Well, if truth be told, it wasn’t actually for us. It just so happened that our arrival coincided with the two day celebration of independence, known as Fiestas Patrias. This commemorates the day in 1821 when General José de San Martín proclaimed the country’s independence from Spain. It therefore feels fitting that our hotel is on a street named after him.
I’ve arrived in another country on their national day. During a trip to Brussels I came out of my hotel to find unexpected crowds of people around and walked up the road to see the king and queen emerging from the cathedral. I then went to get the metro only to find the second thing I was unaware of was that they’d changed the line numbers or names and nothing corresponded to the map I’d printed out at home.
Anyway, back to the flags. Apparently, according to our guide on the transfer from the airport, it’s compulsory for all buildings, including every home, to display the national flag at this time, and if you don’t, you could be liable to be fined. It certainly makes for a colourful display.
There’s a relaxed holiday feeling in Miraflores, the affluent district of Lima clinging to the cliff tops overlooking the Pacific Ocean. There’s a lovely long linear park along the top of the cliffs, perfect for a morning stroll after a long flight the day before. It’s divided up into smaller, individually named parks. We arrived at Parque Salazar, named after Alfredo Salazar Southwell, an aviator and national hero. He died at the age of 24, when his plane developed mechanical problems and, after ordering his copilot to parachute to safety, crashed in Miraflores, away from the built up urban areas, sparing many lives. Another section is the Parque del Amor (park of love), reminiscent of Barcelona’s Park Güell. The whole ribbon of green along what is a desert coastal strip is punctuated with a variety of interesting statues, including one of Paddington bear.
So, whose national day to gate crash next? If I wasn’t still in Peru I’d quite fancy the Côte d’Ivoire on the 7th August. I’ve got a t-shirt with their flag on.