Friday, December 5th, 2008

V & her parents visit Peru, 2008

Inca Tern - Larosterna inca

Took a last minute three week trip to Peru with my parents as my dad had extra points so thought it would be the perfect opportunity to tag along and visit my family in Lima. Had such a great time, was so nice spending some quality time with my parents and it was very nice seeing our relatives again as the last time I was there was in 2005. Ate way too much food… the food is amazing, easily some of the best in the world, missing it already as it is hard to reproduce here as we just don’t have the right ingredients. And not only is the food delicious but meals last hours and hours in Peru! Like 9 hour lunches! No exaggeration! But they are always tons of fun, especially when they involve my dad’s crazy university friends who tell lots of funny stories about my dad and their crazy antics and adventures when they were young.


Arrived in Lima just as the APEC meeting was starting. And it just happened that Bush was staying in the hotel a couple blocks down the road from one of my aunt’s house, where we were staying in Miraflores. None of us felt very safe about that, especially with the heightened security – lots of barriers around the roads making it hard to get places, tons of police with machine guns (lots more than usual), and to top it all off two battleships in the ocean pointed towards us just in case they need to act to save Bush! A wee bit creepy! Nevermind the innocent, Bush’ll just blow a hole in the coast of Lima to ensure his own safety! Sheesh! …Anyways!…..


Never been in Lima this late in the year or experienced a summer here. The Lima I know is always covered in grey cloud due to it’s geographical location between the coast and Andes of Peru… “pansa de burro” they call the grey cloud that covers them (the donkey’s belly). We arrived at the end of Spring just as the first summer days were beginning to appear, and for the first time ever I saw blue sky in Lima! Amazing, what a difference it makes to the city! I’ve never noticed how much green space there is (not much compared to Vancouver, but more than I remember). So nice to get some nice warm weather and escape the rainy start of Vancouver winter too.  Went with my cousin Karen to one of the beaches outside of Lima, Playa Senoritas in Punta Hermosa, a beach my parents used to go to often when they were my age. Was interesting to see where they hung out and we had a gorgeous sunny blue skied day too. Went for a swim which was fun as the current near the shoreline was strong enough that it pulled you in and quickly spat you back out but not so strong that you felt out of control… and once in deeper there was no current at all. But not all beaches around Lima are like that, there are lots my dad warned me against swimming in as the waves are huge and the current very strong. One of the highlights of the day was watching my cousin take over a fisherman’s boat so I could take her picture in it…eventually the fishermen just started pushing her out to sea cause she was going overboard with all her poses… maybe you had to be there but it was pretty funny… her friend wouldn’t even stand near us cause she was so embarrassed :P haha


Another cousin has been taking pole dancing lessons in Lima, so naturally I was interested in going to see what it was like. My cousin arranged for me to take a class there… completely different to what we do in Canada, but quite fun still. It was based more around dancing with less pole tricks as the teacher is a modern and contemporary dancer. It was nice to see her different approach to it though and nice to see some different dancing being incorporated into it. At the end of the class I ended up teaching them a few more technical pole spins/holds and the owner asked me to come back and run a 1.5hour workshop for them. So a few days later there was a flyer circulating around Lima advertising that I was in the city, visiting from Canada, an instructor at one of Canada’s top pole dancing schools (Tantra Fitness)… Was such a fun night. It was organized quite last minute & it was on a Friday night at prime going out time so there were only 6 girls, 3 of which had never done any pole dancing before and 3 others who had done all the levels at the Lima studio and were quite strong. All the girls did very well and I was surprised at how much I was able to teach them (did 4 different spins and variations and then two upside down moves) and how fast they picked it up! I guess they just had a good teacher! hahaha Just kidding! Ended off the class with a small demonstration of some of the harder stuff you could eventually learn. They all seemed to love the workshop, looked exhausted at the end, and I’m sure were very sore the next day! They said you need to come back soon! So I said, well if you guys pay for my flight I would be happy to! haha


One morning my cousin, Michel, organized a surfing lesson for me with his good friend, a surf instructor for Lima’s top surfing school. I had never tried surfing before but have always wanted to….it is so much fun, and such a great workout! I recommend you all to try it! Michel took me to a nice sandy beach, Barranquito, with small waves... they started me in an easy spot where the waves were smaller where I somehow managed to stand up on my first try!!!! I was so surprised: “Oh my god! I’m standing! I’m not in the water! Ahhh I’m still standing! Look at me go! I’m still not in the water! What do I do now, do I  keep going?!?!” hehe Then I sat down cause I was getting too close to the shore hehe Did a couple good ones there and then he moved me over to the “big ocean” with the people who had been doing like 5 classes already! Didn’t do so well there as the waves were quite a bit bigger and stronger (or I thought so anyways)….only managed to stand up a couple times there properly... all the others kept falling down…with the waves really crashing over me and knocking me down hard a couple times. Apparently I was trying to stand up too fast, but I couldn’t slow it down! I tired! Hehe I think I was too excited and I was also getting really tired… It’s a crazy workout! Very fun! Definitely a highlight of my trip, mil gracias Michel!


