When people ask me how I chose Peru as the destination for our last trip, they’re often surprised I don’t have a calculated rhyme or reason. In a swarm of mundane Google searches that went something like ‘cool-places-to-visit-that-wont-cost-me-an-arm-or-leg-and-has-good-icecream”, Peru made constant appearances in my findings and thus became embedded in my subconscious. In April, Tommy and I were having dinner with his cousin when he remarked, “I’ve been thinking about visiting Peru to see Machu Picchu. We should make it happen”. And suddenly months of disheveled research and scattered information stored in my subconscious flooded my conscious brain and I went home, booked 3 tickets to Lima, and the rest was an afterthought.
I could write an entire post on the planning of our trip alone as it was heavily logistics-oriented, but I’d much rather share with you the experience I had during my stay. We split our time in Peru between Lima, Cusco, and Aguascalientes – all ‘must-sees’ if you were to ask me.
Upon landing in Lima, we wasted no time probing the country’s culinary capital to satisfy our ravenous appetites. We were greeted by a local friend who took us straight to a Peruvian market to try fresh Ceviche and Lomo Saltado. We crammed inside a 5×5 space where everyone basically sat on each other’s lap and devoured 7 plates of various seafood dishes. It was the best meal I had the entire trip. My mouth still waters at the memory! After lunch, we visited a cat park which was literally a park where hundreds of stray cats lived. It was something similar to a horror film in which I played the helpless victim, as everyone who knows me knows I am deathly afraid of cats. I would have opted out of this event had it not also been a large Poke-stop area (where I caught 6 Scythers, an Arbok and 2 Rhyhorns). Aside from spending an immense amount of time trying to avoid the beastly cougars at all costs and praying for everyone who voluntarily pet them, we also admired local art stands pegged along the park’s exterior. Afterward, we walked to a nearby Inca market to peruse the alpaca paraphernalia. One of my absolute favorite things to do when we traveled SE Asia was to shop the local street markets and Peru was filled with them. Each stand was policed by its’ indigenous owners; all eager to peddle their goods. Anything we looked at they would catch our gaze and instantly haggle with us. It wasn’t overbearing, but rather melancholic at how desperate they were to make a sale. You could hear it in their voices that they depended on the submission of tourists in order to make a living. I was instantly reminded that we were vacationing in a developing country. We ended up leaving without much as we decided it would be a bad idea to start our shopping so early in our trip. With 7 days remaining we were limited with luggage space. We were referred to a popular local restaurant called Tantas for dinner so we headed there for more delicious Peruvian food. Afterward we decided to call it a night and headed back to our adorable apartment that overlooked the Pacific ocean on one front and a local park on the other.
While we stayed in the lively Barranco District, our second day in Lima was purposely uneventful. We allowed ourselves to sleep in a little before we woke up and headed to the nearby La Mar Mall; acclaimed for being alongside the ocean. We enjoyed a seaside lunch as we watched parachuters outside the restaurant windows! We then hopped on a bus downtown to meet some friends. Lima is filled with beautiful neoclassical architecture which I tried desperately to capture but due to a local protest, the area was teeming with people. Over 50,000 protesters gathered for the “Not One Less’ rally bringing attention to domestic abuse against women. We nestled in the restaurant of a historic hotel enjoying pisco sours and observing the protest. The marchers owned the streets until late into the evening, making it difficult for us to catch transportation. When we were finally able to catch a cab, we headed to a food festival held at a beautiful park nearby to savor more pisco sours and live music. After the music ended we walked a couple of blocks to The Bridge Of Sighs where Peruvian legend says if you can make it across the entire bridge holding hands with your partner and holding your breath at the same time, your love will last forever. Of course we tried it. Little did we know the locals who parade the bridge do not care for the legend like us eager tourists do, so they didn’t care to move when we were turning blue in the face in a panic trying to navigate our way around them. What was supposed to be a breezy short walk turned into a walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. But I’m happy to say Tommy and I made it! The only minor consequence was me being carried out on a stretcher, but hey – no one said love was easy. From there we made way to a local burrito joint for a “late night snack”. After inhaling the best burritos unknown to mankind, we realized we had about 3 hours before we needed to catch a flight to Cusco so we headed back to the apartment. The better half of the group enjoyed those vital hours of sleep while the other half embraced being crabby.