We came here with nothing pre-planned, wanting to base our days on recommendations of the people we met. Not having any concrete ideas of what we wanted to do made our days relatively stress free, we were able to take our morning to relax and have a late breakfast before heading into the unknown for the afternoon and a late lunch. In our week here we visited a craft brewery, ate beef heart, had delicious pisco sours, got invited to a going away party of a brand new friend, went to said party, played darts in a german bar, visited ruins, toured the local markets, ate ceviche, watched the sunset every day, played Jenga on two different occasions at "el jardin secreto", went to a chocolate museum, and possibly agreed to a five week road trip to Chile at the end of February.
Having really only explored a small slice of the city, mainly the neighborhoods of Barranco and Miraflores. These are two communities side by side on the coast divided by a small canyon in between. Our perception is limited, but the coastline here is stunning, sheer cliffs dropping almost directly into the ocean with just a small strip of road and a pebble beach in between. There are numerous parks lining these cliff tops, from the Parque Amour (The Park of Love) where you will see lovers tucked into various corners as well as brides doing wedding day photo shoots, to playgrounds and dog-parks. There is so much greenery preserved here that no matter where you might be you are most likely just a short stroll form a green space. Just north of the Parque Amour in the late afternoon you can catch groups of young men practicing acrobatics on tightropes strung between palm trees. The flips and spins will leave you breathless. For the cat lovers out there make sure to drop by Le Parque Kennedy, known to the locals as Le Parque des Gatos. It's a large park filled with flowers and trees, as well as a healthy population of stray cats. Local residents feed them, keep them relatively clean and have no problem with the cats curling up in their laps as they relax under the shade of a tree.
One of the specialties of the Lima are anticuchos, skewers of perfectly marinated beef hearts often served with simple sides such as corn and boiled potato. Tio Mario's is where we dipped our toes onto the local fare on our first night in town, located in Barranco, they are known to have a line wrapping around the block almost every night of the week. The anticuchos were incredible, so tender and flavorful, if we hadn't known going in that they were heart, we may have left just as unaware. A must have to finish are the picarones, a fried donut of sorts made of potato and squash flour and served with a fig syrup. Of course, we can't say Lima without mentioning ceviche, we had it first at Punte Azul, and are heading shortly to go try it at the Mercado de Surquillo No. 1 for lunch. Punte Azul was a bit of a splurge for us, but the portions were so incredibly generous, there's nothing to complain about. We ordered a seafood stew with our ceviche, and found it difficult to finish everything. We have yet do be disappointed by a meal here, and there is an obvious pride in the amazing food culture that we had no idea existed.
While this week has been a lot of fun for us, not everything has been rainbows and unicorns riding bicycles. It's interesting how being uncomfortable in a new environment can add so much unexpected stress to everyday experiences. I got a wicked case of the local Montezuma's revenge (if you don't know don't ask, it's not pretty,) which made me grumpy for three days straight. I also found that I was being extra short with Joe when we were lost or couldn't make up our minds of where to go next. Being my first time in such an alien environment, so far from home really added to my general anxiety, and it has been an eye opening experience to realize how much stress I had been carrying around. I decided to stay home yesterday and read on our patio since I was still under the weather while Joe went exploring around the neighborhood. When he got back we shared a beer before going to a restaurant near Parque Kennedy that was modeled after In and Out. I think a day spent apart followed by a familiar meal of cheeseburgers and french fries was just what the doctor ordered after such an eventful week, and we are feeling recharged and ready for the next phase.