I’m currently heading out of the Peruvian capital of Lima, towards Nazca. I thought it would be good to jot down a few cultural differences and similarities I’ve noticed so far.
There is poverty and there is wealth, in the same city, even on the same streets. In the UK, Europe and Australia, and possibly other western countries too, you get street beggars, just wrapped in a blanket with a cap or a cup for money,sometimes with a dog. In Lima I’ve noticed some street beggars presenting a dying relative, with a placard explaining the illness. One that really stood out to me, that I was quite shocked at, was a mother, standing with a placard that said ‘mi hijo es un vegetal’…’my son is a vegetable’. Next to her, in a chair, sat her son, tubes coming out of his nose, and indeed looking quite ill. Apparently it’s not uncommon for mothers like her to sedate her son and fake his illness, just for money.
In places like Rome and Paris, it is common for locals to sell counterfeit goods illegally on the street. Un Lima, there is a plethora of streetsellers, probably not selling counterfeit goods, but selling illegally nonetheless. The police do try to move them on, but as there are so many, it is impossible to move them all on.
Children will sometimes be standing with these streetsellers, helping them. Often though, children are sent into restaurants and to approach people in the street to sell them sweets. Child labour at work.
In the same area, Lima has a Starbucks, a KFC, and a multitude of adverts for large companies such as Deloitte, PWC and Bayer Bayer, to me a few. That is westernisation, or globalisation, at its finest. The thing I was most shocked about was the Starbucks. Although it is still the same overpriced corporation here as it is everywhere else in the world.
One more thing I’ve noticed too is the horrendous driving. Sure there are zebra crossings and traffic lights, but drivers ignore the zebra crossings so it is somewhat difficult to know when to cross. Be cautious, is all I can say.
On a similar note, taxi drivers, ever eager for a passenger, are constantly beeping at you as you walk down the street shout ‘taxi?’ out the window. Its just business to them, and a competitive one at that. Not just for taxi drivers, but for street sellers and beggars too.
Its a different world here, but one with too many western similarities. Later this week I will get to experience some Peruvian traditions, which I expect are far from the western norm.