Peru: Day 9+

Our last partial day in Cusco began with a trip to the Choco Museo to learn about the history of chocolate and its manufacture. And an extremely sloppy but fun lesson where we learned how to make our own chocolate. Apologies to Yulia, the young Russian woman who was stuck making chocolate with our group!

Prize-winners for fastest chocolate mashing:

After a final lunch in the Plaza de Armas, and a sad leave-taking of our exuberant and informative host Victoria, we headed to the airport for our flight to Lima.

Day 10 began with a hearty breakfast in our charming hotel in Lima’s Miraflores district. Our new guide Alex took us via bus to Lima’s old town center and government district where, once again, we ran straight into the Peruvian love of spectacle: parades ran into parades, which merged with other parades. According to Alex, a typical weekend in Lima. Touring this very historic area, we came across, among other buildings, the Peruvian version of the White House and the former Art Deco train station now converted into a library honoring Peru’s own Nobel Laureate in Literature, Federico Garcia Lorca.

Views of downtown pageantry, including nuns selling snacks outside their church:

 

 

During the afternoon, tired students were given the chance to rest before a leisurely dinner in the hotel. Two of the nine of us, though, fought fatigue and spent a couple of hours walking along the string of parks lining the Pacific Coast in Miraflores.

A dog’s birthday party:

Our last day in Peru started with a walking tour of Miraflores, leading eventually to JFK Park and its rather large herd of cats, all fed by neighborhood locals. This large concentration of cats was fascinating to some and perplexing to others. Alex bought us all French fries from a neighborhood stand – to distinguish amongst themselves, each stand uses its own particular type of potato.

An intrepid photographer, two views of El Parque del Amor, the pier/restaurant for our final meal, cat fun, cat fright, and cat-tired:

           

Having stuffed ourselves on delicious fries, we then walked to a local market filled with an almost overpowering array of sights, sounds, and, to some of the students, unpleasant smells. While the market was lively and incredibly picturesque, Alex declared it “not quite 100% clean.” Thus, he then escorted us to a more upscale and decidedly more hygienic market in San Isidro, another neighborhood. There, in the beautifully arrayed stall of a friend, we were given a chance to taste a wide range of unusual fruits, from custard apple, to granadilla, to pacae, to aguaymento.

Back in Miraflores, we took a cooking class on the top floor of the Hotel Runcu. There, Chef Carlos taught us how to make the traditional Peruvian dishes of ceviche, causa, and lomo saltado. While we ourselves made each of the first two, Carlos took over for the dramatic, and very fiery, creation of the last dish. Absolutely stuffed, the group stumbled back to the hotel for a few hours of rest.

Would you eat ceviche made by these two?

The previous night’s dinner ended with a round of rose, bud, and thorn. An oft-repeated bud, or hoped for outcome, for the next day was “cats and crepes.” While the cats piece of this wish was fully satisfied, the crepes portion was cruelly denied by both chaperone and tour guide earlier in the day. Thus, instead of resting or packing, almost all strolled back to the Pacific and ate crepes from a stand overlooking the beach far below and the misty ocean.

Our last dinner was at a place too fancy for the likes of us: a beautifully time-capsuled seafood restaurant on a pier extending into the Pacific.

Saying goodbye to Alex at the Lima airport:

We now sit at the airport, awaiting our 1:30 AM flight back to Atlanta. Final snapshot: 2 students are writing in their journals, 4 are playing on their phones, and 1 is attempting to sleep. It’s been a long trip but, thanks to the wonderfully detailed and thoughtful planning of Ms Stevens, an incredibly exciting and interesting one, filled with unforgettable sights and experiences.

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