(Approximate reading time: 18 minutes)
Lima! Capital of Peru! Lima was founded by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro on January 18, 1535, as ‘Ciudad de los Reyes’. A real city of kings, huh?! No wonder, that my birthday is exactly at the same day, but a few centuries later. Their flag looks interesting:
“Hoc signum vere regum est”, means loosely translated form Latin to English “This is the sign of the truth of the king.”. Thank you Lima, I feel honored by that!
Lima is the biggest city I lived in so far in my life. According to census of 2017, in total 9,752,000 habitants live in the city and 12,140,000 in the whole Metropolitan area of Lima. A few hungry mouths have to be fed in this huge city, don’t you think?
First reason to live in Lima: Every gourmet will live out his wet dreams
And exactly here Lima is the right place to get a hungry mouth fed graceful. The Peruvian kitchen is always ranked in the Top lists when it comes to the joy of eating. Three of the Top 50 restaurants worldwide are based in Lima and Peruvians capital was even called the World’s Best Food City. The World Travel Awards have named Peru the World’s Leading Culinary Destination. Besides that, Peru has the best chef in the world.
I already dedicated in a former blog article my gushing praise for the Peruvian kitchen. Every visitor will be more than happy to be able to expect the best kitchen in the world. You should read this article and agree with me. If not, I hope, that the few pictures I will show give an indication about the quality of the Peruvian kitchen.
Second reason to live in Lima: Living costs are relatively cheap
I remember the conversation with the operators of the short flight I did in March:
The guy told me, that the same flight experience ‘somewhere else’ would cost up to three times more than in Lima. Innerly I laughed, because I thought that this was a feeble argument of his selling tactic. But then I realized, that he meant with ‘somewhere else’ other countries. And of course this guy was right with what he said. Somewhere else life is definitely more expensive than in Lima!
A life in Lima costs – Of course depending here on the level of consumption and the private lifestyle – in average only 509.36$ per month. According to numeo.com Lima is ranked on number 396 of 539 cities worldwide when it come to living costs. In the South American ranking, Lima is on 13 of 26, exactly in the middle. But of course a comparison amongst 26 cities isn’t very expressive and more cities would be needed to have clear imagination here. But this indication should be proof enough to say, that a life in Lima isn’t that expensive.
Third reason to live in Lima: South America’s Leading Green Destination
This is an award, that has been given from the World Tourism Awards for 2017. And yes, I know that the whole country was awarded for being a green destination, not the city of Lima itself. But in 2018, there are already many parks and green spaces spread over the whole city. They better should get over the awful traffic situation, that I will describe later. Why having a beautiful and green park, if you can’t enjoy sitting there because of the awful traffic noises 😉 At least the parks are all maintained very well.
Another indiction is the news from 2015, that Lima wants to invest $110 Million in Green Infrastructure And Climate Adaptation. This sounds reasonable for Lima, which is the world’s second-largest desert city after Cairo. In another very interesting source I read, that Lima is returning to nature by diverting one percent of water fees to restore Andean forests, grasslands and wetlands that provide critical ‘ecosystem services’ such as regulation of water flows. If I will ever return to Lima, I will be very curious how green the city will look like.
Fourth reason to live in Lima: Nightlife of the Kings
You remember, that Lima is the city of kings as I introduced earlier? Good! I would like to enhance, that you can also live the nightlife of a king in Lima. In no other city than Lima I had so much fun and different activities to do. New York might be the city, that never sleeps. But Life should be awarded then as the city, that always celebrates parties. You can go out every night, there is always something to do.
I could show a lot of party pictures to embarrass me and many other people, but I better shouldn’t do that 🙂
But it’s supposed to be at least a semi-serious article with the approach of quality insight reports. Whenever there is something to celebrate like concerts, festivals, football or national holidays, you can be sure that hell will break lose in Lima and everywhere around. One good example to give an indication about the party mood in Lima are the following videos:
What you can see here was what happened on 29th of May in 2018. It was nothing more than a Tuesday night, maybe 10pm. The national football team of Peru defeated Scotland with 2:0 in a FRIENDLY MATCH. It wasn’t an official tournament match or anything comparable. But still reason enough for the people to make party after the match for hours in the city.
And that was ‘only’ football. What anarchistic parties will happen during the Peruvian national day? I can only imagine…
Fifth reason to live in Lima: There are beaches everywhere
Lima is a coastal city. If Coastal cities don’t have cliffs, they usually have beaches. Lima has maaaaany beaches as well. Lima’s beaches, located along the northern and southern ends of the city, are heavily visited during the summer. No wonder in a city of 12,000,000 people. Eventually you have to share your space on a summer Sunday with someone from the city.
