Ok, first off, it wasn’t 10K Steps Barranco, but 17K+. I like a good walk.
So we arrived at around midnight. The plane got into Lima at 11, but South American baggage claims will have you waiting. And maybe biting a nail or two after they once forgot to send your luggage from Toronto to Santiago. Not to make you rethink checking the bag or anything, because my bag did show up after a day or something. And last night our bags did eventually show, and we went through a VERY busy airport, past all of these lovely balloon-bearing people. None of whom were there for us. But if you walk through Detroit airport at midnight, you kind of have to yourself. So all of these folks really excited to see loved ones struck us as pretty awesome. This was just a super quick snap that I tried to get on the sly, but imagine this times about 20.
Then about, I dunno, 40 minutes later, we were at our AirBnB in Barranco. Lima is massive, but the trendy places where most gringos and other rich visitors stay are Barranco and Miraflores. We LOVE our flat. It’s quiet despite being on a really busy street and has this amazing alpaca rug and other cool Peruvian treasures.
We slept well, then headed out.
10K Steps: Barranco, Peru: Coffee
Dudes, we HAVE to find our coffee place, wherever we go. We gave Tostaduria Bisetti a shot today. It’s very cool, as you can see.
Nice service, super laid-back, and Bukowski quotes in Spanish.
Also, crazy amounts of bougainvillea!
Still, we’re not quite settled in yet, so we’ll try a couple of other places. But it’s super cool, and the coffee and breakfast was good.
From there, we just started walking up San Martin, which is kinda the major street that gets you from Barranco to Miraflores. If Barranco has a groovy, beachy vibe—more Sunset Beach than Soho, frankly—Miraflores feels like Miami South; nicer and a little more democratic, which is probably just me fooling myself and overly romanticizing things because I can just walk around and appreciate how pretty things are. I will say that people smile a lot here. Even when they’re aggressive, it’s in a nice way. More on that later.
We took a couple of meanders off San Martin. There’s a lot of cool stuff to see. Like this vendor. I’m crazy about these vendors. The little stands are so colorful and just seem to be bursting with…chips!! And Kleenex, and corn nuts, and all sorts of stuff.
The architecture is so beautiful. You see a lot of wonderful two-story colonial houses here and you just want to jump over the walls and have a sangria. Or a pisco sour. Those things are the bomb. Also, pretty crazy about the street art. That’s all paint! The burnishing on the Egyptian guy is so amazing.
The flowers here? INSANE.
I mean, what…even…? This was like the size of an 80s hairstyle underneath a 50s bathing cap.
10K Steps: Barranco, Peru: A Museum
The Museum of Contemporary Art was on our way to Larcomar, this famous and gigantic seaside mall in Miraflores. Yeah, I know. A mall, but just chill out for a second, because once we get there, you’ll go, oh. Wow. This is not your average mall. Well, the MAC, as they call this museum, had one exhibit and it was incredibly cool. The artists trucked in a ton of dirt and newspapers, and built this big labyrinth. When you first see it from the outside, you think, yeah. Art. But then you start walking, and it’s absolutely mesmerizing. This is the view from the top. I made a movie but it’s REALLY shaky, and it’s not easy to impart how cool it was to walk around in these walls made of mud and discarded flip flops and credit cards and stuff. So just trust me.
This exhibit goes away by the end of next month, at which time they’ll dismantle it. Then the artists, , will salvage some of the artifacts buried in the walls—all of which were contributed by the community here in Lima—and build a permanent piece. So you won’t be able to see this unless you’re visiting Lima before mid-April. But just go to the MAC anyway, because it’s super cool, and they’ll have something here that’ll knock your socks off.
Then what should we see when exiting? This building, UTEC, or the University of Technology in Lima, and designed by Irish architects Yvonne Farrell and Shelley MacNamara. The building was just shown in the New York Times along with the news of Farrell and MacNamara winning architecture’s highest prize, the Pritzker. I thought it looked familiar. How cool is it to see a history-making building in your daily NYT briefing and then just sort of run into by accident while you’re walking around? SO COOL. I mean, check it out! This building is amazing. They call it “the modern Machu Picchu.” Well, we’re going to MP, so we’ll just see, won’t we? Meanwhile, we literally stopped in our tracks and said, whoa, that is so cool. Then I said, that’s the building from the NYT, and Steve said, yes it is.
