When Jody and I first started dating, we dreamed of the day that we’d be able to travel to Peru to explore the country where he was born. We knew we’d save to make the trip one day, but didn’t anticipate that it would be so soon, especially since we had already planned our anniversary trip to Italy for early this summer. Nonetheless, we were thrilled when the opportunity arose for us to go in August!
Only four weeks after returning from Europe, we packed our bags, grabbed our passports and were off to the airport once again. We had a long day of travel ahead of us but were grateful for layovers that shortened our flight time overall. Jody was anxious to return to Peru for the second time (he had visited with his family when he was in high school) and I was excited for my first trip to South America. We were also equally anxious and excited as we were meeting Jody’s birth family for the first time while we were in Lima. Many emotions accompanied us on our flight, and we honestly couldn’t wait to begin this adventure!
After arriving late the night prior, Jody and I eagerly woke up to begin our first day in Lima. We planned to meet Jody’s birth family for a late lunch downtown in the historic district, so we had all morning to explore the city.
One of our friends from college, Marylita, actually lived in Lima, and we had been communicating with her about meeting up prior to embarking on this journey. Fortunately, our schedules coordinated and she was able to meet us just after breakfast to give us a local’s tour of the city! She took us to the historic district and showed us a lot of the main sights, like the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco, Government Palace, San Martin Square, Cathedral of Lima, and the Main Square. We also enjoyed a coffee break and our first taste of Peruvian street food — picarones, which were basically pumpkin donuts with a syrup drizzled on top of it. Yum!
Later that afternoon, we headed to Pardo’s Chicken, a restaurant where we had planned to meet Jody’s birth family. For those unfamiliar with his story, Jody was adopted by his American parents (my in-laws) when he was three weeks old. He knew throughout most of his young life that he was adopted from Lima, Peru, but that was pretty much the extent of his knowledge. About a year and a half ago, he decided that wanted to search for his birth family, without knowing if they were still alive or had any interest in finding him. Sure enough, his birth mother had been hoping he’d find her and they connected over Facebook. He virtually met and communicated with his birth mother, his three brothers, and some extended family members over the past 18 months, not imagining that we’d make it to Peru to meet them anytime soon.
Even so, it was such a gift for Jody to be able to meet his birth family in person. After lots of hugs and hola’s, the nine of us sat down for our meal. The next few hours included a lot of smiling, questions about us and our travels and learning more about the family that sat among us. Marylita being able to join us for lunch (and to help us translate!) was also such a gift. Jody doesn’t know enough Spanish to speak in a fluent conversation and I don’t know much past “hola” and “gracias”, so having her there as a supporter and friend meant more to us than anyone could imagine.
After our meal, we walked through the pedestrian street for a bit. Later, we didn’t want our time to end, so we ended up meeting the family again in Miraflores for another hour to be together. After walking through Kennedy Park, it was time for us to head in, in preparation for our early morning tour. We hugged, kissed and fell asleep completely exhausted, but extremely grateful for the events of our first day in Peru.
The following morning, we met our tour guide of the day in our hotel lobby for our morning activities. We had booked our trip, which was a culinary tour of Peru, through Avanti Destinations, who work with representatives from Condor Travel. While we had a different tour guide each day, Jody and I had a personal tour — just the two of us — for all of our scheduled activities. It was different from our tour in Italy but liked the fact we got to share these moments and memories ourselves.
Our first stop of the morning was at a local market in Miraflores. We love going to farmer’s markets at home, so I was pretty excited to see a Peruvian’s version. Everything in Peru was so colorful; food was no exception. We even were able to try a lot of the different types of fruit, many of which we had never had before. I loved how fresh their avocados were and we were amazed to learn there were over 3,000 types of potatoes in Peru.
After our tour of the market, we head to our first Pisco Sour and Ceviche tasting of our trip. We first learned how to make the traditional Peruvian drink — made of Pisco, lime juice, egg white, and bitters. After the bartender walked us through how to make one, we moved over to our table where one of the chefs came out to demonstrate to us how to make ceviche. Admittedly, I was nervous about whether or not I would like these two delicacies (mostly due to the raw eggs and fish), but quickly discovered why Peru is known for its culinary expertise! Those were the first of many on our trip!
We still had two more courses to follow the ceviche and causa, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when we went back to the hotel and napped after our outing. Later that afternoon, we decided to find our way to Parque del Amor, partially because we needed a good walk and also because this was one of Jody’s favorites spots when we visited during high school. We enjoyed walking through the park, admiring the view of the coast and even getting a glimpse of the sun for the first time since arriving! Jody recreated a picture he took 14 years prior and I fell in love with all of the colors in this beautiful country.
That evening, we had one more tour, which was the Bars of Lima tour. It was neat to walk back through the historical district and main square at night, to see everything was a different point of view. We were able to order some sharable plates and another round of Pisco Sours. While we were waiting for our drinks, we even got to witness a marriage proposal!
On our last day in Lima, we didn’t have any scheduled tours, so Jody and I decided to explore the city again on our own. Prior to arriving in Peru, I had found this walking tour of Lima — 6 miles through three of its districts. We got some extra steps in by walking to the starting point too! While it was a gray day (Winter in Lima is known as gray season, as it’s almost always misty and cloudy), the views up and down the coastline were beautiful. We walked along the coast of Miraflores, the trendy and luxurious neighborhood, where there are many restaurants and shops to Barranco, which is kind of like the hipster neighborhood of Lima. It actually reminded us a lot of Richmond! We stopped for lunch while in Barranco, near its main square. Despite being full and tired, we continued on to Chorrillos, which was a lot less trendy than the previous districts. There were fewer people along the road, and we honestly were unsure whether we continued, but I’m so glad that we did. While we decided not to finish the hike up to the hill, we did make it back to the coast to see how much progress we had made. That view up the shoreline, cars on the highway below, locals and tourists alike walking along the path and appreciating the beautiful city of Lima.
That evening, we headed back to Miraflores for one last round of Pisco Sours in Lima. We shared a few appetizers at dinner and toasted our time in Peru thus far. We even met up with one of Jody’s birth brother, and his wife for a few hours. We had a busy few days in Lima, and I was amazed at how quickly and hard I fell in love with this country. Even though our time in Lima was coming to an end, our trip through Peru was still just beginning.