Chinatown or Barrio Chino, which is nearby Lima´s main square, is the best area to experience chinese culture. The first Chinese arrived in 1849, and they came over to work as coolies at the rich guano islands and the coastal farms.

The number of Chinese immigrants, who came mainly from Canton and the province of Sichuan, increased steadily and much more after 1854 when african peruvian slaves got their freedom.

The Arch:

The most notorious feature of this neighborhood is the Chinese Arch that resembles a pagoda.

Under the arch roof there are ideographic writings which say Zhong Hua Fang or the China Square or Place and Tian Xia Wei Gong which used to be a prayer expression meaning The World Should Be Fair, or The World Is People’s Own, or Things for the People.

The Tarot:

Then I spot a small stand with the shape of a pagoda.

A woman inside this stand reads the Tarot. Ironically, there is not Chinese Tarot but Egyptian and Spanish. Inside there are many trinkets with the shape of dragons, tigers, frogs with 3 legs, elephants, and a kind of mirror with 6 or 8 sides. It is a Paqua or Pakua, and it is good to defeat bad vibes.

Chi Fan:

It is said that chinese who owned restaurants in Lima used to call on passers-by yelling Chi Fan which means eat food or have dinner. As time went by, Peruvians began to name those restaurants as “chifas”.

Popular dishes: sopa wantan, tallarín saltado, arroz chaufa, wantan frito con tamarindo, and roasted duck. Some restaurants serve Chi Jau Cuy and Ti Pa Cuy which are made with guinea pig, an Andean delicatessen.
Also, it is cha-chan kou (a gelatine made with rice), min pao, chin toy, paton kou, key min pao, siu mai, key min pao, shanki, ma chai (made with rice and honey).

Chinese Foretelling:

In another stand there is a chinese man wearing long black hair and a bright white T-shirt with chinese designs that contrast with the bright red colour of the walls.

A woman is looking for a bracelet for good vibes. He holds her hand and describes her behaviour. Then he makes a circle with a golden pan above her head and bangs the pan with a wooden stick. After saying the Om mantra, he wraps up the session ringing a golden bell.

Inside the stand, there are bracelets, rings, warriors, Buddhas, and Chau Lin children, as well as dragons, tigers, frogs, and horses.

In less than half an hour, he has 5 customers. Those trinkets for good luck are the best, indeed!

The Horoscope on the Floor and Much More:

The red floor of the boulevard is trimmed with the symbols and images of animals of the chinese horoscope.

In addition, there are ads for message, acupuncture, Feng Shui stores hanging on a stand full of chinese newspapers.

My Final Word:

The chinese culture is as ancient as the peruvian’s and in this neighborhood you will have the chance to take a glance of the mixture of both cultures.

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