America’s love affair with watching grown men pummel each other as they outrun their opponents while carrying a prolate spheroid a few dozen yards is still an alien concept in much of the world. Peru is no different. Here fútbol is king; football, not so much. But for the sports fans to whom Sundays are sacred, their dedication to the football doesn’t go on vacation — even when they find themselves in a foreign country.
Photo: McKay Savage
It all started in 1968 when U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed that he wanted to celebrate one of the fastest growing populations in America – Latinos. Thus, National Hispanic Heritage Week was born. Fast forward to 1989 and that week-long observance was turned into a full month of celebrating the culture and traditions of people who are from or trace their roots to Spain, Mexico or the Spanish-speaking nations from Central America, South America and the Caribbean.
Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off each year on Sept. 15 and it’s for good reason – this day is Independence Day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico and Chile celebrate their Independence from Spain on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.
While Peru commemorates its Fiestas Patrias - the day the nation broke away from Spain – on July 28, Peruvians by birth and by association (you know, those who just love all things Peru) can still celebrate the Andean nation through Oct. 15.
Here’s our three-step guide to celebrating this month-long American tradition with an air of Peruvian flair!
Photo: Alfredo Miguel Romero
People around the world are in the midst of celebrating my favorite pastime and ultimate passion – travel. Commemorated each year on Sept. 27, the United Nations created World Tourism Day back in 1980 as a way of recognizing the positive contributions travel makes to local economies, cultural preservation, environmental protection and personal growth and enrichment.
Our planet is a big place, full of majestic destinations to discover. While there are a heap of world wonders to uncover, this amazing Andean nation should be toward the top of your list. Here are the nine reasons you should visit Peru now!
Remember that one cartoon where the main character is stranded in the middle of a never-ending desert? He drags himself over the sizzling hot sand while the sun relentlessly beats down. In the distance, he sees palm tree that provides shade and a lake that has limitless cold drinking water. Re-energized at the thought of this oasis, he rushes over, prepared to dive into the swimming pool only to have it all dissipate into thin air. It was all a mirage stirred up by his thirst.
When I first set eyes on the desert oasis of Huacachina (wa-ka-CHEE-nah), I reverted back to my childhood for a moment. It was like that cartoon I had watched dozens of times had appeared right before my eyes. My six-year-old self was impressed.
Photo: Central Restaurante
A few months ago, Central Restaurante clocked in at number 15 on what is perhaps the planet’s most prestigious food awards, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants (it was the top restaurant in South America). Now, the renowned Lima eatery, which is owned by chef and restaurateur Virgilio Martínez has done it again, this time capturing the eye – and, one could say tantalizing the taste buds – of Latin America’s most important food awards, the San Pellegrino 50 Best Restaurants in Latin America (a spin-off of the World’s Best awards).
For the last seven years, food lovers have flocked to South America’s most grandiose food festival – Mistura – and this year is no different (save for a few details). With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Costa Verde on the other, Mistura stretches 37 acres in Lima’s Magdalena del Mar district. It is there that chefs and restaurants from every corner of Peru cook up their most-loved dishes. For 10 days each September locals and foreigners, travelers and foodies walk through Mistura’s gates and into a new world, or as 2014 would have it 12 new ‘worlds.’
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – watching the clouds that hang low over Machu Picchu clear to reveal the former Inca citadel surrounded by a verdant landscape. But that lifelong dream quickly turns into a nightmare when you realize you didn’t buy your tickets in advance.
Fear not, curious explorers, we at Only in South America have you covered.
While Cusco has become a cosmopolitan hub – one that overflows with jet setting travelers, luxe hotels and restaurants owned by renowned chefs – the mountainside that surrounds the former Inca capital tells a completely different story. There, life has changed very little during the last several centuries. Villagers still live off of the land, growing and raising nearly everything they eat. And, men and women still shepherd their sheep, llama and alpaca through verdant fields, cook meals over an open flame and participate in a tradition as old as the civilizations that make up Peru – Andean weaving.
“Perdoname,” I said, interrupting a shopkeeper organizing miniature versions of Machu Picchu. “Tiene La Ultima Cena con el cuy.” He didn’t, so, I exited what must’ve been the twentieth store I asked, sighing, “Oh well. On to the 21st.”
I did finally hunt down the Cusqueñan version of the Last Supper painting my mother requested and now has framed in her living room, but it wasn’t without my fair share of begging, asking, demanding, searching and, of course, haggling.
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