May 2016

Contemporary Art at Galeria Delbarrio

It is certainly true that Lima offers an impressive display of artwork both contemporary and historical, and there are numerous museums and galleries to visit for an overview of these works. Yet for those travelers who want to explore the Peruvian art world in more depth, you need to come away from these larger collections and visit some smaller galleries. Here it is possible to experience the contemporary and developing artwork that is being developed in Lima and beyond.

Galeria Delbarrio

Finding Galeria Delbarrio

One such recommended gallery is Galeria Delbarrio in Chorrillos. You won’t find this gallery on the main stretch, but on a quiet residential road the bright blue house comes into view. This gallery focuses on contemporary art and always has different exhibitions and talks with artists, for those who are interested. Galeria Delbarrio is also heavily influenced by the vision of the curator, Gabriela Tineo Sanguinetti, which makes this a very special place.

Gabriela, who is lovely in person, is a sociologist who worked in development until taking over the gallery in 2009. Her vision for the gallery is to present Peruvian art that connects the people with their identity. An identity that does not come from the European styles as displayed in so many of the larger collections, but an identity that is organically Peruvian. In this way, the nation can begin to reconnect with their pre-hispanic roots and cast off the reliance on a European identity. Art is one such way to achieve this, as the Galeria Delbarrio promotes. Gabriela’s vision is to use art as a way of social integration.

Yet, sadly small galleries such as this are less visited than the larger collections, and when people do come it tends to be foreign visitors rather than Peruvians themselves. Hopefully with time this will change, so that a change can come from within Peruvian society and not be imposed from the outside. One way to achieve this? When you visit Lima, if you’re looking to buy artwork, or just to see it, visit the smaller galleries and consider supporting them with your purchases. Here are unique and socially conscious works to see and appreciate, and in supporting places such as Galeria Delbarrio, they can continue their work in repairing identities and social exclusions.

You can have a guided tour of the gallery with Brenda at Tailored Tours Peru on the Street Art + Galleries tour. Get in touch at:

Whatsapp:  (+51) 962-373-975

You can also check out the gallery website at:

Beckie is a volunteer with the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima, Peru.

Lima Witch Market

The Charms of the Lima Witch Market

Maybe you’ve heard about Gamarra market, the enormous, sprawling labyrinth of clothes vendors and factories on every corner. But did you also know that just around the corner from this, you can find the Lima witch market…a very interesting place to visit after you’ve bargained yourself silly all morning buying t-shirts.

But first, I don’t like the English word ‘witch’ (although this is the direct translation of Mago/Maga from Spanish). In English, this word conjures up images of someone inherently evil or tricksters (although maybe Harry Potter has gone some way to changing this generalization). In Peru, witches are much more common and acceptable by the people, so it’s important to remember this if you do want to visit one here, you can leave your prejudices at the door. Maybe the word shaman is better, although there is a difference between witches and shamans here. But let’s not get too muddled over terms.

Amulets and ritual objects on offer at a shop at the Lima witch market

There are a range of different products that you can buy from Peruvian witches, which include good-luck charms and evil repellants. Particularly popular are tokens of desire, such as money notes, contained within bottles which will bring luck to the owner. There is a noticeable pattern with these kinds of items, in that they are frequently foreign.

For example, the money notes tend to be dollars and not soles. In ritual offering-packages (‘despachos’) you can see items such as coca-cola and camel cigarettes, which are symbols from the United States (pictured below). With a little observation, you can really start to see the widespread desire to emigrate elsewhere, and the part that witches may play in helping people achieve this goal.

A ‘despacho´, a ritual offering

However, my personal favorite was the One Direction dolls (pictured below), which can be used in rituals to bring girls love with a foreign man. Maybe not Harry Styles himself, but a handsome Englishman nonetheless  (I didn’t bother, I’m a Zayn fan and he’s already taken).

Why is the Lima Witch Market So Popular Among Locals?

Which leads me onto another thing. What was the most common product/ritual available at the Lima witch market? Amulets for love and sex, unsurprisingly. Apart from the boyband dolls for example, there are numerous candles that you can buy to call a lover to you, keep a couple together, encourage a marriage proposal or repel someone who is interfering in your relationship.

If you don’t want to light a candle yourself you can also do a little ritual. One of the more saucy rituals involves male/female dolls (pictured below), and it doesn’t take much imagination to guess that these are more geared towards sex and passion than romantic love per se. There’s even an S&M option, if that’s your kind of thing.

‘Passion’ ritual dolls

What to make of all this? Well, judging by what witches offer most frequently, we can ascertain what people desire the most. Love, sex, travel to another country…all three at once. You can of course find amulets for other things such as health and prosperity, as well as undertake rituals with the witches to cleanse auras and get rid of bad spirits. But that’s not quite as fun as a penis candle. What would you buy in a visit to the Lima witch market?

Beckie is a volunteer with the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima, Peru.

When in Peru, drink as the Peruvians? Absolutely. But no, I’m not talking about Pisco this time, but Peru’s very own, home-grown, range of cervezas. That’s Peruvian beers, to you and me.

The most popular of Peruvian beers on offer are Cuzqueña, Pilsen Callao, and Cristal. These are the beers that you will find in any little shop or bar, and probably what you will find in the hand of a local come a weekend night.

Peruvian Beers
Peruvian beers on offer

But, which is better? To find out, I sacrificed myself for the sake of this blog, and did a taste test. A blind taste test at that, just to be fair.

Cuzqueña is the ultimate winner of the three in taste, both in ‘blonde’ (pale) and ‘negro’ (dark) variations (yes, I tried them both). This is probably Peru’s signature beer, and the bottles themselves are reason enough to  make a purchase (you might recognize that famous 12 sided-brick Inca Wall in Cuzco city adorning the bottom). It’s also reflected in the price, although they still certainly make a good souvenir and/or gift (and/or personal supply).

The next option is Pilsen Callao. It’s also the middle of the price variations, and the Peruvians have kept faithful to their price=quality assessment when it comes to beer, in my opinion. Finally, for the price of the others, you can have yourself a satisfying 1 litre bottle of Cristal to enjoy. Considering this is the lower-priced option, I think it certainly tops special brew (if you know, you know). It’s not complete filth and I would even venture to say that it is still nice enough to warrant ordering at a bar.

Just… a wall of beer

So, my final recommendations on Peruvian beers?

Actually, I would recommend Cristal. The bottle is bigger, which means you can share it around more easily with the other members of your party (you didn’t think I did those taste-tests all by  myself, did you?). And after all, sharing alcohol is the spirit of drinking Peruvian beers here in Peru, and what you will compromise on taste you will make up for in friendships. Cuzqueña is by far the best taste, but maybe keep this as a nice gift for your friends back home.