Peru is big and its geography is diverse. I didn’t realize how big and diverse until I hopped on a bus, left the city, and ventured into the outlying areas.
Peru has it all — modern cities, rich history, ancient ruins, beautiful topography, geographic wonders, diverse ecosystems, and renown gastronomy. It boasts ocean beaches, desert, mountains, lush valleys, and a piece of the Amazon jungle. My first visit in 2008 was for a business conference and much too brief. This time I stayed an entire month, able fully enjoy the city and go on some awe-inspiring excursions.
What? An ancient pyramid in the center of town?
Yup, Lima has one right in Miraflores district. On my first visit to Lima in 2010, I stayed across the street from this marvel; this time we were a few miles away. Built in terraces, the adobe and clay structure dates from the fifth century. It now serves as an archeological museum and one of the top restaurants in Lima. Nope, I didn’t eat there, but I did enjoy other culinary delights.
February, the second month of my adventure, was l-o-n-g. To say our accommodations were lacking would be diplomatic and kind. Decrepit and malfunctioning would be more like it. Pangea196 really messed up on this one. My room-mate and I just bucked up and made the best of it with grit, determination, and a sense of humor. Despite the daily difficulties, I managed to have some fun and interesting experiences.
Chile was the second destination on my digital nomad tour, and Valparaíso (Valpo) was the intended city. Everything I read about it peaked my interest — words like bohemian, artsy, colorful, and poetic appealed to me. I was looking forward to more street art, more museums, and the iconic elevators that you can ride up the hills.
But that’s not where we stayed. Our program had some housing issues that I never completely understood and my room-mate and I wound up about 6 miles away from the rest of our group in a small rustic cabin in a working-class neighborhood in Viña del Mar.
And, so starts the tale of two cities
I admit I had a slow acclimation to Buenos Aires. It was not love at first sight, sort of grew on me slowly. Surprisingly, at the end, I felt sad and reluctant to leave. One month was not enough. There was still so much I did not see or do, so much yet to explore. My take-aways — the things that will stay with me, what I enjoyed the most — were the friendly people and the continual visual experience.
In the 1980s, Wendy’s famous ad campaign asked “Where’s the beef?” In Argentina, they have plenty of beef, lots and lots of beef, as well as pork and lamb. The question to ask instead is “Where’s the veggies?”
When eating out in Buenos Aires, finding a vegetable other than salad (arugula, shredded carrots, avocado, and tomatoes) was a real challenge. A typical menu would have several types of grilled carne (beef): Bife de Chorizo, Ojo de Bife, Bife Angosto, Bife de Costilla. I never did get them straight. If you didn’t specify jugoso (juicy), it was always done medium-well. Most portions are generous, big enough to share. It’s a matter of national pride. You’d often see the big parrillas (grills) with men cooking large amounts of meat showcased on the street or in an open window. Their local rock stars!