It was my first time, and it won't be the last. I just got back from traveling Peru, a country that has so much history and beauty. I am feeling so blessed for the experience.
Peru is home to the stunning Andes mountains and to people so proud to share it with others. Being an outsider you never know how people will treat you. Peruvians are very warm people. They are hardworking people and are very happy too.
It's funny I didn't realize how many Peruvian friends I had until I sporadically planned the trip. Everyone was right. It takes about 4 days to fully get used to the high altitude, only eat just-made food, don't eat fresh lettuces unless boiled.
We stayed in downtown Cuzco for the first few days and made sure we were close to the market, where everyone gets their food. It reminded me of Central Market in Downtown LA without the ICE. Everything, I mean EVERYTHING is fresh.
You could see the roots of foods just pulled when you'd place your order. I'm totally dug that!
My first breakfast in Cuzco was Arroz a La Cubana. I love this because the rice feels familiar, as we eat this in the Central American culture. The avocados are called Palta in Peru and they're as huge at your head! And papas just completes every meal. I'ma happy girl in Cuzco.
First night was super chill. We hiked up Saqsaywaman to see the Cristo Blanco, the Christ statue that overlooks Cuzco right at sunset. Then we hiked down the Saqsaywaman ruins to hang out in Downtown Cuzco, called Plaza de Armas.
Had a few beers with the chicos and though my friends are Peruvian and probably bored of the cuisine, I make them take me where I can get local food.
We tried getting street food but lady sold out so we sat down for the night. This is Lomo Saltado, grilled beef with onions, tomatoes, and fresh-cut fries. Having this reminds me of my Dad. He used to take us to a Peruvian restaurant in our hood growing up near Los Feliz, LA. I Love, love, LOVE fresh cut potato wedges and fries so I love Lomo Saltado.
There are so many ways to drink Pisco, Peruvian liquor, but my fave was obviously the Pisco Sour!
On the list of must-try foods was Cuyo, Guinea Pig. When we went to Valle Sagrado, Sacred Valley I knew this was what I wanted to eat. I ordered the big plate that's meant to be eaten by at least 2 people. It was served on top of a corn on the cob, a big potato, a stuffed pepper, spaghetti, a fried hot dog, friend plantains, and a slab of queso fresco!
The Cuyo, Guinea Pig was stuffed with grape leaves, garlic and cumin. You have to ask someone to split the guinea pig- and it smells AMAZING! The inside tastes like tender chicken and the outside is thick, crispy. Literally, the most barbaric and SAVE food I've ever eaten!
Arroz a La Cubana con Puerco, the typical brekky in Cuzco except this time with a big pork chop, because I felt it was the only way to respectfully leave Cuzco.
Cocaleaves literally saved me and will save you too in Peru. The altitude is super high, double the elevation in my home in Salt Lake City, Utah. You just learn to make Te de Mate, fresh Coca Leaf tea your friend. It took about 4 days for me to kinda get used to the altitude, and even then I was still out of breath often. When I didn't want to have a drink I would chew the leaves too. The taste is bitter, and you don't get numb a whole lot in case you're wondering.
The crazy and beautiful thing is the lengths they go in preserving coca leaves for just Peru. But it wasn't just the coca leaves. Everything about the history, the grand natural landscaping, the precious metals, Incan remnants is so sacred to them that they go to lengths to make sure it's not taken out of the country. I found that very honorable and I loved that about Peru. Loved learning how resilient Incas are. They're super proud of their culture as they should be. It left me wondering, how are we doing back home? Are we making ourselves proud right now?
Last treat in Lima was some chocolate tasting. I luuuuuhhhhh raw, dark cacao. I love all the different sweet, tart, and svaory notes you get from different fruits. I tasted everything from coffee to plantains, to corn to lemongrass to coca leaf dark chocolate. BOMB! Excellent way to end the trip.