Things that surprised me about Lima:
1. Despite what I was told, it has incredibly beautiful sunsets.
2. They do sports so differently than we do in the US.
3. Don’t give your cell phone to anyone!
I arrived in Lima at 6am after an overnight flight, and after a long nap, I set out to explore. I had no map, no itinerary, and an empty stomach!
First stop: Ceviche and WiFi!
Rejuvenated and having a general direction, I traversed the colorful streets in search of Huaca Pucllana, one of the most accessible ruins in Peru, nestled right into the heart of the city, rising above the surrounding neighborhoods like an ancient library. The reason I say library, is because the entire temple is composed of handmade mud bricks, rising vertically, one on top of the other, appearing like an endless library of shelved books, leaning into one another, waiting to be plucked. The bricks are laid in such a way, without mortar, to prevent the temple from falling at the slightest earthquake. This methodology allows the bricks space to move when the inevitable earthquake tears through Peru.
It is at Huaca Pucllana that I learned that contrary to what they tell you in elementary school, human sacrifice wasn’t actually as common as I thought. In this settlement, they only sacrificed virgins every 25-50 years when they were renovating the temple. I suppose I’m free to say “only” since at the age of 28, I am no longer young enough to be considered a fit sacrifice. I also learned that Peru has over 55 types of corn and over 3,000 types of potatoes! And here I thought a purple potato was exotic.
After my tour I walked along the coast to Parque Del Amor to read the Spanish love poems and coupled names enthroned in the mosaicked walls and benches.
At the end of the park, I met a surf instructor who agreed to give me lessons! I had heard wonderful things about the waves in Peru, so I was excited to get in the water and give it a go even though I had only had 1 lesson previously and hadn’t surfed for over a year since! After 2 hours in the water, my arms were so tired I could hardly lift them to swim back to shore and my abdomen was bruised from all the times it slammed into the board during my approach. Nonetheless, it was totally worth it. I hope this summer I can rent a board and surf for an hour on Long Island.
After my lesson, I realized that I had told the instructor I had $20 to pay for the lesson, when in reality, I only had 20 soles (about $7 oops!). The instructor offered to walk me back to my apartment to get the money, and in the meantime, I met some of the other surfers and got to enjoy my first Peruvian sunset and share a picnic with some incredibly kind strangers! (Note to self: Tequila con Sunny Delight and arroz con pollo are the true local cuisine! Haha)
The following day we spent time in the city center, including the catacombs at St. Francis Cathedral, and then fancy dinner at La Rosa Nautica, this great restaurant out on the pier that overlooks the surfing beach and an incredible sunset. From La Rosa Nautica, we tried to find a night club featuring some traditional dance, but unfortunately the one we went to was rented out for a private gathering, so we decided to call it a night early and take a cab home, where I lost my phone. Note to self: that kindergarten adage of “look with your eyes but not your hands” still stands, especially in foreign countries! I lent my phone to the cab driver, and never got it back. The security guard at the AirBnB laughed at me when I asked whether there was a lost and found for this stuff. (For all of you rolling your eyes, NYC has one! So I’m not completely naive!)
Our last day in Lima we went power paragliding and to a futbol match! These were the two things my brother really wanted to do. I will say, the power paragliding was fun, but I much preferred hang gliding in New Zealand. The glider with power was just difficult to maneuver and thus the ride was very linear. After gliding, we tried some of the peruvian-asian cuisine that Lima is so well known for, before heading out to the match.
The match was so much fun! Jonathan took care of the tickets and found a company that actually gets you a host to the game, so we were picked up from our home and treated to some snack mix and local beer in the car en route to the game. Fun Fact: you can’t drink alcohol inside the stadium because it’s led to some fan aggression problems, and they can and will remove you if you appear intoxicated! They do have food and drinks available for purchase, but unlike sports stadiums in the US where these are permanent stands owned and operated by the stadium, in Lima, the food stands were families who brought tables with home made arroz con pollo and 2L soda bottles. We went to get snacks at half time and all the water was sold out! We had never encountered anything like this before. Hahaha
Before the game we had stopped at a street vendor to purchase Alianza jerseys and were randomly given #7 jerseys. As it turned out, this player was a rookie and this was his first time starting in a league match, and he scored right in front of us not even 5 minutes into the game, running over to the corner where we were sitting, to celebrate! Alianza for the win!