Monday, June 5, 2017

Peru: Lima

The ocean was a surprise. I guess I didn't realize I would see it so clearly, the shore would be so majestic and craggy. Our airbnb looked out over a gigantic park, wavy and modern. I wanted to walk in it right away. Colored tiles and a huge statue of a couple kissing, green, sidewalk ellipticals. We walked to the restaurant our host suggested. I drank a purple corn pop and sat in the bar while a group of two-hundred American teenagers took up the entire dining room. We cringed watching them screech and flirt.
I had heard about a light show on a fountain. Another surprise. Parque de la Reserva was huge and magical. We paid our measly entrance fee right in time for the show and darted to the big fountain, me with pink cotton candy in hand. It was spectacular and lovely...and then we realized there was a huge crowd at a different fountain. Ah ha! That was the show! Projections of Incan nature on a wall of water, splashed of light timed to music. It felt like Disney World, but it was a Tuesday. We realized there were fountains everywhere--a magical circuit actually. I felt truly giddy seeing all the different designs. We walked through an archway of water, marveled at a pyramid, danced along an enormous rainbow. There was a big circle of jets that people were running in and out of. It is a treasure to see so many happy adults. I didn't want to leave, but after making a wish on the river fountain, we did.
In the morning we were surprised by a little breakfast our host's maid made! I had the fluffiest pita ever spread with fresh butter. Sunrise run to the shore lighthouse, a sunny walk to a bakery to get a traditional but rare Peruvian dessert (anise cake!), stopping at teeny newscarts for candy, watching city life. Puhg wanted good ceviche (what Lima is known for), so he Yelped a good spot. I didn't really care and wanted something light. It was the best lunch I have ever eaten in my life.

Complimentary fried corn kernels. Crunchy and salted. A jug of fresh limeade. I don't like ceviche, but I tried to because When in Rome and freaked out. It was so soft and tart and incredible. I slurped it up. Puhg didn't mind because neither of us could finish out food. It felt like like eight people were supposed to share our orders. I had ordered a bowl of stew because remember, I was trying to get something light, and it was phenomenal. Fish caught that morning maybe? Soaked for hours, covered in a warm egg, swimming in sweet potato. Something I will never forget is how every dish in Peru smelled remarkably delicious. I don't think we experience that in America. Maybe fresh cookies do, but I had never whiffed a soup and had my eyes roll back in delight like I did in Peru. Since this meal was my favorite of all time, I knew I had to see what kind of dessert we were dealing with. A waitress came with a platter. They all looked excellent, but I didn't know what one was. Maybe no English translation. It was a tan cup of gelatinous substance with soft circles on top. I had never eaten anything like it. After surveying the menu and googling I found out it was a pudding made from a berry that only exists in Peru (I had never tasted this taste before! Weird!) covered in a small merangue macaroons! HOLY COW. The bill came and I calculated how much I had spent with the conversion rate. $16.

The Lorca museum was an explosion of floral beauty. It was some version of heaven and again, theme of Lima, a total surprise. The museum rocked my brain. There were archeological artifacts from pre-Incan people's. I wondered, "Were the Incans just as bad as the Spanish? Did they kill a former culture too?" It's so hard to say. Cat goddess pottery, sacred silver, every group of humans tries their best. We are all certainly wrong. This museum had some thing ingenius: a storage room for also-rans. Rows and rows of the same exact pot shaped like a chicken, bowls, tools. In museums it's so easy to get the idea that, hey, at least one person used this ceramic xyz. But by walking down aisles of the same objects, I could sense this was a true community. Everyone made their own flat cat pan. After swelling in the radiance of fresh bright petals and willow hangings, we visited the erotic portion of the museum. Truly strange. People from thousands of years ago were firing taboo images into kilns. I mean, really graphic stuff. They didn't even have sex ed yet and look what everyone was getting up to! It boggles my mind that in 1950 Lucille Ball couldn't say she was pregnant on TV and meanwhile in 1500 it was normal to have a statue of a skeleton threesome in your house.

Getting into the cab, I actually felt sad. I'm always ready to go home at the end of vacations, but Peru was such magic. I would miss it. I wondered if I would ever see those pink and purple gardens again or even anything as beautiful. I wished I had more time to simply sit there and love. We had farewell dinner at an Amazonian restaurant and walked home, breathing in the salty sea air. In the morning we left. Our plane began to rumble and Puhg said, "My home is in Illinois, but I left my iPod in Peru."

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