In Lima city and near to the metropolitan city, you will find numerous resorts and beaches on the banks of the Pacific Ocean. Although a perfect holiday doesn’t symbolize for me the beach itself, it can’t harm to visit each month for a day or two the local beaches and swallow some sunshine. And you should cherish the good weather in Lima during the summer months of November till April, because starting from mid of May until October the climate will change the whole city to a grey and gloomy area.
The Peruvian coastline is equipped with challenging Pacific waves all year long. In the coast of Lima, great surf beaches are Punta Rocas, site of one World Qualifying Series surfing tournament and the beach of Pico Alto, whose waves are compared to those in Hawaii. The coast area is characterized to be rather desertic, some of them with sand, and others of stones.
I wrote one article about Playa Herradura…
and one about Playa El Silencio…
which should give you a great impression about a lovely and funny day at the beaches in Lima.
First reason to leave Lima: The labour situation is awful
It doesn’t matter, how hard you try. It doesn’t matter, how good you are qualified. And it doesn’t matter, how much work experience you already have. In Lima, employees have a very hard time to find a job. Although the country has since many years an increasing prosperity and an economic recovery, the job situation isn’t really good in Peru, even worse in Lima. Regardless that in Latin America and the Caribbean the Unemployment rate is for 3rd consecutive year expected to drop, the situation in Lima looks terrible. Finding available jobs for highly qualified foreigners in Peru’s capital continues to be a tricky matter, as 8.1 percent of people in Lima are currently without employment per the latest figures from the country’s National Statistics Institute (INEI). This is the highest rate of unemployment registered in the city since March of 2012.
Especially for a foreigner like me it was very difficult to find a job. Many Peruvians told me exactly the same what I was describing before in the first paragraph. No matter how hard you try or how good you are, Everything works with connections. And of course a foreigner like me doesn’t really have a lot of good connections to a new city he wants to live in. The few who I have tried to help me, but didn’t succeed with their efforts. There are soooooo many companies who are looking for international employees with work experience and who are able to speak multiple languages, but no one is willing to help with the working visa or sponsor it. An absurd situation, that I will never be able to understand!
Second reason to leave Lima: The traffic situation in Lima is terrible
Wherever you want to go in Lima, which neighborhood or part of the city, be advised that it will take ages to arrive and you should start to go on midday when you are expected for dinner. Yes, Lima is a very big city with a lot of habitants as described in the introduction. But the traffic situation is one of the poorest of the world. Lima grows year by year of population and everyone wants to have a car. Streets are because of that more than congested and during the busy times such as morning and evening rush hours, it is terrible to be in need of going to another point of the city.
Did you know Lima has 15 times more taxi’s than NYC? I know, that it sounds weird, but during my six months in Lima I didn’t witness any single accident. This is not because of the good and talented driving style of the drivers. All streets are so badly congested, that there is almost no movement and with a lower speed cars make less accidents. Sounds crazy, because I saw many damaged and scratched cars during my time in Lima, but still didn’t see an accident myself.
What you can see on the following video is Ovalo Higuereta, one of the main traffic junctions of Lima. I recorded this video from the low angle shot at 5pm – Hence BEFORE the rush hour in the evening after work.
Now you should imagine, that during the real traffic chaos between 6pm – 8pm the situation is even worse. Can you imagine that? There is already a traffic rotary with five lanes, but still it is completely congested. You can see busses as well in the video. They were sometimes so overfilled of passengers, that the rear axle of the vehicle was abrading the street and damaging it.
Generally, people from Lima don’t obey the traffic laws, that’s why you hear almost everywhere in the streets sirens. Whether police, firefighters or ambulances are driving to an operation or not, they are abusing there sirens in the hope of having an advantage in the traffic situation. Unfortunately the drivers don’t grant additional space for the emergency vehicles to drive through. Drivers in Lima use their horns for every possible situation in traffic: For Turn signals, to cross a street, to insult other car drivers, etc. Pure chaos!
