Culture

Interesting Lima Facts That You Didn’t Know About

Everyone knows that Peru is famous for Machu Picchu, mouth-watering food, and llamas but did you know that Lima is one of the most interesting capital cities in Latin America? If you didn’t here are some interesting Lima facts that you might enjoy reading about…

1. It’s the 3rd largest desert capital in the world.

View of the Sechura Desert Sand Dunes
Credit: Sechura Desert. Digital Image. Cultura Colectiva. October 31, 2017.

With its 10.4M people, Lima is the 3rd largest city in the desert after Cairo, Egypt (19.6M) and Karachi, Pakistan (18.1M).

2. Riding waves is 2,000-year old tradition.

 Surfers riding waves at the Pico Alto beach
Credit: Pico Alto. Digital Image. Viaja Perú. October 17, 2017.

While Hawaii is indisputably the surf capital of the world, there has been proof found that surf was first recorded in ancient Peru (even before the Incas). Researchers claim that this activity could go back as far as 5,000 years when the indigenous people of the Peruvian coast used this method for fishing.

3. Lima is the 5th largest city in Latin America.

Air view of the Lima coastline
Credit: Coast Line. Digital Image. New Peruvian. August 4, 2017.

After Sao Paulo (21.7M), Mexico City (21.4M), Buenos Aires (15.6M), and Rio de Janeiro (13.1M).

4. There are 25,000 bodies in the catacombs below the Monastery of San Francisco.

View of the Catacombs of the Monastery of San Francisco
Credit: Catacombs. Digital Image. Nihaowang. September 30, 2008.

Also in the monastery’s library, there are 25,000 books including the 1st dictionary published by the Royal Spanish Academy in the 1700s.

5. Paddington Bear is Peruvian.

Still Image of Paddington Bear's movie
Credit: Paddington. Digital Image. Variety. March 3, 2015.

His real name is Pastuso but he changed to Paddington when he arrived in London as no one could understand it.

6. (Literal) Frog juice is a popular beverage.

Image of the Titicaca Water Frog
Credit: Flickr @Brad Wilson

Many believe that this juice made from Titicaca water frog has medicinal properties.

7. You can’t have ceviche for dinner.

Image of Peruvian Ceviche
Credit: Ceviche. Digital Image. Peru Hop. March 13, 2017.

Because it’s raw fish they prefer to eat it freshly caught, that’s why almost none of the restaurants in Lima serves it after 3:00 PM.

8. It never rains.

Image of Fog Catchers at the top the Peruvian mountains
Credit: Fog Catchers. Digital Image. Creating Water Foundation. September 19, 2016.

This natural phenomenon happens because rain clouds (cumulonimbus) can’t fully form due to the hot wind currents that pass over the city. The way they collect water is by using “Fog Catchers”, which are nets that help take the humidity out the fog.

9. It’s one of the only 3 places in the world where Coca-Cola is not the leading soda brand.

Image of Inca Kola products
Credit: Inca Kola. Digital Image. Navalwiki.

The other 2 being India and Scotland. In Lima, the soft-drink of choice is the bright yellow Inca Kola (now owned worldwide by Coca-Cola, except in Peru).

10. Guinea Pigs are a local delicacy.

Image of several guinea pigs
Credit: Cuy. Digital Image. Navalwiki.

We may be accustomed to seeing these cute little furry fellow as classrooms pets but in Lima they’re called Cuy, they’re a traditional dish from Los Andes that’s gaining popularity due to its savory taste and high nutritious value.

11. Lima has the fastest growing tourism in Latin America.

Image of tourist at Punta Hermosa beach
Credit: Lima Beaches. Digital Image. Destinia.

Growing 15.2% yearly, it’s the 3rd Top Destination City in Latin America after Punta Cana and Mexico City.

12. There are 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Lima region.

Air view of the Sacred City of Caral

Credit: Caral. Digital Image. Peru.com. March 19, 2017.

