A truly Peruvian experience

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I am a week into my stay here in Lima, and its incorporated everything from downtime, computer screens, my first Peruvian combi ride, cramped buses, and uncanny amounts of food to a visit of the rivaling “oldest ruins in the Americas”.

After so much time on the road, the rushing between cities, the questionable accommodations and the sparse meals, Lima has been a welcome refuge to this weary traveler. Not only do I have my own room and a warm shower (the latter which you are hard to find here in Peru), but I have stuffed myself with the delicious treats of Julio’s aunt and her helper Marlene. If Peru is a foody’s paradise with its hundreds of national dishes, then Lima is its culinary capital. This makes me as giddy as a Peruvian goat as I reproduce Homer Simpson-like noises everytime we sit down to the table.

One evening, the three Karikuys set out for an adventure in central Lima. This was my first ride in a combi, which is a multi-passenger taxi sardined with as many riders as it can pick up, and complete with an insane driver. Traveling through the city is more of a competition than a leisurely activity, and I found myself on the set of The Fast and the Furious (side note: a movie I saw on the way to Lima), nearly side-swiping other taxis and dangerously cutting off drivers, only instead of being in a sexy race car we were stuffed into a severely-aged van.

“That wasn’t so bad,” Josh said as we exited the vehicle. “Usually they don’t stop, they just slow down a bit and you have to jump off.”

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We were at Jirón de la Unión, a street that has been at the center of the shopping district for as long as Limeños have shopped. We strolled the crowded pedestrian street passed the clothing sales and enormous chicken restaurants, and visited the Plazas de las Armas and San Martín. The area has a colonial touch and the streets are accented with remnants of the Spanish hierarchy.

It seemed only appropriate that after reading about water shortages in Peru all week that I visit the Water Park. Lima holds the Guinness World record for the largest park of water fountains, due to its 12 decorate fountains and one that reaches 80 meters in height. Walking through the park, I was awestruck by the displays of water and its artistic potential. Yet I couldn’t help but think how popular this place might get as water supplies dwindle on the desert coast.

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The weekend arrived and we fulfilled our plan to travel up to Caral and Cosmo, the locations of the oldest civilization remains in the Americas. Each ruin claims they are the oldest, even though they both date back about 5000 years. Whatever the truth may be, these findings equate this advanced civilization to the age of the ancient Egyptians, and are changing written history as we know it. Both set of ruins are relatively recent discoveries and their restoration is still in its inception. A law passed in 1977 prohibits the reconstruction (aka The rebuilding with new materials) of any ancient ruin around the world, so these crumbled remains may never erect to their formal glory.

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In Casma, we stayed with Julio’s cousins, which made a somewhat touristy journey into a most authentic experience. We ate homecooked fare, listened to stories and advice for future destinations, and even went to the local discoteca where I learned how to dance and drink like a Peruvian. After an eventful weekend in the hot sun, the Karikuys caught the six-hour bus home to Lima, an experience that makes me more confident I am too tall to live in Peru.

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Please check out my entire photo gallery here http://picasaweb.google.com/StarFotoChik

Jenny Sherman

Jenny Sherman grew up in the never-tiring San Francisco Bay Area on the California Coast. She graduated with a BA degree in Journalism with a Spanish Minor, but if there were a Traveling major, it would have been more appropriate. Since graduating from the University of Oregon in 2004, she took to the road to live and work in various places and at various trades. She continues to do that to this day, which is how she found herself volunteering at Karikuy in Lima, Peru. Most consistently, Jenny is a writer/photographer and has lived in Spain, Mexico, Texas, Maine, Brasil, Peru, on a school bus, in a tent and always finds time to go back to San Francisco. http://web.mac.com/jennysherman/iWeb/Jenny%20Sherman%20Photography/About.html

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