When you live abroad, a lot of things help remind you that this isn’t quite the place you grew up in. Sometimes it’s big stuff, like the way the people look or what language they speak. Sometimes it’s just the stupid trees.
Ivo and I live right across the street from the Park of Heroes. Since we have a dog and I’m still trying to jog off all the beer and bourbon we drank over the holidays, I spend a lot of time in this park. In broad strokes, this park is a lot like parks at home in Kentucky (during the summer): There are pretty flowers. There are tons of dogs. Kids run around in the afternoons (though it’s usually with nannies instead of parents). Teenagers make out and avoid cops in the evenings. The cops usually smile or just look like they’re tired of shooing teenagers out of the park. In short, it’s a really nice place.
That said though, this is definitely NOT a park in Kentucky. Every city sort of has its own green profile: Miami is all about palm trees and pretty much nothing else. Paris likes stuff they can put in perfect rows or sculpt into squares. Fort Thomas loves anything that will make a hilarious mess come fall. Those are all terrible stereotypes. But the point is, if somebody told you a major city, you could at least hazard a guess about what kind of green thing(s) you’d see there. Lima is not like that.
First of all, Lima is technically in the desert. Although this makes no earthly sense to me (we literally live next to an ocean), there’s no denying it. Dust is everywhere. Dust is the norm. This place does not want to be green. True to form, the Park of Heroes is really several raised, grassy islands encircling a dirt arena.
To return to the green stuff, here’s the thing: They make no sense. There is no pattern. WHAT are these green things all doing together??
Palm trees have just moved in wherever they damn well please.
And really, what the heck are some of these green things at all?
And all this chaos is moot given the madness that is Peruvians trying to pass off cactuses as trees. You’re just walking along, tree, tree, tree, tr-WAIT.
Regardless of some questionable garden design though, the gardeners themselves don’t mess around. These guys and gals are out there every day, sometimes all day, in crazy desert heat, fighting back the dust (with nothing more than brooms) and dumping gallons of water into the tree islands.
They’ve basically got their own batmobile, which is a giant silver truck filled with water and fitted with a big fire hose. The sun beats down onto that dude on top of the metal truck top, and he just continues to heft the giant hose towards whatever needs water as the truck moves through the city about an inch at a time.
Anywhere the trees don’t shade is at risk of shriveling back into dry, brown patches of dust. And the collection of plants and trees sort of looks like somebody put it together by drawing names out of a hat. But hey, it’s all part of living abroad, and to be honest, the cactuses are starting to grow on me.