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Pisco and Chifa

Since Machu Pichu had been on my bucket list for a very long time, it comes as no surprise that I put Peru on my itinerary this summer.

Lima was my first stop and I loved every minute of it. I originally planned on staying for 3 days but ended up staying for 6 days and even then I was hesitant to leave. Something about big cities just makes me happy. In Lima, I stayed with two different couchsurfers – both were pleasant experiences.

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One of the things that made my stay in Lima amazing was the varieties of Afro-Peruvian activities. June is the month of Afro-Peruvian heritage in Peru. So I attended various events organized by the Ministry of Culture and the Afro-Peruvian museum. There I met amazing folks from feminists to poets to actors to intellectuals and activists. At the event was a girl I met 4 years ago in Guatemala. We met at a park, went for drinks and said good-byes. We didn’t exchange information so there was no way to keep in touch. So it was a pleasant surprise to see her at the National Museum in Lima. This time, we exchanged contact information.

For the salsa lovers, I had the opportunity of attending a salsa concert featuring ‘El Gran Combo’ and ‘Los Adolescentes’. The weather in Lima sucks. It’s not too cold but you need a light jacket at night. The thing is that the sun rarely comes out, the sky is always gray. Taxis are cheap, so I used them a lot.

While I was in Lima, there was an earthquake – nothing devastating. I woke up confused, first I thought the washing machine was in use (washing machine in LA has this strong vibrating effect) but then the trembling was way too strong. Anyways that made it my first earthquake.

After Lima, I went to Chincha Alta. Chincha is an Afro-Peruvian town about 3.5 hours from Lima. The weather was nicer there a

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nd the family I stayed with was awesome. The Ballumbrosio family is very famous in Peru – they are Zapateros dancers. The zapateros dancing I was told has roots in the Bantu ethnic group of Congo. I also visited the Hacienda San Jose – I was slightly depressed after my visit. Slaves worked at the hacienda during the slavery era. It wasn’t until a slave rebellion broke out that the slaves were able to free themselves. I was showed the basement of the hacienda where slaves were punished to death and the various instruments that were used to torture the slaves. I left the hacienda with a very bitter taste in my mouth.

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Later I visited Arequipa. Nice city but I should have skipped it. Since I was there for just a night, I couldn’t do the amazing tour of the Colco Canyon – the tour is 2 days long. Instead, I did a 4 hours tour of the city. We visited a private zoo that kept Llamas and the likes and also some historic sites around Arequipa. Next to Cusco – a very touristy place but beautiful as well. Here you can book your tour or organize your visit to Machu Pichu. After consulting with various tour/travel agencies, I decided to do the trip myself because I am on a very tight budget and I would save about $60 doing the trip myself. Since I decided against doing the 4 days Inca trek (partly because am lazy but also because I had altitude sickness), I took the bus to Ollantaybambo where you take the train to Aguas Caliente (the town below Machu Pichu). Everything is expensive in Aguas Caliente and the food is awful with poor customer service. I stayed at Hostal Pakarina – the $15/night
Peru 094 individual room is decent, breakfast is included in the price and the customer service was great.
Machu pichu is impressive. I loved every minutes of it. I stayed 4 hours exploring the site. You simply have to see it yourself to appreciate it.

My last stop in Peru was in Puno – one of the ugliest cities I’ve ever been to. I think you will be better off at one of the islands. I stayed only one night and crossed the border to Bolivia the next morning. The border crossing was one of the most interesting events I’ve ever experienced. I’ll tell you more about the experience on my next blog on Bolivia.

As for the title of the blog, Pisco is the national drink – I loved the Pisco sour . Chifa is what they call Chinese food and chifa was everywhere. So when next you find yourself in Peru, make sure to try Pisco Sour and eat some chifa.

Adios until next time.