January 15, 2014
Mira Flores, Peru.
Different people pace a cruise in different ways. Some people just get off the ship for a little while to shop at the market near the wharf or take the shuttle Holland America offers to someplace in town, see a little, go back to the ship to enjoy what the ship has to offer. Others book lots of tours and go off to see museums, ruins and other sights in an organized way. Some people seem to get off the ship only to find an internet café. During our three days in Lima we mostly explored on our own after taking an introductory tour. I am sure we missed several big museums or other important sights, but we traded that for experience, like yesterday getting lost in Lima and finding all the different streets specializing in selling different things. We experienced local radio while riding on buses and cabs.
One station, Radio Magic, has the positioning statement “Discos del Oro.” Golden Discs. It plays English language oldies and is the type of station you no longer find in major US markets, with a playlist ranging from Sinatra to Santana with a lot of Beatles. It was in one cab and a couple of busses. It’s an old fashioned station, song, announcement, promo, commercial, announcement, song. There are no music sets and no long stop sets of commercials. It was kind of nostalgic to hear that type of radio. In one cab the driver was playing a station with hot Peruvian Salsa. At a stoplight the woman driving in the next car was seat dancing while waiting for the light. The car was bouncing with her and her hands were making the most expressive moves. She turned to see me in the cab next to her bopping with the music and I got the greatest smile before the light changed.
Holland America provides shuttles in many of the ports. In Manta it was to the town square where locals set up a market and passengers could wander a little. In Lima it was a shuttle to Mira Flores (translated as “look at the flowers.”) We went there yesterday on our wanders by cab and bus and today we decided to take the Holland America shuttle for a second look. It is the type of neighborhood where many of our USAID colleagues would live, shopping malls, modern apartments, internet cafes, restaurants and Starbucks. This section has nice hotels, galleries and other amenities. It would be a very comfortable place to live. It was founded as a summer community on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific and always has a cool breeze. Lima grew into Mira Flores and now it is an upscale and trendy neighborhood of the larger city.
The community has its own pre-Inca ruins, a native crafts market, a pier that looks like Brighton, England back in its heyday, paragliding and a marvelous sea walk along the cliffs. Passengers could easily take the shuttle into Mira Flores each of the three days we were here, do some shopping, have some Peruvian food, do some Internet surfing and have a nice experience.
They could also do some real surfing if they wanted, or watch the surfers who do. If you go to Mira Flores you will hear about the Peruvian Surfing Champion, Sofía Mulánovich, who has won many international competitions. We spent our time in Mira Flores eating Peruvian food in a cliff-side restaurant looking out over the pacific, strolling along the sea walk a couple of times, once at sunset, and watching the surfers. At one point this afternoon we heard a bugle playing “taps.” The bugler was in the front of a row boat just beyond the breakers. Two other rowboats were with it and a number of surfers were bobbing around the boats on their boards. Suzi wondered if this was the scattering of ashes of someone in the waves. If so it seemed like a nice sendoff.
For me the most interesting place in Mira Flores was Parque del Amor, Lover’s Park. It is on the cliffs over-looking the surfers. The centerpiece is a red sandstone sculpture of a couple kissing, “el Beso.” The park was the idea of poet Antonio Cilloniz, who thought that there were too many parks dedicated to war heroes and not enough to lovers. Mira Flores took him up on the idea and commissioned Victor Delfin to create the park. The statue is the centerpiece, and sits on black marble pedestal center stage area of an amphitheater. Surrounding it are mosaics set into wavy half walls and benches which form nooks for cuddling or stealing a kiss. The mosaics have quotes about love, some by Cilloniz himself. The mosaics were styled after mosaics by Gaudi in Barcelona. Bright plantings of flowers complete the mood. The park was dedicated in 1993 on Valentine’s Day. Every year on February 14 Mira Flores stages a kissing contest where the contestants stand around the statue, their fans cheering them on from the amphitheater, to see who can hold a kiss the longest. I the record, I think, is around 4 hours. We saw a bridal couple having their pictures snapped while others enjoyed the view of the surfers while drinking smoothies sold at the mosaicked smoothie stand.
We are now back on board and I will post this when I can get internet service again.