Want some good news?
They love us in Lima.
Merely consider this week’s edition of ¡Vamos! (Let’s Go!), the weekly travel magazine published by El Comercio, Peru’s leading newspaper.
The magazine’s cover shows a cyclist riding past a fancifully hand-painted automobile with the cover line “Cosmopolitan Toronto: style, culture, and play in the most varied Canadian city.”
Elsewhere, the publication describes Toronto as “the top destination of the season.”
“Unusually cosmopolitan, here you can travel the world by means of gastronomy, fashion, design, and special events on the shores of Lake Ontario.”
Amply illustrated with photographs – none of them showing Toronto in winter, for some reason – the article extols the many virtues of our city, sometimes in more admiring tones than certain Torontonians might employ.
“Its inhabitants are warm people, honest, friendly, and educated. Toronto is trendy, bohemian, chic, hip, cool. Toronto is modern and antique at the same time. It’s universal.”
Writer Guido Piotrkowski – who’s Argentine himself – observes that Toronto reveals itself through its neighbourhoods and pays particular tribute to Kensington, The Junction, Yorkville, West Queen and West Queen West, “which once were lost or remote sites but today are a ‘must’ in this great city.”
The article praises Toronto for its ethnic diversity, its music, restaurants, outdoor events, and parks.
On “planet Kensington,” the article notes, the visitor will find “the best burritos in the city, various bars, and a rarity: a Thai-Hungarian restaurant.”
On West Queen West, travelers can even seek out a small corner of Peru – “a colourful store” called Lady Mosquito that’s owned by a Peruvian-Canadian and that specializes in handmade bags, jewelry, and accessories mostly imported from South America. (I should mention that the owner, Cynthia Villegas, is a good friend of mine.)
Even the magazine’s readers seem infected with a Peruvian strain of Torontophilia. On-line commentary by readers of some publications tends to be dominated by a surly breed of cynics and misanthropes. Not so ¡Vamos! Or at least not in this instance. All of the comments related to the article about Toronto are infused with a glowing affection for Canada’s largest city.
One example, from a reader who goes by the name Orlan: “A trip to Toronto, Canada, will be unforgettable for anybody. Toronto is modern and very beautiful, with an exquisite culture even for the most demanding person. One-hundred per cent recommendable.”
Oakland Ross is a foreign affairs reporter for the Toronto Star.