The most important religious monument in the Plaza de Armas in Cuzco, Peru. Its photo was taken from a cafe balcony overlooking the square. Parts of this magnificent cathedral were begun in 1539. Completion occurred around 1664.
Long been a dream of mine to visit. Ever since becoming deeply engrossed in all things Celestine Prophetic from James Redfield. While here in the Cusco region, the former center of the Incan empire, I am enjoying reading “Turn Right at Machu Picchu,” by Mark Adams. Follows the trek Hiram Bingham III took in his quest to discover The Lost City of the Incas in 1911, while intermixed with Adams’ own journey to re-trace that same trek. Fantastic to read it and be here at the same time.
Not really. It is Coca tea and the Coca Plant is a major cash crop for Peru. Through a complex chemical process, yes, we arrive at the euphoric creation of cocaine. Even though the coca plant itself is negligible for causing any major effects, it is still illegal in a lot of places. Don’t think of entering the U.S. with a bag of it in your backpack. It is common for Peruvians to chew it for a bit of a buzz and enhanced energy and clarity and it is also known to counter the effects of altitude sickness. Hallelujah!
17OCT12. Ollantaytambo, Peru. (iPAD, Instagram Lo-Fi Aspect)
Coming highly recommended from many guidebooks, I had to check out Jack’s Cafe, an almost decade-old institution in Cusco. Australian-owned, it boasts a menu for everyone from carnivores to hardcore veggie-heads. On my first morning, I had the Cinnamon French Toast with fresh bananas and strawberries, along with a flavorful cappuccino. On two other mornings, I also had their Huevos Rancheros and their Scrambled Eggs with roasted tomatoes, pesto, and parmesan, on toast. Muy delicioso! Highly recommend: Jack’s Cafe, Choquechaca 509.
Archaeological records show consumption of ceviche (or cebiche or seviche) as far back as 2,000 years ago! Thought to probably have been brought to Peru by Moorish women from Granada. It’s a raw fish dish made with lemon, onion, and chili pepper. Mine was cold, citrusy, with just the right mix of pepper to give it a zing…and served with two slices of sweet potato to counteract the ‘ceviche bite.’ A must-try on a visit to Peru. Highly recommend: Don Marcelo Restaurant, Portal Belen 115, Plaza de Armas. Cusco, Peru.
15OCT12. Cusco, Peru. (iPAD Instagram, Lo- Fi Aspect)
Taking after its namesake, Cusco, the former center of the Incan Empire, Cusqueña is certainly not the only national beer in Peru, but it is the most popular. It is unique in that it is made from pure barley, rather than the typical corn and barley. It’s light, refreshing, and crisp.
Funnily enough, as organized as I am in my daily life, I choose to travel the world on a wing and prayer. I rarely look too deeply into a place before I visit, instead, choosing to discover its nuances and learn its history, while there. Of course, in the broad sense, I have dreamt of visiting Machu Picchu for well over a decade, but as far as all of the bits in between, I didn’t really give much consideration to them. Fast forward to arriving in Cuzco wondering why I felt a tangible drop in my IQ, was yawning, couldn’t concentrate, and wanted to lie down in any vacant doorway and ‘just nap for awhile.’ What was going on? Oh, yeah. Altitude sickness for sure. I was in a town that registers over 11,000 feet above sea level. I never checked that out before I left Bogotá, so as I wished, I was left to discover this strange feeling while I was here. No preparation for it. I couldn’t even think about what to order to eat, so I stumbled into a nondescript, tiny restaurant and although a smaller pizza was an option, I just said ‘grande.’ I don’t know why. I couldn’t eat much of it, but it’s beautiful, isn’t it? It helped my, unbeknownst to me at the time, altitude sickness, slightly.
For my one night in Lima, I stayed at The Flying Dog Hostel. It’s a great place to lay your head and its a nice relaxed atmosphere. I paid 90 PEN ($35) for a double for myself. Obviously, there are much cheaper options. Once settled in my room, I headed down to the very chilled-out bar area where I was confronted by this bug-eyed bar mascot. I searched into my beer bottle for any signs, no matter how remote, of possible spikage. Didn’t see any and looked back up and “Bug-Eye” was still staring at me from atop the bar counter. Welcome to Lima, my friend. Recommend: Flying Dog Hostels of Peru. Across from Parque Kennedy.
I had one day in Lima on the front-end of my Peru trip and decided to use it to walk around the bohemian artists’ district searching for graffiti (not a lot of it, so I assume there are strict fines for grafiteros in Lima) and always looking for a cool vegetarian place to eat. I happened to be across the street facing this gorgeous wooden train car and a big sign on the front that said “Vegetarian Buffet.” It was destiny. For 18 PEN (about $7) you can gorge on an all-u-can-eat buffet for about three hours, if you like. Highly recommend: Cafe Restaurant Expreso Virgen de Guadalupe. Located: Ave. Prolongation St. Martin 15-A.
14OCT12. Barranco,Lima,Peru. (iPAD Instagram Lo-Fi Aspect)