Sunday, 8 November 2015


A botanical arboretum or an herbaceous border, a Japanese garden or a water park, all have a certain magnetic attraction. I'm ever hopeful we'll discover an interesting example. Knowing that the odds are not always good, which means that we're rarely disappointed. The standards are set high, as Edinburgh's botanics, and especially its rock garden take a bit of matching. Still it's fun to search, for there's that ever present hope that serendipity might appear and an unrelated and totally unexpected story could intervene.

At a few Chilean pesos, it wouldn't be a heavy hit if it disappointed. It did. Suffering from the usual predilection for the monumental, when the ethos for a japanned garden, is supposed to be for peaceful contentment in containment, for the particular in the precise. The antithesis of what we find. Still I'm not disheartened, if only because as we wander around, I think how I would have tackled the vast site with its roaring motorway just the other side of the wall. Not disillusioned, for if we were, we wouldn't search again.

So when the guidebook describes it as 'superbly and imaginatively refurbished', adjectives that don't sit with the nouns, 'water' and 'fountain'. I'm sceptical. For the world has been populated with one too many Victorian era water monuments. Static attractions of Greco-Roman nymphs piddling fountains from Freudian urns that seem positioned way too close to their nether regions, others that are venues for late Friday night, alcoholic infused frolics that keep the local constabulary in a job. Most are deceased, now serving as rain-fed pigeon baths. So we wander along one of Lima's main thoroughfares in the general direction of this glowing recommendation, knowing that should a suitable eatery intervene first, we could be easily diverted. I'm still sceptical about viewing a fountain in the dark. For city parks and nighttimes are bête noires for city guide books and Sensible visitors.

We round the corner of a high fig hedge and meet a queue. A queue of locals, not a gringo visitor in sight, so attach ourselves to the end. If you've ever played 'Spot the Scot' at Edinburgh Castle, or at least a Scot who isn't chaperoning their 'Aussie relative', then you might understand my curiosity. We never seem to visit our own major attractions, yet this attraction is several years old and still it can attract Limeños. It must be worthwhile.

Local queueing is a situation that we know well. Rule #1, don't leave any personal space in front, it only encourages the Q-jumper. Rule #2, the line will get longer, not shorter, as the children return to their parents bearing popcorn, candy floss and an extensive collection of relatives. Rule #3, there will be a story to found concerning queue management, and finally, Rule #4, as one bank advised us, 'enter and smile'

WaterFireWorks~FireWaterWorks~Works of WaterFire. all are descriptively accurate. With choreographic coloured lights and thematically orchestrated music. We're entertained with the pastels of a ballet pink Swan Lake and the blood red cannons of a Tchaikovsky 1812 overture. A cinema screen of misted water forms in the air, onto which a series of images float. Soaring condors to pan pipes segue into bi-planes and chattering gunfire. Abba's Waterloo into Queen's Rhapsody, into ? Fire Dance and Beathoven's 5th.

The evening is cool, but that doesn't stop the children from dancing in the water parks, nor the wedding photographers clogging up the water arch. The bride in a confection of crinoline, he, a golden brocaded officer of the Ruritanian Guard. We too run the gauntlet of water and emerge unscathed, then head off to watch the ascent of South America's tallest geysering waterspout.

All this will be repeated five nights every week, year round, and on the evidence of our repeat visits, will be suitably busy. It's the best $US 0.50 you can spend in Lima, it also ticks the Chronicler's parsimonious and serendipitous boxes.