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Our First Day: Lima, Peru

Monday, October 07, 2013

I promise I won't give you a full account of each day in Peru! But this first day was so special. Tomorrow I'll blog on the hike.

Because of our weird arrival time, we arrived in Lima the day before everyone else in our group. So before we left the US I found a day tour that we were interested in. If you ever want to research a tour or good restaurant in a city you've never been to, I really suggest checking out . We've always had good experiences with anything we've done that was recommended on that site!

Anyway, a local tour group, Haku Tours, had absolutely stellar ratings, and their most popular excursion was touring one of the Shantytowns. I made arrangements by email, and we were ready to go!

A driver met us at our airport hotel and took us 30 miles into Lima to meet the guide and the other 3 participants on the tour.

First, the market. Wouldn't you LOVE to have such an array of fresh fruits available? We got to taste some of them. Delish!

And how about vegetables, peppers, and homemade sauces?

The fresh produce was everywhere!

How about beans, peas, and seeds? Did you know Quinoa originated in Peru?

OK, yuck! These chickens were butchered that morning, but I still can't see myself doing anything more than taking my chicken out of the package!

Lots and lots and lots of markets like this, not only in Peru, but in China, Vietnam, Cambodia and probably every third world country:

So off to Shantytown. Lima has 10 million people and two million of them live in Shantytowns.

This is our guide, Omar. Guides in Peru must have FIVE YEARS of college.

The higher the home, the poorer the residents (complete opposite of the US). So being on the top of this hill in Shantytown makes these people very, very poor indeed. Of course none of them have cars and must walk several miles to the nearest bus stop.

We start to walk around, and the children come running! These steps? They are new within the last 10 years. Before the stairs, people just trudged up the hills.

Shacks next to brick houses. Everyone makes their home out of whatever they can afford or salvage. Neighbors help neighbors.

In the course making arrangements for the tour via email, I asked if we could bring candy for the children. I was told it wasn't a good idea because of non-existent oral hygiene. I was so ashamed not to have thought of that! Talk about being well-meaning but wrong-headed. The woman suggested we bring toothbrushes and toothpaste. TC didn't want to give out toothbrushes so we compromised on colored pencils. Omar bought fruit in the market to pass out. No wonder the kids come running!

Of course, the more stuff we gave out, the more children showed up! It was definitely an effective communication system, whatever it was! This is me and my "no more pencils" shrug. We gave out over 50.

One little boy gave TC a full body hug and said something in Spanish. Omar translated, "He says you remind him of his grandfather, who recently died." It was so touching! I wish I had a picture of that.

Omar, as well as a few accompanying mothers, made sure that the children all said "thank you" and shook our hands. They were great about taking pictures. I don't know who enjoyed it more, the children or us!

One of the neat things about this tour company, Haku Tours, is that they have PERMISSION from the community leaders of Shantytown to bring in small groups. As Omar said, "You don't come as a tourist, you are invited as a friend." It was an attitude we were to see over and over again in Peru.

In return for allowing people to visit, part of the tour money is used to fund community projects. Omar was very proud of this preschool that the company bought the materials to build, and which was built by the local people. The preschool allows mothers to work.

And here's the latest project, a dining hall, where children can get breakfast and a hot lunch.

These buildings were points of pride in this very large, but very poor community.

And I also can't resist telling you that Peru has free health care. FOR EVERYONE! No screaming about it bankrupting the country. If you have money, you can pay for your own doctors and health care, the best that money can buy. But if you are poor, you still are covered by the government.

Food for thought, isn't it?

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
LETHA_ 11/16/2013 10:57AM

    Great photos. Thanks for sharing.

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MAZACK 10/17/2013 11:47AM

    Thanks for sharing, it is a reminder of just how much we should appreciate what we have and so many take for granted

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MARMAERT 10/9/2013 12:42AM

    What great pictures! And those kids looked so happy with their colored pencils! We need to have our own American kids see this kind of life to appreciate what they have so much of. It's good that they have health care, especially for the children. Love your pictures!

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SLIMMERJESSE 10/9/2013 12:05AM


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CM_GARDNER78 10/9/2013 12:01AM

    I LOVE your pictures!! Thank you for sharing the beginning of your trip - I can't wait to see more! :-) Lots of interesting things I would have never thought of myself! :-) Thank you!!!

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AJDOVER1 10/8/2013 7:30PM

    Thank you so much!
You are so blessed to be able to do such amazing things and I'm so blessed that you share what you see.

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CLOVER2 10/8/2013 3:00PM

  How amazing. And I thank you so much for taking time to help me in "crisis". Oh my, it does put things into perspective, doesn't it?
What an incredible place to be, thank you so very much for sharing this with us. And please, please continue! This is most likely as close as I will ever come to seeing such places. Have a grand time.

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BUTTERFLY-1976 10/8/2013 10:51AM

    emoticon Thanks for sharing

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NANCY- 10/8/2013 8:37AM

    What a wonderful attitude "don't come as a tourist, you are invited as a friend."
Thank you for sharing this experience with us. It opened my heart and mind. I cannot wait to hear more about your trip.

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IMREITE 10/8/2013 1:01AM

    I was in Costa Rica years ago on a lay mission trip. we brought things for the people and volunteered at one of the old age homes. It is amazing to see how people can survive in that massive amount of poverty . every little bit helps . Most people dont have refrideraters so they cant store meats so they generally do freshly butcher then when they are ready to eat it. Becasue of the climate they do tend to have a lot od fresh produce and unspoiled natural areas.

Enjoy the rest of your trip.

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SUGAR0814 10/7/2013 10:24PM

    Thank you for sharing!

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CINDYSDAY 10/7/2013 9:11PM

    thank you for sharing!

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PERFECTVELVET 10/7/2013 8:10PM

    That was a really interesting story. I thought it was interesting that tour guides had to have five years of college! What an amazing adventure for you. How touching that you brought pencils for the kids!

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MYTHMYTH 10/7/2013 7:59PM

    thanks so much for sharing the photos!!! You seem to have captured the spirit of the people who are living htere - not just the scenery!

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WATERMELLEN 10/7/2013 7:40PM

    Wonderful pictures -- I love to think of those coloured pencils being put to good use!!

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MEADSBAY 10/7/2013 7:11PM

    Thnx for sharing.
I love learning about the world.

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ANNETTE117 10/7/2013 5:19PM

    Wow, that was an exciting first day! I can't wait to hear about the hike.

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