Lima: home of the VW bug
Lima is a very large city with 10 million people. We are heading up to Iquites tomorrow to start our work soon at the Centro de Salud. I wanted to give a brief description of our experiences in Lima. First off it is huge and like most alrge cities. When we arrived at the airport there were hundreds of people awaiting friedns and family, more than I have ever seen at an airport waiting. Lima is the only international airport in the country (which was not the case several years ago). The city is noisy and full of people all the time. It is summer here now so kids are on break. The streets seem to be crowded with cars, buses and the sidewalks with street vendors and people. Even at stoplights, street perfomers will try to earn a tip during the red light by juggling fire, acting as a mime or by dancing. The city is fairly easy to navigate once you get the system down. There is a newer bus that runs from north to south called the metropolitano that is clean and fairly efficient. They have a specific bus lane dedicated to these buses so they don't have to deal with much traffic, however it still takes more than an hour to go from the north en to the south end of the city. It is quite cheap and costs only S/1.50. Thre currency here is the Sole (pronounced sol-ee, 2 syllables). $1.00=S/2.61, at least that was my exchange rate at the bank in Lima, Fr. Jack said this is one of the lowest he can remember. Driving seems to be fairly reckless, although i have not witnessed an accident I am sure there are many. Drivers use their horns constantly, not because they are upset, but rather to signal several things such as: hey i am here and coming into your lane, don't pull out because you will hit me or if you are a pedestrian i will hit you, do you want to ride in my taxi, pay attention i am turning right from the far left lane throught 4 lanes of traffic, etc. There is quite a bit of smog and the air is not pure to breathe, very noticable compared to Chicago. If one wants to get around not using the metropolitano you can use the other bus system which has specified routes, however most buses are not like the ones we have in the states. They are vans with a driver (who honks often as described above) and his partner who mans the sliding door on the side, hanging halfway out of the van screaming the route and soliciting riders. Once inside you cram into a seat with not much padding and bounce around until you reach your destination. THis bus costs only S/0.50-S/1.00. So it is very cheap to travel in the city to get where you are going. When in traffic vendors tryign to make a living often come to the windows and offer ice cream or snacks to passengers. VW beatles abound!