Expat Living

Living in Lima’s Perpetual Gray – A Year In The Fog by Zac Heisey

Hi Everyone!

I write this from the fireside recliner at my aunt Robyn’s house in New Jersey. Three inches of snow on the ground, a massive Christmas tree, and all the clean water I can drink! I’ve spent the last four weeks bouncing between Virginia and New Jersey, catching up with friends and family after 10 months away. It’s been excellent, but not without nostalgia for Lima (shocking!), and the stress of restarting an old life in San Diego. It’s hard re-assimilating to life in the states. I miss my friends in Peru, the freedom of easy public transportation and I’m certainly bummed to miss the amazing summer in Lima, but it’s been a great few weeks back.

This blog post is really just an excuse to share this link with everyone. Most of you probably know that Zac has a surf blog, and writes content for TheInertia, TheBombSurf, and more. He recently wrote a really amazing post that really sums up a lot of what we experienced emotionally during our time in Lima – so here it is: A Year in the Fog – In the Name of Surf. Skills I tell ya.

Zac in front of the Huaca

FOG FOG FOG – Zac in front of the Huaca

Thanks and enjoy!

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Categories: Expat Living, Lima | Leave a comment

Stopover in Lima + Things to Do

Lima.

Yes. Jump-starting our bus. Unsuccessfully.

Yes. Jump-starting our bus. Unsuccessfully. CRUZ DEL SUR

Puno was our last stop in southern Peru, so we took an afternoon bus to Arequipa (plus an exciting afternoon in the bus parking lot waiting for the bus to start), spent the night (and picked up my charger) then took an incredibly long overnight bus to Lima. It was nice to arrive in Lima since it’s technically our home, so we didn’t have to wander around looking for anything.

Unfortunately, I got sick after a few days back in Lima and ended up sleeping our last two days there, so we didn’t get the chance to hang out with our friends as much as planned. By the time we got on the bus at 10pm on Saturday night, I was feeling mostly better, so I’m very thankful for that! The biggest problem with my stomach bug was that we were unable to get our Yellow Fever shots – again! Now we have to find a way to get them while we’re in Trujillo. More on that later.

I’ve decided to use this week’s blog as a way to share some of the best things to do in Lima. After living there as American expats for 8-10 months, we know all the cheap things to do and all the great places to eat! So, for those of you with a stop in Lima, you can probably do everything in just a couple of days.

In no particular order:

1) Eat anticuchos at La Grimanessa. She is famous because Gaston Acurio loves her anticuchos, they are the best we’ve tasted. You can find it by walking down Enrique Palacios until it turns into Avenida La Mar. Turn left on Ignacio Merino. It’s the second door on the left (“Anticucheria”) It opens around 6pm, and get super packed. If you go around 8, you’ll be waiting in line for a while. (But a good trick – tell them you’re ordering to go “para llevar” and you can jump to the front of the line and eat them across the street on the benches.)

Anticuchos - Beef Hearts. Delicious!

Anticuchos – Beef Hearts. Delicious!

2) Parque de Las Aguas. This is an amazing water/music/light-show park that is better described in pictures. Take a bus from Ovalo Miraflores that goes “todo Arequipa” (all of Arequipa) tell them you’re going to Parque de las Aguas and just ask them when to get off. It’s about a 20-30 minute bus ride. You really want to go when it is dark to see the light show; we normally go around 8 or 9.

Parque de las Aguas

Parque de las Aguas

3) Eat at one of Gaston’s restaurants; he’s considered a Peruvian gem, and really put Peru on the map when it comes to cuisine. Two recommendations – La Mar on Avenida La Mar (for ceviche) or Panchita on Dos de Mayo (for meat, parillero-style)

4) Visit Mercado de Surquillo, definitely in the morning, and preferably on a Sunday. This is a huge open market on the edge of Surquillo and Miraflores. (Near Paseo de Republica – the Via Espresa)

Mercado de Surquillo MEAT. I definitely DON'T recommend buying your meat here though. This open market is for vegetables and produce.

Mercado de Surquillo MEAT. I definitely DON’T recommend buying your meat here though. This open market is for vegetables and produce.

5) Central Lima & La Cathedral. Okay, so there is a downtown district of Lima, which the historical center, government officials’ houses/mansions, and a huge church. But, my favorite thing about this area is the restaurant called La Cathedral’s HUGE Pisco Sours. They’re doubles, they’re 20 soles, and they’re amazing. You want to go to the place to the right of the fancy hotel. The fancy hotel has the same drink at their fancy bar, but it is twice the price, so go to the cheaper one next door! It’s amazing!

La Cathedral - The Pisco Sour & the Place. Do it all in one! Central Lima!

La Cathedral – The Pisco Sour & the Place. Do it all in one! Central Lima!

6) Barranco – the coolest little artsy district. I would recommend taking a Lima Bay Tour with Lima Bike Tours, because they take you through Barranco and give you some history as well. We love to go to La Piselli, an old Italian bar, for little snacks and Chilcanos. You should also visit the Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros), and learn about the myth and the history of the area.

