My First Day in Lima
It was 5:55am of June 17, 2016, when I heard a voice coming through the speakers, “This is your captain speaking, please fasten your seatbelt, we are descending, and in half an hour we will be landing on the International Airport of Lima, Peru.” After thirty minutes of descending, the airplane landed, the engines stopped, and everybody was ready to precede to checking.
As soon as I checked out, I walked towards the exit. At the entrance, dozens of people were waiting for their family members and friends. I asked a person if there was a pay phone to make a call, but while I was talking, a taxi-driver approached me. He offered me his phone to call Ena, a friend of one of my friends. She was waiting for me in the airport. After meeting her, we negotiated with the taxi driver the price he will charge to take us to her home, which is located in San Martin de Porres, Lima. After setting the price, the driver grabbed my luggage, and we went to his car.
After a few minutes of driving, I understood the driving style in Lima. As we were waiting at the red light, one driver blew the horn of his car, and suddenly, countless drivers blew their horns as if they were speaking in another language. I looked around to see if there was an emergency or an accident, but everything seemed to be normal. On the way towards home, I looked on the streets, at the cars, the houses, the roads, and the people. The streets and the leaves of the palms trees, which were by the side of the road, were full of dust, and the cars were old. Some of the engines of the cars were making a noise as if they were in a race. We continued for about forty minutes until arrived at the destination. I paid the taxi driver forty-five soles ($13.68), and he left.
Ena lives in a four-story building along with the rest of her family. Her parents are living on the first floor, on the second her brother, on the third a younger brother, and on the fourth she lives with her husband and their two children, Elieli and Lorena. Although I did not sleep the whole night, I did not feel tired. I asked Ena how could I get to the organization called Equipo Peruano de Antropologia Forensa (EPAF), which is located in the district of Magdalena del Mar. Looking at the map, she said that it is going to take at least two and a half hours to get there, but it is better to take a taxi. She referred me to her neighbor, Julian, who is a taxi driver.
Julian is in his mid sixties, fife-feet-two-inches tall, with dark hair and dark eyes. He is driving an old Nissan, color white, built in 1990s. As soon as he began driving, I noticed that the car immediately needs new shock absorbers, new tires, and some painting. On the way towards Magdalena, I could feel every hole and stone that was on the road. When I told Julian that the car needs some repairs, he said (no necesariamente) not necessarily. “The car is rented, and I pay 87 soles ($26.44) per day. It is the job of the owner to make the repairs.”
Then, I noticed something that reminded me of the taxi driver who brought me from the airport. At every stop and red light, Julian blew his horn. I asked him why is blowing the horn although there was no need to do that because there was a red light. He told me “you see, everybody does, I must do this, it is a custom now.” I never asked him again why drivers blew their horns. I began to like it. In fact, when we stopped at the light, I would remind Julian to blow his horn, and he would do it gladly. I consider myself a good driver, but to take the chance and drive in Lima during rush hours I’d have to be either unconscious, or having someone forcing me to drive. Cars, buses, minibuses, tracks, taxi, motto-taxi, bicycles, and people are everywhere. They are coming from every possible side.
On our way towards Magdalena, I asked Julian many questions: what is this building? What does this statute represents? What about this museum? What about the Spanish colony? Who was involved in the conflict between 1980s and 2000s? He gave me explanations about everything. I do not know if he new so much history, or he just made it up, but he pleased me. I enjoy listening to people talking about history and conflicts. After two hours of driving, we arrived at EPAF. I introduced myself to the two people who were there, Gisela and Natalia, we discussed the plans for the following weeks. I left the office after approximately one hour, and we head back to San Martin de Porres. On our way, we stopped at a restaurant, and I invited Julian to have lunch together, although it was almost time for dinner. The road back was not so busy, and we had the chance to visit other sides of San Martin de Porres.
Driving in some areas of San Martin de Porres, and asking Julian questions about people’s lives, I began to understand the difficulties that people face. He told me that people in the district of San Martin de Porres, which is considered poorer compared to other districts, do anything to earn some money. “The poverty is great. It is a daily struggle to survive.”
In fact, he did not have to explain, but I could see it myself. Old and young people were in the street selling anything that had value: fruits, vegetables, suits, clothes, electronics, and other goods. Women and girls were cooking and selling their food in the street. Some of the houses were built on a hill without the permission of the government. A catastrophe can happen at anytime if the ground is shaking. Although many people struggle to survive, I did not see anybody complaining. People were focusing in what they were doing, for which I have respect and admiration. After I paid Julian for his service, I came home exhausted and ready to have some sleep. This brings me to the end of my first day in the beautiful city of Lima.
Posted By Daniel Prelipcian (Peru)
Posted Jun 21st, 2016