Met up with my dad’s side of the family at the pantanos de Villa (the marshes of Villa), which is a bird reserve near my uncles place... he is actually the president of it. We went on a little boat tour and then walked around to a couple look-out towers. Was really nice to wander around and see the area as I have never properly explored it. At lunch, at my uncles house I saw a beautiful red bird in his yard, a Vermilion Flycatcher, kept trying to get a nice photo of him but they all turned out kinda blurry as he was far and small and didn’t like me getting to close to him. Later went to beach nearby... huge waves!!! Apparently people die at this beach cause the waves are so huge and the current so strong it sucks you under and pulls you in. No swimming for us there! Instead I sat near the water and watched the little white egrets fish…there were tons! Was a fun day.


Walking down the street one day my dad saw a sign in the window that had prices for half a leg, axila (which he took as wings)..etc...  and he thought he was reading the menu for a meat shop or  restaurant or something... turned out to be a waxing/beauty place! Hahaha My mom and I laughed so hard… silly dad!


Our last night, we went with my Aunt Marilu to see the fountains of Lima, which is a fairly new attraction that takes place in the Parque de la Reserva. Was fun! All the fountains were beautiful. The best ones were the tunnel where you could walk under the red colored fountain and the musical avoid the water one: there were several layers of fountains in a several circles, each circle inside the other… basically the point was to get to the middle of the fountain and back out again without getting wet (although lots of kids just ran right through trying to get as wet as possible)… the fountains would change size randomly… there was no pattern to the changes in size so you couldn’t accurately predict when to move, so you had to take your chances and jump over the water and hope they weren’t going to grow just as you were in mid air and get you wet. It was tons of fun and I was very proud to get through without being caught by the water!


One of the highlights of the trip was taking a side-trip outside of Lima with my parents and my Aunt Marilu. Absolutely amazing scenery! First day drove from Lima to Tarma in the Andes.... my parents lived in Tarma for a year about 30 years ago when my dad was doing his final rotation there before being awarded his medical license (in Peru it is a requirement for doctors to provide one year of service to a rural community before being given their medical license). On the drive up there, driving through the country you could smell all these wonderful herbs, it was so strong and such a nice smell! Passed 4800m and took a picture at the highest railroad crossing in the world…interesting to see how the railroad tracks go through tunnels in the mountains and how they climb steep hills. Saw llamas & guanachos, lots of nice sierra scenery like sheep, farmers, cute little villages, and local women and in typical dress. The decent into Tarma is gorgeous! Terraces, farmland, and tons of flowers, so many different colors in the land…greenery with terracotta red soil... beautiful. Tarma itself is poor and dirty and not so nice... not as nice as it was when my parents lived there but they still loved going down memory lane. Walked past the hospital my dad worked at and found a way to the back where they used to live.  The dairy products in Tarma are amazing! I don’t like butter, but the butter here was amazing, I couldn’t stop eating it, and that’s saying a lot! Also the cheese and manjarblanco (sweet caramel-y paste made from boiling condensed milk) were very good.


From Tarma we drove two hours (that’s all it takes now that the road is paved and less sketchy) and made our way down to the central Peruvian jungle. The vegetation change was really neat to see. We stayed between San Ramon and La Merced by a river. Unfortunately there isn’t quite as much wildlife as other areas of Peru as the area we were in is quite populated… didn’t see as many birds as we would’ve liked, and no sadly no monkeys as they have all been scared away or hunted to extinction in the area... However, we did see parrots and my mom saw a toucan. The prettiest bird we saw was an Oropendola, which had a long yellow tail, looked beautiful when he flew.


The next day we drove through the jungle to Satipo and hired a guide to take us to San Andres Waterfalls, 5 small connected waterfalls (didn’t have time to go to the one we wanted to see unfortunately). Although there are many similar waterfalls around Vancouver it was very pretty cause it was surrounded by jungley vegetation and it was nice to get out of the car, walk, and explore the area. 


On the way back to Lima we bought 75 bananas 25 avocados! All of that cost us 8 Canadian dollars! Unreal!  So cheap!!! And they tasted so good! During the drive back we experienced very different weather… went from 30 degree sunny weather in the selva to 0 degrees at the highest point in the sierra where it was snowing to rain and then back down to Lima where it was humid and 20 degrees!


Had a fantastic time and can’t wait to go back again for a visit! Great company, delicious food, and an amazing culture! Can’t ask for anything more!


Pictures from the trip can be seen starting here



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