Gracias! My trip to your country was full of fun, mystery and intrigue!
I loved MIRAFLORES! right by the ocean, home of my friends, and the nicest part of Lima in an informal poll. Easy access to the ocean, the Sheraton where KISS stayed for their big sold out concert, Mango which looks out on the water, addictive chicken sandwiches with pecans and many laughs.
I learned in the first restaurant that the clip on the back of the chair is to attach to your bag…..so that people can’t steal it. In the tiny, noisy, pollution-spreading cabs with no a/c, I was informed lock the doors, put your bag on the floor because, although it happens infrequently these days thanks to the ‘cleaning up’ by the corrupt former president, Alberto Fujimori.One night my friends were having a debate about his merits, since one of them used to work for his government. On one side, he rid Peru of the Shining Path guerilla attacks and car bombings, made sure all Peruvians had running water and cleaned up crime.
Yet, there’s that other side to him where he changed the law so he could have a third term, human rights abuse, corruption and of course he fled the country to evade trial to Chile, where extradition is hard.
The bus tour we took of Miraflores lasted an hour, is more expensive for tourists (x 3 but let’s face it their dollar=.30 US roughly, sometimes less. I came across exchange rates from 3.01 to 3.10.) The bus tour never stopped making for some interesting FAIL photos.
Being my friend’s birthday, we had a marvelous ‘traditional’ Peruvian night out at a local nightclub Cajaro (which I’m told is a very rude way of saying Damn! Located at: Calle Catalino Mirando 158 Barranco) that looked like a large warehouse. There were long tables inside which quickly filled up. We were all giddy as the first of several shows started with staff members dancing and a live band. First the waiters, then the bartenders, security guards and finally the cook even came out to dance and give away some food.
When the professional dancers took the stage, I learned another traditional Peruvian dance is based on the movements of…a turkey. It was seriously fantastic to watch the costume movements and I was seriously giddy on pisco sour thinking of the unglamourous turkey!
My favorite dance involved a candle. I wonder if Jonathan Larson (author of ‘Rent’) every went down to Peru before his unfortunate passing and saw this dance (“Won’t You Light My Candle?” the most annoying song in ‘Rent.’ ) In the Peruvian dance, there is a paper in the back of one dancer and the other one tries to light it. I’m not even drinking Pisco Sour right now and this makes me laugh. Yes, they try to light the ass of the other dancer on fire! And yes, the ‘light’ for the candle ‘comes’ from the other dancer’s ass! Unfortunately my digital camera doesn’t work well at night so I was unable to document these moments. However, I’m happy to be able to add a few courtesy of Patrizia (in the center!) Wasn’t our group HOT?
During the day, Barranco is the area where all the artists live. Some of those houses look like they are going to fall into the sea, but they sure know how to have a great time! In fact, the lunch buffet we had there was full of…..you guessed it, ‘traditional Peruvian dishes!’
Miraflores is also home to the wonderous
XOCOLATL by Giovanna Maggiolo, an
amicable woman indeed. Aside from the fabulous chocolate, you can sit a the center table and enjoy a coffee, which Giovanna serves up with a few cookies. She is very generous with samples of her sweets. She has new takes on Peruvian traditions.
XOCOLATL is also well located on Calle Manuel Bonilla at 111 in Miraflores. The street offers up several good restaurants. If you stop into see xocolatl first, you are sure to get some reccommendations.
As for my party, we opted to
make a fun night of it at TAntA’s Miraflores location (there is also one in central Lima Pasaje Ni
colas de Rivera 142 or call them 511-428-3115) Av. 28 de Julio 888. Of all the traditional Peruvian dishes I ate- and trust me that EVERY meal we had my friend Giannina said ‘this dish is a Peruvian tradition….’ even after I started teasing her about it leading to the statement ‘No, we don’t ha
ve toilet paper, it’s a Peruvian tradition to whip your ass with your hand’, the dish at Tanta was the most delicious. It was simply risotto with chicken. That may sound easy to make, but it was incredibly savory, had local vegetables and was mouthwatering! In fact, everyone loved their meals and we especially loved our fabulous drinks made with Pisco, a local Peruvian drink ingredient that is a must! I get so damn giddy on the stuff, it’s ridiculous. Have yourself a Pisco Sour!
