When you think of good food destinations, cities like New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Paris, Hong Kong, and Tokyo quickly come to mind.
But what about Lima, Peru?
What once used to be considered an overcast, big, dirty city worth nothing more than a quick stopover on your way to Peru’s main attraction, Machu Picchu, is now being hailed as the gastronomic capital of South America. And when one has to compete with the world-renown steaks and bold Malbec’s of Buenos Aires, this is saying a lot.
In fact, Lima was awarded the World’s Leading Culinary Travel Destination by World Travel Awards, two years in a row (2012 and 2013) and gastronomic tourism is on the rise.
If you told me that I would become close friends with a 54-year old male from Peru that does not speak English, I probably would not have believed you. And had you told me that I would share the last 6 weeks of his life with him, I would have thought you were crazy. But that is exactly what happened in Huanchaco.
Tom and I received very sad and very shocking news a few days ago; the man that made Huanchaco a home for us, died just days after we left. We are still in shock and deeply saddened.
On paper there was no reason to believe Alberto should have been anything more than an attentive host that we paid to rent a room from while we stayed in town. But he became so much more than just a host.
“Ocean front suite on third floor with private balcony and hammock. Breathtaking sunsets every night, and dry, sunny weather with lots of good surf every day. Let the sound of waves lull you to sleep and the view of them awake you for just $160 per month.”
And so would read the advertisement for the place we are staying in Huanchaco, a little sleepy beach town in Northern Peru. Sounds like paradise, right? We thought so too. So, sight unseen, we reserved a room in this house and hopped on the next bus out of Lima.
We arrived late in the evening and began walking up a dark little side street searching for house number 306. The monotony of the waves beat the shore to our left. We could hear it, but all we could see was black. The buzz of a motor grew loud behind us and we scooted to the side of the road to let it pass. But just short of crescendo, the buzz suddenly slowed to a putter and lingered at our heels.
“Master of puppets I’m pulling your strings…” Sound bites from the previous night’s Metallica concert in Lima, Peru stream from the radio in the background as we ascend Machu Picchu Mountain by bus to the entrance of its ancient world heritage site.
It is early and the sun has only recently risen and begun to expose the tips of the green Andean mountaintops. In an effort to retain their mystic quality, the mountain peaks coyly keep themselves covered with the heavy mist of lingering clouds. They are not quite sure they want to expose themselves yet to all of us gawking tourists.
We disembark from the bus like all the other tourists, just another lump of legs, eyes, hiking boots, and cameras, but that is all about to change. Overhead we hear the “thith thith thith thith” sound of helicopter blades circling above and we watch as the helicopter slowly sets down on a flat platform near the entrance of the park.
Like an encore to last night’s concert, the band Metallica steps out of the helicopter with bodyguards and family in tow. All five us stand there stunned and starstruck, reverting to our teenage selves. Our friend Matt remembers the Metallica poster that used to hang in his room and all the surrounding hoards of tourists simply fade to black.
I'm Jaime. My husband is Tom. Suburbanites, backpackers, and expats...we've been them all!