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!

Categories: Expat Living, Lima | Leave a comment

Stopover in Lima + Things to Do


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

Huaca Pucllana & Early Birthday!

This is it, the last week in Lima! We are sad to say goodbye to our friends, and even a little sad to leave our new home in Surquillo (thanks, Trevor!), but we’re definitely ready to see the better parts of Peru and get a taste of sunshine, mountain air, and jungle steam!

We’ve been a little more active the last two Saturdays, with good reason. Our amazing Peruvian family and I put together a small surprise birthday party for Zac on a Friday night. We even ordered KFC – Zac’s favorite – and I made the insane brownie-cookie-cake cake, which Zac surely thought he wouldn’t get this year. (Three years in a row! I love surprising other people!) It was really fun to see how happy he was from something so little!

3-Layer Brownie, Cookie, Yellow Birthday Cake

3-Layer Brownie, Cookie, Yellow Birthday Cake

I dragged him out of the house for a walk, while they compiled the cake, KFC, and awesome handmade signs. We happened upon an American bar during our walk, and a quick peak at the TVs told us there were football games on. Of course Zac dragged me inside, found the Niners on one of the TVs and insisted we have a beer. So, we were at least 30-45 minutes late to his party, but since it was his day, even though he didn’t know it, I had to comply!

Happy Camper watching the 49ers' preseason game.

Happy Zac watching the 49ers’ preseason game.

No matter what people say about birthdays, they’re always best when celebrated with friends and “family.”

Zac's Surprise Early Birthday - For the record, his real bday isn't until Sept 8, so he was REALLY surprised!

Zac’s Surprise Early Birthday – For the record, his real bday isn’t until Sept 8, so he was REALLY surprised!

The next day, we visited Huaca Pucllana, which is a series of ruins from the Lima tribes. The most interesting thing to me is that their homes and structures were made of various sandy bricks. One big rain would wipe them all out, but that just shows you how little it rains here in Lima!

Zac in front of the Huaca

Zac in front of the Huaca

Traditional Dining Area

Traditional Dining Area

I didn’t catch everything the guide said, but apparently when enemies (probably Spanish conquistadores) came to take over the Lima tribe, they sacrificed and buried the important people from the Lima tribe, often with their children, hence the tiny packages resting higher up in the picture below.



They set up a little farm area, where traditional foods are grown, such as quinoa, camote (sweet potato), and coca. They also had plenty of alpacas and llamas, but they looked pretty sad to be there.

Spelled "quinua" in native Quechua, Quinoa is a very popular grain for us health-nut "Norte Americanos." And here it grows!

Spelled “quinua” in native Quechua, Quinoa is a very popular grain for us health-nut “Norte Americanos.” And here it grows!

Quinoa Buds Up Close

Quinoa Buds Up Close

The strangest view comes in the form of a city-to-ruins juxtaposition. You can see the modern development butting up against the ruins, which are now protected by the government.

Ruins in the midst of a gigantic, developing city.

Ruins in the midst of a gigantic, developing city.

And of course, Zac and I got the token shot in front of the ruins. They’re fascinating to see up close, but the tour was kind of pricey for just 25 minutes.


We’re happier than we look, I promise! Too much KFC the night before!

We planned to visit Tokio Ramen, a ramen noodle shop in San Isidro that was highly recommended by one of my students, then head over to the Huaca. After an hour or so, we didn’t find the ramen shop, so we were a little tired and cranky by the time we reached the ruins.

However, we DID get much better directions from my student and went the following weekend. We always talked about renting a bike for Zac on a Saturday (I had one) and just riding around Lima. We never did it due to price, or timing, or fear of biking on the street, but I forced it last Saturday, and it was so worth it! I’ve done enough biking to know some of the safer areas, so for an hour-long bike ride, we only had to hit the streets and sidewalks for about 6 blocks. We made it to the ramen shop for MSG-laden noodles and gyoza as a way to assuage my need for Japan in my life! (We delayed the Japan 2014 for Japan 2015.)

