Yes, that sounds beautiful. However, in our search for it in this metropolis of 12 million people, we never stumbled across this special flower.

We talked to People in Lima

We met people who only care about little things, like abolishing prostitution or ending drug trafficking, planting a few tomatoes and nettles and building a small library with 30 books and creating a room where children can read and learn and get something to eat during the day when their parents are at work, these people receive death threats.

Lima, the city of twelve million on the Pacific

Cycling the city seems to have no end in sight. For hours we have been jolting our bikes along dusty roads, good and not so good, to reach some of our destinations in the city. The historic centre, the central cemetery, a Lima Makerspace and visited a 3D printing shop. Vendors shout along with the horns of cars, offering juices, newspapers and pastries. A young man leans out of the door, calls out the stations and tries to lure passengers onto his bus.

The honking is a completely superfluous gesture, but well, maybe someone will not only hear it, but someone will react. We at least spend the first few days looking around to see if we are doing something wrong, but soon we are simply joining in this discordant concert with our bicycle bells.

The closer we get to the outskirts, the greyer the streets become, the more unfinished the houses and the more rubbish there is on the outskirts. The odour of rubbish becomes unbearable.

It’s winter down in Lima

14 degrees Celsius, constant coastal fog that no ray of sunlight penetrates, high humidity and a clammy cold that won’t leave your bones. We don’t find it here, the “yellow flower”. The Amancaes flower, a herbaceous plant species from the coastal hills of Peru. It has probably died out there too. It has been too dry in recent years.

We experience the city again. And no, I don’t recommend it to anyone. There are some wonderful cycle routes and on Sundays you can see cyclists in state-of-the-art equipment on their high-tech bikes taking a trip to the coffee shops in Miraflores or Barranco. In the rest of the city, cycling is a life-threatening affair. And there is hardly anything worth putting yourself in danger for.

Beeing a tourist does not feel so welcome

We meet young people and sense their displeasure at the tourists who are only travelling in Miraflores or Barranco and have no idea that this is only a very small part of Lima. A tiny part. They never tire of emphasising that it’s out of reach for the normal inhabitant of the city. For us, the food is half as expensive as in Europe. For a Peruvian, 4 times as expensive as outside the districts. Imagine in Berlin, Prenzlauer Berg, a cappuccino costs 16 EUR, in Oberschöneweide 2 EUR. It’s similar here in Lima.

In the Makerspace, young people have lost hope that they can’t reach young people with their place. People want jobs where they can earn money and at the same time not do any unpleasant dirty manual labour. Maybe not true, but it almost seems as if they are happy to continue with colianism. Strata thinking. And everyone wants to belong to the upper class.

I notice that there are very few smiling people

They try to ignore us in some way. Of course, there are others who rush up to us excitedly and are happy to hear every word of English or even want to have a German conversation. We were really trying to find a little real Lima, real Peru.
Bibliomichi, he is a wonderful person. He made our day 🙂

What’s wrong with this city, with the people?

I am not going to make any political observations here. Time and again, presidents are sent to prison for corruption and/or human rights violations. And of course it’s all about money and power. As always. But when a lady sits in front of me who was elected in a district to take care of the issues and she tells us that machismo, corruption, prostitution and drug dealing are the players and pessimists spoil the mood, but she continues to fight for her son and all the children in her district and remains optimistic and the changes are seen, then I have to talk about it. Not about the big players, but about these “little ones” who are so much bigger than any president. We must never overlook that. They need our support, our recognition.

History of Lima

The history of Lima is an essential part of its present-day character. Founded in 1535 by the Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro, Lima was the centre of the Spanish colonial empire in South America for centuries. This colonial past has left deep traces, both in the architecture and in the social structures of the city. All of this is reflected in the food.

Many cultures came together in this city: the indigenous peoples, the Spanish conquerors and later the African slaves as well as Asian and European immigrants. Lima is not just a city. You can discover a whole world, but you won’t find any of the homogeneity that we so often strive for to make our lives easier in the city. And I can only ask you to take a closer look and not just believe all the contributions that you will find a wonderful city. It is anything but always marvellous.

