Folks, this is one of those things that you’re going to find out living in Lima whether you are actively looking to purchase Cocaine (or other drugs) or not. The last I heard, Peru was the number 1 producer of Cocaine in the world, and whether or not people want to admit it, a large part of Peru’s economy is connected to the drug trade. I mentioned the other day that Peru only makes 2 million a year from Pisco exports…now how can that number be something that’s worthy of news coverage while Cocaine earnings go unreported? I’m just asking for an estimated number here people, I understand there probably aren’t good records out there.
People have offered me Cocaine once or twice in Peru. On one occasion a guy offered to sell me some within sight of two uniformed police officers. This was back when I still believed in things like “civic duty” and “doing the right thing” (whatever that means), so I went up and reported the guy to the police. The police told me they couldn’t arrest him, but if I were to help them by buying the drugs then they would observe and swoop in to nab the guy.
Obviously I started laughing at them and walked away because I was pretty sure I would have ended up in jail with that little arrangement. Still, that scenario changed my perspective on the matter. Heck, if the police of Peru don’t really give a darn about drug trafficking within their country, then why should I?
A different time I was offered drugs was when I was in the Mercado de Surquillo. The above image is the Mercado, and you can see its location on the map below. I was just walking through there looking for some mandarinas (I’m dead serious, it’s just a regular market and it’s right next to Miraflores).
Anyway, as I walked along a woman called out at me from her little cubby hole and asked if I wanted any Cocaine. Seriously! For her it was like the most normal thing in the world. The whole place sort of reminded me of the end of the year displays at the fair (4H stuff…you know…world record pigs, etc.). She was just sitting behind a booth going, “Cocaine, Marijuana, Ayahuasca…”
I didn’t buy anything so I have no way of knowing if what she was selling was even good, or if she even really had anything.
Since then I’ve had people tell me that it’s actually legal to possess Cocaine in Peru, but it’s not legal to sell (that’s the kind of compromise a politician shoots for when he’s been paid off but he doesn’t want to be so obvious). Apparently there is some other law that says it’s legal to have Cocaine or Marijuana, but not Cocaine AND Marijuana (again, this is an urban legend and I haven’t had it verified by a lawyer so don’t depend on this when you travel to Peru).
I’m kind of curious to see if that woman is still at that market. Just go in there and make it obvious you are a gringo and I think they’ll come out of the woodwork. However, don’t purchase or use any intoxicating substances people. Streets of Lima does not accept responsibility for any stupid stuff you do because you read about it on this page (legal disclaimer). You wouldn’t run out to the street and crucify somebody just because you read the Bible now would you (actually, some people do…but I don’t condone that behavior either).