Archive for February, 2010

South America Catchup post #1: Lima, Peru

As promised I am going to fling up some more images from the end of my trip for your delectation today. The first stop is Lima, Peru, where I passed a brief period of a day and a half in between Cusco and Buenos Aires.

It was a jarring experience, after 5 weeks in the cold, damp, oxygen-starved mountains, to land in Lima and drive in from the airport through the ancient port town of Callao, now consisting of alternating shanty towns and massive retail parks of Toys'R'Us, Wal-Mart, Starbucks and TGI Fridays that could have been in Texas, but for some reason the coastal desert setting, and the griminess of the vacant lots and sand-blown boulevards of the outskirts reminded me much more of Saudi Arabia. And it was bloody hot, I mean summertime hot.

I spent most of my time in Miraflores, a posh suburb to the south of the city centre which contains a lovely central park (Parque Kennedy) and a heaping helping of tasty restaurants, cafés (I enjoyed Café Z greatly), and bars. I ate a ridiculous lunch at a restaurant specialising in lomo saltado, usually strips of cheap flank steak sautéed with peppers and onions, but in this case (posh, remember) the beef was juicy chunks of filet mignon and premium fresh veggies, half out in the open as per normal, and half encased in a delicious buttery pastry which was otherwise filled with melted cheese. Paramedics were standing by with the paddles, or perhaps I hallucinated that last. In any case wandering around Miraflores was lovely, everyone with a midsummer spring in their step, and kids in board shorts freshly arrived from the beach. I enjoyed walking down to the Pacific Ocean, where there was a swish shopping centre called LarcoMar built into the top of the cliffs.

In the morning I went on a city tour which was as combination of bus tour and walking. I didn't think much of this tour, though whether this was down to the package tourists making up the rest of the tour, or the somewhat poor quality of the tour itself, or the fact that we were touring the squalid, twentieth-century-reconstruction of the main square, I can't tell.

I was definitely not feeling the love when the elderly American cruise ship tourist / outpatient asked the guide in a loud, midwestern twang, audible from space, "IS THAT A CHURCH???" when stood in front of the building in the image directly below:

Later that day it was back to Miraflores where I made a beeline for the lovely El Kapallaq restaurant, a Lima institution, for a bit of the famous ceviche, or raw fish "cooked" in lime juice, mixed in with onions and spices. In my case it was the specialty of the house, a delicious combination of ceviche served with white beans on one side and roasted corn kernels on the other. An odd combination but it really worked. What blew my mind afterwards was a pan-fried chunky filet of the fish of the day, whose name I did not catch but which could have been bream. It was light (fell apart on the fork) and was the perfect kind of savoury, lemon butteriness. Yum. I took a shot of the sign they had on the wall, which had a shark's jaws and the words "the way to the heart is through the stomach". Perfect.

Finally it was time to catch the overnight plane to Buenos Aires, for the last few days of the trip. More on that in the next post….