How exciting! I actually managed to find functioning internet before I leave Peru… the rest will follow… as usual I will keep living my travels long after I have left the foreign locale 😉
as usual we are living in the past so just go with the tenses – they were correct when I wrote the first draft 🙂
I wrote the first draft of this on miércoles. I learned that the night before at the Pitahaya Bar in Lisbon. From my new friend Juan.
Yes, I am in Peru! When I first dreamed of trekking to Machu Picchu, the Shining Path was putting Peru on the government advisory “do not go” lists. As usual I have been too busy doing things to have enough time to write about what I have been doing. But I have been trying to remember exactly when I was inspired to travel to Peru.
It was sometime in the mid 80s. It may have been the Peru pavilion at Expo 86. I know I acquired a book about the treasures of the Incas from an exhibit of some of them around that time. I forgot to leaf through it before I left home. But I have carried it over three continents and unpacked it in countless apartments so I know it’s there somewhere… I remember the great jewelry and rich colours. My souvenirs won’t be nearly so impressive but I am dazzled by the colours in the markets. It is hard to not buy everything you see 🙂
Unfortunately in the 1980s Peru was dangerous – so I stayed away… but Machu Picchu stayed in my imagination. And Peru is now the kind of place where you have to search a little to avoid a dual language tourist menu.
But my first step in a new city is to get a map from reception (just in case 🙂 and then start aimlessly wandering the streets in daylight so I’ll know my way home in the dark!
I’m still packing the map but I’ve actually looked at it only a couple of times and Miraflores is already starting to feel like home. Lima is no Latin seductress. The weather is as dreary as predicted. I think the sun shines more in Vancouver 😉
And the Pacific Ocean looks like an angry stepsister with haunted beaches. But moody can be interesting… so I had a delicious pizetta overlooking the Pacific as part of my exploration of the Larcomar – a modern mall that is so shiny it glints without the sun even shining 🙂
It’s part of the shiny side of Lima – where I will be staying on my return. Locating my next Lima hotel created a great aimless wander through the streets of Miraflores. As I suspected yesterday, I am living on the wrong side of the tracks. But I think I prefer my older Miraflores with the slight decay that tropical climates induce rather than the tarted up sanitized Miraflores that seems more like a tourist zone.
Peru is definitely an emerging economy and it’s exciting to see it in action. I would love to come back in 10 years and see what has changed.
One thing I hope won’t change is the friendly, warm character of the people. I am writing this in a cool, modern bar with a touch of traditional Peruvian
decoration – and charming Latin men behind the bar. The soundtrack is an incredible mix of some of the best alternative rock from the late 80s – Blind Melon, Cindy Lauper, Tom Cochrane, the dudes who sing Runaway Train… sometimes I just knew the music, couldn’t remember the band… the 80s were a long time ago!
And made me a beautiful Pisco Sour – my first. You always remember your first time 😉 And Juan did a magnificent job! Pisco Sours are pretty ubiquitous in Peru so I’ve had a few now but Juan’s is still the best! And he gave me the whole history of the drink for bonus points.
Everyone in the bar is very friendly – and works very efficiently. The menu is in Spanish so I knew I was in an authentic place. I had avoided the tourist ghetto!
Decaying villas seem charming. And I saw some appealing houses on my random walk that speak to another era. It would be sad to lose all the history and local architecture around the world for shiny new concrete malls.
But we also need to welcome progress – and the emergence of new shiny places in unexpected countries.
I love discovering places like Pitahaya – and young men like Juan. It’s great to see a modern place with a sense of history and locale. And the enthusiasm and professionalism I encounter so often in these new economies. I think I am experiencing the future… Machu Picchu is just bonus points 😉
p.s. apparently Pitahaya is a bar but it was possibly the best food I have had in Peru! The first night I ordered what I thought was a simple shrimp cocktail but it had some unexpected twists to it that were delicious. And the next night I ordered something called Tiradito Achebichado because I trusted Juan 😉 As he promised, it was a bit like ceviche but I had just written mystery fish in my blog notes so he had to get the correct information for me. It was tilapia – and outstanding. The cocktails are also delicious. And the staff are delightful.