We just had our first visitor here in Peru–my lovely cousin! We planned a two-week itinerary on what we jokingly call the “gringo trail.” It hit all of the big sights, while also strategically increasing in altitude along the way to allow for ample time to adjust as we climbed higher into the Andes. The plan was to start in Lima (the capitol city), then fly to Arequipa (the “White City”), then fly to Cusco (the jumping off point for Machu Picchu), then finally fly to Puno (on the shores of Lake Titicaca). Despite all of our best efforts, our plans were thwarted on many fronts: my cousin’s arrival to Lima was delayed a full day due to a medical emergency on one of her flights, then 2 of the 3 of us were struck down in Arequipa with what we later referred to as the “stomach plague,” and then our flight from Cusco to Puno was cancelled without warning. Long story short, we didn’t make it to all the planned sights and actually ended up rebooking our tickets to end the trip a few days earlier than originally planned. Yet, despite all of the hiccups along the way, we did manage to see some beautiful places and make some great memories!
So, let’s start with Lima! It’s the middle of the hot and muggy summer season in the capitol city, a nice respite for both our American visitor, as well as for us Huancayo-dwellers who are in the middle of the rainy/winter season (it’s still crazy to me how two places only 123 miles/197 km apart, as the crow flies, can be experiencing opposite seasons at the same time!). We started and ended our tour in Lima, taking in some of the museums and local must-sees, as well as eating some of the delicious local cuisine. Chris and I had been waiting to visit some of these locations until we had visitors, so they were new for us as well! No tour would be complete without walking down the malecón (boardwalk) in the Miraflores district. The view of the expansive ocean, as well as the gardens lining the walkway, make it a must-see location. We made a particular point one our first day together to walk the malecón, where we stopped at Parque del Amor (Park of Love) to take in the mosaics with romantic quotations woven into them. Then we taxied over to the Barranco neighborhood in the afternoon to have our first ceviche together at Canta Rana, walked across the famed puente de suspiros (bridge of whispers), spent some time relaxing in the air-conditioned Barranco Beer Company, and then finished up our first day at La 73 to introduce my cousin to her first pisco sour! It was quite a packed first day in Peru, and I was so busy visiting that I didn’t get very many photos!
On our way back through Lima at the end of the trip, we hit up some sights further downtown. Our first stop of the morning was Museo Larco, which houses a large collection of pottery, jewelry and textiles from indigenous groups all over Peru spanning nearly 5,000 years. The artifacts were collected by Rafael Larco, who founded the museum and is also considered to be the father of Peruvian archaeology. My favorite part of the permanent exhibit was the textiles, particularly the display of different knitting and weaving tools. Did you know that cotton was domesticated in Peru some 4,500 years ago and was used to make textiles? I always think of camelid fibers when I think of Peru, but I guess I should also include cotton! The collection also includes two quipus, which are thought to be the Inca’s method of recording countable information since they did not have a written language (though we still don’t know how to read the quipus).
Rounding out our time in Lima, we stopped by the Plaza de Armas, the central plaza, to take in the Spanish colonial architecture, the Cathedral, and the government buildings that surround the square. Then we walked over to Hotel Maury, famous for being the inventor of the pisco sour! The pisco sours weren’t as good as those we have tried at other locations in Lima and throughout Peru, but the atmosphere was lovely with a dark wooden bar and large modern paintings depicting colonial ladies and gents.
Though our time was shorter than anticipated in Lima, I think we were able to hit up quite a few of the must-see spots and soak up some culture!
Up next on the “gringo trail,” the “White City” of Arequipa!