Misadventures in the Malvinas

The malivinas is a shopping district in lima metro that remains unknown to most tourists due to it’s location outside the typical tourist harmony and safety of Miraflores, Lima and San Isidro. It is a completely different world away from what most backpackers have become accustomed to. This means that you really wont find any bars, clubs or cinemas in the barrio as it’s truly a local la vida or ‘local life’ area of the city.

A peek into the world of the malivinas
A peek into the world of the malivinas

In fact until fairly recently, the Malvinas were considered to dangerous to go to at night unless you went in force (meaning 4-7 beefed guys). This only changed when the government of Lima decided to divide the street running through the Malvinas in two with a community park to cut down on violent crime.

Before
Before
After
After

Although, even after this measure it’s a place where really no tourist should go unless your with a really trustworthy guide (wink). I only found this out when I asked to go solo, to which I got the apt response “In all seriousness they’d steal your clothes from right in front of you and sell them back to you”.

By this point your probably be clear on just what a kind of place the Malvinas is and you probably already screaming at me “Why the hell would you be crazy enough to go there!?!?” The first answer is the draw of deals; real deals for the less than consciously minded.

Lets take a look at just how good some of those prices are!

Item Uk street price Malavinas street price (est)
Ipod touch (8gb) 165 GBP 300 solis (60.5544 GBP)
Iphone 3g 8gb 342 GBP 1000 solis (201.633 GBP)
zune 30GB £85.00 380
solis (76.6049 GBP)
50″ Plasma Lg 50 () 759.00 (ebay) 744.841 GBP
Xbox 360 (vanilla) 190 GBP 100 GBP
Rolex watch 500 GBP+ 75 GBP
Trousers, shirt + pants 30 GBP 16 GBP

SOURCES: Own research vs http://store.apple.com/uk, www.currys.co.uk
ebay

I say less consciously minded, however as it’s common knowledge to most people (at least here in Planeta) that although there are some reputable sellers in the Malvinas most of the sellers are simply re-selling stolen goods on a don’t ask, don’t tell basis. The reason for this is steeped in the barrios history because this is where all the criminals initially came to sell the stuff they had pinched. As a result, the chances are excellent that if you’ve ever been pick pocketed, lost a camera or had your house burgled this IS the most logical place to start looking. In all probability you’ll find a grinning merchant eager to sell the items back to you for a competitive price!

The other big draw of the Malvinas is size. It’s not just one market, but three, huge and extensive warehouse markets specialized for different purposes. When I went for the first time to ‘La Cachina’ (the smaller market) in search of some sports clothing (necessary in a vain attempt to blend in) with Julio, the market must have been in a building with at least 281250sq m (1 block wide, 2 blocks long).

Upon entering La Cachina you really did get the sense that they had everything, although the clothing at the front of the market could have only of been described as ‘uber ghetto’ or ‘pimp daddy’.
Going further into the market though we quickly found a seller with one of those universal adapter things for my camera since I’d been traveling with an Argentina adapter for some time (price 15 soles). Next up I found some Nike fakes and an Umbro shirt (for 30 soles) – most things are faked over here to a surprisingly good quality. I also bought some brand name briefs (yeah… boxers suck OK.) for a mere 10 soles (maybe kinda expensive at the extranjero price) at which point we joked about the good price as long as there wasn’t any blood on them… dark I know :).

Moving through La Cachina we had a chance to do some reconnaissance on street prices vs Malvinas prices and we were presently surprised. Although there were a few times in this place where I dropped half my loose change everywhere, which probably didn’t catch exactly the right kind of attention!

I´ll have to admit it was slightly nerve wracking scuffling through there. Maybe especially so after Julios’ advice to “whatever you do make sure you’ve got a tight grip on that, or someone will run along and grab it right from you and you will have lost everything”. Apart from that there were some pretty dubious stores there – one clearly displaying two active pistols that according to Julio could´nt have gone for more than 200 – 300 soles (40GBP – 60GBP)

Nonetheless it was an interesting experience traveling into an area where most tourists wouldn’t even think of going to. It was also pretty amazing to see how much stuff they had – hard to describe unless you went there yourself! But in either case it really was a world apart from anywhere else I´ve ever been.

peter gent

I used to work in the games industry. Now studying for entry into politics and Spanish at portsmouth university. 2009 Karikuy Volunteer.

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