Lima was bright and beautiful and bustling! Well, not exactly. It was gloomy and gray and gastronomical (#LITeration). The truth is that a trip to Lima was necessary. I was physically sick with a stomach infection for two consecutive days and getting really comfortable in the way of life in Cusco after six weeks and my productivity – writing, shooting, dreaming – took a backseat. It was only a weekend trip, Friday through Monday, but something about it gave me reasons to be excited about the road ahead.
When in Lima, the agenda was chill. That means I did not do the typical month of Foder’s/Frommer’s/AFAR/Lonely Planet research that I typically do for trips. When we landed, we took the 45-minute scenic Circuito de Playas route to Miraflores, the neighborhood with our Airbnb. It’s noted as a good barrio to stay for the location and the high-end restaurants in walking distance. With food on the brain, we followed a sweet craving to a place called Crepes & Waffles. From there we walked to Te Quiero Té for some calm libations and a boutique shop called El Mundo Papel, where we found palm tree tanks and cards boasting encouraging Spanish phrases like Nunca Te Rindas, never give up. For dinner, we made our way down the same road to Papacho’s, a solid burger, fries, and beer.
Saturday started with a little walk through the neighborhood to a seafood restaurant called Punto Azul that came recommended and claims to be the #1 cevicheria in Peru (but don’t they all?). It was a 20-ish minute wait outside on a street corner where we watched cars, motorcycles, and pedestrians narrowly crisscross each other in an amazing and seemingly orchestrated display of chaotic rhythm and grace. I was shocked there were few honks and only one or two curse words exchanged.
Once seated, we ordered classic ceviche and calamari. My very first experience eating ceviche didn’t disappoint, with octopus, shrimp, white fish, and squid. It was G-O-O-D and the calamari was bomb too. But honestly, like my cuy experience in Urubamba, I enjoyed eating it in the moment but don’t think I need to eat it again.
From lunch, we took a walk to the beach and made a quick stop at a coffee shop called Puku Puku Cafe. The beach itself wasn’t much of a spectacle because it was overcast, windy, and a far walk from our vantage point, Larcomar Shopping Center. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the vista, people watching, and paragliders overhead.
We then made our way to Barranco, another barrio that has an eclectic, bohemian vibe with a cool mix of street art and divey restaurants and bars. It had the look of Disneyland with its late 19th-century architecture and color-splashed walls (without the screaming children and life-sized puppets). I wasn’t complaining. In the main square, Plaza Chabuca Granda, we witnessed more theme park-ish attractions as dancers practiced their moves and vendors enticed the young with balloons. We finished off the afternoon with gelato at Bosco Magico but later returned (after swanky drinks at a Japanese restaurant called Maido) for a smoky outdoor experience at Victoria Bar.
Sunday was a slow start but we actually had a plan. We stretched the legs a little more in the city center in and around Plaza Mayor, seeing the Palacio de Gobierno del Peru (their “white house”), Catedral de Lima, and Palacio Arzobispal de Lima. Though far from the beach, the city center still held some elements of “beach town” including palm trees, long promenades, and street performers.
We next stopped at MALI – Museo de Arte de Lima for some much-needed art therapy. On display was the Nasca, an extensive exhibit documenting the handicrafts and culture of the indigenous people that inhabited the Nasca Valley between 100 BC and 800 AD. It was a skillful display of textiles, ceramics, silver, and geoglyphs, in the form of the Nasca lines. I was happy to purely soak in all the detail without the need to photograph.
Our last night in the city was easy. We followed our craving (again) to an Indian restaurant called Mantra Garden Restobar. It was simple food in a covered outdoor space. And of course, we finished the night with ice cream and laughs at IceCookies.
Arguably, it wasn’t the city at all that got me back on my feet. It was the company. My traveling amigos were a friend I met while interning at an ad agency in Oregon 4 years prior and his good friend from High School. We honestly didn’t have a plan and made a trip out of anything we did – going to Lavandaria Limpios, eating ice cream/gelato, and just kickin’ it in our Airbnb living room. The unique part about hanging out with them was the energy and fresh perspective they brought to Lima and Peru, in general. I fed off of this energy and it drew out new angles and viewpoints for my photography. And of course, there were the hundreds, possibly thousands (Aerie can attest) of ideas that Ramiro brought to the table. Once we heard, “guys, I have an idea…” we were off on a mind trip of new apps, travel startups, masterclasses, non-profit organizations, and the rest. Quite a bit to handle over the week but it honestly nudged at a few ideas that laid dormant in my own mind. It was a wave of freshness that I had not experienced in a while. We spent our last moments together with Monday brunch at Homemade and coffee at Aromia Cafe.
Where should I go next? Perhaps Cusco.
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