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LIMA


INSIDER TIPS


Uber in Lima is efficient but quickly grows expensive. If possible, organise days around a single neighbourhood’s must- sees and -dos; travelling by bus between Barranco, Miraflores and the Centro is nearly always faster than by car.


Peruvians may be a wee bit formal as first-nighters, but when you find a restaurant or tavern you really like, visit more than once. You’ll be a regular before you know it.


must surely inspire. The centre’s exemplary presence trickles into surrounding streets that invite daytime strolls. Here, fresh coats of paint in bold,


compelling graffiti-art depict noteworthy neighbourhood characters and the fierce creatures of a new urban mythology, and, not least of all, residents’ electric-hued demands for dignity and empowerment. You can’t leave unmoved. Weekends mean great live music on the


Casa Fugaz rooſtop, oſten reggaeton or hip hop, at low cost to the general public; tonight, it’s salsa by Mambo Glacial. Even amid the revelry, talk turns to culture. Gil Shavit, Monumental Callao’s founder, is in the crowd, alongside an imposing posse of young musicians and rappers — guys who grew up in nearby, warring barrios but have buried the hatchet for music’s sake and are now collaborating at an on-site recording studio. Talent and a chance at stardom have electrified their relationships. Both the candid Shavit (a self-professed “not- squeaky-clean” veteran of Lima’s high-end real estate racket) and band members (who perform under stage names including Silencio, Jey Army and Salsa) surprise me


Changing perception // “The majority of North Americans visiting Peru … fly direct to Lima, tour Cuzco, visit the ruins and return straight home, not believing that anything else is worth seeing.” Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara


with their spirit and sentimentality. “I don’t care how successful you are,” the founder declares, apropos of life lessons. “You have to have a heart, have to want to change things, have to love.” Fugaz administrative assistant Fabiola Rentería grew up poor, just a few blocks away. She has her share of neighbourhood horror stories but affirms the centre’s influence “taught us to show our dignity and work for our own successes”. Back to the gig: what the headliners


lack in polish (the lead singer is fond of from-the-bottle slugs of rum) they make up for in raw power: some 15 youths blasting horns, drums and rhythm, plus another singer — a master of maracas and hypnotic fancy dance. Fans, friends and visitors come together from all stations. From the roof’s edge, I take in the terrible, fabulous city, in widescreen, from the old Centro to the modern industrial port, Pacific beaches to Callao’s crumbling belle époque. Lima’s perennial fog-veil blurs a million lights, on shore and at sea; candy-pink fireworks explode from an anonymous quarter, no special occasion required.


118


nationalgeographic.co.uk/travel


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