Seeing the world, one country at the time

Peru in a Nutshell



Peru is by far the richest country in South America in terms of archaeological treasures, and they know how to preserve and market them to tourists. There is Machu Picchu, Juanita the Ice Maiden, Inca Ruins, Chan Chan, the Lord of Sipan and the mysterious Nasca lines. Not only that, but Peru has great climbing in the Andes, jungle treks and river safaris into the Amazon. They have some of the best surf beaches in the world on their northern coast, natural parks, folkloric festivals, the highest navigable lake in the world, gorgeous Incan and Colonial architecture and arguably the best and most varied cuisine in South America (if you don’t count beef). They also have some of the stealthiest thieves you can imagine. Clever little creatures.
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Lars and I spent almost a month in Peru on three occasions. We began our trip there and stayed with Alicia, Jorge and Paloma in Lima before embarking on one of our highlights; a four-day hike to Machu Picchu. It was unforgettable; grueling at times, but always rewarding. Being at Machu Picchu itself was pure magic. We also visited Arequipa and Puno during festivals and sailed on Puno’s crystal blue Lake Titicaca and visited their floating islands, the inspiration to Thor Heyerdal’s kontiki adventure.

We came back for Christmas, to meet my parents and see the Jonssons, friends from the years we lived in Peru in the 1970’s. They took us in like family and for two weeks we were whirled from one social event to another; sailing, beach house barbecues, dinners and five star parties. They fed us like kings. We celebrated Christmas Swedish style, New Year’s and my birthday Peruvian style (with lots of dancing and a ten-hour folklore show.) While there, we got to meet the next generation, as all my friends were having babies; some while we were there. Karin had Aitana who is her spitting image, Kerstin had just welcomed little Sofia into the world, Alicia’s little Isabela joined her sister Paloma, Mariela had just given birth to Isabela, and Claudia had brought identical twins Camille and Isabela into the world. Isabela is obviously a popular name these days!

With my parents we explored Pisco, Ica and the Islas Ballestas of the Paracas national park before heading up alone to Trujillo and Chiclayo to see Chan Chan and the Lord of Sipan exhibit before heading to Ecuador. During our trip to Ecuador, we had our first major blow and our second robbery in Tumbes. Someone took my backpack with all my meticulous notes and addresses. This dampened my mood somewhat and killed my writing. Theft is common in Peru, has been as long as I can remember. We can feel lucky that we weren’t mugged at gunpoint instead.

Our third and final visit to Peru was to take our flight back to the US. We had time to visit Alicia and Jorge, shop, add to my jewelry collection at my friend Claudia’s store. (Check her out: www.claudialira.com ) and have a last Cuba Libre with Sune before he graciously took us to the airport, thereby ending the South American leg of our trip.

I have no doubt that we’ll be back to Peru one day.