Tell me about Lima, Peru

Ivygirl got a call from her sensei today…she’s going to a judo tournament in Lima, Peru, next month. One of the mothers has been wonderful enough to pay for the flight, so we just need to get the passport and the hotel room and some spending money.

She’s already been told by Sensei she is not going anywhere alone (which she knew) and she’s been alternately crying with happiness and squeeing via IM with her friends.

So, please assure me my 17-year-old daughter (red belt in judo) will be fine in a foreign country like Peru. I know very little about Lima, except that it’s on the coast and the government is a representative democracy.

I just got back from Peru at the start of August- I have an Ask The. . thread about it over in MPSIMS.

As I mention in the thread, we had a 15 hour layover, mid day, in Lima and decided to spend the time exploring their main plaza.

Beautiful, no doubt, but I’ve never felt so unsafe in my life. Aside from the fact that every corner had big, riot shield carrying, gun toting soldier types, there were all kinds of unsavory looking areas and folks. I’m not one of those “OMG ANYWHERE BUT ORANGE COUNTY IS UNSAFE~” types at all either, but something about Lima just freaked us out.

On the way back to the airport, the cab driver did not go the way the guy bringing us had gone. He took us down dark, scary looking streets- slowing down in the middle of the road for no apparent reason. We were certain we were going to get mugged. Scary stuff.

In fairness, nothing happened. Though I did eat some really gross chicken. Yuck.

The San Fransisco Cathedral there (in the Plaza de Armas) has a catacomb underneath that looks SUPER bad ass- I wanted to go but it was closed when we got there. Boo. She should do it so I can live through her.

By contrast, I felt perfectly safe in both Cusco and Aguas Calientes. So, maybe it was just Lima.

If you really want to avoid scaring yourself worse, I’d suggest not reading the government’s travel advisory about Peru. I didn’t think to look at that until after I got back and apparently, I should have been kidnapped by 17 different terror groups on my 8 day trip ;):D.

All that said: best trip of my life. No doubt! Oh and so you know, I’m a 23 year old female, my friend is a 25 year old guy.

Diosa, you’re not helping. :eek:

I’ve been there a few times, although it’s been more than 10 years. Of course, back then they had a terrorist problem (see: Sendero Luminoso and Tupac Amaru - spellings might be off).

I think if she sticks with a group and they use common sense they should be fine. There are a couple of nice parts of town and a lot of security guys. It’s good to see these parts of the world as well.

I’ve been to Lima three times, back about 10 years ago. I would just say that many Latin American cities (and in fact most cities in the developing world) look a lot scarier to someone from the US than they really are. There is less maintenence of infrastructure, and more obvious poverty, so things look more generally run-down than Americans are used to. But that doesn’t mean parts of town that look raggedy to us are terribly unsafe.

Lima is a big, sprawling, dusty city. (It hardly ever rains there, so dust accumulates on everything.) One thing I found that makes it look worse than it actually is is that many buildings are left unfinished. I believe there is a tax one has to pay once a building has been completed, so builders often leave the top floor unfinished indefinitely, with re-bar sticking out, so that they never pay the tax. But there are nice parts of town too, which is generally where I stayed.

I never felt particularly unsafe there, but then I have traveled extensively in Latin America and am used to it. As long as your daughter is with an organized group I personally wouldn’t have too many concerns.

I had no clue that was the reason for all the unfinished buildings and i’m a native Peruvian, ignorance fought.

I have been to Lima, and while I routinely tell adults I know it’s safe to visit, or pass through at any rate.

I don’t believe I could convince myself that it would be okay to send my 17yr old daughter there, unless she was going with me.

I have done a fair bit of traveling in third world countries but Lima was really something else.

I felt safer in Bogota.

If this was a friend of mine, I’d do everything I could to talk her out of letting her child do this thing.

I’m sorry, I know it’s not what you were hoping to hear!

Well, the sensei has already laid down the laws about the travel, so she won’t venture outside the hotel unless she’s with another adult. I guess it will be an experience for her.

She’s going with a group of other teenagers, right? When I had just turned 18, I went with other 17-18 year olds in a student trip to Perú (including Lima). There were chaperones, of course, but our parents were not there. One of the best trips in my life, and cemented my travelling nature.

I give a +1 to what Colibri said.

Lima is huge, not all the places are pedestrian friendly, and while some areas are very nice and upscale, others are more raggedy, dusty, and dirty. There are museums, churches, and ruins to visit within the city. Also as a plus, since it is on the coast, your kid won’t be at risk for altitude sickness.

shrugs I don’t understand elbows comment. From what I understand, your kid won’t be travelling alone, she will be with other similar-aged teens and with one (or more) responsible adults. I don’t think I’d let a 17 year old travel anywhere in the world alone, but I don’t think she’ll be any less safe travelling to Lima than to travel to another big city where nobody speaks her language.

BTW, if you want to know about the political situation in Peru, you may want to check CNN or BBCNews (I opt for the later, more coverage less ads) and see what recent news they have.