Peru is the 4th Latin American country with more Heritage Sites. Out of the 12 sites they have, 2 can be found in Lima: Lima’s Historic Center and the Sacred City of Caral (the most ancient city of the Americas).

13. Black vultures can be seen everywhere.

Black Vultures (Gallinazos) resting on a roof in Lima
Credit: Flickr @Bernhard WK

These birds are called Gallinazos and they’re the official bird of the city. They’re respected because as scavenger birds they have helped clean the city and avoid the creation of hygiene-related diseases throughout the centuries.

14. There are over 300 Pre-columbian relics all over town.

Image of Huaca Pucllana
Credit: Huaca Pucllana. Digital Image. El Universal. August 22, 2015.

These relics or ceremonial sanctuaries are called “Huacas“. Some of the most important ones are Pucllana, Huallamarca. and Mateo Salado.

15. Lima has the biggest Chinese community in Latin America.

Image of the dragon dance in capón street
Credit: Calle Capón. Digital Image. Erasmusu. April 18, 2016.

There are over 1 million Chinese people in Peru, from which 200,000 live in Lima.

16. It once was a walled city.

View of Parque de la Muralla
Credit: Parque de la Muralla. Digital Image. El Comercio. September 23, 2015.

The city walls were built by the end of the 1600s to protect it from foreign attacks. Most of it was teared down during the 1800s as the city needed to expand.

17. Peru has the 2nd largest silver production in the world.

Image of silver bars and coins
Credit: Plata. Digital Image. Minería Perú.

Lima, alongside Áncash and Junín extract over 55% of the country’s silver.

18. Capillita del Puente is the smallest church in the world.

Street view of Capillita del Puente
Credit: Chapel. Digital Image. Medium. July 4, 2016.

It’s believed to be the smallest church in the world and it was built in the 1600s. The chapel is 16 ft wide, 32 ft tall, and 39 ft long.

19. Parque de la Reserva is the public park with more fountains in the world.

Night view of the lit fountains on Parque de la Reserva
Credit: Circuíto Mágico del Agua. Digital Image. La República. January 7, 2015.

With it’s 13 interactive fountains, Parque de la Reserva earned itself a Guinness World Record.

20. Most of the year the sky is grey.

Air view of Lima's foggy coastline
Credit: Lima Beaches. Digital Image. Destinia.

This constant fog is caused by the low temperatures in the water and the high temperatures in the air.

Here’s Why Chicago Should Be On Everyone’s List Of Must-Visit Cities

Culture

Here’s Why Chicago Should Be On Everyone’s List Of Must-Visit Cities

noorhalii / Twitter

If you don’t have Chicago on your bucket list, you’re sleeping on the vibrant metropolis.

The city has an enviable lakefront that runs 18.5 miles along the city skyline, a museum campus (and a number of other art and educational institutions nearby) that you could visit for years and still find something new, and dining options that run the gamut from Michelin-starred to hole-in-the-wall mom and pop shops. 

If that’s not enough to get your there, this might be:

For $2.25, you can take the CTA train into the city.

Credit: boje.gardel / Instagram

Whether you’re flying into O’Hare or Midway, each airport offers a direct route into downtown Chicago. From there, you can easily transfer to any of the other train lines, buses or Metra (servicing the suburbs) to get where you’re going and oftentimes, get downtown just as fast as driving. Save yourself the headache of traffic and trying to find your rideshare—as well as cash—by taking the train into the city. Once you’re there, hop into a cab or transfer like a local.

