We left Lima for the last time on Friday to head south to Cusco. After spending so much time there, we feel like we’ve come to know a bit more about the city, and definitely a lot about the people who live there. Here are ten things you should know about Lima:
1) Nothing is ever on time. Ever. You can usually count on there being a one to two to three hour delay on most things.
2) Being in a car is like real time Mario Kart. There are no traffic lanes, you can bash into other cars without consequence, or hit a giant pothole and spin in circles and keep going. And there are rewards in the streets! At any stop you can buy fresh juice, clothing, cell phone batteries, you name it. Just like Mario Kart, it’s thrilling, fun, and a little bit anxiety-provoking.
3) The population of Lima is approximately 11 million—over one-third of the entire country’s population. And it’s bigger than the state of Rhode Island! It’s really very big.
4) Lima is situated on the Pacific Coast, and thus the ceviche is absolutely killer. People in Lima take their ceviche so seriously that it’s actually impossible to buy ceviche in the second half of the day because the fish isn’t as fresh. Cevicherias close after lunch and if you see one that’s open, it’s probably run by foreigners.
5) Lima is the second largest desert city in the world next to Cairo. That explains all the dust!
6) We were told that the majority of traffic police are women. When we asked why this might be the case, they said it’s because men are much more likely not to charge people for misdemeanors in exchange for a bribe.
7) While we were in Lima we noticed that the sky was almost always completely gray. We were a little bummed out at the lack of sun at first, until we learned that the gray sky is fondly referred to as the donkey’s belly. How can you be sad when you look at a donkey belly? Who needs sunshine anyway?
8) As much as we loved the food in the northern countryside of Peru, the home cooking in Lima is entirely unbeatable. Not only is the home cooking out of this world, but you can also get some of the best food you’ll ever have in local restaurants without emptying your wallet.
9) Lima is one of only three cities in the world in which Coca Cola is not the leading drink. Inca Cola, the neon yellow bubble gum soft drink sold on every corner in the city and throughout the rest of Peru is by far the most popular beverage. We were pretty grossed out by it when we first arrived, but now we have to admit that we actually really like it. Okay, we love it.
10) Lima is home to some of the most genuine, welcoming, interesting, beautiful humans we have ever come across and we couldn’t be more grateful for the hospitality they showed us.
P.S. Here’s another one for good measure: Lima is named after Peru’s native lima bean. We don’t actually know this; it’s just an educated guess.