Come here, but also take a closer look. And you damn politicians who are enriching yourselves with all the different varieties, criminals, drug dealers, you will not create the youth. They will create you. And by listening and supporting them and looking, we give them hope.

Lima is a city full of hope and prospects, especially for young people who are prepared to take on the challenges and utilise the opportunities that the city offers. Through education, cultural participation, entrepreneurial engagement and social movements, young people in Lima can shape a positive future. Lima’s uniqueness, characterised by its history, geography and cultural diversity, is what sets it apart from other cities with millions of inhabitants.

The “Yellow Flower”

I didn’t find the “Yellow Flower”, but who knows, maybe other tourists will find it again. Lima, Peru is not as romantic as the travel catalogues make it out to be. But there is something that is definitely worth travelling to Lima for: art.

Cultural and creative industries: The vibrant arts and culture scene in Lima offers young creatives a platform to showcase their talents and achieve professional success. Events, festivals and art galleries create spaces for cultural exchange and creativity. We don’t have enough time to discover more, but surely a lot will change and you can go on a journey of discovery yourself.

A few tips:

Callao: a harbour town, not really Lima anymore, but easy to get to. And it’s worth it. Here you can see what the people are all about and how they have transformed a dreary district into a culturally fascinating one.  And when you’ve had enough of wandering around, you can visit a free art gallery, the Casa Fugaz. Discover it over 6 floors.

Haku Tours: get a different insight into the country and its people. It’s worth it. And you can find something colorful at least on their markets.

Symbiosis Art & Coworking in Barranco: Looking for a coworking space with artists around you, the best place to go. Also an option for accommodation via airbnb. A fascinating Art Nouveau building with lively rooms.

Machu Picchu: forget it. Research into the Peruvians’ views of this place is devastating. They are fed up with the tourist hype, see the area as completely abused and are disappointed by the displacement of the people who lived there in favour of tourist numbers.


The Cycling Path

And because I know, of course, that the subject of cycle paths in Peru is a hot topic in Germany, here are a few thoughts from me, because of course I know that at least 99.9% have never ridden a bike here in Lima but still believe to know how the cycle paths are doing here and that all the money has disappeared into some corrupt wallet anyway.

So if the German cow is doing badly, it’s certainly not because German taxpayers are spending a few million euros on cycle paths in Peru, but because it has been spending billions on the wrong things for decades. My favourite example is our city palace in Berlin. The reconstruction has cost 683 million so far. But when it comes to prestige objects of the federal government, money obviously doesn’t matter. Does anyone really still believe that there is no corruption in Germany?  Cyclists in Peru are the wrong scapegoat for this.

And if I’ve understood correctly, then it’s a loan? Then someone is making money from it again. And why does help actually stop at our border now? Germany first?

For Lima’s car drivers, we cyclists don’t exist.

Cutting us very close when turning is normal. Pedestrians and cyclists have rights. Zebra crossings adorn the streets, but nobody has yet learnt what they are supposed to be for. And what’s more, people honk their horns. So it’s clear that I should become invisible very quickly.

And I would actually prefer road safety education then providing more cycle lanes. 

Most people are afraid of plunging unprotected into Lima’s chaotic traffic on their bicycles. That’s probably why you don’t see any schoolchildren on bicycles here. During the corona pandemic, things have changed for the better for cyclists: The number of cyclists increased by leaps and bounds; the city set up pop-up bike lanes, painted bike lanes on the road and installed bollards. Some of them have survived corona, others are already being taken over by cars again. We cyclists have to fight for every cycle lane to be preserved. And people can’t do that alone.

Why should Germany in particular pay for the cycle paths in Peru?

Surely it will also benefit the climate – and ultimately all of us – if fewer people drive cars in Peru. And well, we Germans like to travel and we love cycling tours in the cities to explore. So far, this is not a good thing to do in Lima.

I know that sounds strange, but for me as a cyclist there are far more pointless actions that swallow up huge amounts of money.

And well, I will continue to dream of the bright “Yellow Flower” and I am happy about the people in Peru who treat their animals so lovingly 🙂

Some more impressions of our time in the city:

error: Content is protected !!