Miraflores High Life

An image-heavy post for the champagne of Lima.

My weekdays may be filled with snips and snails and puppy-dog tails, but it’s not all work and no play for us volunteers in Lima.  One of our favorite areas to explore and indulge is Miraflores, an upscale district on the coast of Lima.

Miraflores is well-groomed and tourist-friendly.  There are walking and jogging paths, fountains, statues, parks, cafes, bars, theaters, shops, surfers, paragliders, skaters, and more.  It’s a sharp contrast to my working week in Villa El Salvador, but I don’t judge Miraflores for its touristic pleasantries.  There is still a wealth of quirky charms within this district worth discovering.

Strolling toward the beach from the cliff top

Miraflores sits on a cliff top overlooking the ocean, and the walk down to the water is a beautiful one.  The steps are steep and uneven in parts, but flanked by dripping green foliage and palm trees.  After making our way down to the beach on our first weekend in Lima, we were met by “Surfer Johnny,” an overly animated surfing instructor with blonde-tipped hair and a curious hint of California in his accent.  He (somewhat convincingly) told us that we just had to come and take surfing lessons with him.  I took his card, much to the amusement of my fellow walk-mates, although I haven’t called him for lessons.  Yet.

A beach snapshot

Back up on the clifftop, there is a modern shopping mall called Larcomar which is frequented by gringos and Peruvians with dollars (or rather, soles) to burn.  There is a Chili’s to my dismay, but also a few nice cafes and restaurants with ocean views worth enjoying.

A view of the coast from Larcomar Mall on a cloudy afternoon

A park next to Larcomar Mall overlooking the coast

Ensalada Peruana: potatoes, corn, avocado, olives, cheese, yum.

Down the street in commercial Miraflores, Parque Kennedy provides a small triangular patch of green amid a McDonalds, department stores, and lots of bars and restaurants.  Fellow volunteer and roommate Romana invited me to join her for a walk in the park to visit the many cats that live there.  Apparently they were once pets abandoned by owners who could no longer care for them (although I also heard a contrary story that there was a mouse/rat infestation problem in this part of town, and the cats were the creative solution).  Now, you can find dozens of friendly, seemingly healthy kitties roaming the park and willing to play at all times.  And yes, I am aware that this brings me one step closer to being the creepy cat lady.

A sleeping cat in Parque Kennedy. One of many.

When the sun sets in Lima, the fun doesn’t stop (at least until the sun comes back up again).  On my first Friday night here, I ventured out with the other young ladies of the house (and the lone gentleman) to meet a Limeña friend of a friend of said gentleman for a night out on the town.  On our way, our cab was stopped dead by throngs of chanting people.  We’d forgotten to calculate a futbol game into our plans.  Perú had beaten Paraguay in the Copa America, and Miraflores was buzzing and pounding and honking in celebration.  We abandoned the futile taxi cab and stood on the sidewalk watching the happy mayhem.  Within a few minutes, a microphone was shoved at my face.

“Where are you from?!” someone yelled.

“Uhh… Los Estados Unidos?!”

“Estados Unidos!!  Yeaa!  Take this and jump!”  A giant Peruvian flag was pushed into our hands and we began hopping and somewhat timidly chanting, “Perú! Perú!” in front of what we realized was a news crew and camera.  Our first Peruvian TV debut took less than a week, and we could not have looked more awkward if we’d tried.

Volunteers having fun!

A week later in Miraflores, I found crowds of a different sort.  Instead of cheering for futbol, they were chanting for… The Biebs.  Yes, I’m afraid it’s true.  Resistance is futile.  Justin Bieber is everywhere.  Hoards of young women were camping out, waiting on the prospect of his arrival at the Marriott, without much certainty as to when (or if at all) he would get there.  Every time any car pulled up, the crowd roared for some confused businessman or tourist, and then died down in disappointment when they realized it was not a seventeen year-old boy with side-bangs and waxed eyebrows.

La Fiebre de... Biebre?

Such is Miraflores.  It’s fun, it’s touristy, sometimes it’s cliche, but it’s a piece of Lima that I can’t overlook.  As long as it keeps rewarding me with memorable experiences, I’ll keep visiting.

11 comments

  1. I enjoyed your article on Miraflores. I stayed there when I was in Lima and found it to be the most pleasant part of the city. Nice pics too. I look forward to reading more.

  2. Kay Capstack

    I’m not a cat person, but I do love that picture with the kittie laying in the wildflowers…maybe something we could frame for your Mom 🙂
    Love the blog, glad you are doing well and making friends.
    Can’t wait to see you surfing LBI next summer!
    Auntie Kay

    • Oh I am sure my mom would love that! Thank you for reading, Kay. I miss you and Mike and Keri and Patrick…. And if that is an invitation to mooch at your beach house next summer, then heck yes, I will surf!

  3. You look incredibly happy, Meg. It comes through in your photos. Also, I detect a mild sense of guilt at enjoying what you describe as the high life of Miraflores? This kind of lifestyle and work is chock full of contradictions — embrace them, ask questions, and let your heart find its way to the answers. Sometimes a heart wants a pisco sour and a walk through a neighborhood of expensive jeans.

    • There is some guilt, Roxanne. Not quite enough to stop me from enjoying my pisco, but enough to make me ask the difficult questions. I’m comforted by the fact that I feel some amount of guilt, or at least awareness of the disparities, but I’m still unsure how to react to it.

  4. Kathy Rose

    Hi Meegwat! It’s so nice to keep up with you while on your travels and to actually see that you have already become quite successfull at mixing volunteering along with enjoying the sights! You look happy and adjusted, and I must admit that it is comforting to see you’ve surrounded yourself with other young women with whom you can share your Peruvian journey. Keep the blogs coming so we can be sure Meegwat is well! Remember, be safe and smart always! Adios for now…Mama Kathy Rose

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