Well if Cuzco remains the ancient capital of Peru, Lima is certainly the western capital. Life here is completely different; you have stepped into a completely different world. Tourists not only experience the shock of travelling from Cuzco, but the residents of this nation do too.
First of all, let us not forget the altitude difference between the two cities. Lima is made up of 43 districts, and not all of them are at sea level, however none of them are at 12,000 ft. above it like Cuzco. Simply having enough air in your lungs walking up hill is a blessing of its own. But that is not the most apparent difference. The sheer size of Lima makes up most of this shock; it constitutes half of the entire Peruvian population and is made up of 43 districts, each with its own mayor.
The pace of life is distinctive as well. Cuzco was a walking town; Lima is a bustling metropolis. We are staying in Miraflores, previously a comfy coastal town. Today it is a wealthy, upper class, financial and tourist district in which the president of Peru lives in. Cars run through the streets 24/7, and make sure you know it too. The drivers here are no better than those in Cuzco, with little regard for traffic lanes, although police often serve as traffic signals during rush hours.
Because of all the cars here in Lima, the pace of living in inherently faster. You are no longer heckled in the streets by vendors because people simply drive by them. Attire is much more western also. Gone are the traditional clothing and alpaca chompas. They are replaced with jeans and button down shirts.
Malls in Miraflores are certainly western-appealed. While Cuzco prided itself on its historical roots and sold traditional clothing, Lima’s stores include a variety of American-known brand stores, sold at extremely expensive prices. Wealthy Peruvians pride themselves on being able to afford American-worn clothing, like Americans pride themselves on what types of cars they drive. This aspiration to live like a wealthy westerner was nowhere to be found in Cuzco.
We have only been in Lima for a few days, but the change in culture is certainly palpable, and we hope to experience more of the different districts of Lima to be able to write about it in our blogs more.