Okay, other things to eat: Ceviche (the national dish!), Pollo a la Brasa (Pardo’s is really good), Lomo Saltado, Arroz con Pollo, Papa huancaina, Tacu Tacu, Picarones. Make sure you try a Pisco Sour at some point, and the Cusquena Red Lager or Malta. (Most of the rest of the beers taste like Bud Light and will give you a wicked hangover.)

Also recommended by others (but too expensive for me) is the artifacts of the Incas at the Larco Museum. It’s 30 soles, which is a lot when you live here on a teacher’s budget. We did go to Huaca Pucllana, which is a series of ruins from the Lima tribes. It’s not bad, but kind of a short tour for 12 soles.

Huaca Pucllana - Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Huaca Pucllana – Miraflores, Lima, Peru

Also, if you want to experience “gourmet” food at lower prices – check out Le Cordon Bleu Peru’s school restaurant Wallqa. We went for lunch and it was pricey but well worth it. The food is amazing.

Rocoto Relleno in Crema de Quinoa - unfreakin' believably delicious.

Rocoto Relleno in Crema de Quinoa – unfreakin’ believably delicious.

For those of you looking for a day trip out of Lima, we went to Cieneguilla twice, which was pretty easy to do and a nice way to find the sun during those gray-gray-gray months of winter. (uck!) You can also hit up Punta Hermosa, Lurin, Chosica, or Palakala Falls.

Let me know if you have any questions about any of these places!

Categories: Expat Living, Food, Lima, Travel Tips | Leave a comment

Winter in Lima

The life as an American expat in Peru has a lot more hiccups than normal First World living, but all in all, you fall into the same routine. You work, you sleep, you play, you get rained on inside your apartment, you see some interesting stuff, and you forget how interesting it really is. For us, we spend a lot of time struggling with the landlord from HADES, letting it taint our experience, but don’t worry, we’ve had fun along the way.

Flooded Apartment

 In an attempt to escape the fogfest of Miraflores, a few of us jumped on a 2-hour bus inland to spend a childlike day in the sunshine of Cieneguilla. We saw our first alpaca (they spit!), and played on swings and seesaws, just enjoying the sun.

Seesaw

SEESAW

Meat and starch: a healthy Peruvian diet!

Meat and starch: a healthy Peruvian diet!

Zaitlin and Trevanda cramming into a Cieneguilla tuk-tuk. I'm not proud of the names either.

Zaitlin and Trevanda cramming into a Cieneguilla tuk-tuk. I’m not proud of the names either.

ALPACA

ANGRY ALPACA

Adorable little nun-in-training who "smiled" for me on the bus on the way to Cieneguilla. Then she removed her head covering and showed me that she has hair underneath.

Adorable little nun-in-training who “smiled” for me on the bus on the way to Cieneguilla. Then she removed her head covering and showed me that she has hair underneath.

We’re so lucky to have awesome friends down here!

For 10 days in July, I had the wonderful presence of two of my closest high school friends and an awesome husband. Despite my previous stories of insanity, Bekah, Bridget, and Bobby took up the challenge that is the city of Lima, and came for a fun-filled visit to the place we’ve called home for the past 7 months. They left virtually unscathed. Their trip was in two parts – first in Lima for 4 nights, then Cuzco for 4 nights, and back in Lima for 2 nights. When they arrived back to Lima, their hotel was completely SHUT DOWN. Running without a license or something like that. Ah, who needs silly things like that? We found them a few dorm beds in a hostel (sorry guys!) and continued on with the day.

B-Cubed in Peru: Bobby, Bridget, Bekah (The brave Americans who visited, despite my horror stories.)

B-Cubed in Peru: Bobby, Bridget, Bekah (The brave Americans who visited, despite my horror stories.)

We finally ate the ever-elusive Andean dish of Pachamanca. We shared beef hearts and chilcanos, and even tried our hand at being in our early 20’s again by staying out until 1am! We took them to the historic center of Lima for fancy Pisco Sours, and for an awesome Peruvian Independence Day celebration with traditional dance and a lot of food. Bekah and Bridget went paragliding with our Danish friend Soren, and the crew even had the chance to visit Cuzco! My favorite was showing them Mercado de Surquillo. Raw chicken and all!

Historic Center of Lima

Historic Center of Lima

Mercado de Surquillo PRODUCE

Mercado de Surquillo PRODUCE

Mercado de Surquillo CHEESE

Mercado de Surquillo CHEESE

Mercado de Surquillo MEAT

Mercado de Surquillo MEAT

Parque de las Aguas on B^3's last night.

Parque de las Aguas on B^3’s last night.

Traditional Dancers at Brisas del Titicaca

Traditional Dancers at Brisas del Titicaca

Fireworks seen from our apt on Peru's Independence Day

Fireworks seen from our apt on Peru’s Independence Day

Anticuchos - Beef Hearts. Delicious!

Anticuchos – Beef Hearts. Delicious!

Flying Bridget!

Flying Bridget!

Now it’s back to the daily grind – but not for long! Zac and I have put in our notice with our classes, and are heading out of Lima at the end of August!

