Lima: Socio-Economic Disparity

The Barranco district is only 1 out of the 43 districts of Lima. In the 19th century, it was a fashionable beach resort for the Limeño arostocracy who spent many summers here and in the neighboring Chorrillos neighborhood. Today it is considered one of the most bohemian neighborhoods and is the workshop to many artists, designers, and musicians.

The area, along with Miraflores, also happens to be one of the most expensive districts to live in, averaging about 300 soles a month in rent when the average minimum wage earns only earns about 850 soles a month. (We are talking about $100 USD and $280 USD respectively.

My favorite part was walking along the Bajada de los Baños, a walkway that leads to the sea that was naturally formed by erosion via water runoff. It was lined with unique and colorful street murals from a variety of artists that have to submit applications for approval to execute their visions.

We then walked along the cliffs to discuss the economic disparity between districts like Miraflores and Barranco versus the other 41. The mayors invest the taxes to improve the common areas (I.e parks, cleanliness, and safety) and overly improve the atmosphere of the neighborhood, choices that make them such highly prized zip codes. They also pay for the netting along the cliffs to prevent rock falls from injuring the people driving on the highway below; they are the only two cliffside areas that have done this.

After that, we u-turned to walk over the Bajada via the Internet Puente de los Sospiros. As a group we took a breath and tried to hold it while walking across. The superstition is that if you can do this while thinking of a wish, it will come true. I ended up having to run across the bridge twice for a successful attempt! (I forgot to think about a wish on my crossing the first time lol, and ended up doing three in total, because I failed when we did it as a group).

We stuck around to finish our evening at the Ayahuasca Bar where I had a flight of Pisco Sours and Tom had to help me out since Pisco typically has minimum alcohol content of 40%!

Travel: American Nobility

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I have decided that Prague is seductive. It teases you with old medieval charm that whispers of knights in armor, damsels in distress, ancient architecture, and of course, unhygienic conditions, shorter life spans, and social hierarchies.

For obvious reasons, I ended up extending my stay by two days for the following destinations that spoke to me of family and tradition.

I ventured in to explore the private art and history collection of the Lobkowicz Family, who holds several estates in Prague, but far less than they did a mere century ago, and the loss of this land did not occur as you might think. (Once again, No picture policy)

The Lobkowicz name spans over seven centuries of nobility; it is one of the oldest and most distinguished surnames of Bohemia. Many have held high titles or been inducted into prestigious organizations (i.e. Princes of the Holy Roman Empire, High Chancellor, Dukes of Sagan/Roudnice, and Knights of the Order of the Golden Fleece.) Their adamant support of the arts resonates at a groundbreaking magnitude even today.

Fast-forward six centuries. At the end of WWI, the young Prince Maximilian Lobkowicz was a progressive; His political background allowed him to wholeheartedly provide support for the newly democratic Czech Republic. As such, he adamantly opposed the rise of Hitler in Nazi Germany; this resulted in his name being placed on an arrest list. Fortunately, due to the deviousness of his wife, who understood the Nazi Soldiers discussing military action in her train car (they believed she did not speak German), he was able to escape to London prior to arrest when the country was occupied in March 1939.

At the end of WWII, the properties and collections were returned to the family, but it was not to be permanent. In the onslaught of the Soviet Union, the Cold War, and the encroaching dominion of the Communist Regime, Maximilian and his family were once again forced into exile in 1948.

After the Velvet Revolution of 1989, and the dismantling of Western and Eastern Europe, which were formerly split by the Communist Regime, the Czech president began the issuing of legislative acts to return all confiscated property. At this point, the duty was left to Maximilian’s sons, who had been raised in America. William Lobkowicz, a Harvard grad, and his wife, Alexandra took on this burden, relocating his family to Prague to help maintain the restoration of their estates, and the opening of doors to provide the public with access to their large collection. Unfortunately, due to the decades, the properties were quite damaged due to neglect, so executive decisions were made as to what land could be sold, in the hopes that the money would go towards preserving some of the more historical holdings. These include the Lobkowicz Palace, Nelahozeves Castle and Strekov Castle.

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Theological Hall

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Philosophical Hall

I wrapped up my day by visiting the Strahov Monastery to check out the sprawling Philosophy and Theology Halls. My final wind-down involved drinking Strahov Beer that has been brewed from the same recipe that was used centuries ago.

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Despite the struggles that the Lobkowicz Family was subject too, one can help but feel whimsical about this fairy-tale dream of American Nobility. It did materialize a bit late for it to seem like a happily ever after however. In the challenges faced during the sequential confiscation and restitution of their priceless buildings and art, three main values have steadfastly kept them determined.

  1. Family and Friends
  2. Faith and Beliefs
  3. Education

What values do you hold on to as you traverse life? How do they keep you grounded as a wholesome human being? Have they aided you in the challenges and struggles we face everyday?

Travel: Absinthe Woes

The hostel I chose to stay out while in Prague was truly like family, including a communal dinner that gave residents ample opportunity to make new friends, discover new cultures, share drinking games, and mingle while simultaneously causing havoc on the town. This was also the case when I decided to partake in the festivities on a Friday night.

English: Absinthe

Somewhere along the lines I got convinced to take a shot of Absinthe. (when in Europe after all ^_^). Fortunately I am a practical person, and that was the limit to my drinking for the night, in addition to a glass of wine and a bottle of cider earlier in the evening. It was far too easy to lose track of time in the club, enjoying the beat of the music.

My friends and I had difficulty locating the appropriate tram stop back to the hostel however, and we ended up running to catch the WRONG one, and had to hop off to wait for the RIGHT tram in the opposite direction. We then had a chow-down at the hostel, and didn’t succeed in crawling off to bed until around 5 AM.

Unfortunately, despite the memorable night this had a ripple effect on my carefully planned itinerary. I was unable to charge anything, or remember to set it to charge before passing out; Therefore upon waking up late, I had to finish some organizational tasks on my computer, and charge my camera and phone before I could leave. I only had one adapter. Needless to say, my Saturday was very slow and not that productive.

Have you ever had one of those days? You just need a do-nothing, think-nothing, never leave home escape. I think I was probably long due for one, since I have now been traveling in Europe for over a month. What do you do when you hit this point?