I got to go to Peru this summer, and I have to say, it’s one of the most amazing places I’ve ever visited. My first stop was Lima. It was overcast the day I arrived, and I loved it. Winter in Lima is awesome. I got quite a few strange looks (no, not because I was a crazy China taking an inordinate number of selfies) because I was walking around in a t-shirt, and everyone else was bundled up. Even the dogs were wearing sweaters! Winter in Lima is like spring in Texas; not too hot, not too cold. Perfect for sight-seeing and people-watching.
I decided to do a five-hour tour of the city. Turned out to be a great decision. My guide was a lovely young lady named Eliana. She spoke English better than me do. She had a great sense of humor and was totally cool being candid with me about the government and her life in Peru. You could tell she loved Lima and was very proud of her culture. Her energy was contagious and kept me going even though I was tired and hungry.
Eliana even helped me negotiate a group picture with the local police. I decided I had to have a picture with them when Eliana told me that many stray dogs hang out near police officers because they give the strays food and clothing. You can tell which dogs are the strays because they typically wear worn out clothing. I would have happily donated my clothes to the dogs, but they weren’t having it. Apparently, Peruvian dogs do not respond well to, “Stop running away from me. I just want to put this shirt on you. It’s from Old Navy. You’ll like it!”
Here’s a fun fact. Did you know Peru has its own version of Irn Bru, Scotland’s national soft drink? It’s called Inca Kola, and it’s bright yellow. If cream soda and Big Red got married, they’d make Inca Kola. It’s super sweet, but tolerable with a little (or a lot) of Pisco. What’s Pisco, you ask? Pisco is a type of brandy which is distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice. Everywhere I went, people tried to get me to drink Pisco Sours. I was more than happy to oblige. I was addicted to them after almost 3 weeks of Pisco heaven. Drunk never felt so good.
Of course I interrogated Eliana about the food in Peru. After all, studying a country’s cuisine is one of the best ways to learn about the culture. Corn and potatoes are king in Peru, and lucky for me, I love both. There are 55 varieties of corn grown in Peru, and over 3,800 varieties of potatoes. I probably ate only five varieties during my stay in Lima. I’ll definitely have to go back for more since I barely scratched the surface this time around.
The most popular type of food in Lima is pollo a la brasa or Peruvian rotisserie chicken. It’s super tender and juicy, and the skin is slightly crispy and well-seasoned. The next favorite by a very close margin is the ubiquitous Chifa. Chifas are basically our version of Chino-Latino restaurants. Imagine a typical Chinese restaurant using Peruvian ingredients and spices in their dishes. Initiate St. Bernard level drool sequence. Yes, it’s THAT good. Other stand outs included the lomo saltado, a beef stir fry prepared in a wok, and Peruvian ceviche (pictured below), which is light and flavorful. I was in no danger of losing weight here.
The people in Lima were very friendly and helpful, although a bit shy. One thing I noticed about the ladies of Lima, is that they are quite well groomed. Many of them wore high heels in the city even though there are a number of cobblestone streets in the downtown shopping districts. And the jeans! What can I say about the jeans? Well, let’s just say my derriere needs a little more work before I can do those jeans justice. The most common style I saw were ones with no back pocket and stitching a few inches under the waistband to accentuate the roundness of a perfect booty. I’m only 100,000 squats or so away from getting that booty. I’ll get there eventually.
Next time I’ll be talking about my Amazon adventure. Su, Su, Su of the jungle…