Tokio Ramen

Tokio Ramen

Anyway, as most of you know by now, we’ll be back in San Diego in January of 2014, but for now, we’ve got a lot more traveling to do. This week will be spent packing and tying up loose ends, and next time you see us we’ll be in Ica, Peru!

Categories: Lima, Peru, Travel | 6 Comments

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.



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.



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

BUGZ & Stories

Remember when I told you all about the various ways we have to clean our vegetables if we want to eat them? Did I also tell you that Peru banned GMOs ten years ago because they are very protective of their naturally grown produce, especially their corn? How about how South American countries have some of the loosest regulations on pesticide use in the world, and might actually be continuing to use DDT under the radar?

Well, when that’s all said and done, we still got a worm in our bell pepper.


I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. I mean, bugs are mostly good in lettuce and spinach and stuff, because it shows that the produce ain’t got no DDT. However, this bell pepper did not have a single hole or blemish on the outside. It was perfect. The inside was filled with black things, which I think were rotten seeds (or worm eggs) and a worm. I’m not even sure if the worm was dead or alive because I couldn’t manage to investigate it through my shock and disgust. I just can’t fathom how the worm got in there. Anyway, I know this is probably sacrilege, but I threw the whole thing out. Worms are something I just don’t mess with…even though they’re harmless when cooked. At least bell peppers here are only 30-40 cents each here!

In other news, I have a few interesting stories to share. You might remember that last Thursday a pigeon was trapped in our bathroom for around 30 minutes, just doing what pigeons do, flapping around, getting feathers everywhere, and leaving goopy grossness for us to clean up. Thank you, rat of the sky. Finally, Zac and I called in reinforcement from downstairs. Another tenant had to grab the thing with his bare hands and put him on the terrace, then scare him enough to fly away. Bizarre. (Also, we saw a nanny help her 2-year-old pee on the wall next to a busy intersection. We saw that in Asia a lot, but that’s the first time here.)

Well, that was last week. This Tuesday we had another interesting situation:

Plumber comes to fix the water, knocks entire window out of its frame. It crashes to the alley, 4 floors below, alerting the attention of all nearby pedestrians and construction workers. Oops. Nobody does anything about it. We’re told the water will be shut off in 15 minutes, so use the bathroom now. People start using the bathroom. 2 minutes later, manager sprints into the apartment, “NEVERMIND, they already cut the pipe, you can’t use the water.” (Imagine Zac, toothpastey mouth agape, wtf?) We begin complaining about how we gotta get notice when this is going to happen when BANG BANG BANG-BANG-BANG!(*&$*()#$*. Woman goes batshiz crazy on our apartment door, shouting in Spanish for 20 minutes about our apartment, about water leaking into her bathroom because of us, about how it’s “not a hostel” but it’s treated like one. She broke our security gate with her loco-fest. Luckily, Zac Heisey and Eric Walgenbachwere able to escape to Spanish class without being punched. Good morning, Peru!

Well, how fun! This place is really testing our patience and acceptance of the unknown. It kind of makes me miss Asia. Although, it’s not Lima’s fault that our landlord is awful!


Categories: Lima, Peru | 1 Comment

Being Tourists – Parque del Agua

Time-wise, you could do Lima in about 4 days, and see just about all there is to see. Considering traffic, it might take you 8 days, but that’s an issue for another blog post. Zac and I have been here for almost 4 months, and our visit to the Parque del Agua (Water Park) was one of the first things we’ve really done. We spend a lot of time working, traveling to and from teaching, and curled up in the fetal position with easy access to the bathroom (TMI?) watching reruns of The Big Bang Theory. I feel like my stomach is a big ol’ pansy when it comes to battling the Peruvian bacteria, but most people say that 3-4 months in is usually the turning point, so I’m hoping we’ll be good to go in the belly department pretty soon.

Anyway, back to the water park! We decided to have a quiet Friday night, and man did this place deliver! You can hardly hear the traffic from inside the darkened park, lit only by the water and light shows. I’m into inanimate objects dancing, ya know, stuffed teddy bears, mushrooms from Fantasia, etc., so this was right up my alley.


