An Unusual Rest Day In Lima: A Witches’ Market & Paddington The Bear
If you find yourself in Lima, Peru, either as a participant in our South American Epic Cycling Expedition or just on your own, you will likely head out to see the city’s famous sights – the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, the Museo de Arte de Lima and the Plaza de Armas. They are certainly worth a visit but dig a little deeper and you will find some more, rather unusual attractions that are worth checking out.
Mercado de Brujas (Witches’ Market)
This unusual market is situated just outside the Gamarra train station. Once you get past the mediums offering readings and treatments, the vendors selling python skins, the witch doctors, the healers, the snake oil salesmen and the live animal market you will have the opportunity to buy palo santo, dried llama fetus, divination cards, charms, soaps, perfumes, crystals and all sorts of things to ward off evil and to attract good fortune. Or perhaps you would prefer something to drink? How about a potion that is made with a live frog plucked from a fish tank, plus pollen, coca, quail egg, honey, a fruit called noni and agorrobina, a syrup made from the black carob tree? Whatever ails you, the witches’ market is bound to have a folk remedy that claims to cure it.
Bosque el Olivar (Olive Grove Forest)
In 1560, not long after the fall of the Inca Empire, Spaniard Antonio de Rivera sailed from Sevilla, Spain, to Lima, Peru with over 100 olive plants. Only 3 survived the voyage but they thrived in the mild climate and by the time Peru gained independence in 1821, they had grown to over 3,000 trees! During the Peruvian War of Independence (1811-1826), the grove suffered badly, mainly at the hands of some departing Spaniards who chopped down and generally mutilated many of the olive trees. However, many of the trees in the grove, Bosque el Olivar, survived and about 1700 still exist today. It features, in addition to the olive trees, 44 species of trees and more than 20 species of birds, including scarlet flycatchers, blue-gray tanagers and Harris’s hawks. The olives are still harvested and distributed throughout the neighbourhood.
Expreso Virgen de Guadalupe
Wandering aimlessly through Lima’s chaotic streets the smell of coffee might lead you to the Expreso Virgen de Guadalupe, an old rail car now transformed into a cafe, serving delicious coffee and light meals. Built in Britain in the 1870’s the car was used on the Lima to Guadalupe route until the late 1990’s before being auctioned off and transformed into a cafe. It features polished pine and rosewood, elegant stained-glass windows and fin-de-siècle light fixtures. You can also enjoy your java on the adjoining patio and on the weekends there is often live music.
Abtao Submarine Museum
Always wanted to captain a submarine? Well, here is your chance. Hop aboard the BAP Abtao (SS-42) down by the harbour in Lima and give it a shot. The sub was in service with the Peruvian Navy for 48 years before being turned into South America’s first floating museum. There are no stairs and you enter and exit using vertical ladders. A special sound and light system combined with the ability to pull levers, raise periscopes and turn dials and the gentle roll of the harbour waves makes the experience come to life. You can also use the cannon on deck, or simply enjoy the view of the port of Callao from the submarine. Be aware, the tours are in Spanish only.
Paddington Bear of Lima
Not many people know the connection between Paddington Bear and Peru – I sure did not! As we all know, Paddington Bear was found at Paddington railway station in London by the Brown family, sitting on his suitcase with a note attached to his coat that reads “Please look after this bear. Thank you.” What you may not realize is that he arrived there as a stowaway coming from “Darkest Peru”, sent by his Aunt Lucy who had gone to live in the Home for Retired Bears in Lima. In fact, Paddington’s real Peruvian name is Pastuso. Located in Parque Salazar along the Miraflores Boardwalk, looking out over the Bay of Santander, this statue was unveiled in 2015 to commemorate the strong ties between the UK and Peru.
South American Epic
This challenging expedition offers you the best opportunity to explore the vastness and diversity of South America by bike. In keeping with the TDA...