but look closer,
and ever closer, and sadly, the impoverished homes sit in plain sight.
Limas barriadas, or pueblo jovenes, house a staggering 20-30% of the Lima population, many with no running water, subsisting off proceeds from gum which they sell on the street between the stinking piles of rubbish and the mangy dogs.
Many tour companies like to glide through the barriadas on air-conditioned motor coaches, as though they can protect their guests from this sprawling reality. But what a disservice this is to the traveler becuase, in addition to bearing witness to common humanity, there are sights in the shantytowns that will truly make you smile.
Haku tours, for example, will WALK with you through the lanes of shacks. You’ll visit a kindergarten, and a local small factory where some of the slumdwellers work. There’s a local market, a community kitchen, and projects that can draw you in.
Are you wondering where all these poor folks came from? Slums blossomed in the 1940’s as rural Andeans migrated to Lima for education and jobs, then escalated again with the violence of the 1980s. Today, they shelter over 1.6 million bodies.
Wondering how you’d respond to a poverty tour? Take this virtual tour of Lima’s barriadas:
Do you think poverty tours of Lima’s barriadas are helpful (to increase monies for the slums as well as awareness for the travelers) or disrespectful? I’d like to hear. Email me your thoughts here….