It’s basically a park with lots of colorfully lit fountains. This first shot is at the entrance. Then we saw this…looks like Dorothy had a rough landing?


There’s a huge fountain that dances to light and music, called Fantasia, which was my favorite.



There were some really cool displays, so here are a few fun photos for ya!





Kind of a creepy tea party – Alice in Wonderland-esque display.

The following night, we headed out for our friend’s birthday. We  ate the world’s best antichuchos, played cards at the house, then grabbed a drink at this new bar around the corner. For those of you who don’t know, anticuchos are made from beef heart, skewered, grilled, and delicious. This woman, Grimanessa, is famous for her anticuchos, and they’re definitely the best we’ve had here! Disclaimer: Peruvian food is not healthy. That’s just another weekend in the big city!





This one would have been awesome if I had better camera skills.

Anyway, that’s that! At least we’re getting out of our apartment once in a while. :) The following weekend we spent Saturday at an all-you-can-eat sushi place called Wasabi. Worst. Decision. Ever. Not only did we eat too much, (about 36 rolls between 4 people) but also, we all got sick for 24 hours! One of us is Peruvian, so she’s acclimated to the bacteria here and still got sick. Wasabi, your quality is terrible and I will not be endorsing you.

Categories: Food, Lima, Peru | Leave a comment

Signs and Sights of Lima

The most interesting thing about a foreign country, besides the food of course, is the way they communicate.  Whether it’s a high reliance on body language and eye contact, or the simple use of different signs and symbols in public places. I like to see what they use for their marketing tactics, and how their celebrities relate to the people. There are some pretty amazing aspects of different cultures in general, and here are a few of my favorite photos from around town.

Here we have an example of the packaging around a yoga mat I purchased at the “swap meet” style market Polvos Rosado. The girl in the middle just really makes me wanna get my yoga on.


Then we’ve got the very specific sign on the bus:


Make sure you’re not giving your seat up for just any heavy person, okay? There’s gotta be a FETUS in there.

This one is all about preventing sexual harassment on the bus!

I can't remember exactly what the words are, it was a bumpy, late-night bus ride, but I think the picture speaks for itself.

I can’t remember exactly what the words are, it was a bumpy, late-night bus ride, but I think the picture on the right speaks for itself.

This lady gets to ride around on a bike all day selling coffee?? Sign me up!


Best. Job. Ever

Oh, and this one tells you to OPEN THE WINDOW TO PREVENT TUBERCULOSIS. Hi, please don’t get on the bus if you have tuberculosis. Thanks. Sincerely, everyone else.


There are a lot of street performers throughout the city, but my favorite is when they take advantage of the 74-second red light (yes, there’s a countdown) and get all circus-like in the intersection. I just got the tail end of this, but that guy was juggling while standing on his partner’s shoulders. Pretty neat!


Okay, this picture encapsulates our favorite discovery. On Sundays here in Miraflores, we have something called “Ciclovia,” where the entire street (normally a very busy road) is closed to cars, and open to pedestrians, bikers, bladers, skaters, etc. About a block’s-worth of the street is used for this amazing scene you’ll see below.


Yep, dancing aerobics with like 200 people, in the middle of the street. As far as I know, anybody can join, but there are some pretty serious dancers out there. This picture shows the people near the back who aren’t quite so talented, but still far better than me! Zac and I keep saying we’ll join, but we haven’t quite plucked up the courage yet.

Here’s a dog, sitting in the middle of the park, just chowing down.


We’ve also got some interesting art throughout the city.


This one is a little strange to me because they’re actually pretty sexist here, so you don’t see a lot of strong women characters. But hey, that’s what makes it awesome!

That’s it for me! Zac & I say hi to you all from this beautiful view of a beach in Chorrillos. (A 20-minute bus ride south from our apartment.)


Categories: Lima, Peru | 1 Comment

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