Alakazam, alakazoo, witches roam the streets of Lima, Peru.
With Halloween just around the corner, I decided to head to Lima’s Mercado de las Brujas, or Witches’ Market. While these witches don’t wear pointed hats or fly on broomsticks, they do cook up powerful potions and folk remedies said to cure everything from a hangover to a broken heart.
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.
“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.
Photo: Mark Fischer
Between the expansive coastal desert, the snowcapped mountains that stretch towards the sky and the verdant forests that make up the Amazon jungle, Peru is one of the most visually interesting countries in Latin America. Alongside its diverse landscape and culture is an equally varied climate.
All of this can make packing for an adventure in Peru a bit tricky. But fear not; there is an art to making sure all the essentials make it in your suitcase, while still leaving space for the knickknacks you collect along your journey.
Peru may not have a spot in the world’s biggest soccer tournament, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a stake in the games. Sports fanatics from around the world – be they born and bred locals, relocated expats or travelers just passing through – are aligning themselves with countries like this is a no-holds barred game of Risk. Whether they’re gunning for the host country’s canary yellow and green or just in it because of bets on who will take a bite out of the competition, people in Peru are pledging allegiance and cheering their hearts out for El Mundial.
National Vegetarian Week just ended, and what better way to commemorate eating green than with a vegetarian guide to Peru. I became a strict vegetarian two decades ago and when I moved to Peru, finding food to suit my lifestyle was among my concerns. Vegetarians fit in surprisingly well in a culture that loves all things beef, chicken and sea food.
A knickknack for grandma; a t-shirt for dad; a handful of key chains for the coworkers; and of course a bounty for yourself. Shopping is one of many vacation pastimes, but when in Lima there’s no reasoan to limit it solely to souvenir shops or the Inka Market. Sometimes, venturing beyond the obvious places can mean finding a unique treasure that has more meaning and a better back story than Peruvian-themed shot glasses or woven llama magnets.
The Spanish may have been the first to emigrate to Peru, but they certainly weren’t the last. Perhaps it’s the eternal spring along the coast, or maybe its the rich history and culture that draw the international crowd. Whatever it is, people from all over the globe have been leaving their native lands and calling Peru home for more than half a millennium and with each group comes their traditions, their culture and, of course, their food.
Photo: Diego Escalante Urrelo
Revelers around the world celebrating the Chinese New Year recently rang in the Year of the Horse and among them were Peruvians, many of whom have ties to the Asian nation. One might not think of the Chinese having an influence on a culture half a world away, but in Peru, Chinese traditions touch many parts of everyday life, with perhaps the most popular being food.
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