Month 4 of Remote Year has brought me back to the Pacific to live and work in Lima, the capital of Peru. Lima was a city that had never been on my radar, but believe me, it should be added to your bucket list. Comprising 43 districts with nearly 9 million residents, Lima is a city of contrasts, with modern seaside neighborhoods nestled up against gritty shanties that cling to desolate hillsides. I spent most my time hanging out in Lima’s artsy Barranco and surfing the waves in Miraflores. I didn’t fully get a sense of the culture because I went on several side trips throughout my stay but hope to return in the future to dig a little deeper. Overall, the area I visited most in Lima had a west coast vibe with a mix of high-brow Santa Monica and grimy Venice, and the atmosphere was relaxed like San Diego. It reminded me how much I love to live on the coast and have access to the ocean whenever I desire. When I was there I ate ceviche and drank pisco sours all while basking in the sunshine making it one of the best months so far. Lima was also a central hub for getaways to Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley; the Amazon; Lake Titicaca; and the amazing sand-dune oasis at Huacachina.
Besides the mesmerizing Machu Picchu trek, the second week in Peru I took a side trip to one of South America’s largest lakes and the world’s highest navigable body of water, Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is of fairytale reputation – pristine blue waters that match the intensity and saturation of the sky, cotton candy clouds, scarcely inhabited islands and traditional cultures and people. From Lima, I flew into Juliaca and took a cab to the town of Puno: the jump-off point for exploring Lake Titicaca from the Peruvian side. I stayed at Hotel Libertador and loved how peaceful and beautiful the hotel grounds were.
I first remember learning about Machu Picchu in my fourth-grade history class when we were covering South America and the Incas. In my mind, I still can see the black and white photo on the glossy textbook page of the American explorer Hiram Bingham when he stumbled across it in the early 1900’s. It was one of the most visually intriguing landscapes to me, at that time, and I always dreamt of hiking the Inca Trail to see it in person. After years of dreaming and months of planning, I finally was able to complete the trek. And I even made it through without retreating up into a ball of defeat and rolling myself down a cliff!