Back to Peru….
We decided to travel to Peru for Pili’s dad’s birthday in March, my first trip there since my run of 14 trips in 2004-2007. This time we decided to take Copa Airlines and do a stopover in Panama City on the way home. The only disappointing thing about Copa is that their flight from Dulles airport to Panama City leaves at 5:30 AM, which had us leaving our house at about 2:30 AM. In fact, we got to the airport so early that we had to use the employee screening facilities on the baggage claim level of the airport. The flights themselves were great and the layover in Panama City was short. We landed in Lima just before 3 PM and flew through immigration. We got the dreaded “red light” at Jorge Chavez airport customs, but that only set us back a few minutes. It’s nice to land in Lima at some time other than midnight or 6 AM, when it’s still dark – a rarity when flying from the US.
As soon as we landed, Pili went right to the first place anyone would go – the hair dresser! She got a few things done and we finally arrived at her mom’s house at about 7 PM. A bunch of people came over that night to greet us. We ate there and fell asleep pretty early as we were exhausted.
Day 1 – Saturday
We slept in very late and get up just in time to get ready for Pili’s dad’s party, which was at 1 PM at the Centro Social Miraflores, right on the ocean. I met a ton of people, some of whom I knew, most I didn’t and all three of Pili’s brothers were there. The party was great and included Pisco sours, wonderful food and lots of dancing. We stayed until about 5. When we left, we stopped by one of the parks on the Pacific ocean to see if it was possible to go paragliding. According to Rafael, we were a little too late as the wind dies when the sun goes down, so we watched the sunset and hung out for a while.
That evening, we headed to Barranco to see a well-known Peruvian musician, Gianmarco, who was wrapping up a three week run at a place called “La Estacion”, a small club where he got his start many years ago. The concert was great, though I didn’t know a single song and only recognized the lyrics to the only English song – The Police’s “Roxanne”.
Day 2 – Sunday
We went for lunch with Pili’s mom, her brothers and their families at a seafood restaurant named “Pescados Capitales” – a beautiful outdoor restaurant with an interesting theme – the 7 deadly sins! As usual, the food was fantastic – and very reasonably priced. After that, we headed out to do some paragliding, but there was not enough wind.
That evening, we headed out to a Miraflores favorite, Haiti, for dinner. Haiti is a diner-type restaurant that reminds me of just about every casual restaurant I’ve been to in New York City – an well-staffed, all-male older wait staff who are constantly busy, the constant clinking of glasses and silverware being cleaned, and a huge menu with great selections. Haiti is famous for their “sopa criolla”, which Pili and I both ordered. After dinner, we took a quick walk through parque Kennedy and looked at some of the artwork that is for sale by local artists.
Day 3 – Monday
Monday morning, we woke up, ran some errands, then headed into San Isidro to do some grocery and clothes shopping, where we stocked up on a bunch of Peruvian foods and Pisco to take home. For lunch, we hit La Red, which used to be a small place with plastic chairs, but since being featured in a few articles and tv shows has grown bigger and nicer and offers great Peruvian dishes for a reasonable price.
Around 10 PM, we headed out to a jazz club in Miraflores, Jazz Zone, which I never knew existed. Apparently, there are a few in Lima, all within walking distance. Monday night happened to be a “jam night” with free admission, but we left a donation. Any local musician could sign up to play that night. In all, there were about six or seven different “groups” of people who played together. You could tell some knew each other better than others. Some were ok, some were great – better than anything we’d expected! We stayed until 1 AM, when they closed.
Day 4 – Tuesday
For lunch, we were invited to the Lima Cricket Club by Pili’s brother, Alfredo and his wife. We had a great lunch there and hung out for a while. It’s a nice sports club in the middle if Lima that is used by mostly expatriates from other countries. That afternoon, we headed out to the recently re expanded Jockey Plaza to do some shopping and check out the new stores. That afternoon, we again went to the park where they offer paragliding and it was windy enough to do it. Because we were just out shopping that day, I didn’t have a camera on me. I wanted to take a video this time (my third), but didn’t want to run the risk of having no wind when we returned, so I just went (you’ll have to take my word on this!). This time, the flight was about half as long and S./ 50 more (S./ 150 total), but still so worth it. We took off, flew down to Larco Mar and back, 10 minutes in total. The flight was amazing and I can’t wait to do it again!That night, we headed to a friend of Pili’s condo for some Pisco sours and snacks from San Antonio.
