The best mirror Lima has to reflect its past is the old colonial mansions. In recent years, many have been restored but others lie in ruin, begging for someone to return them to their former glory.
Mariano is a good friend, a designer, who was living in New York until a few years ago. Now he shares one such huge old house with his family and two other guests. “This is exactly why I came back: the way of life,” he says as we share a beer on the patio. “I learned a lot in New York but my life is easier here. I have time to enjoy my little daughter and keep working.”
Mario Testino, Peru’s most renowned photographer, has turned another into a museum called El Mate that displays his work as well as that of other artists from his private collection. In its various rooms, there are photographs in different formats. None are framed in the traditional manner. The colors embrace me and draw me into the images. Sure, it is a museum, but primarily it is a colonial mansion whose structure has not changed and the art feels like part of the furniture.
I sit down in one room and forget about the grey sky waiting outside. It is a pleasure, after so many years, to be able to enjoy great art here and I am inspired to head over to the Museum of Contemporary Art (Mac), also in Barranco, only to find that it is closed between exhibitions. Instead, I meet up with my friends Catherine and Luis Miguel. She is from the United States, he is Peruvian and we hook up at a trendy cocktail bar.
“These days people go out more, you can tell they’ve got more money,” says Luis Miguel. “In addition, since there is now more to do people go to different places. Plus with the economy on fire there are a lot more foreigners.”
Traditionally friends would get together at each other’s houses, bringing food and drink to share, but the new generation wants more nightlife and the number of venues has grown exponentially. To end the evening I order a pisco sour, Lima’s traditional drink, made of fresh but strong grape brandy mixed with bitter lime. Peru even has a public holiday in honor of the drink.
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