Saturday, June 21st, 2003

Lima, Peru

Lima city center

Arriving in Lima - June 21, 2003




Well we made it to Peru safe.  Plane ride was good but really really long.  Nice plane! Had video games we could play!!


Third day in Lima, a huge city with over 8 million people living in it. We're living like kings! We've eaten better these days than we ever have. Just got back from a fancy restaurant that had food from different areas from the world... Absolutely amazing food. People in the restaurant run around like mice waiting on you, doing pretty much everything for you. I'm not going to bother explaining all the different foods I’ve had here. There was just too much... but some of the things were completely new, like the chirimoya fruit, a white fruit with black seeds in it, very sweet, yummy. It’s a melon sized fruit, hard to describe… Like a cross between a pear, apple, water melon and banana :) There were other types of different fruits but that was the best tasting... Something called lucuma, didn't like that as much, a little dry for being a fruit but it had an interesting taste. All the food is giant here… the avocados and mangos are the size of a melon at least. Huge! The corn kernels are huge too, like the size of a marble or so… Also tried Inca cola which is a pop that sorta looks like mountain due but is made from some kind of herb. Tons of delicious desserts too :) Good thing we’ll be doing the Inca trail in the next week or so…got to work some of this food off…


Everyone is super-friendly here…. always kiss the women you meet. The men always greet with a handshake.


We're staying in Miraflores, Lima, right on the beach, at V’s aunt Adriana’s place. It's like an exotic Vancouver. Lots of people parapenting off the coastal cliffs in Miraflores…you can see them from V’s aunts apartment… the wind allows you to fly around the beach. We’ve been visiting Veronica's extensive family here pretty much continuously, which has been a blast. It’s been really nice for Veronica to see them all after so long as well. Everyone has servants who wait on you, which takes getting used to, but its really not half bad :)


It’s pretty gray right now cause they’re in the middle of winter… but then again Lima is usually always under a grey cloud which they call the Pansa de Burro (donkey’s belly). At least it’s not cold! 15 degrees roughly…it’s the humidity that we’re getting used to. 


Went out with V’s aunt Marilu and uncle Aizic. They took us on a big tour around Lima, to the downtown core and around some of the poorer neighborhoods. Was interesting to see how different the houses and buildings were between all the neighborhoods and the different lifestyles people lead. Things get dirt cheap in those areas of the city of course. Some of the buildings were gorgeous, lots of intricate designs and colors from colonial times and other buildings looked like they were falling apart. Also saw from a distance one of the ghetto areas of Lima.


One morning after visiting a museum we went to Veronica's Grandmothers' place to visit. She's 89 and still kickin. The day before apparently she was so excited that Veronica was coming she was dancing and singing. She’s in super good spirits. Was great making her day , seeing that she is doing well, and exploring her large house and garden...  We had a lovely lunch of Papa a la Huancaina which is potato (not just any potato, special Peruvian yellow potato….so good!) covered in a cheesy sauce with a red Peruvian pepper known as Aji. Very yummy. Also had a Peruvian juice drink called chicha morada, which is made from purple corn…quite interesting. 


Later we went off to Veronica's Aunt Olivia's. Saw all the family on V’s mom’s side. Met V’s cousin’s 3 year old son. Such a cutie! Crazy though! Wouldn’t stop moving, running all over the house, bouncing off the walls! Was weird being referred to as aunt veronica but it was cool meeting him. Had a big feast including a new favorite food of mine: Causa... it's absolutely amazing... a kind of yellow potato here is prepared with lemon and used as a crust around a filling of crab and hot pepper, mayo and other goodies all combining for an incredible taste. Apparently you just can't make it like this in Canada because all the ingredients aren't as tasty, but we’re going to give it a try anyways when we get back to Vancouver.


Met Muriel, Karen and her husband Lucho, who are more our age. Muriel dubbed me spicy Tony after I happily ate a pile of peppers they were trying to get me to be careful of… after that memorable evening, we went out for drinks with Karen and Lucho… you can drink around in the streets here. We had a drink called Pisco Sour, which is a mix of pisco, egg white, lemon and cinnamon…tastes great. I’m going to be seeing more of those I think. Hits you like a triple whiskey shot. You know how we have stronger beer than the states? Here the beer is 15%! Yow!


Anyways, having an amazing time already. Flying to Cusco tomorrow morning


Don’t worry mom and dad, we’re all safe and sound… and we’re limiting the blow to one or two lines a nite and making sure the women we get in are nice and clean. And we’ll be sure to double check the parachute before jumping off a cliff :)



Back in Lima for a short visit – October 12, 2003


Tony, V and Frances came back down from Northern Peru to meet up with V’s mom and dad in Lima… immediately our plans were full of visits to relatives' places. It’s been nice relaxing, being lazy and enjoying the wonderful food V’s relatives have been preparing!


Tony and Frances met more of Veronica's dad's family, who are a hoot... they shout so loud to each other it’s unbelievable! At one point at a dinner with 14 people around the table, two of the solimano brothers were talking and joking with each other (something about fishing for trout in a river that does not exist a couple blocks away...) and it was so loud that Tony threw his hands up, waving them about and shouted loudly, and nobody batted an eye in his direction. Makes these outings much more fun not having those bloody awkward silences, you know?


Went to a national reserve the other day called Lomas de Lachay ... basically a cloud forest ... the moisture from the fog makes everything very green, unusual for this area of Peru. It was a nice area with twisty trees adding to the eary atmosphere and lots of flowers and birds. The highlight of the day was seeing a fox! It came up super close and was posing for us to take pictures of it :) Later we saw another one who picked up an empty Chinese food container thinking it was food or something.... but when it picked up the container it covered his whole face and all it could see was white! All the mountains and green had disappeared. The poor fox was so confused! It was stumbling around trying to figure out what was going on. He looked drunk. He would drop the container and then pick it up again, whiteness, and would clumsily stumble around some more. The poor thing, it was hilarious to watch but also kinda sad. We thought the poor thing was going to fall off a cliff or something... eventually it figured out how to carry the container and ran off to lick it in privacy.


Went to an exhibit on Lima's recent past from 1980 onwards, when the Shining Path terrorists and the military caused horrible violence and suffering... the pictures were incredible and the content twisted your stomach. Some people left crying. In one of the 25 or so rooms, there were about 7 large portraits on the wall, and each had a speaker inside of it, speaking the story of the person in the portrait, and upon entering the room you hear all their voices at once (you walk up really close to the picture to hear just that one), all telling the truth that is now being collected by the current Toledo government... hard to describe, but we found it very moving to be in there. The history and events are described in the book the Dancer Upstairs, which we highly recommend as it was a compelling read even before we knew just how closely the book followed the truth (in fact, the actual violence was much worse than any told in the book, and we had thought it would be the other way around! - that the author was adding violence and drama to increase appeal to a North American audience, but that isn’t the case ... almost everything except the changed names in the book is all too real).




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