from Sandy Needham

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lima, Peru Dispatch

I flew off to Lima to join three college buddies, Monica of Delray Beach, Florida and a charming cabin in Wisconsin; Doyley (Linda) of Westhampton Long Island; and Marisi, of Lima and Washington, D.C., for a second reunion. (See Marisi is half-Peruvian; she guided us expertly through the city, where she spent her childhood as a member of one of Lima’s old families. Her husband, Jon, was our restaurant consultant and daily sunset pisco sour master. Both are literary luminaries. There was the Pacific Ocean again, right out the twelfth floor glass walls! Marisi and Jon live in the beautiful, tranquil neighborhood of Miraflores, next to the oceanside park that features an invisible mall, Larcomar, ingeniously built on the side of a cliff.
out the windowMarisi and JonLarcomar
Lima Larcomar cliff Lima Larcomar
Marisi grandparents house
Here is a hotel not far from Maris's apartment that was formerly the home of her grandparents. Many of her Arana relatives still reside in the city.

We were also walking distance from some of the best restaurants in the world! And walk to them, we did. We had lunch out every day for a week in what was an unforgettable culinary orgy. These chefs of Lima create extraordinary dishes using native Peruvian ingredients. I highly recommend all of the following restaurants:
ALFRESCO, where I discovered the orange potato known as ‘causa.’ I sought out various combinations with the causa for the duration of our stay. The typical dessert is ‘Suspiros de Limeña,’ – the sighs of a Lima woman. It is like a cloud.
at AlfesacoCausa w octopussuspiros de Limeña
CALA on the ocean. 
at Calafood 6food 7
Cala dessertCala 8

Not pictured, but recommended: traditional food at BRUJAS CACHICHE.
SAQRA. Marisi describes the meaning of this restaurant name as “a little demon, not even a devil: A sprite that gets in your head and makes you a little crazy. It's a Quechua word for the bedevilment that lives inside us and can cause good as well as bad. A spark! A duende! An inspiration! A curse! A beginning of a flame that might erupt into anything, para bueno o para mal . . .” (Can you tell she’s a writer?)

food 4food 5food 2
foodSaqra 1
Saqra 3
Our last lunch was more amazing than ever, at PE(S)CADOS CAPITALES. In this case, “Capital Fish’s” cleverly camouflaged “s” renders the name “Capital Sins!” Even though the food needs no additional prop, the menu and the placemats provide delicious amusement with references to the Seven Deadly’s. Here’s lust:
Pescado Capitales Lust
Our trek to the historic `Centro’ of Lima was rich in both Peruvian history and the history of Marisi herself. The centro has been preserved by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. When we arrived at the beautiful Plaza de Armas, Marisi told the story of how her grandfather was in the city government in charge of such projects as street lamps. Her father, a budding engineer, designed these lamps at age 15 and oversaw their production!
plaza des armesDad's light design
We turned a corner at the very moment the Changing of the Guard commenced at the Presidential Palace. By the time we entered Lima Cathedral, the Palace band was playing Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana." And, as if that weren't scary enough, our hired English-speaking Cathedral guide then introduced himself as Jesus (English pronunciation)! He was a rather dramatic character and rendered the Cathedral and the tomb inside of Pizarro - the Spanish conqueror of Peru (1533) and founder of Lima (1535) - quite an entertaining attraction.
presidential palace lima   Lima cathedral 1
A special highlight for us was a tour of the 1535 house of Pizarro`s next-in-command, Pedro de Aliaga. His descendants live there to this day. Some revisions have been made, but there are many original features.
 Aliaga house 2Aliaga house 3Aliaga house
pachamamaThe Virgin Mary is depicted in Peruvian art as the native tribes perceived her: as Pachamama, the indigenous Earth Mother. Once they were instructed in painting by the Spanish, the natives imbued the Virgin with this image of the mountain.

covered porch 2The covered porch on the exterior of the house is a typical sight in the centro, as 16th century Spanish ladies had to hide themselves while cooling off and observing the outside world.
closed porch 2


Here is the Plaza San Martin:  
plaza san martin
The building on the left is the venerable old club of Lima's most important families. Marisi entered as a child with lacy white socks and white gloves! The guard in front still has a well-starched white uniform. Marisi also recalls visits to the Grand Hotel Bolivar with this grand dome (and years later in 2013, she became a biographer of the hotel's namesake!). Marisi examines at length the role of her Spanish ancestors in Peru in her autobiographical American Chica.
 marisi w white gloves plaza san martin hotel
And now, our shopping sprees. The artisan traditions of the indigenous tribes are very rich, as the colors alone attest! Our favorite shop, Las Pallas, is located  in the arty neighborhood of Barranco in the charming old house of an Englishwoman, anthropologist Mari Solari. She buys from the tribes in the surrounding forests and is a knowledgeable and gracious proprietor.

Las Pallas 3  Las Pallas4

We loved the magnificent designers' cooperative nearby, as well.

We also found plenty of silver treasures, alpaca wool, and colorful baskets among many offerings at the big artisan market in the city.
 shopping 8 shopping 2

Since Jake's online poker moniker is "Jllama," I could not resist trolling for all sorts of souvenirs for him, being in llama land! It began with a photo of this modern sculpture near the apartment and this photo of silver llamas I could not afford; moved on to this photo of me with a llama too big to pack; continued with a traditional woven llama sash and this wooden model with the Peruvian hat, and culminated in this mobile I made from the woolen llamas I picked up. I think Jake is both amused and thinking, "Enough already, Mom!"
LLama sculpture  silver llamasLlama 4
2014-04-03 19.46.25Jllama 1  llama mobile
As if the best chefs of Lima were not sufficient, we were treated to Marisi's cooking in the evenings. I have never seen such delectable meals come out of one chicken…homemade wontons - wow. Among Monica's, Doyley's and my fondest memories of this amazing week are our pajama breakfasts and these warm-lit evenings together in the apartment.
 Dinner 2 dinner 3
 dinner 4
Sadly, time to pack:

Oh, I must add here that Jon replaced the pisco sour one evening with his Mexican martini…made with fresh jalapeño-infused tequila, giving entirely new meaning to "calienté!" He also showed us something sacred with his jazz selection. Thank you, thank you, Marisi and Jon, for spoiling us so thoroughly.

From Lima, I met up with Newton in São Paulo, from where we returned to the USA for another trade show for him and continued visiting and exploring for me.




  1. The food looks amazing, but the "invisible mall" looks even more amazing. I suppose these are not your own pictures unless your hosts are also pilots. I think a reunions such as this should probably take place on a very routine basis.


  2. Wow- that food looks amazing and such a beautiful city! I want to go back!


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