Speakeasies and Cocktail Bars Aren’t Just a Fad

Credit: erikmarthaler / Instagram

They’re a historical part of the city. In 1921, the bar now known as The Green Door Tavern opened as a restaurant. Over the years, the restaurant was sold and renamed the Green Door Tavern. During prohibition, a green door would let people know that they could find a speakeasy inside. According to the Green Door Tavern’s website, many of the original fixtures found at the bar are from the 1920s. It’s easy to get caught up in the history of the first floor, but if you keep walking towards the back, and take the steps into the basement—you’ll find a woman with an iPad next to a bookshelf. Leave your name, head back upstairs and wait for The Drifter to call you. Once IDs are checked (again) you’ll find yourself in a tiny room that feels like you’ve stepped into an old-timey circus. Tarot cards are used as drink menus, you can play drink roulette by selecting a $10 fortune cookie that contains your drink order and every hour a different performer takes the stage. It’s easy to imagine one of Al Capone’s cronies posted at the bar grabbing a drink between jobs.

But The Drifter isn’t the only speakeasy worth visiting. In Wicker Park, The Violet Hour, considered the birthplace of artisan cocktails in Chicago, is worth the wait. Just be sure to follow the house rules.

Comedians Are Made in The Second City

Credit: bougiestl / Instagram

Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mike Meyers, Steve Carrell, Chris Farley, John Candy and most of the funniest names in entertainment came out of world-renowned The Second City, a comedy club, theater and school of improvisation.

To date, it has not produced a Latinx show on its mainstage (a disappointing trend in entertainment). However, actress/producer Vanessa Garcia is working to change that with “La Carne Asada 2: The Seasoning,” performed inside the venue’s Judy’s Beat Lounge. The sketch show for Latinos by Latinos is performed mostly in Spanish with deeply Latino characters and tropes. It sold-out its summer show dates and recently added new fall dates.

Garcia was inspired to write a sequel to last year’s sold-out run of La Carne Asada after a conversation that implied that Latinx content was not headlining stage material. With that in mind, the show is a statement about quality Latinx-centric and minority-centric content being as entertaining, engaging and mainstream as any headline show.

It’s a Magical Place—No Really, Magicians Are As Common As Bartenders

Credit: themagicparlour / Instagram

In a profile piece on magicians for Chicago, Kevin writes about how the art of magic is taught mostly from books, and Midwest Magic in the suburbs is one of the largest magic shops in the world. It’s no wonder there’s been an uptick in magic-themed venues and entertainment. For an intimate, upscale experience head to the Magic Parlour at the Palmer House Hilton. In one of the gilded rooms, you’ll see close-hand magic performed by Dennis Watkins.

To see several acts in one place, head north to the Magic Lounge. The entrance is marked by a sign that reads ‘laundromat.’ Walk inside and start enjoying your night with a drink at the bar where a raised platform features a magician while you wait for your show to begin. Once ushered into the seated venue, various magicians will rove the aisles to keep guests entertained before the start of the first act.

Latino fans will get a kick out of Luis Carreon. The award-winning magician peppers his act with jokes that riff on Mexican culture.

It’s A Sports Fan’s Dream

Credit: andchv_ / Instagram

Between the Cubs and Sox (MLB) rivalry, Bears (NFL), Bulls (an NBA franchise synonymous with Michael Jordan and six league titles), the Sky (WNBA) and three recent titles between the Blackhawks (NHL), sports are an integral part of the city’s DNA—and that’s just the professional teams found within the city limits. Head to the suburbs if you want to see the Red Stars (MLS) play. It’s worth the drive considering four members of the Women’s World Cup Championship team play for the local league. The Chicago Fire, the men’s team, also plays at the same venue.

Even if you prefer a different type of entertainment, you’re not really experiencing the city if you don’t have some kind of sports encounter. Worst case scenario, you can eat really well since all the stadiums have local dining options in-stadium—like Big Star at the United Center where the Bulls and Hawks play— which is also across the street from the Cubs’ Wrigley Field.

READ: A New Incubator Is Opening Up In Chicago’s ‘La Villita’ And Will Embrace The Neighborhood’s Mexican Heritage

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

Culture

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

ThatGayGringo / Instagram

Puerto Vallarta is one of the favorite Mexican tourist destinations of the LGBT community. There are hotels, bars, nightclubs, beaches, and even drinks specifically for LGBT travelers, and due to the safety and welcoming environment for these guests, it is the first city in Mexico to receive the Gay Travel Approved distinction by GayTravel.com.

