In Latin America, Peru is the country that I visited maximum number of times, seven visits. And incidentally, it is also the country that I liked the most from a plethora of countries which I visited as part of my job from 2004. My maiden visit to Peru was in 2008, and I fell in love with the country during the first visit itself for a myriad of reasons. Among these reasons, Peruvian cuisines and its people are the ones that made me an affectionate fan of Peru.
If you are visiting the capital city, Lima, Miraflores is the best place to stay as it is “a happening place.” The best attraction at Miraflores is the Kennedy Park: a large area in the size of around 5-football grounds and located in the heart of the city. The park has many attractions to savor around: a majestic cathedral named Parroquia La Virgen Milagrosa – it is an architectural marvel with ornate interiors; a low-grounded and round-designed amphitheater which is the venue for music bands, dancing and various other shows, with spectators sitting and staying around it to watch the shows; another amphitheater of polished concrete short-pillars for people to sit and chit-chat, and I saw a competition of wordy-duel — similar to the Indian Anthakshari — taking place here; painting exhibitions by local artists; makeshift souvenir shops; mobile fast-food units that sell traditional food; and many such attractions. Evenings are the times when the park is in its maximum capacity utilization as people throng it in hundreds. On either outer-side of the park, there are plenty of restaurants, pubs, discotheques, etc. to unwind at the end of the day. The park also has tourist-information office which arranges city-bus tours.
I did such a bus ride that took me to Huaca Pucllana, an 800-year old archaeological site having the ruins from pre-Inca era. It is completely built with mud-bricks and has seven uneven platforms. The archaeological records show that the advancement of the Lima culture has its foundational base on this structure. A 15-minute walk from Miraflores will take you to Larcomar, a shopping center built on the seaside mountainous-elevation of Lima, and you can have panoramic views of the beautiful shoreline from here. The shopping center and its accompanying-surroundings stretch a few kilometres, and there are walkways all along for you to take a stroll and enjoy the place. The center has both indoor and outdoor areas with many eateries and other shopping spots. You can get a curved view of the shoreline from Larcomar and an illuminating view in the evenings when the lights go live.
Centro de Lima – Central Lima – is the main commercial area in Lima, dotted with many Spanish-era architectures and bristling with hustle bustle of business activities. If you are a business traveler, you cannot miss this place. For tourists, too, the place offers a lot of shopping avenues. Do visit the China Town at the Central if you are fond of Chinese cuisines as they are many Chinese restaurants here. Peru has a small population of Chinese, Japanese and Africans, who or their ancestors immigrated to Peru and got themselves integrated into the society and the culture – they are now Peruvians. Remember Alberto Fujimori, the ex-President who had to flee to Japan in order to escape from imprisonment? Well, his daughter, Keiko Fujimori, is active in the Peruvian politics.
Peru is a foodies’ paradise! Fasten your seatbelt for a gastronomic ride 🙂 Peruvian food is the tastiest food in the world! I had traveled across the world and savored many cuisines like Chinese, Far-Eastern, Vietnamese, South Asian, Mexican, African and many others but would rate Peruvian culinary as the most savoring one, even keeping above the cuisines of my own country, India. What makes Peruvian food so delicious? One interesting aspect about Peruvian food is that it, unlike Indian or Chinese cuisines, hardly uses oil in its preparation, resultant that we can feel the taste of the ingredients in their natural flavors. In India, we use lot of oil in food, and in that process, we miss out the natural flavors of many ingredients — oil partially takes ingredients off their natural flavors and gives a different taste. Furthermore, overuse of oil makes the Indians more prone to high rate of heart ailments. Recently, I read that the Indians were genetically prone to heart-attacks, and it might be because of our food habits over thousands of years. Another factor that makes Peruvian food irresistible is that Peru has lots of tasty curry-ingredients that are only bearable-spicy, not spicy or very spicy like Indian curry-ingredients.
Let me present before you a tantalizing array of Peruvian cuisines: Cold-cooked Ceviche, Mariscos (seafood), Pescado (fish based varieties), Pollo a la Brasa (Roasted Chicken), Arroz con Pato (Rice With Duck), Aji de Gallina (Creamy Chicken), Chicha Morada – a natural delicious juice – Inca Kola etc. Coca Cola company could not beat Inca Kola when it launched Coke in Peru, and even today Inca Kola is the market leader. But the corporate giant had its strategy clear so bought the Inca Kola company. Still, Coke is behind Inca Kola in terms of market share. That is the kind of tasty value of Inca Kola!!
Peru experiences frequent but mild tremors. On an average, around 50 mild tremors happen in a month, but there is nothing to worry, for they are mostly innocuous and of less magnitude. There was an earthquake of 5.50 magnitude in Peru, 120 km SE of Lima, around 3 p.m. on a day when I was there. No casualties were reported as the hypocenter was 74 km, thankfully. I was inside an office building at that time in Lima, and a tremor was felt — first as a bang on the building, then, the building shook for a few seconds. It was my first experience with a tremor! Wow! We all ran out of the building but went back soon as it was back to normal quickly. Peru is situated within the “The Pacific Ring of Fire,” the most active seismic region that passes through Asia, Russia, New Zealand, Antarctica, North America, Central America and South America. Wikipedia says, “About 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 81% of the world’s largest earthquakes occur along the “Ring of Fire.”
As I experienced from many trips to Peru, the people are friendly who welcome visitors with a warm hug and a peck on the cheek. I felt them honest and straightforward. They walk that extra mile to help strangers and acquaintance. And I experienced this magnanimity while I was prospecting for a customer, when someone, for whom I was a stranger and who had become a good friend of mine later, selflessly helped me a lot to reach to the customer with whom we are doing business now. Whenever I visit Peru, I make it a point to meet her and say ‘thank you.’ Also, I noticed that the Peruvians are go-getters, take life easy, work five-day week and unwind during the weekends with fun and frolic. Peru and its people offer jovial, memorable times for visitors. Notwithstanding the works, I enjoyed my Peruvian days and have a treasure trove of beautiful memoirs. So the blog ends here. No, how can I close the blog on Peru without saying about Mach Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World? Well, I made a trip to Machu Picchu, but those mesmerizing experience deserves a separate blog. Stay tuned, coming soon 🙂
The following are a few photo and video links which have some of the nice moments I captured from Lima: