Vida Huancaína

Our adventure in the Andes


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Lima love

We’ve traveled through Lima a few times since we’ve arrived here in Peru and have taken the opportunity to explore the city, visiting different neighborhoods and trying out restaurants.

Sunset from the Barranco boardwalk

Sunset from the malecón in Barranco

We typically stay in the Miraflores neighborhood, which is one of the most developed and wealthiest sections of Lima.  It has everything you could want, including a large mall, Larco Mar, filled with many familiar stores (Banana Republic, Gap, North Face, Starbucks, etc.).  There is also a well-maintained malecón (boardwalk) that locals use for strolling, jogging and cycling, and that extends all the way through the next neighborhood to the south–Barranco.  We stayed in Barranco the last time we came through town.  The neighborhood is known for its art scene and it has even more cafes, bars and restaurants to try.

Some of our favorites places in Miraflores and Barranco, so far, include:

Panchita – We call this the “grilled meats” place.  It is an upscale restaurant in the Miraflores neighborhood that serves primarily traditional Peruvian meat dishes.  Chris tried anticuchos (beef hearts), which are traditionally a street food grilled shishkabob style.  All over Peru, you will see women sitting on the corner in the late afternoon/evening roasting up a few skewers of anticuchos on a small hibachi-style grill.   Chris has been wanting to try them for months now, and since we tend to try to avoid street corner food this was his opportunity to try them from probably the best place in all of Peru.  And, honestly, they were DELICIOUS.  We didn’t really know what to expect, but they just kind of tasted like really well grilled and seasoned beef.  We also tried a new-ish artesanal beer from the Cumbres company made from quinoa.  It was a light, crisp beer that tasted similar to a lager or pilsner.  The company also makes beers from other grains, like corn.

Anticuchos!

Anticuchos!

Cumbres artesanal quinoa beer

Cumbres artesanal quinoa beer

Delfino Mar – Located in a quiet, residential part of Miraflores, Delfino Mar is a local place with delicious seafood.  If you go, you have to try the tuna ceviche.  It’s a heaping plate of delicious raw tuna cured in lime juice and served according to whatever level of spiciness you want.  And, considering it’s basically a huge plate of tuna sashimi, it’s a steal in terms of price!

La 73 – This is where we discovered the wonder that is the maracuya sour (a pisco sour made with maracuya, or passion fruit, juice).  It will blow your mind.  We also really enjoyed the hamburgers that are served up with a side of yucca fries.  It’s located on the border between Miraflores and Barranco.

Canta Rana – We return to this place each time we pass through Lima.  In the Barranco neighborhood of Lima, this place has character coming out its ears.  It has a casual atmosphere and the walls are lined with 20+ years of futbol (soccer) memorabilia.  We love the ceviche, which is delicious and reasonably priced.  We also love that the place is frequented by locals.  Go before 1 pm if you want to get a table before it fills up for lunch!

La Bodega Verde – This is a cute little spot in Barranco with outdoor seating.  They open at 9 am on the weekends and serve brunch with a wide selection of teas that are served in a personal teapot.  The brunch dishes are also all served with a side of house-made, multi-grain bread.  The morning we went, the crowd ranged from young families (dressed like they came out of an Anthropologie catalogue) to cyclists who had just come off the road and stowed their bikes in the garden.

Brunch at Bodega Verde

Brunch at Bodega Verde

Barranco Beer Company – After spending multiple months in the Andes with access only to cheap, bottled beer, this place was a revelation for us.  It’s a microbrewery with five or so beers on tap and a small menu with beer-friendly foods like sausages and pretzels.  We tried the Weiss Presidente (hefeweizen style), Bulls Ay! Ale (saison-style red ale) and 50/Fifti (German-style lager).  Our favorite was the 50/Fifti lager, not the least because it was served cold!

Chris enjoying his first cold one in months!

Chris enjoying his first cold one in months!

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We are looking forward to more opportunities to travel through Lima and try more restaurants!

 

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Back to it!