10K Steps: Barranco, Peru: Window Shopping
Well, at this point, we cross the border from Barranco into Miraflores. From here, we headed to Larcomar. This is seriously a gorgeous mall. You have to understand that the whole time, we’ve been walking on this high walk way up above the ocean, which is crashing away below. People don’t really swim here, because a) the water is cold as the dickens, b) there are crazy riptides, and c) not the cleanest ocean waves, despite their wow factor. But damn, it’s so pretty.
And here we are, just tooling around this gorgeously designed space with all these walkways and people just contemplatively looking out to sea. The shops are mostly super high-end, which is where the Miami thing really kicks in, but they’re still fun to just walk around in, and the sales people are super chilled out.
In fact, so far, Peruvians we’ve met have been pretty chill in general. I can even understand some of the Spanish because they don’t talk a million miles an hour like the Argentines, or swallow all their letters like the Chileños, or do both at once like the Cubans. And I love Argentines, Chileños, and Cubanos, but I want to curl up and cry when most of them talk to me because I think, I will never, ever learn this language. So thank you, Peru, for speaking Spanish at a pace that this gringa can handle. Sorta. Almost.
I really wanted to head from Larcomar to Kennedy Park, also known as the Cat Park. But Steve said, look, it’s another 15 minutes, and we’ve already been walking an hour or more and it’s hots as blazes, and I thought, well, ok. So we walked home, but not before seeing this awesome person.
Also, not before stopping at this fruit stand. The lady was SO nice, but wouldn’t let me take her picture. But she was very happy to give the fruit a close-up.
And OH WOW she opened up this thing called a grandilla for me and it is the most delicious, weird fruit, like a slippery sea creature made of sugar. It has all these seeds in this kind of goo inside and it tastes kind of like if cotton candy were melted jello and had crunchy little seeds in it. It is seriously the best thing ever. It’s the orange fruit in between the grapes and the bananas on the left. She gave me one just to sample, because this lady was no dope. She knows that that gateway grandilla is going to guarantee that I come back and buy a big bag of them every day because I LOVE THESE THINGS. And today we only bought two and then I ate one of them, which was my second after my free sample, and Steve said, well, you do like your sugar don’t you, in this kind of smug way, and this from a man who has met, maybe, tops, 3 slices (ahem, slabs) of Black Forest cake that he could say no to. I totally have your number, Huzbando.
10K Steps: Barranco, Peru: Dinner
Anyway, we went home and did the siesta thing, and I got a yoga session in. At this point we had about 12,000 steps, so just walking from Barranco up to the mall and back was enough for one fine day of calorie burning. But of course, we had to go out at night. First stop: El Muelle, what somebody described as a hole in the wall. These guys were sharing beers and watching the local teams and having a grand old time.
Meanwhile, we were knocking back Pisco Sours, and damn, those things are amazing. Then our server brought out this monster bowl of tomato flavored rice with insanely fresh seafood, sort of the sea creature equivalent of that grandilla I had earlier. Steve got a whole fish covered in these shards of crispy garlic. We figure the meal cost us about 40 bucks with the tip, and that was with two drinks, and a big bag of leftovers for moi. Peruvians want you to eat a lot. Note the empty Pisco Sour glass in back of the dish. I may have a problem.
We headed back through our neighborhood to the boardwalk and then down to the ocean. It’s rocky, as you can see, and so, so beautiful. We didn’t see other gringos, just Peruvians enjoying their absolutely beautiful coastline.
On the way back up, a young girl, probably about 10 or 12, asked me for my food. She wasn’t starving or anything, and I said, no, lo quiero, I want it. Then she said, oh, come on (all in Spanish), please? And it was so annoying and sort of little sister bratty and cute at the same time that I said, oh, who am I kidding? So she walked off with my leftovers. That’s what I mean by aggressive in a nice way. She wasn’t guilting me or anything, she was just really determined to convince me that I should give her my dinner. It worked. I mean, look, I didn’t need more of that tomato rice, even though it was amazing.
And then we saw some musicians playing in the square. I got an ice cream, which I didn’t share much of with Steve. Because, well, I do like sugar. So there, Sugar Cop.
Total financial damage for the day was pretty low: maybe 12 bucks for coffee and breakfast, about 9 bucks for a giant bag of fruit, and about 45 between the dinner and the ice cream. And totally memorable and wonderful.