Lima seems to be the urban version of the Amazonian jungle, with its own biodiversity, the sounds and the dangers, its unpredictability, never sleeping – just without rain. Out of Peru’s thirty million inhabitants, ten million live in the capital.
The most touristic and safe district of Lima is Miraflores, where I suggest you to take the guided tour to the pyramid of Huaca Pucllana, a religious center from the 4th century A.D. dedicated to the goddess Mamacocha. About 400 Huacas can be found in downtown Lima today. With nearly every district having been built around the huacas, a weird contrast of old and new architectures in the city has been created.
I’m staying not far from Miraflores, in Lince, and at the ground floor of the building lives a couple of medical doctors from Arequipa. They wanted to show me how to prepare ceviche, the typical dish made from raw fish cured in lime juice. One morning we went to the nearby market to get all the fresh ingredients. I really love markets and during my journey I was always looking for the next one to visit. I helped prepare the ceviche and I was so pleased with the outcome! The marinated fish doesn’t have much taste, but I like the mix of lime juice, garlic, spices and raw onion.
And I’m so glad that I have made these friends in Lima, so that now I can start exploring more of the city. On a Sunday, one of the doctors takes me to visit a place in Mangomarca, in the district of San Juan de Lurigancho. For the past few months her friend, Carlos, started to live his life like “The Man Who Planted Trees” (you should read this book from Jean Giono).
As you get outside the city center, you realize that Lima is surrounded by mountains without any tree or plant; however, it seems that in winter (from June to December) the mist from the ocean allows some vegetation to develop. At the time we first visited, it looked just impossible, it’s all so dry and dusty; this dust is so fine that with every step it gets up in the air.
(Photo courtesy of Greening in Lima) On the slopes of these mountains (cerros), the newcomers with limited financial resources built their houses without any official authorization; the new settlements are called “invasiones”.
We spend the morning digging holes for the new plants and extending the pipes for drip irrigation from a big water tank, not far from the imposing rests of another pyramid, called Huaca Mangomarka. Later on we climb the mountain to bring some water to other plants, growing higher up. The view from up there reveals an interesting landscape: a lot of _invasiones_; an evangelical church surrounded by green; a soccer field with kids playing, and two enormous reservoirs supplying water to greater Lima. Further away, the railway and the Rimac River can be spotted.
After a year, the project Verde para Lima, Vida para Mangomarca (Green for Lima, Life for Mangomarca) has made great progress: I just discovered that it has been awarded by the Yves Rocher Foundation of France!
If you’re in Lima for some time and your green thumb is itching, now you know what to do: just contact Magali Queyranne and Carlos Colonia Bardales. Check out this link for a description of the project in English and more links regarding their work.
You see? Now you have some new friends in Lima, Peru. This is the best way to know a country. Oh, and believe me, plants can also be very good friends!A greening project in Peru was recently awarded by the Yves Rocher Foundation of France. Marking Earth Day 2016, it’s time to get familiar with the project and get your hands dirty.