Another safety tip, post buying some gorgeous Peruvian crafts at the markets (please bargain, they expect you to bargain) if there are taxis waiting outside the markets do not take them. I noticed one of the taxis, the man sounded American, which stood out after nine days of being around primarily Spanish speakers. Giannina lead me quickly away as she informed me to never take one of those taxis, they know you are a tourist and will rob you.
When you get a cab in Lima set the price before getting in to your destination. These prices are again, negotiable. Several times taxi drivers would say to Giannina at the end of a trip they wanted another ‘soles’ (Peruvian dollar) as they would hear me talking to her and realize I was a tourist. My fiery local would chastise them and refuse.
My final reccomendation in Miraflores would be the Circuito de Playas walk along the ocean. Nope, I’m not in Parque Gruell in Barcelona, I’m in Beso Parque in Lima. It was great to walk along there and see all the quotes including ones about ‘Well, I might not be that into you, but I should make my heart lie so I can get some.’ There were also a lot of couples making out in the park replicating the giant statue of two naked bodies entwined with a kiss. I opted to um, be a 3rd grader and faux makeout with myself….LMAO! Here I am below getting ‘caught’ by my personal paparazzi. Big surprize, we thought this was hilarious.
It will lead you eventually to public beach, although we were lucky enough to goto a private beach club which was fabulous. It looked like a resort in Aruba. I embraced it as an opportunity to work on some of my poses for America’s Next Top Model…..how did I do?
If you are a foreigner and have a club member endorse you, you can get three months’ free membership to the club. If I lived there I would be at the club every single day!
As for Cuzco and Machu Picchu, well it just is that good. Cusco (pronounced Costco insert gaffaw now bargain shoppers) is meant to have the best nightlife in Peru according to locals. Unfortunately I was so exhausted from early rising and touring that I didn’t a) sample any of it b) see that many people around anyway. I was there on a Sunday-Monday combination. In Cuzco I did feel it was a little more dangerous than Lima, probably because I was alone. I was fine on my own but I wasn’t alone that often.
In Cuzco there were plenty of locals awaiting to take your soles, dressed in …you guessed it, traditional Peruvian attire. The colors are magnificent. These three little girls were sweet for as long as it took to take the shot and they then were very aggressive about getting paid. Keep a few soles in your pocket ready and mind your wallets!
The churches in Cuzco are full of shiny, hand-carved religious objects that will dazzle you. The town was created in the shape of a puma. It’s quite amazing to go outside town and see the Incan buildings that remain. I especially enjoyed there were several opportunities, to pick up some of the positive Incan energy- be it rocks or water.
The one area I would tell you to splurge for the upgrade is the train to Machu Picchu. Whether you are trekking there or not, getting to Machu Picchu, get there in a good mood. I had a package deal that included staying only spending a day there — but it turned out be just fine for me. If I had to do it again, I would probably choose to stay over in Macchu Picchu as opposed to another night in Cuzco. There was a magnificent sense of peace and fun there.
On my final day, Giannina took me into the center of Lima to see the government houses, library and um, get some inexpensive silver in Chinatown! Oh, how I love my sterling silver rose ring!
We hit up the Corano Bar which Gia told me was the oldest bar in Lima. I believed her because she excels in history and all Peruvians seem to take great pride in the history of their country, which finally expelled the Spanish, although their architecture still reflects that presence.
The Corano Bar was buildt in 1905 and serves up a mean, lean pork sandwich. It was 11 am but we did see some government types knocking back Pisco Sours. God bless the Peruvians! (p.s. read about the lessons I learned in Peru here.)