(And not a moment too soon, might I add.)

We’re going to spend about 2 weeks seeing the beauties of Peru – from Cuzco and Machu Picchu to Puno and Lake Titicaca. I couldn’t be more excited about this part of the trip. While we both miss our friends, family, and hot water, I’m happy to finally see the best parts of a country we’ve come to know only through the city lens of Lima. After that, we plan to travel around South America a little more, then we head to Mexico City at the beginning of November to stay with my sister for two weeks.

While here in Lima, we had the good fortune to meet a silly German sausage by the name of Eric, who is sadly leaving us at the end of this week to return to the motherland. But not without an epic night out and some pretty great pictures. We’ll see ya in Germany, buddy!

Eric The White Sausage

Eric The White Sausage

Now that our time in Lima is coming to an end, we’re ready to take on the backpacking world again. And so my friends, you’ll see more frequent posts coming soon!

Zac kisses Lima goodbye!

Zac kisses Lima goodbye! Yes, that’s a whole frozen pig found at the Wong grocery store.

Categories: Expat Living, Food, Lima, Peru, Travel | 7 Comments

Apartment Hunting in Lima

Are there any cities in the world where it is incredibly easy to find an apartment? In the history of living on my own, it has taken weeks, if not months to find a suitable apartment whenever it is time to move. I know it is the same for many of my friends in major cities such as New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

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Finding an apartment is no easy task in Lima either, especially in the highly coveted Miraflores district, but I’m pleased to say that we’ve put the deposit down for a place right in Miraflores, and the novio and I are pretty stoked about it! It took about 76 emails and lots of wandering around, but after a week in Lima, we’ve finally got a place to call home. It’s not the fanciest place in the world, and we’re sharing the flat with 3 other people, but it’s in a perfect location. The apartment came with FIVE keys – for the two different security gates and the front door. Crazy!

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The front door/gate to our apartment building.

Before arriving in Lima, we rented a room from Airbnb so we could familiarize ourselves with the area before hunting for an apartment, and I would recommend for anyone to do the same. After Asia, I know that if I’m staying anywhere longer than 2-3 weeks, I will NOT book it before seeing it.

We will be moving in sometime next week, so we can get settled before we begin to work. We’re really lucky it worked out this way, but it was a LOT of hard work.

*Quick update: first night in our new apartment and we woke up to no power. Meaning no Internet, no hot water, no fridge. And now we’re at Starbucks! Dang!

Job stuff at Starbucks.

Job stuff at Starbucks.

For those of you looking for a place in Lima, here are a few things I’ve taken away from the experience.

Tips for Apartment Hunting in Lima

1) Rooms are easiest to rent. We quickly gave up on finding a studio or 1-bedroom apartment here, because it’s just too difficult. There are not a lot of flats to rent because most Peruvians live at home until they get married, and at that point they want a place big enough for family or children. Since that realization, we’ve been primarily answering Craigslist ads to fill a room in a house. ALWAYS check out the place first, because we saw some pretty rough places along the way.

2) On that note, many of the people listing rooms are actually looking to fill rooms in their hostels with long-term guests. Just ask straight up if it is a hostel. We even found a woman renting out an unused room in her office…she just asked that we didn’t cook at all until after 6pm. Bizarro!

3) It’s harder on a couple. Once you decide to look for a room in a house, you’ll see that most of these houses have 4-8 rooms, meaning 3+ people to a bathroom, and no room for your main squeeze. I would have had at least 5 great rooms in a heartbeat if I were living there alone, so keep that in mind. Make sure you ask if there is room for a couple, and even offer to pay a little extra in rent. If they try to increase it by 50% or more, it is probably not worth it.

4) Consider your schedule. We found a ton of foreigners are here working from home, either as tutors, interpreters, marketers, or what have you. You probably don’t want to move in with a stranger who works from home unless you’re SURE you’ll be at your own job most of the day. Ask if anybody works from home!

5) Get a phone. We missed THREE appointments to see apartments because the address was wrong, the building gate was locked and we couldn’t get in, or we simply could not find the house. Us not having a phone is another story in itself, but if I were you, definitely try to get a phone so you can call your potential roommates when you’re outside the building!

6) Finally, location. Miraflores is pretty much where everyone wants to be, as that’s where all of the modern action is. However, don’t turn your back on Barranco, especially if you like the beach and the bohemian lifestyle. And if you’re going to be working, you should even consider San Isidro. If you are a white foreigner without any Spanish, I wouldn’t recommend heading into downtown Lima because it is not nearly as safe as the other neighborhoods.

Finally, places to look: Craigslist, ExpatPeru, InterNations, LivingInPeru, and Google! You can even create your own listing saying what you’re looking for, and you might be contacted.

We ended up with an awesome little room just a few blocks from Parque Kennedy, which is where all the action is. We’re sharing a bathroom with just 2 other people, with the option to move into the larger room with a private bath in two months. This is all for less than $400. A steal! Good luck on your hunt, and if you’ve got any questions, leave them in the comments below!

Categories: Expat Living, Peru | 1 Comment

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