Lima is a very satisfying place for the tourist. Large, at eight million in habitants, it nonetheless manages to stay relatively uncrowded, clean and efficient as a major capital city. More of a modern European flavor. And contrary to popular belief, the food is good here too...and that's high on this foodie's list.....
I started my day at the Inka Palace, one of many huge artisan markets on Avenida Petit Thouars. My goal was to find comparable products to those I am here work on in the high Altiplano village of Chijnaya, north of Puno and Juliaca. So I started out wandering in this meandering market of millions of pieces of primarily woven/knitted goods, and then segued on to the higher end shops to see what the local really creative producers have taught the artisans to do.
If you are ever on a folk art hunt in Lima, here is a good hand-picked tour. Actually, it would be a perfect trip for the IFAM in Santa Fe! I was able to do it in one day, two would be more relaxing, or better, in three! ....First on the list: Dedalo is housed in an large old remodeled home a block from the beach in Barranco; rooms and rooms of fascinating museum-quality contemporary art and folk art, with a lovely coffee shop and gardens in the rear. (Paseo Sáenz Peña 295, Barranco.) Discovered some very cool purses and pillows that might offer some inspiration to our artisans. Then raced over to Indigo,(Av. El Bosque #260, in San Isidro) for more in a similar vein, many of the same artists, and way too pricey. Wonderful neighborhood, old remodeled home, more for the idle rich and the ladies who lunch. So. Off to Kuntur Huasi, established decades ago by a North American man and his Peruvian wife. (Ocharan #182, in front of the Sol de Oro Hotel. Miraflores, I think.) This was up my alley. I was able to TALK shop with Ms. Davis, and DO shop at the same time. Lovely store, with reasonable packing and shipping on site. They specialize in pottery, with great ceramic bulls from Quinua. New and old large ceramics, wonderfully designed baby alpaca sweaters (they use the first shearing of the youngest alpacas for these) that actually fit. Lovely store. I then raced back to Barranco to see the jewel in the crown of folk art stores: Las Pallas, run for years by British ex-pat Mari Solari. The house is itself the jewel, there is an unerring choice of color combinations, and here one can find the best of the best. Quite remarkable. Remarkable prices as well! This would be a good place to actually begin one's search, to see educate yourself in the best the country can produce, rather like the Folk At Museum in Mexico City. De todo un poco.
After all that, I raced back to where I began, and after running through about 6 rather similar large artisan 'malls', I returned to the Inka Palace, to finalize a purchase of some natural dyed 'bayeta' fabric for our artisans. I also made contact with the National Artisans committee and PromPeru's ('prom' from from 'promotions,' not the annual high school dance event...) artisanry contact person in Cuzco, where I will be going today, for better raw materials at better prices for our products.
Lest I forget....Barranco is my favorite place in Lima. It's an old neighborhood, with refurbished 19th century mansions and gracious homes, now inhabited by and large by the artists and poets of the city. Best food, bars and sights. Great exterior colors on the homes. It's south of uber -modern, spendy Miraflores (you have no idea that you are actually in Peru). I instinctively followed a group of hungry French tourists into La Fonda de los Suspiros (Av. Pedro de Osma #102) You know you are in for something good when there are three different kinds of forks on a white brocade tablecloth.... They suggested Pescado a la Chorrillana, the freshest of poached bass, topped with a freshly made Peruvian ahi sauce consisting of two kinds of onions, two kinds of red and yellow peppers, a bit of spice, and roasted tomatoes in a white wine sauce. Veggies steamed to perfections with a bit of butter therafter, and double-cooked potatoes, first boiled, and then quickly deep fried, not greasy just tasty and crisp. Nice Chilean white wine. Great filtered coffee (esp. after my Nescafe for breakfast), all for around $14. Very atmospheric and lovely, near the library. The waiter insisted on taking my picture, which I include!