I had fully been planning on avoiding Lima altogether, but nevertheless found myself there briefly a couple weeks ago. But no matter... I had a special agenda: to pick up my friend Desiree from the airport! Desi is one of my best friends from my UC Davis days, and somewhere around mid April, needing desperately to get off her Island (aka NYC), she suddenly decided to come visit me in Peru. Desi is the kind of person that I have tons of fun with when we're doing nothing at all, and we've always dreamed and talked about how ridiculously awesome it would be to travel together. I couldn't have been more excited.
Before we even put her bags in the room at the hostel, we stopped for a beer at the bar. This was a particularly appropriate kick-off to our journey, since the next 9 days together would involve quite a bit of happy hours, bar-hopping, beer sampling, general silliness, and nonstop laughter. Naturally, we went out that night in Lima and were lucky to find a cool little reggae bar nearby. The next day we walked around a bit, but were highly disappointed at how closely parts of Lima resemble Southern California, what with the ginormous shopping malls, ritzy cliffside apartment buildings, and McDonald's, KFC, even a Tony Roma's. We didn't stay long.
After a short flight, with 2 free Cusqueña beers onboard, we happily arrived in Arequipa. Known as the White City, Arequipa is a dazzling gem of a town, especially at night. We found a fantastically cozy little hostel right in the center of town, and got to business straight away. Luckily we'd arrived on a Friday night, so the bars were going off in a big way. We took advantage of the abudance of drink specials going on, and Desi & I tried our first Pisco Sours, the national drink of Peru. We were also pleased to discover that every region of Peru seems to have its own variety of beer; here, we were tossing back nice, grande Arequipeñas.
The next day we explored a little neighborhood called Yanahuara. It reminded me a lot of southern Spain, which isn't all too surprising considering the Spaniards themselves are responsible for the architecture around here. It was a lovely, peaceful stroll away from the tour groups and touts in the city center. But the best part came afterward ... ceviche! We stopped into this tiny cevichería and almost thought we´d been completely jipped, when all of a sudden two plates of the most incredible ceviche arrived. It was Desi's first ceviche ever, but it was also the best one I've ever had. And it cost us about $2 each.
Clearly, we were off to a good start.