It’s been a whirlwind the past few weeks.  We traveled back to the States for a week-long visit.  We had a wonderful time, starting in San Francisco and visiting with cousins, then driving up to Healdsburg where I served as a bridesmaid in my friend from kinder ballet’s gorgeously decorated wedding, then to Sonoma for a couple days of wine tasting with my parents, and then a final night in breathtakingly beautiful Bodega Bay before the long trek home.  (And when I say long, I mean long.  We departed SF at 11 pm on Wednesday, flew to Chicago, then Panama, then to Lima, then the 8 hour, motion sickness inducing, bus ride from Lima to Huancayo, arriving at our apartment about 4 pm on Friday.  Ugh.)

Now we’re back in Huancayo, readjusting to the altitude and loving every minute of it.  I was really worried to come back after being in the States and enjoying all the creature comforts like good water pressure, infinite amounts of hot water, etc.  But, surprisingly, the adjustment back here hasn’t been that difficult, even though the electric water heater shower head sparked and smoked on our first day back (we’ve been taking bucket baths for 6 days now), then the sink in the bathroom starting leaking, and then my laptop died.  Despite all these things, we’re really happy to be back “home”.

I’ll leave you with a few photos from the trip.

Sunset over Healdsburg

Sunset over Healdsburg

Sun setting over Bodega Bay

Bodega Bay

Egrets

Egrets

Yellow button flowers by the beach

Yellow button flowers by the beach

 

 

 


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La Laguna de Paca

Peru never ceases to amaze me.  You leave the house expecting to do one thing, but you inevitably end up doing something entirely unexpected.  This happened to us, yet again, on Saturday.  We had made plans to go over to a friend’s home in Jauja (the next large town over, about 45 minutes from Huancayo) for lunch.  Yet we ended up sitting on a metal boat in the middle of an Andean lake.

View of the lake from the restaurant

View of the lake from the restaurant

La Laguna de Paca sits just outside the town of Jauja, nearly at the entrance to the Mantaro Valley with mountains rising up steeply on three sides of the lake.  It’s a popular tourist spot with little restaurants on one side of the lake, each with its own lancha (small, metal boat) that they will take you out on to see the lake.  As soon as we arrived, we ordered lunch (grilled trout) and hopped on the boat for a little tour. The lake is calm and the color changed from murky green to dark blue depending on how the sun hit it.  Our hosts pointed out different things about the landscape, including how the ridge line of the mountains looked like a sleeping Indian.

The beginning of the Mantaro Valley, and the sleeping Indian (can you see him?)

The beginning of the Mantaro Valley, and the sleeping Indian (can you see him?)

Other end of the lake

Other end of the lake

There are no fishes in the lake, just some birds (we saw a gray heron, something akin to a seagull, and ducks) and a lot of plants below the surface.  They say that it’s not safe to swim in the lake because a person’s legs will get caught up in the plants and they will pull you under…  This is just one of the many stories about the lake.

The most famous legend about the lake goes like this.  God adopted the form of a beggar and arrived at the city of Jauja to check the misdeeds of the people.  No one paid God any attention, save an old woman who invited him to stay at her humble home for the night.  God thanked her and asked that she go with him to the top of the mountain and warned her not to look back at the city no matter what she heard or else something bad would happen.  The woman obeyed, but as soon as she heard the cries from the people in the city, she turned around and was immediately turned to stone.  God punished Jauja by inundating it with water brought down from heaven in a large golden tub, leaving a city of gold submerged under an enchanted lake with sirens that sing when the moon is full.

They say there’s a stone up the mountainside that looks like the old woman from the story.  They also say that the lake is connected to another lake that sits just outside of Huancayo called Ñahuimpuqio, which means eye of water in Quechua, and you can hear the sirens calling from Paca all the way to Ñahuimpuqio on the eve of a full moon.  Also, if a person disappears from La Laguna de Paca, their body will appear in Ñahuimpuqio.

There are so many interesting myths and stories about this place.  One can see why though, the beauty of the Andes inspires one to believe that something magical must have taken place here.

Laguna selfie!

Laguna selfie!