Day 5 – Wednesday
On Wednesday morning, we headed out to the Inka Market to do some gift shopping and look for paintings. We found a painting that we liked, but didn’t have enough time to buy it and wait for it to be wrapped. After that headed back to Jockey Plaza to have lunch with Pili’s dad and his wife. That night, we headed out to one of my all time favorite restaurants, Astrid y Gaston. This is Peruvian chef Gaston Acurio’s flagship restaurant, and in my opinion, the best in Lima. We had an incredible dinner with two of Pili’s brothers and their wives.
Day 6 – Thursday
We drove up to the beach town of Ancon in the morning to visit an animal shelter we had heard of, “Casa Paraiso”. The location we went to was an old vacation home that had been turned into a dog shelter that houses about 100 dogs at any given time. They rely purely on donations to run their operation, so before we left, we stocked up on three HUGE bags of dog food, a bunch of toys, treats and rawhide chews. Unfortunately, we were told that the each bag of dog food would only last a day! The dogs eat so much food that they couple who runs the shelter actually buys rice and makes a stew everyday because the rice is much cheaper to buy than dog food and lasts longer.
We stayed for about an hour and help feed the dogs and passed out some of the rawhide chews. The dogs were great! They waited one by one in line while we were passing them out and each took theirs and then went away to chew on it. When we arrived, there was the sound of a hundred dogs all barking, very exited to see us, and after we passed out the rawhide, you could only almost hear a pin drop! On the way out of town, we stopped with the owners and bought a huge 100 lb. sack of rice for the dogs, which they said will last about a week.
In the afternoon, we headed out to Fernando (Pili’s brother) and Barbie’s house to visit with them and their kids. We went for the third day in a row back to Jockey Plaza to do a little shopping and walk around. After we dropped the kids off back at the house, we went to pick up Pili’s mom and brother up to go to a “Chifa” in the Regattas Club of Lima. This is considered to be one of the best in Lima and was defiantly worth the 45 minute wait at 9 PM!
Day 7 – Friday
Friday morning, we ran around town doing some last minute shopping and errands. We also decided to go back to the Inka Market and buy the painting that we saw earlier in the week. Wow, was the owner surprised to see us! How many tourists a week probably tell him “yea, we like it but we’ll come back later in the week to buy it” never to be seen again? The owner was very helpful in getting the painting packed up for the plane ride. We loved the frame, but it was too large to bring, so we’ll need to find something here or find a way to buy it there and get it back here somehow.
This was the day we were heading to Panama, and our flight was at 4:30. We left for the airport at 1 PM and made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. It used to be that you needed to get to the airport with three hours to spare for an international flight, but I would say with the new airport running as efficiently as it does, that two hours is the new norm. The flight to Panama City was pretty uneventful except for some of the worst turbulence we’ve ever experienced right in the middle of the flight. It was the kind where the food trays and drinks fall and the airplane gets VERY quiet for a few minutes….
Click here to continue to Panama…
Thoughts on Lima
This was my first trip to Lima in three and a half years. Some noticeable differences for me were: The new Metropolitano line, which is a hybrid bus-train line that runs along what used to be the most congested bus line in Lima. The system basically consists of elongated “bendy” buses that run along a track and only stops at designated stations at subway-type platform with moving glass doors that only open when there is a bus there. They system looks great and appeared to be running very well.
Also the Lima Metro is now back under construction after a 20 year hiatus (since the first Garcia administration) and appears to be close to completion. This will take a lot of micros off the street when it is done, which brings me to the third thing I noticed…
Less micros! Sure, some neighborhoods had them more than others, but I noticed a considerable lesser amount of micros on the road than the last time I was there. A lot of the buses I saw were larger and only a few years old.
The street lights in Miraflores and some other neighborhoods are the most modern and advanced I have seen anywhere in the world. They are all the LED type lights, but have the addition of a red (or green) countdown timer letting you know exactly how long you have left to sit at a light or make it through an intersection! Even the lights for the pedestrians have the counter and the little green LED guy that tells you it’s ok to walk is waking.
Lima (and Peru in general) has always been notorious for sometimes taking a while to get even the simplest of tasks done, or doing things in a very round-about way. On this trip, we hardly experienced anything like that. Everything seemed to go very smoothly.