The Gritty Side: Villa El Salvador Lima Province

This is a continuation of a previous posting on The Gritty Side of Medellin. Originally, I had intended to post a summary of both of the unique barrios of Comuna 13 in Medellin and the shanty town of Villa El Salvador in Lima. The uniqueness of each of these prompted me to separate them.

I call Villa El Salvador a ‘shanty town’ simply because that’s how the tour describes this unique neighborhood. Similar to the favella’s of Rio and the “slums” of many other cities across the world. The locals name this neighborhood the “Rainbow Barrio”, they even have a rainbow flag that they use to symbolize this name.

Per the tour guide, the inhabitants of Villa El Salvador were refugees of sort from the Shining Path guerrillas group that occupied much of the andes areas. These shining path members pushed Myans out of their andes homes into the barrios surrounding Lima, where they hoped to make a new and more prosperous life without fear that encompassed their daily life in the Andes.

Another version of information that I found was that Villa El Salvador was founded out of crisis in 1971 when people abandoned their homes high up in the Andes because of poverty, earthquakes, terrorism, and the lack of educational opportunities.

Whatever the reasons for the formation of this community, it’s certainly a poor community but full of hope. Similarities to Comuna 13 include this overwhelming sense of hope.

The barrio of Villa El Salvador still has a long way to go in comparison to where Comuna 13 is today. They are working on it though. Three years ago, the community elected a female leader for a 2 year term. (I can’t recall her name). She was then re-elected for another 2 year term in 2016. The people of the barrio seem to love her. Having an opportunity to meet and speak with her displayed her unending work in the improvement of this neighborhood. She works with the government and the other local barrios in efforts to provide jobs for the local community members, took long strides in removing the drug addiction issues that the community experienced, and is working on building infrastructure to the neighborhood.

Her relationship with our tour guide/group at Haku Tours was evident in the welcoming smile and the casual relaxed relationship shown between the guide and community leader.

In 2010, the former mayor built a series of stairways to assist the community to navigate the steep hills of the neighborhood. These stairways are being continually improved and expanded due to the social assistance of Haku Tours. In addition, the neighborhood now has a child-care center and a soup kitchen in progress. Both of which will assist in enriching the lives of the locals that live there.

There are still a lot of things that could use improvement; access to water being a primary issue.

If you’re visiting Lima Peru, I would encourage you to get out of Miraflores and see what over 70% of the population live everyday by joining one of these tours. Not only will it enrich your travel experience, the money given back to the community will assist them to continually move forward on the improvements that they have initiated.

To see more pics, check out the Lima Shantytown Tour review on Lima City of Kings or the Lima Shantytown Tour album on the Lima City of Kings Facebook page.
Haku Tours offers two more off-the-beaten-path kinds of tours. One is a “Witches Tour” which visits the naturopaths of Andean and Amazon medicine, which Edwin says is pretty intense. Also a tour of the Chorrillos fish market. Food-market tours are common in Latin America but this is a popular artisanal fishermen’s dock. See all of Haku’s tours.

I hope to get some photo’s uploaded but haven’t got a good enough wifi signal at the moment. More coming soon…