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Peru's incredibly rich and compelling archaeological heritage and its great natural beauty--remarkable even in a continent renowned for its exotic vistas--draw tens of thousands of visitors each year. Almost all make a stop at Lima, which is Peru's cultural and business center. Lima runs at a slower pace than many South American metropolises; its rhythm is more traditional, and its people reflect a steadier, calmer constitution. Lima's unusually amenable inhabitants give the metropolis the feeling, at times, of a cluster of smaller towns.

Lima's physical atmosphere is slightly dreamlike, mostly because of the garua--a mist that settles over the city between May and October. Under its blanket, Lima's inhabitants meet at the penas (bars offering folk and Creole music), shop at the open marketplaces, and dine at Lima's celebrated restaurants. Several museums display and preserve Peru's golden past, including most notably the internationally famed Museo Nacional de Antropologia y Arqueologia.

lima01.jpg (21337 bytes)South of Lima, long white beaches washed by the cold waters of the southern Pacific stretch away in an uninterrupted string, backed by row upon row of huge, brilliant white sand dunes. In contrast to the tourist beaches of warmer climes, these shores have few amenities other than small restaurants and cafes. One of the best of these remote beaches, as if to confirm its tranquillity, is known as El Silencio. Like Lima itself, these beaches seem to exist in an eddy of time, pleasantly removed from the relentless pace of more frequented destinations.

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