I went to Peru with a friend (another girl, the same age as me) for a couple of weeks when I was 18; we spent a couple of nights in Lima. (This was in 2002.) The first night we spent in Miraflores, which is the only place anyone has ever tried to steal my wallet in broad daylight (after 6 months in some of the dodgier parts of Ecuador’s dodgier cities), and the second night we stayed at some hostel in the middle of town - I forget the name, it had a great rooftop garden. I found Miraflores a bit sterile (thieves notwithstanding), but the centre of Lima was great. I agree with those who suggest that it might look worse than it is, I had had a few months to get used to poverty and dirty towns, and I remember Lima as both, just not overly so compared to a lot of the other places I’d stayed. We walked around town, as two obviously foreign young women, and had no problems, bar the omnipresent hissing and hassle all women deal with in South American countries - I think your daughter will be fine, particularly since she’s going with a group of people, and she will have adults with her to help deal with any minor issues that may crop up.

Some unasked for, and probably obvious, advice:
[li]Don’t take credit cards or large amounts of money or passports, out to dinner or sightseeing or anything [/li][li]I’d leave any expensive jewellery back at home[/li][li]Try to be aware of where your wallet and camera are, if you’re taking them out, and where people are in relation to them[/li][li]Don’t get distracted by anything a random stranger says to you. No matter what it is - in your daughter’s situation, it’s almost certain to be either something she can’t help with (given that she’s young and there on a short trip), a story to get her to buy something, or a story to distract her while someone pickpockets her… [/li][/ul]

(The guy who tried to steal my wallet distracted us by asking if we’d seen his little boy, who’d got lost just a couple of minutes ago, while his friend picked up my wallet from where I’d had it out to pay the bill - it was only chance I saw him out of the corner of my eye and got it back.)

I think it’s a great opportunity for your daughter, and I wish her the best of luck in the tournament!

Does she need to worry about Montezuma’s Revenge?

Sorry, my daughter has ordered me to correct her rank…she’s an* orange belt*, not a red belt.

Mr. GilaB and I found Lima pretty dull when we were there last year for a couple of days. While the only time I felt unsafe was on the taxi ride back to the airport (our cabbie went tearing at high speeds around sharp corners through bad neighborhoods, then let us off at the ‘unofficial cabbie’ drop spot near a man who actively scared us), there wasn’t much for us to do. The only cool thing was the Parque Reserva, a giant fountain park. Go at night, when they’re beautifully lit up, and bring a change of clothes if you’d like to try to get to the center of the one made of concentric circles that bounce up and down in time to music, occasionally pausing for a half-second.

The tap water in Lima is - if its like the water in Ecuador - probably not a good idea to drink unless you’ve actually watched it being boiled for, what, ten minutes or so? She should drink bottled water (sealed bottled water) and avoid ice in drinks - it may be being a bit over-cautious, but on a short trip, it’s not worth running the risk of ruining any of it, IMHO. And particularly if she’s got to compete, the last thing you want to be worrying about is being ill!

(The grammar in that last post is appalling. My apologies. Posting before coffee after very little sleep is a bad idea.)

Yes, although I’m fairly certain Montezuma was never anywhere near there. Maybe Pizarro’s curse? I got the worst stomach ailment of my entire life there, and I was on a company expense account, ate at only fairly nice places. On the plus side, nothing since has ever made me violently sick from eating / drinking the water - and I’ve been to and lived in some fairly dodgy places since. It did not kill me (just) and did make me much stronger. Still, no fun at all.

I didn’t get sick, but I only drank when we went to the restaurants or where at the hotels.

We spent a day or so in Lima last year on the way to and from Machu Picchu, as neophyte foreign travellers. If you’re fine with your daughter going on a chaperoned trip to, say, New York City, then I think you’d be fine with your daughter going on a chaperoned trip to Lima.

The only thing I found a bit unsettling was navigating the airport-to-cab-to-hotel trip. However, good hotels will send someone to pick you up at the airport, and presumably your daughter’s Sensei will be handing that part of it.

I assume your daughter will be staying in one of the better parts of Lima–Miraflores, probably–in which case I don’t think safety should be any more of a concern than it would be in NYC. We walked around after dark without a problem.

A few things you might consider: 1) Trip insurance is relatively cheap. It’s doubtful she’d ever need it, but at the very least having coverage for medical issues and the like would give you some peace of mind. 2) Probably the worst-case scenario that could happen to your daughter would be to have her passport and money stolen. Make sure she’s aware of where she keeps her wallet and that it’s inaccessible to pickpockets, and have her bring a copy of her passport just in case. 3) She could also get a stomach bug. Many hotels and restaurants catering to foreigners provide filtered water, but she might want to bring her own filter or iodine anyway. Make sure she knows how to use it; she might also want to visit a travel clinic and get a prescription for Cipro to bring along.

Other than that, she’ll be fine.

I have spent some time in Peru, specifically in Lima and I want to add; Lima is a place, I would say with a high level of opportunistic theft

-Google the location of the American embassy in Lima just in case her passport gets stolen and also memorize the phone number.

-Carry documents and money in your front pockets, not in bags or backpacks.
-Preferable do not carry anything in your hands when you go for a walk.

-You can probably leave your documents in the hotel’s safe since it is not necessary to carry them all the time.

-Use a reliable taxi company for transportation rather than stopping cars on the street. The hotel can suggest one.

-With some common sense, your daughter and valuables will be safe.

-The food is very good, but it is almost impossible not to get some stomach problems even if you eat only at good places. Stick with bottled soda or juices.

Hope this will help.