DISCLAIMER: Due to limited WiFi availability in a small Peruvian town of 2,500 persons, located in a valley of the Andes Mountains (#firstworldproblems), this blog post is being added a little bit late.  Just deal with it!   Ideally this would have posted on 17 Aug 2017…

So… before we left for the Sacred Valley on Day #19, we had a couple awesome days in Lima.

For staters, S turned 12-years old and had a VERY.  MEMORABLE.  BIRTHDAY.

We started with an escape room – we got hooked on these puzzle rooms about a year ago and completed over half of the rooms in the Bay Area before we left.  Now, we hope to find escape rooms across the globe that don’t necessarily require additional language skills other than good-old American English!  We found a few rooms in Lima but eventually chose Trap Lima for our escapade – and brought my mom along for her first (and probably last) escape attempt.

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Before we entered… we had such high expectations AND we passed with time to spare

Next up on the agenda was another surprise.  Since we arrived in Lima, the kiddos have been fascinated with the paragliders who soar just beyond the cliff edges… and once we saw how excited E and S were, we knew of an awesome birthday present.  When we got to the site and explained to S that he could paraglide – there was no hesitation at all.  Both our kiddos are thrill seekers!

Dad and E also decided to join in on the fun and the three of us spent 10 minutes soaring over the beaches and buildings of Miraflores.

To close out the birthday celebration… dinner at Maido.  Maido is a Nikkei style restaurant which combines Japanese and Peruvian ingredients and is ranked #8 in the world.

S was a little disappointed because he thought – as did I – that this was going to be an omykase style dinner.  Instead, it was an exquisite 13-course menu which deserves its own blog posting under the “FOOD” tag.  However, here are a few of our favorite courses of the night.

The area of Lima we stayed in was very nice and we loved just walking around the city exploring.  Here is a photo of Jeni and E strolling the neighborhoods.  Notice the gray sky – this was the norm for the week although the sun did break through for portions of a few days.  I’ve read that Seasonal Affective Disorder might be a problem for Limeños…

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The numerous parks and trails lining the cliffs were beautiful and worked great for Jeni and my running days.

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See… I told you the sun would occasionally pop out.

One of the best sites in Lima- in the Bepkos’ opinion – is the Parque deal Reserve.  This is a park with a dozen colorful fountains and a Bellagio-type lighted fountain show.  We had a great time walking around in the cool evening, eating popcorn and empanadas, and watching the fountains.

On our last full day in the city, we decided to finally get into the historic area and visit the  Plaza Mayor of Lima (Main Square).   Our walk through the older part of town was definitely unlike the areas of Miraflores and San Isidor.

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Finally… some llamas (or is it llami?)
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Panaroamic view of the square

Our last visit of the day was a quick visit to the Casa de la Gastronomía Peruana, which is a museum documenting the various Peruvian culinary techniques, ingredients, and inventions.  For instance, the rotation chicken rotisserie was invented in Peru by Swiss immigrants.  Peru even celebrates National Chicken Rotisserie Day (Dia del Pollo a la Brasa) on the 3rd Sunday in July.

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Obligatory shot of kiddos in Incan cutouts

We had an incredible time in Lima.  So much so that we were checking prices of apartments and fantisizing about moving here after our eventual full-retirement.  But after 8-nights, it was time to move on… and that included an early morning car service to the airport for a short flight to Cusco.

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LIM: Jorge Chávez International Airport (notice the gray skies again… I’m sensing a theme)
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Stepping off the plane onto the tarmac at the Cusco airport

Cusco airport is located at 10,860 ft which is higher than that at which commercial airlines are pressurized.  Other than the extreme banking maneuver the plane took on the final approach, our flight wasn’t too bad.  Once we landed, I believe that they immediately started decompressing the cabin; as we were taxiing, we all noticed some tingling in the fingertips and some difference in our breathing – all the signs of a little bit of hypoxemia.

Our plan was to immediately leave Cusco and head to the slightly lower elevations of Urubamba (elevation 9,420 ft) in order to acclimize to the environment.  Dr. Jeni made sure we were all taking our Diamox so things actually went quite smoothly.  No supplemental oxygen required.  We met our guide Isaias at the airport.  I got our rental car.  We then caravanned out to our rental house in the Sacred Valley.

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Two Bepkos and Isaias

It was only 74 km (46 miles) from Cusco to Urubamba, but the drive took 90 minutes or so.  Stupid speed bumps.  I think I maybe got the rental car into 4th gear a total of ONE time!

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Overlook right before we descend into the valley

Passed through Coya which apparently is the “Guinea-pig-on-a-stick” capital of the Cusco region.  There were more than a  few women standing by the roadside with oven-roasted four-legged beasts on a skewer.  More on guinea pig feasting on a later blog.

We finally arrived at the house in Urubamba.  It was a mini-compound surrounded by a wall and a large wooden gate.  Other than being slightly sparse on the interior lighting…

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Me… chopping veggies for dinner

…it was a great house for the six of us (my parents met us for the Peru portion).

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The house in Urubamba would be our base for the next six nights, with forays throughout the Sacred Valley sites as well as a day-trip to Machu Picchu.   More to follow!

TOTAL MILES TRAVELLED TO DATE – 5664 miles