Up until now I have been posting blogs in order of the countries we visit and up until now I’ve been pretty terrible at getting them up in a timely manner. In addition to just moving more quickly now that we’re in South America, we’ve been living it up as we’ve made our way through the first three countries. No time for computers, I say!
Well folks I’m in the writing mood today, but you’re going to have to wait to hear about Colombia and Ecuador because I’m breaking the mold in honor of a country that has won me over: Peru. Today is our 34th and final day and I’m genuinely sad to be leaving. I have woken up thanking God for the opportunities I’m being given and gone to bed praising Him for the experiences I’ve had more in Peru than any other South American country so far.
Why, you ask? Some things in life can’t be explained easily for example when I go to a live concert and cannot help but hold my arms up in the air looking like a crazy lady in the meantime. Likewise, in Peru, I cannot wipe the enormous grin off my face or shake the feeling of being limitless. The number of high fives I’m throwing out into the world is uncanny.
Our first stop was in Mancora which is a tiny coastal town just south of the border with Ecuador and is known for being one of Peru’s surf hot spots. The weather is 70+, blue skies and breezy year round so I reverted to my inner reptile and sunbaked like it was going out of style and refocused on my yoga practice. We didn’t know at the time, but there was an earthquake off the coast that caused the swell to pick up and made for a few great days of surfing for Jordan.
We celebrated our first anniversary at a boutique restaurant La Sirena Café and “splurged” on seafood. For 25 soles each (less that $10 USD) I got a seared Ahi Tuna steak with rustic potatoes and red wine and Jordan got shrimp risotto and red wine – it was some of the best food we ate in all of Peru.
Second stop was Huanchaco another coastal town approximately eight hours south also known for surfing. For us, the highlight was the hostel we stayed in, La Gringa. It isn’t often that we find a place that feels homey, but the vibe was right and the people amazing specifically the owner, Julie and her son Santino. The day we arrived Santino and his friends from Argentina were playing music in the common area, so Jordan joined in and later that night he played with them on stage at Janpix Bar.
We were there for Columbus Day which was interesting because, according to our guide, that region, Chan Chan, was the most populated city in Peru when (and was where) Columbus landed. I think it goes without saying that Columbus Day wasn’t exactly celebrated. We did go to the church the conquistadors built which is the second oldest in the Americas!
We took a day trip out to the archeological site El Brujo with Julie and a few other travelers from La Gringa. El Brujo was built by the Moche tribe sometime between 1 and 600 A.D. It’s famous for the carvings and mural paintings, but most impressive was the mummy and ceremonial items (weapons, jewelry, clothes) of Senora de Cao who is thought to have been one of the highest ranking priestesses during that time. It is estimated that she died in 650 A.D. Her body was incredibly well preserved and we could even see the tattoos on her arms.
Without realizing it, a week passed and we decided to explore more of Peru. Next stop was Huaraz(3,090 meters above sea level) which is situated below the Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra and Huascaran National Park – the Huascaran snow peak is the highest in the tropics. After a failed attempt to hike up to the most popular Laguna 69, 4 a.m. wake up time and all, we ended up on a Peruvian family adventure to Laguna Chinancocha a different glacier lake. On the way out to the lake we stopped in Yungay to see the effects of the 1970s Ancash earthquake that caused a glacier 800 meters across to collapse which caused a debris avalanche burying the town and killing more than 20,000 people. Even though it wasn’t how we planned to spend the day, it gave us another perspective and more knowledge of Peruvian history.
From the mountains we descended to Lima and the scenery was unreal. Seeing snowcapped mountains in the distance from the middle of the desert is nothing I’ve ever seen before. We’d been told by other travelers to make a quick stop over in the city and move on, but we thought it was great. We stayed in an area called Miraflores which reminded of Santa Barbara with the bluff overlooking the Pacific, water full of surfers and city ripe with diverse restaurants and great shopping.
We stocked up on some clothing essentials as our Australian adventure is fast approaching and our first job lined up is on a farm harvesting celery and cabbage, and indulged in the wide variety of food. Shocking, I know. On Sunday we happened upon a local farmers market where we found cheap and delicious seafood. Jordan got the ceviche and I got a sort of seafood cake with layers of potato, creamy crab and shrimp, and avocado. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
From Lima there is so much more to tell, so TO BE CONTINUED.