Larcomar is an open air mall in the Miraflores district of Lima, taking its name from its location on Avenida Jose Larco near to the Pacific Ocean. Italian-born Jose Larco settled in Peru in 1838 as a poor sugar-cane farmer but grew wealthy enough to found the city's Italian Hospital, as well as a bank.
Lima – Been There

Turning over a new leaf in Peru

Photo by Kike del Olmo

Lima – Been There Turning over a new leaf in Peru

It has been just ten minutes since I jumped into a taxi at the Jorge Chavez International Airport to begin winding through the streets of Lima but I can already see that the city is much cleaner and more orderly than when I last left it 13 years ago

Kike del Olmo
Kike del Olmo Travel Photographer

Along the edges of the wide Elmer Faucett Avenue are small areas green with plants and trees that offer relief from the fumes of the thick traffic that does seem to have resisted change. The “micros” (small public buses) that traverse the city also continue with their double duty of connecting the "Hormiguero" (anthill) of downtown and maintaining the chaos on which they subsist. Thousands of these micros, privately owned, constitute the capital’s public transportation network. They rent their routes and compete with each other as if it were an authentic race. The faster they go and the more riders they collect, the more they earn. “The micro’s days are numbered,” my taxi driver says. “They’re reorganizing everything.” However, I heard the same thing when I called Lima home for three years, back when I was working as a photojournalist for the newspaper, El Comercio.

And I can see the “Datero” is still at work, one of the strangest professions I have ever seen, created from the chaos that is the micro network. Their job is to make careful note of all the micros that drive by, and the time, passing on this information to the drivers so they know to accelerate or go slower, depending on whether their competition is near or far. The Datero is a symbol of the mentality of the Limeño, or native of Lima. Here people have little expectations of the government. They just try to get by on their own, to get ahead without help. They even have a verb for it – “recursearse” – the rough translation being “to rely on your own resources,” or “to find your own way.”

Herman Melville, author of Moby Dick, passed though Lima in 1843 and in his book called it the city “without tears, the strangest and saddest city that you could ever see.” The city without tears refers to the fact that it never rains, given its geography. Besides that, Lima is infused with a melancholy light, a perennial white veil that makes seeing the sun nearly impossible all year round. It is a strange city, filled with controversies, with nuances and a Peruvian syncretism that has turned it into a microcosm of the country itself, even as it seems to turn its back on the rest of the country.

In 1990, Peru was bankrupt, and abandoned by the international community for refusing to pay its debts. Inflation was suffocating all sectors of society. Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was the catalyst for big economic changes in the country, applying neo-liberal policies, which he in turn railed against during his campaigns for power. During his mandate, the leader of the Shining Path guerilla movement, Abimael Guzman, was jailed, and the terrorist movement was nearly quashed. Now Fujimori is in the same jail as Guzman, both sentenced for crimes against humanity – that is, against the same people, the mountain folk who were caught in the crossfire and used by both sides in the conflict.

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Its sheltering cliffs have long made popular the beach at Lima's bohemian district of Barranco and it is also noted for its surfing. The district also holds MAC, Lima's contemporary art museum, and the colonial art collection of the historic Museo Pedro de Osma. Photo by Kike del Olmo

Kike del Olmo

Kike del Olmo

Nikon D800

Aperture
ƒ/4.5
Exposure
1/1250
ISO
200
Focal
70 mm

Its sheltering cliffs have long made popular the beach at Lima's bohemian district of Barranco and it is also noted for its surfing. The district also holds MAC, Lima's contemporary art museum, and the colonial art collection of the historic Museo Pedro de Osma.

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