But why PV? What made Vallarta Mexico’s top gay destination?

Let’s start back at the beginning.

Credit: thatgaygringo / Instagram

In the south of Puerto Vallarta you will find the “Old Town,” also called “The Romantic Zone,” the tourist area favored by expats and foreigners who want to soak up local traditions. The Old Puerto Vallarta is also considered the gay neighborhood since 1980, when the gay community and retired Canadians and Americans bought land and properties in order to create gay-friendly businesses. Today there’s a wide variety of attractions with this focus, including bars, restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and both budget and boutique hotels.

In this zone is nestled the popular beach Playa de los Muertos, which, although not exclusively gay, for the last 20 years has been known as a gay-friendly beach (also called Blue Chairs, because of the many blue chairs placed by a gay resort which bears the same name), mainly in the high season, from November to March.

Why is this pristine beach the LBGT meeting point? Because the gay-friendly beachfront hotels in the area causes—and guarantees—a concentration of LGBT tourists, bringing a multicultural ambience where members of this community will be respected without discrimination. In the morning they can socialize and enjoy the party atmosphere, and in the afternoon walk holding hands under the dazzling sunset, in a romantic atmosphere free of hostility. Such is the high demand for LGBT-friendly vacation spots that the area has been extended to include the green chairs and as far as the north coast, in the elegant Oceano Sapphire Beach Club, owned by gays.

But it’s about more than just the beach.

Credit: David Stanley / Flickr

Unlike certain countries, laws against homosexuality never existed in Mexico. There is, however, a strong macho culture and religious influence which disapproves it—nonetheless the locals show respect. Under these circumstances, the growing community has led LGBT organizations to work to promote a change of culture in the pursuit of equality. Their work has gotten results: they have achieved recognition of gay rights, and implemented laws against the provocation and incitement of hate or violence against LGBTs, and also to guarantee equality in employment and public accomodation and services. Even more, in 2013 Puerto Vallarta legalized civil union between LGBT couples, followed by same-sex marriage in 2016.

This city organized its first Gay Pride March, and has hosted the Pink & Proud Women’s Party—the equivalent lesbian celebration—for the last four years, with assistance from the local Canadian and American communities. The multiple events in support of the LGBT community have marked out Puerto Vallarta as the “Mexican San Francisco.”

Now, there’s a giant and flourishing LGBTQ tourism industry that welcomes people from around the world.

Credit: Kristopher Roller / Unsplash

For the last 10 years, the number of LGBT visitors has increased in Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, and in order to meet demand, the number of LGBT-friendly resorts and touristic attractions has also increased. Now three of every 10 hotels in Puerto Vallarta are LGBT-friendly, and most also offer weddings and other symbolic ceremonies.

Bars, nightclubs and other amenities are already focused on this market, and there are also tours—like the Gay VIP Bars Tour—and even drinks—like the Gay Tequila and the Gay Energy Drink—to make these guests feel extra welcome. As a result, Puerto Vallarta now hosts International LGBT Business Expos, with important conferences and events, including fashions shows, beach parties and music festivals to celebrate this booming market.

Puerto Vallarta remains the gateway to Mexico for many LGBTQ travelers.

Credit: kwhigam / Flickr

Some other cities have recognized the demand, and are now attempting to attract LGBT tourism to their destinations. Puerto Vallarta is not letting it happen: diverse businesses—no matter the sexual preference—are joining forces to create organizations to promote this targeted brand of tourism. The market gives consumers what they want, and they have identified this growing target and will not let it go.

Beyond the marketing, Puerto Vallarta became a platform to support gay rights, and the LGBT community knows it and feels welcome here. What really keeps the LGBT community hitting Puerto Vallarta is the activism, respect, and freedom they find in this beautiful paradise.