Living a Month in Lima Peru
Lim-Ah. I couldn’t wait to get to Lima. To live on the beach. To see Pacific sunsets nightly. To smell the sea air. After a month in the mountains of Medellin, Colombia, drifting down to sea level in the warm Peruvian air sounded divine.
It lived up to all expectations.
Don’t Miss the Amazon
Although I haven’t been to all the countries in South America, Peru certainly hits the list for the top three. With a country filled to the rim with delicious food, amazing history and gorgeous sites, I jumped in. After a brief introduction to Miraflores, my neighborhood for the month, two friends and I scurried to Iquitos to find ourselves a jungle.
Iquitos is the largest city in the world without car access. To arrive, you must come by boat or plane. Everything in this town of 700,000 is either shipped or flown in, including the over 80,000 tuk-tuks (or micromotos) buzzing through the busy streets. We didn’t stay long; rather, we slid onto a speedy boat to traverse the Amazon River for three hours north to arrive at the Muyuna Lodge.
Whereas many travelers to the Amazon will go south to the more luxurious lodges with air conditioning and pools, we picked our northern route to be away from the crowds and the animal-baiting guides who unnaturally entertain the tourists. Our sixteen-cabin lodge on stilts employed the local villagers and has escaped the fears of yellow fever and malaria due to a healthy monkey population that keeps the germs away.
We couldn’t have been more satisfied.
Each day at the lodge took us to watery treks into the Amazon jungle to find monkeys, boas, caimans, capibaras, sloths, birds, lizards, frogs, piranhas, insects, and flowers galore. Each day’s find topped the previous. Whether swimming with pink dolphins or finding a sloth swimming in the river, we had intimate encounters with beasts without sacrificing their personal spaces. Visiting Peru’s Amazon definitely topped my five best things ever list.
Ten Things to Do in Miraflores, Barranco and San Ysidro
Coming back from the Amazon, it was time to get to know Lima. I had been to Lima before and had visited the downtown historic district and catacombs on another trip. I had also been to Cusco and Machu Picchu, so for this trip, I wanted to get to know Miraflores and its neighbor Barranco.
Most days I walked the Malecón. For miles and miles I’d watch paragliders jump from the bluffs, surfers ride analogically, and locals lounge along ledges overlooking the Pacific. I’d duck into a coffee shop to get work done–my favorite being Kulcafe–and then catch a sunset a Parque Amor after scratching a kitty at Kennedy Park.
Other days I’d try something new. My first massage with a blind massage therapist brought me back for two more throughout the month (for only 40 soles for an hour!) I sought out the town’s best taku taku and ceviche at El Muelle in Barranco. I rented a bike (Challwa Bikes. 10 soles for 2-3 hours. Cash only. Av Benavides 347) and discovered Lima’s best view (from Churillos looking south). I took a surfing lesson and even stood on my board!
On one day, I found a special tea cafe (Bar Medicinal) that made infusions based on what ailed you. On the menu, you can find typical solutions for common problems: cleanses, female issues, male issues, happiness, and acne. I mentioned my knee issues, and they made me a delicious concoction of zen and culén leaves infused in a combination of mandarin and pineapple juice I sipped through a flower stem. Miraculously, my knee pain disappeared for the day.
Another first in Peru’s daily grind included doing crossfit workout. Thankful to my friend Margaret for the invite, I tried my first crossfit class at La Parada and got hooked. I loved that they have classes every hour on the hour with great coaches who modify great workouts for every ailment.
During my last few days in Lima, I journeyed out of Miraflores and Barranco and stumbled upon the nicely-appointed San Ysidro. To my surprise, I wandered through a giant olive grove filled with bricked parkways, grassy knolls, and sculptures.
Continuing my adventure, I stumped upon Huaca Pucllana, a giant archaeological ruin right in the heart of Lima. Although I certainly would never tell you not to go to Machu Picchu, Huaca Pucllana together with a trip to nearby Pachacamac puts together a nice pre-Colombian story. You can top it off by shopping in the overly touristy Inca Market if you feel you must head home with some pom poms and llama sweaters.
Sand Sledding in Huacachina
Between the cafes, sunsets, and crossfit, the group and I made our way to Huacachina for a day’s adventure in the sand dunes. If you like roller coasters, this is the outdoor adventure for you. We were loaded 6-8 people per dune buggy. Strapped in. And off we went on a twenty-minute zipping through the ups and downs of dunes. When we arrived at a tall up, we grabbed our sand boards and boogied on bellies down dunes where the buggies picked us up again to repeat the thrill three times. With seatbelt hickies on our necks and sand in every crevice, we laughed our way through Huacachina.
My best takeaway from the adventure? I made a local friend who invited me to her home where we cooked, drank wine, and giggled into the night.
Return to Lima
I’ll definitely go back to Lima. It’s a romantic city oozing with love and its reminders. I can certainly see me living longer term in a city I feel I’ve only to scratch the surface. With over 100 places to each ceviche, I’ll be sure to create a walking map of how to eat your way through Lima! And then work it all off at La Parada!
What did you do in Lima? Post pictures and tag with #eatwalklearn so I can see them. Follow me @eatwalklearn all over social media for current updates on my travel.
~See ya outside