The Urbanist’s Lima: Talking Points

Who’s Who
A dossier of local headline grabbers.

Photo: Sally Peterson

Kina Malpartida
The daughter of an English supermodel and a Peruvian national surfing champion has ushered in a new era of boxing as the current WBA super-featherweight champion, often using her publicity to campaign for poor and underprivileged children.

Photo: Reuters/Corbis

Antauro Humala
First Brother
Peru’s Billy Carter, President Humala’s brother is serving nineteen years for attempting to ignite a rebellion against former president Alejandro Toledo in 2005. Embarrassingly for the president, Antauro was caught smoking pot behind bars and has been accused of bribing guards for special iPhone privileges.

Photo: GDA via AP Images

Bernardo Roca Rey
Culinary Guru
Roca Rey is a father of New Andean cuisine, a force behind the annual food festival Mistura (one of the most important in Latin America), and an inspiration to some 80,000 youths currently enrolled in Peruvian culinary schools. In his role as president of gastronomic society APEGA, he’s also a leading proponent of seafood bans.

Photo: AP Photo

Joran Van der Sloot
Convicted Murderer
The Dutchman is serving 28 years in a local prison for the slaying of prominent Limeña Stephany Flores, and waiting to travel to the United States to face extortion charges in the Natalee Holloway saga. He’s amassed a strange cult following among local girls, receiving bags of fan mail, marriage proposals, and baby-making propositions.

Photo: Quim Llenas/Getty Images

Jaime Bayly
Author and Talk-Show Host
The best-selling novelist, political commentator, bisexual, open adulterer, onetime presidential candidate, and Letterman devotee had his nightly talk show canceled in a highly publicized rift with TV network Frecuencia Latina. Now he does his Chávez bashing on Miami-based Mega TV.

The Local Tongue

Most Peruvians speak Castilian Spanish, though Andean Quechua words and slang often slip into the mainstream vocabulary. Commit these to memory:

Asado: angry or irritated.
Asu mare: wow.
Bacán: cool.
Brichera: a Peruvian with a thing for gringos.
Chamba: work or job.
Chato: short person.
Chela: beer.
Cheleando: drinking beer.
Chibolo: teenager.
Chibolero: a man who dates much younger women.
Coco: U.S. dollar.
Concha: female genitalia.
Doble filo: bisexual.
Flaca: skinny girl.
Gua gua: baby.
Grifo: gas station.
Guachimán: security guard.
La gente nice: rich people.
Mosca: a fly, or street-smart.
Nabo: male genitalia (also: turnip).
Pata: friend or buddy.
Perucho: a Peruvian.
Poner los cuernos: to cheat on one’s partner.
Porfis: please.
Tranqui: stay calm.

How to Get Around
One of Lima’s biggest headaches is its hellacious round-the-clock traffic. A $300 million public bus system was implemented in 2010, but unregulated taxis and combi vans continue to clog the streets and pollute the air. Here, everything you need to know to navigate the aboveground mêlée.

Cost: 1.50 soles (U.S. 58 cents) for a one-way, single-ride ticket.
Area of coverage: Chorrillos to the south, Los Olivos to the north.
Rider experience: A fast, functional, easy-to-learn network with dedicated lanes and secure stations.
Drawbacks: Too few lines, and the stations are not always within walking distance.

Cost: 2 to 30 soles, on average (U.S. 77 cents to $11.50).
Area of coverage: For the right price, anywhere.
Rider experience: Quarters are cramped (many taxis are tiny Daewoo Ticos), drivers are chatty (though not in English), and tips are not expected.
Drawbacks: Negotiating a price before stepping in is a must, and hailing street cabs can be risky, especially for women traveling alone. The safest bets are usually airport and hotel taxis—just expect to pay more.

Cost: 0.50 to 3 soles (U.S. 19 cents to $1.15)
Area of coverage: Everywhere.
Rider experience: Up to 40 locals stuffed into a midsize van that stops at seemingly every corner to pick up ever more passengers.
Drawbacks: Crowded, uncomfortable, dirty, slow, and dangerous. For intrepid travelers only.

The Urbanist’s Lima: Talking Points