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.
CALA on the ocean.
LA TRATTORIA DI MAMBRINO.
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?)
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:
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!
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.
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.
The 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.
The 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.
Here is the 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.
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.
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.
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!"
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.
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.