Story by Catherine Herrity
On arriving in Lima early one morning on our recent trip we were greeted by the welcoming face of Luis Miguel who luckily remained with us through a good chunk of our trip and was more than happy to interpret on our behalf thank goodness, as our command of the Spanish language was not so hot. Luis Miguel was a good companion as neither of us had ever before traveled to South America and along the way we were introduced to others who offered guidance, security and great travel advice.
It took just half a day to shake off the jet lag then it was time to settle down and get stuck in. The shanty towns both in Las Lomas and Los Jardines were something else, people living in such poverty it's hard to comprehend how they exist from day to day, it was glaringly obvious the folk living in this part of Lima were struggling in life either due to abandonment, political upheaval, economic strife or just being born on the wrong side of the tracks, nonetheless always maintaining dignity and a smile on their face.
Michael Murphy and Co. had made tremendous progress in the district of Las Lomas, building a dining area that also doubled up as an entertainment arena, where we were invited to have a dance on the opening day which raised a few giggles! The locals were so proud to show off their new centre piece, there was a real community feel present, making me and my traveling companion very welcome and sharing lunch with us, which was humbling considering how little families have there. Help of any nature will always be appreciated in the district of Las Lomas and the other poorer areas of Lima, making a trip there is an eye opening experience which brings with it an awareness of ones own background and comparative affluence.
If you do intend to visit Michael and see some of the work his charity is carrying out, Peru also has lots to offer on the travel front, beaches, mountains and the jungle so there's something for everyone. Machu Picchu is a fascinating place to visit as is Trujillo and nearby Chan Chan along with the Condors flying down in Arequipa. It's a fascinating country to visit, just leave yourself enough time to fit everything in and brush up on your Spanish.