My second full day in Lima, I set out to find a supposed feline wonderland: Parque Kennedy. One of the scores of beautiful parks that dot the urban landscape in Lima, Parque Kennedy is famous not for it’s design but for its inhabitants: there are said to be more than one hundred cats that live in it. While how this came to be is still not entirely clear to me, I did know two things for sure upon setting out: a) Parque Kennedy was full of cats and b) I was going to go pet me some!
After a few doubtful glances at my map of Barranco and the surrounding districts (those of you who know me well know that I’m not so great with maps), I set off on foot for Miraflores. The distance that separated my apartment from Parque Kennedy wasn’t entirely clear – was that two miles or six? – but I felt like walking, so I hit the road.
I did make it to the famous Parque Kennedy on my own two feet, but only by the grace of some benevolent god, I’m telling you. The first mile was gorgeous, walking along the coastline, soaking up the rays, smiling giddily at the passers-by (I was going to Kennedy Park!!). But soon thereafter, the boardwalk disappeared, any and all discernable walkways became a little more… unclear, shall we say, and speeding cars began to come very, very close. Spying a stone walkway carving up the bluffs on the other side of the highway, I decided to take one crazy run across three lanes of speeding traffic, thinking that once I got past that hurdle, I would ultimately be safer.
Weeeeelllll, I did get to the safer part – eventually – but first I had to play a little more interstate chicken. At one point, I was walking down a clearly defined pedestrian walkway (it was even labeled “Peatón,” or pedestrian in Spanish), but afer following it for a while and then going around a wide curve, it suddenly turned into a highway median, tapering off to a thin triangular point, and then stopping. Cars were now whizzing past me on both sides, and the only way out (other than back from whence I came, which was also sketchy) was across the multi-lane highway. So, I waited for a reasonable break, mentally crossed myself (when in Rome, right), and then ran like a maniac across a major Peruvian highway (sorry, Mom). This was a pilgrimage, dammit, and I was going to make it to see those cats if it killed me!
Luckily, that was the last of the major roadways on my journey, and a half an hour later, I walked up to the entrance, unsure of how the reality of this place would stack up to my (pretty major) expectations. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves:
Are you making high-pitched squealing nosies yet? Yeah, I thought so.
It was fucking incredible. Cats, cats, everywhere. On the benches, in the trees, crashed out in the flower beds, sunning themselves on the stone amphitheater… I was in heaven. I stayed for a few hours, reading a magazine in the grass with cats on either side of me, then walking around to make as many new furry friends as I could.
It was hard to leave, but I knew I would be back, so I bid the kitties adieu, and jumped on a bus to take me (safely, this time!) back to Barranco.