Thursday, April 3, 2014

Paul's Country Review: Peru

Our last hurrah before returning to the good ol' US of A. We were definitely not interested in trying to get around on our own here and opted for the full tour, we figured this is our last country before heading home, let's make sure we see as much as we can and not waste time trying to figure out train timetables and where to stay and so on - just pick us up and take us where we're supposed to go.

We were constantly told in the other South American countries that yes, Peru is very nice and the people are nice but it is very poor and not to expect much. I can agree that Peru is a poor country (it's not that poor! most of the countries we visited in Africa were much poorer) but Peru was probably the best run, most organized and friendliest with regard to tourism. It is a well oiled machine and there was always some kind of communication between us and the companies that took us around (thanks Peru for Less!). We almost never had questions because they anticipated them and the facilities were all very nice. This is a must visit place for it's natural beauty, crafts and history and the country does an excellent job of making sure you get to see and experience as much of it as possible.

Again, as with Chile, you've seen what we did through Christine's posts so I'll just talk about our experience trying a unique, local delicacy - guinea pig.

To start, you have to know where to go, these are really secret places and you have to be in with the guy at the door. After giving the correct passcode, he led us down a dark alley kind of like the one that Jean Claude Van Damm walked down in Hong Kong (for the Kumite) in Bloodsport. This passageway opened up into a courtyard and there we met a sort of Master of Ceremonies who explained the different types of guinea pig, where to find them and the best way to subdue them. After listening to the man he then explained that in order to eat the guinea pig, we have to catch a guinea pig. 

We immediately took to the rooftops of Cusco and began looking into each home for a caged guinea pig. Fortunately, it didn't take long before we found one in the bedroom of some little kid. Was she saving this for tomorrow's dinner? Too bad because it's ours now! We broke in real quiet like, making use of Christine's skills as a cat burglar (in Madrid back in the 80's) to circumvent the security systems and we were in like Flint. Why is the guinea pig wearing a collar with the name "Giggles" on it? Do people normally name their food? Anyway, I get to work opening the cage while Christine is keeping an eye on the kid, blackjack in hand, ready to bludgeon at the first sign of movement and I stop for a second. Why is there a running wheel and toys in here? I conclude that they want the guinea to be a little gamier and running is probably the best way to accomplish that. The toys? The owners probably felt guilty just butchering the thing and wanted to give it toys as a distraction before meeting it's untimely end. Anyway, I get the cage open and grab the guinea pig. In my excitement I knock the cage over and there is a large crash. Christine immediately looks to blackjack the kid but she hasn't moved and we start climbing through the window and back out into the Cusco night. Just as I am getting through the window, the kid wakes up and begins crying out "they stole Giggles!" and at the same time I can hear people stirring in the other rooms. We have to go - now. The girl is now reaching what I thought an unreachable volume and pitch. "Giggles, nooooo!" Man, she is really attached to her dinner, I say as we shimmy down the drain pipe. We arrive back to the restaurant and hand over our prize and they quickly begin preparing it for our dinner. It looks and smells delicious and we can't wait to devour this thing.

It was kind of gross.


"Chew, swallow, repeat...keep it down"

Lima...and back to the United States!

We arrived in Lima on February 3 (yes, I realize that's 2 months ago today). After checking in and resting up for a couple hours, we headed out on a city tour. We visited the highlights of Lima (Plaza de San Martin, Plaza Mayor and the Monastery of San Francisco) and then had a nice dinner at the Marriott. We were having a hard time believing we would be headed back to the States the next night. After being away for 383 days, the time had finally come for us to head back. We didn't know where this journey was taking us when we left that night on January 19, 2013 but I'm glad we took the opportunity!

Twisty trees

Heading towards the Plaza de San Martin

Plaza de San Martin

Monument to Jose de San Martin

Even the birds love it!

Paul loves it!

We then got back in the van to head to another plaza!

Plaza Mayor aka Plaza de Armas of Lima

The yellow building is the Municipal Palace (original building dates back to the early 17th century)

Cathedral of Lima

Cathedral of Lima has cool doors!

Another closer shot

Another shot of the Cathedral of Lima

Why yes Paul, I am taking a photo of you in front of the Presidential Palace


Palacio de Gobierno aka the Presidential Palace

Archbishop Palace

Walking towards the Monastery of San Francisco

Monastery of San Francisco

Some alone time for a local teenager. Perhaps to get away from...

...the Mormons?

View of the courtyard in the Monastery of San Francisco

Cheeseball going into the church

I like his mustache

My nightmare...pigeons everywhere!

We got dropped off in the Miraflores district and had a nice dinner at the J.W. Marriott.

Pretty reflections

With a pretty view of the South Pacific Ocean

Pretty lights walking back to our hotel

Parks are the place to be in Lima

The next day - we went to the famous La Lucha restaurant for some delicious sandwiches.

Yum! More in the food section...yes, I will finally update it...just give me another couple weeks!

At around 6pm, we got picked up for our flight back to the U.S. What a weird feeling! Our flight was at 1am on February 5th so yeah, we hung out at the airport for a few hours.

I miss Cap'n for all the secrets he would hide

Paul enjoying our first class seats

Connecting flight in Houston...first time back in the U.S of A in over a year!

Flying to SF

Pretty scenery

You can see the curvature of earth here...kind of

Happy earth!

See how tiny the plane is? San Mateo bridge is in the distance.

And....we're back!

We had mixed feelings coming back to the States. We loved traveling and wished we could have continued into Central America and up through Mexico but we'll save that for our next journey. Thanks for being a part of our travels the last 383 days!