I walked over to the hill today and took a hike up. I wasn't expecting much, 409 meters not being a big deal. I did find myself stumped though, by a policeman when I asked for directions to the road through the barrio. He told me that it is very dangerous in there, and that I "have many years."I was puzzled because I wondered if he meant I look to old to take care of muggers or if he thought I'd have a heart attack. I hope I laughed it off, but whatever, I kept on going.
I was a good long way up when I encountered a rather large lady who panicked when she saw me, telling me that I would be robbed for my bag if I didn't take a taxi up. She said, "You are very old." OK, that's hard to mistake. So I kept on walking to prove her wrong. That lasted till I was too close to an on-coming contraption made of a motorcycle and a car axle, a local taxi of some sort. The driver stopped and told me it was too dangerous to walk up, which I assumed is a con all the taxi drivers tell tourists. But I decided it might as well give him a dollar and let him take me up rather than listen to how dangerous was my walk. I'm glad I did that. I found Jose to be a load of fun to talk to and interesting in his views of Lima, a kid who lives in a shack on the hillside.
It's a nice place in many ways. It gets cold at night and not too warm in the day time, so today I paid about $12.00 for an alpaca sweater, and I had to exchange it because I wanted one of a different colour from what I first had, and the next one was, as I noticed in looking it over, not an alpaca sweater at all but one almost the same from the back room, this one in polyester. No deal, so I made the girl take it back and get me one I wanted. It feels beautiful. People here are nice, but one must pay attention to things anyway.
I did about 300 meters on foot, and next time, now that I know the whole route I'll go on my own. I went up this time with Jose and we looked over the city. I grabbed a shot of the cross just because and then shocked the lad by confessing that I am not a Catholic. He looked pretty puzzled when I told him I'm a Protestant, but he was pleased that even though I'm not Catholic I must not be a devil worshipper with so many crosses on my hat. forget about me being an atheist: Jose drove me down the hill in his contraption. I told Jose I am deeply impressed by the view. I was. Scared shitless. Much of the road is way too narrow and the drop is 408 meters till one hits the dirt.
No, it's not straight down at all. But from the edge it looks close enough.
I ended the daylight hours wandering through Rimac District by the river, and in time came across a crowd of close to 100 people watching silently as six motorcycle cops manhandled a petty criminal, the latter in handcuffs, a three inch gash down the side of his eye where a cop had hit him with a baton.
Yes, I am getting old, and I got this way by being careful in rough places, and more than that by being really lucky. I might have gotten lucky taking photos of the police and the criminal, but I hope you will excuse me for being careful instead. There is much to see here, and I hope in time to amass enough good shots of Peru to make visiting here worth your while. But I don't think I'm going to provoke the police here. Birds? Yeah, I can do that. I'll see about finding some meat to rot in the sun so I might have a chance of getting a shot of a condor up close. For now it's dinner time. More next time from Lima.
And more is from the far side of town: I was five or six miles out when I turned and saw the hilltop clearly for the first time. The curlicue on the hillside is a design ubiquitous in Peru these days, a "P" and the rest of "Peru." I see locals wearing tee-shirts and carrying bags with this design all over Lima. I assume it echoes on some way the geographs of Nazca. About halfway back from my walk I was able to get this long shot. Click for a blow-up.
About the pink houses on the hillside below Cerro San Cristobal. Who would paint his house pink? This is not Mexico. This is not machismo centro. A few days ago I sat across from a young fellow who looked like he could bend crow bars with his bare hands. Most of the time I can see most colours, and I saw flaming pink when I looked at his shirt. But I can be woefully wrong, as I know from people looking at how I sometimes dress myself. I asked to be sure. Pink. I've seen it a few times now on men who look particularly masculine. Maybe it's economy, maybe a challenge to the world they know most will never accept. I think it's a matter of the locals being pretty calm over all. This is definitely not Mexico, nor anything much like it.