I've been missing Peru a lot these days. The landscape, the culture and the number one reason for me-the food! The food in Peru is one of my favorite in the world. Although places like Cusco and Arequipa boast some fine restaurants and eats, Lima is, hands down, the number one place in Peru to get the most amazing food in the country.
Before leaving for our trip to the continent, I toyed with the idea of writing a book about what people in each country ate for breakfast. I don't know exactly why what people eat for breakfast is a curiosity to me but it has been for some time. There is the whole 'breakfast is the most important meal of the day' thing but I'm not sure that's it. It could go back to almost twenty years ago on my first trip out of the country.
Wow. Time really does fly! I can't believe it's been 6 months since my last post. Like everyone else in the world, we've been busy, got caught up and I've also taken a much needed break from writing. My focus has shifted to figuring out what is our next plan. I'm happy to report we've had quite a few developments.
Following in the footsteps of my Top 10 Unmissable Destinations for Chile, I figured I would do one for each of the countries we visited. Argentina was the first destination, where we began our journey in South America over two years ago. It all started in Buenos Aires and after visiting the capital we made our way north all the way to the border of Bolivia. Next, we headed south. Deep south, all the way down to Ushuaia, dubbed 'el fin del mundo' (the end of the world). We returned to the country recently this past August revisiting Mendoza followed by the northeastern part of the country, an area we hadn't explored on our original journey. We've spent a total of about four months traveling this diverse country and while that may sound like a lot, to be honest, I would probably need four years to really spend the time necessary in each place.
If you are planning a trip to Chile, you may find selecting where to go very daunting. Although not very wide, Chile stretches seemingly forever (more than 2500 miles long!) along South America's western flank. Bordered on one side by the Pacific ocean and to the east, the Andes mountains, the north consists of one giant desert and the south full of glaciers and waterfalls, the country screams diversity and contains activities that suit every taste and desire. The National Parks in Chile are numerous and vast and you can only hope to visit them all sometime in your life.
The infectious vallenato music is thumping out from almost every corner. An open-air party bus passes by the palm-lined street and the smell of the Caribbean Sea is heavy in the air. It’s Friday night in Santa Marta and things are starting to get down. Like many other places in Colombia, years ago this scene would have never existed. Drugs and prostitutes ruled the crumbling colonial streets here in the very same places where, today, vendors sell beach chairs and sarongs to tourists passing through.
In my last post I talked about the emotions that came along with celebrating two years of travel. Now, I just want to share some of our favorite moments through photos. Also, we have a big announcement! We feel so privileged to have spent another year living out our dreams and also realizing that this is where we want to take the future too. We are super excited to announce the birth of two brand new blogs!
As the saying goes, time flies. We all know it. Just take one look at your child's baby photos or in my case, your travel photos or worse, your own baby photos and the reality of times passage takes hold. It's a bittersweet moment to remember the times gone by but it also carries with it a hint of sadness that we can never get those minutes back. It helps us to appreciate the moment that is now.
Over a year ago when we first visited Lima, we had an incredible opportunity to eat at one of the best restaurants in the world. Astrid y Gaston is more than just a restaurant but an experience in and of itself. The tasting menu I had back then, was one of the top meals of my life and I wondered if it could ever be matched. You can read about my experience here.
Recently, the restaurant has moved to a new location and the space matches the food in terms of fantastically beautiful. Casa Moreyra is a historical house (the likes of where people like San Martin, yes-that San Martin, once lived). It's absolutely breathtaking and the tasting menu we tried was even better than our last experience.
Santa Cruz de Mompox, or simply Mompox (spelled also Mompos/j), could certainly be considered one of the roads less traveled and one that contains many treasures for those willing to seek it out. This historic city, which lies on the Rio Magdalena, is far removed from main roads, making getting here an adventure in itself. The 16th century colonial architecture is extremely well preserved and earned the city a nod from UNESCO back in 1995.
The driver, if you could call him that, swerved precipitously around yet another car followed by a truck, passing on the right,. Yes, you read that correctly, on the right! He must have been going about 95 mph on a curve! Passing on the right during a curve!! Didn’t he ever see those trucks indicating which side was okay for passing and which wasn’t? Apparently not.
Laurent and I arrived in Cartagena, Colombia on April 29, 2014. This was to be the start of the second half of our Latin American journey and we couldn’t have picked a better place to begin! Bold, colorful and simply irresistible, it’s sure to win over even the most critical traveler.
After we traveled up the Peruvian southern coast back to Lima, we took a flight back to our respective countries-first stopping in New York-my home. We arrived just in time for Thanksgiving. Laurent spent a week with me in NY visiting friends/family before he returned to France. This was the first stop in what was to be our planned, long break from traveling in South America.
We traveled north up the Peruvian Pacific coast, first stopping at the Islas Balestas near the town of Paracas, followed by the Afro-Peruvian village of El Carmen which lies in the province of Chincha. Peru has many influences including Italian, Spanish, Japanese and African. Chincha and especially El Carmen are at the center of Afro-Peruvian culture. From native drumming on the cajon (a drum made out of a box) to African-inspired unique dishes, you can feel the rhythm in this dusty yet charming town.
The history of El Carmen dates back many years ago when the Africans first immigrated to Peru and were enslaved to work on local haciendas (farm estates). The culture was born out of that time and has remained strong today. Afro-Peruvian dancing and music, exemplified by festivals like the Verano Negra or the Festival de Danzas Negras (held in February & November, respectively), remain at the core of El Carmen.
Pisco, sand dunes and ancient, mysterious lines carved into the desert floor. These are the first things that come to mind when I think of the southern Peruvian coast. The area around Ica, Peru offers up some striking sand dunes that will make you feel like you are in the Sahara.
We loved the city of La Paz, Bolivia. We adored it so much that we went back about four times. You can read all about our first impressions of La Paz by clicking here. Our last two times in the city had us on a mission. One was to eat at the upscale restaurant, Gustu, owned by Noma Danish celebrity chef, Claus Meyer.
After exploring Llachon, we headed over to Copacabana, Bolivia. You can read all about our time on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca here. From Puno in Peru it is inexpensive and easy to catch a bus to Copacabana, Bolivia. If you pay a little more, you can have a tourist bus but it’s not really necessary. The trip will take you about 3 hours or maybe a little more depending on how busy the border crossing is. For a pretty inefficient country, we found the Bolivian border here surprisingly efficient!
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, sitting at an altitude of 3,812 m (12,507 ft). Its ownership is shared by both Bolivia which has the eastern part of the lake and Peru to the west. For land-locked Bolivia, this is the next best thing to being at the ocean and like many places in Bolivia, it is steeped in rich history and legend.