When visiting a new city, one of our favorite things is hearing the quirky facts about it. It’s the plus of meeting a local or finding a very good walking tour where the guides have a sense of humor. Luckily, our team is one part Peruvian, one part American, so we have the local to share these facts and the foreigner to notice which are weird and worth sharing. Here’s a look at 15 random and endearing things to help you feel like an insider on all quirks Lima!

 

15-Actually-Interesting-Facts-Lima-Peru---The-Borderless-Project

 

1. One of the most popular spots in the city used to be a cat park. While actually called “Parque Kennedy” (after John F. Kennedy, also random), locals knew it as the cat park. This park, often used as a point of reference for the center of Miraflores, is beautifully manicured, nicely-laid-out, and full of hundreds of cats. And everyone loved it. It’s been described to me that it’s “their” park, and the people have chosen to embrace the cats. In 2017, all the cats were taken to a shelter meaning that you will not find cars anymore, still a good memory. (The cat park also offers wifi).

 

Read more: “Foodgasm” In Lima: A Beginner’s Guide to the Best Dishes

 

2. The super-tiny yellow taxis everywhere are not “real” cars. Built for workers to drive around inside large factories in Japan, these have somehow ended up on the streets of Lima, and better yet, as operating taxis charging people money. We take them, but it’s quite clear that they would hold up in an accident similarily to a cereal box.

3. This is one of only three places in the world where Coca-Cola is not the leading soft drink (Scotland and India also have this bragging right). Inca Kola, the neon yellow bubblegum-flavored soda sold on every corner in Lima and the rest of Peru, is the most popular drink in the country and has always been.

4. Ceviche may be the dish of the city, but you can’t have it for dinner- literally. Limeños are obssessed with freshness and the quality of their fish, and like some countries are with bread, it’s only really fresh in the first half of the day. No Peruvian will eat ceviche for dinner, and if you can even find a cevicheria that’s open past the afternoon, it’s either run by foreigners or designed to suck them in.

5. On New Year’s, we wear yellow. Different countries in South America have different colors to wear for luck on the New Year, and in Peru the color is yellow. Yellow hats, leis, underwear- sometimes all yellow outfits! If you’re here for New Year’s, you’ll also see people walking around their neighborhood with empty suitcases at midnight (for a year of travel), and eating 12 grapes when the clock strikes (you get to make a wish for each month as you eat them!)

6. Guinea pig is not a pet for kindergarten classrooms: it’s a popular dish. Cuy, as it’s called here, is from the Andes and much more popular in those regions, but you can still sit down for a guinea pig meal here in the big city. Often served in it’s entirety, it’s reminscent of a pig on the spit. But a guinea pig.

7. The grey sky that sits over the city during the winter has a much more endearing name from locals: the donkey belly. Lima has gotten a reputation for grey skies, a common disappointment to tourists hoping for a “beach city” experience, but it’s hard to hate it as much when you think of it as a giant donkey just standing over the city. And you’re just looking up at his grey belly! (Sweet, right?)

 

Read more: The Best Ceviche in Lima: Local Spots That Are Way Better Than Five Stars

 

8. The pisco sour was invented here (allegedly). The Hotel Bolivar in Centro Lima is famous for having invented the pisco sour, and they’re still selling it just the same. As you travel Peru (and Chile), you’ll have this drink endlessly so you might as well see where it came from!

9. The city was founded on the land of a native chief, Taulichusco. You can even see ruins in the garden of a manor home right off of the city’s main square.

10. Graveyards: aka, places to party. Okay, it sounds disrespectful, but is actually a beautiful tradition. When families visit the graves of the deceased, they bring more than flowers. After laying gifts on the grave, once a year or so many families will bring a cooler of beers and a radio- and get drunk and dance into the night as celebration to the person they’ve lost. This originates from the Andes, but can also been seen in the colorful cemeteries of Lima.

11. This is where trendy healthfood quinoa comes from. Except here, it’s often made into a drink. A hot tea like drink, almost like a drinkable oatmeal. It’s delicious, not weirdly-textured, and it’s the O.G. quinoa experience.

12. Drinking beer with friends means everyone drinks from the same cup. One of many drinking customs that is very weird to foreigners here is that beer glasses are shared. If you’re at a party in Lima, you’ll see that the beer bottle is passed around the circle with one cup. The first guy to start the bottle will pour a shot amount of beer in the cup, serve the girls between him and the next guy (taking turns with the same cup), then he will serve himself, and then pass the bottle and communal glass to the next guy to repeat the process. It’s all about getting friendly! (Also: Beer bubbles are good luck if you capture them and put them in your pocket. You know when you pour beer from a bottle and sometimes a bubble appears on top? If this happens while the bottle is going around a group in Lima, everyone will race to grab it and “put it in their pocket” for good luck!)

13. People drink frog juice, or more, blended frog smoothies. In older certain parts of the city such as the center, people will drink a juice made by blending frogs. It’s believed to have a million medicinal properties, and is the ultimate “health food”.

14. A surprisingly large percentage of the artifacts in Museum Larco are sexual figurines designed by Incans. Spending most of your time designing arcitectural feats must build up a lot of sexual tension, by the looks of it.

15. All dogs wear clothing here, all the time. Not like a sweater on a tiny dog in the snow (there’s no snow here), but sundresses on sunny days, maybe a coat and little booties on cold days, tee-shirts when the weather is in between. Almost every single dog you see on the streets of Lima will be wearing a full outfit, I kid you not. Even some stray dogs have sweaters in the winter. And many dogs can be seen wearing jerseys of the soccer team their owner supports.

 

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