The following video is from 2014. So everything you see there is 100% from Lima, but you should regard, that the situation is now four years later worse than in 2014:
The only alternative to rapidly go to another neighborhood is the Metro system they have. Although it is a double rail, there are currently only two lines that connects different parts of the city. I only could find one semi-good map of the metro system of Lima:
So only the pink and violet lines are active, all others are under construction or just a project. Here, it is very easy to say, that the government overslept to react on time to the growth of the city. Because of this omission, it will take many years to solve the problems of the past. but then they still are not ready for the future, because the city will continue to grow and new challenges will appear.
A usual situation at the metro of Lima looks like the following:
All Peruvian craziness in one single video. And this is nothing special, but ‘only’ a scene during a Saturday afternoon.
Third reason to leave Lima: Corruption
A real balanced, equilibrated and progressed society shines because of one important factor: equal opportunities for everyone. Unfortunately this isn’t the case in a lot of examples I encountered in Peru. One of my first days in January 2017 I was recognized something, that I didn’t see before in my life. An exhibited corruption of a governmental institution to its civilians. I was ordering an Uber driver to pick me up and drive me home at night. At a red traffic light, he stopped duly. This can be seen already as something special, because literally no one follows the traffic rules in Lima. Regardless, if it is a pedestrian, biker or car driver. But apparently he stopped the car as wide as a finger beyond the stop bar. One traffic cop who was lurking across the street at the other side saw this and came to the car. After a few minutes of discussion and threatening the Uber driver with losing his license for his offense, the police cop ‘offered’ to solve this without an official fine, if the driver would pay him 20 Soles (more or less $6.15). All efforts of the driver to avoid a payment because of this ridiculous misdemeanor didn’t help: He had only the option to pay this amount to the corrupt cop or to lose his drivers license. So he had to swallow the bitter pill and paid the cop more than the recent price for his taxi services to me. I felt very bad for him!
Corruptions exists everywhere in the world. Some countries Peru ranks in the Corruption Perception Index 2016 from Transparency International on rank number 101 of 176 which is pretty bad. Only Venezuela and Paraguay have in South America a higher corruption than Peru. For a country, that wants to be modern, civilized and progressive it needs more anti-corruption measures. The Peruvian president needed to resign in March as well because of a corruption-related matter. A very interesting article can be read here.
Fourth reason to leave Lima: It’s the least authentic Peruvian city in Peru
Before I came for the first time to Lima in 2014, I didn’t know anything about the country except Machu Picchu and Lamas. Both things you will find far outside of Lima. Amongst many other things, that are Peruvian and you would generally expect from Lima to offer you.
One example is carnival. I expected from a religious country something like a cultivation of customs and traditions regarding their catholic festivities. And actually they do, You will find a lot of customs and traditions with authentic suits, dances and music – Outside of Lima. What I found in Lima during carnival was the following situation you can see in the video:
Does that have anything to do with carnival? I don’t think so, but I lost a good pair of jeans and a shirt in this colorful mayhem.
This is not the only moment, when I was missing a distinctive Peruvian spirit in Lima. Same happened during Easter weekend. Or Whitsuntide. Or even the national holiday. Everywhere else the Peruvians in other cities are celebrating these special occasions with their own style. In Lima they do not celebrate it at all.
I’m not sure, why this is the case. Is Lima maybe regarding its population too hybrid of all Peruvian origins to be distinctive? Same happens when you mix all colors together: At the end you will have a hue of grey.
And making a perfect transition, grey is the typical color of Lima as it will be introduced to you in my last of the five reasons.
Fifth reason to leave Lima: Lima la gris
Although it is a coastal city AND located in the desert, the most of the year the weather is really shitty. From May to September, the climate changes for the whole metropolitan area of Lima from good to bad. During the winter months, the whole city will be shrouded in a grey and depressive mood. Dark rainy clouds are coming from the seaside and cover the whole sky. There won’t be any sunlight or a light blue sky for up to five months. ‘Lima la gris’ is nothing more than a nickname for the city that means ‘Lima the grey (one)’.
As a Northern European citizen I am used to face hard and relentless winters with a lot of cold and snow. Although you might freeze a lot during European winter months, you never get depressive, because you see at least sunshine or a blue sky for some hours of the day. And falling snow gives you as well some rare opportunities, like building a snowman or a snowball fight or pissing the name of your girlfriend in the white mass.
But in Lima, the winter makes you really depressive. Fortunately, it doesn’t get really cold, maybe around 10 – 15 degrees celsius. Still, a normal day in Lima during the winter months looks like the following:
That’s all, folks! No more Lima for me. I am heading to another destination. Where? Stay updated and subscribe to my newsletter to never miss an update and be always informed about my latest articles!