alive and cosmopolitan to me.  The day that I was there, the weather was overcast and a little chilly, but I couldn't have cared less.  (It was also nothing compared to what I had in store for me later on the trek!)

The coastline a few blocks from my hotel.

More coastline...

A statue en El Parque de Amor (Love Park)

A huge, tiled mural that goes up and down the coastline in El Parque de Amor.

This interesting type of tree that I saw.  I've yet to find the name, but it looked like a cross between a palm tree and an evergreen.

A lighthouse up the coastline.

Starbucks in Miraflores.  They even wrote the Spanish version of Genevieve-Genoveva (pronounced heh-no-bey-bah as v/b's in Spanish kind of meet somewhere in the middle).

The courtyard at my hotel, El Ducado.

El Ducado

Una iglesia en Miraflores.

You will notice that you'll see a lot of pictures of churches in my photos.  Churches and cathedrals have always been some of my favorite subjects to photograph (as well as old doors-don't ask me why), especially in my travels thus far to Spanish-speaking countries (actually everywhere, but let's just start here).  I remember when I travelled to Costa Rica over ten years ago and I first became captivated with photographing churches.  We spent a lot of time travelling from the center of the country in San Jose to the beaches which could be as far away as 8 hours.  Periodically, we'd stop in little towns, or pueblos, along the way and I was absolutely amazed that in the middle of nowhere, in a tiny little town where buildings were abandoned and you wondered how long it even took supplies to arrive, there would be a beautiful church or chapel stoically standing the jungle.  They were always so well taken care of and served not only as an important place to those who worshipped in them, but to an historian like myself, they were like little jewels that took you back in time.  Later on, I discovered that the Spanish had very specific plans for the cities, towns, and villages that they built and you'll see the same plan where ever you go.  The towns all feature a large church, chapel, or cathedral (and by large I mean that they are often out of scale with the rest of their surroundings) facing a center plaza or zocalo as it's often called.  Surrounding the center plaza you will often find government buildings, shops, and restaurants.  The center plazas often feature a fountain, lots of well-manicured vegetation, and ample seating for those who would like to people watch, read the newspaper, or play chess (ajedrez).  When thinking of my time spent in Merida, Mexico, the scene of its zocalo often pops into my head as I used to walk across it every day when going to work during my first months and spent many an afternoon sitting in my favorite cafe writing in my journal and drinking a cafe con leche.  Peru was no different.

Otra iglesa en Miraflores...

Ok, so changing subjects from churches to other important things one needs to know about Miraflores...There are a lot of casinos.  This was so weird.  As Nicole and I were walking around at night, we couldn't help but notice they were everywhere.  Here, there was even one named Atlantic City.  When I asked about them later on in the evening, Pilar's friend explained to me that there was a lot of foreign investment going on in Peru and that the Chinese had actually built many of the casinos.  According to her, however, the city recently put a ban on building any more.  Sorry Mr. Trump!

Atlantic City in Miraflores, Peru!

We also need to discuss this little thing Nicole introduced me to on my first day called Inca Kola.  Let me just start out by saying that I love, love, love the Diet Coke that they sell in other countries.  Anyone who loves Hispanic food in the U.S. and goes to some of the authentic restaurants knows that you can buy Mexican Coca Cola and that it has a distinctive (err...better) taste because they use a different type of sugar.  The same thing goes for the Diet Coke.  I love it!  Unfortunately, however, all they sold in Peru was Coca Cola Zero and it just didn't do the trick for me.  :(  Nicole, however, insisted that I try the popular soda that they sell in Peru called Inca Kola.  She said she really liked it.  I, on the other hand, thought it was super-gross and tasted like liquid bubble gum.  To each his own, right?  I am all about giving it a go, but liquid bubble gum just does not really appeal to me nor did that soda's toxic-looking color.   

Inca Kola and Coca Cola Zero

Last but not least, we need to talk about the cats...I know this one will put a few of you crazy feline-lovers in 7th heaven...

El parque de los gatos

Clearly, at this point in my trip, I was relying on the advice of Pilar and Nicole (who was now a pro having been in Peru four whole days more than me) to let me know all about what makes Lima (to be covered in the next blog entry) and Miraflores distinctive.  Being an animal lover myself and already missing my little companions on the first day, I couldn't help but recognize that as I walked along the coastline in the morning, a huge part of my feeling that Lima/Miraflores was a place I could live was because I saw so many people running along the trail and out with their dogs.  I would soon come to find out that were dogs everywhere in Peru for better or worse.  In the U.S., we definitely love our dogs.  In Philadelphia, dog parks can be found everywhere, often as common as playgrounds.  Nicole, however, introduced me to my first cat park.  Now, I'm still not sure what this was all about, but in the square in front of the photo that I previously included of the church taken during the day and in front of the cafe where Nicole and I met our Argentinian friends while watching the Peruvian soccer game, there lies a park FULL of cats.  By full, I mean absolutely everywhere.  People play with them, they can be found all over the grass and wandering up and down the sidewalk in amongst the vendors selling handcrafts.  I have never seen anything like this and have no idea how they maintain all of them there.  If you look closely in the photo taken at night, you should be able to see several of the cats lying in the grass.

***For those of you in the know, please forgive the lack of accents here and there in Spanish as my blog has an English-only set-up.  Still workin' out the kinks.  ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment