Friday September 25, 2009.
Since arriving in Lima, Peru two days ago, I have been spoiled absolutely rotten. A good friend of mine, Sergio, picked me up from the aiport after my 24 hour trip/exercise in patience (if it is indeed a virtue, I should be cannonized). We immediately went to catch the last hour or so of the Charly Garcia concert. Charly Garcia is an Argentine rock legend. He began his career in the '60s, but had dropped off the scene for the past 5-6 years, on account of heavy and diverse drug use and subsequent rehab. This concert, dubbed the "Say No More" tour (alluding to the appropriate response from a man when his wife/girlfriend is nagging him), was the kick off of the first tour he's had in 5 or so years, since the unpleasant drug debacle. Charly fans were ecstatic.
The concert was held outdoors, in a large dirt field beside the city's stadium. The team owns the stadium and doesn't like to share, so other events are not allowed to be held inside. This isn't a bad thing however - if you can't afford a ticket, you can stand outside the gates and still see and hear everything. Charly, dressed in a Peruvian poncho, sang his heart out, pounded on the piano and gave the crowd exactly what they wanted. Charly's moodiness came out in the third and final encore. He sang a song that essentially told the fans that he'd had enough of them and to go away and leave him alone. Then he threw down his mic and marched off stage. The crowd was nonplussed; they continued to chant, "ole, ole ole, charly, charly!", all to no avail.
Sergio introduced me to his friends and his girlfriend, Cathy and we all went to grab something to eat, then went back to Sergio and Cathy's apartment to have a really late supper. Their hospitality was amazing. We toasted first with purple chicha (a drink made of purple corn. Same color and consistency as a cabernet sauvignon, but tastes like, well, corn...with sugar in it) and then with Argentine wine. Great introduction into Lima.
After a well needed sleep (on an actual bed, instead of airplane/airport seats: win!) I woke up to the ocean right outside the large windows in Sergio's living room. His apartment is in the district of Miraflores (literally: look flowers), and incidentally, is absolutely gorgeous. Hardwood floors, spectacular view of the ocean - I certainly lucked out having a friend to stay with. Pictures to come.
We spent much of the day driving around parts of Lima. Driving is not for the faint hearted. There aren't so much rules as guidelines that nobody really follows. The city is perpetually covered by a white-gray fog. The locals call it the Donkey's Belly. And you certainly do feel like something is standing over top of you, in a protective way. That's right, UV rays, try and give me cancer through the Donkey's belly!
I'm already in love with this city (although, I already told it that I couldn't be exclusive - there's many more cities to see and fall for). Lima itself is very flat but is surrounded by hills, bordered by the ocean and dotted with old Inca ruins. There a very large cross that I can see from the apartment, that lights up every night and shines brightly through the fog. The story behind it goes like this:
In the 80's and 90's, Peru was terrorized by a group called The Shining Path. They were quite an unpleasant sort (killing thousands and thousands of civilians) and one of their terror tactics was to destroy electrical towers. So, you'd be sitting in your apartment and suddenly all the lights and electricity would go out. And stay that way for a few days. Once the government had the Shining Path quelled, they erected this cross out of pieces of the destroyed towers and they light it up every night as a reminder. Bad guys, defeated. Hurrah.
We had lunch on the rooftop terrace of a restaurant in the shopping district of San Isidro. Sergio, Cathy and their friend Juan Luis decided to order three of Peru's signature dishes, so that I could them all. As well as the national alcoholic beverage, the Pisco Sour. http://www.go2peru.com/pisco.htm
The food was nothing short of sublime. Peruvians know a thing or two about fish, potatos and corn. The first dish was two types of ceviche (strips of fish in sauce), and octopus with a slightly spicy purple sauce.
Interrupted! Going for brunch and then to a food festival for more Peruvian dishes! Mmm!