Monday 15th July, 09:30am, Miraflores, Lima
I wish I could say that I slept like a dream last night.
I’ve never had it where I’ve arrived at the airport and somebody has just been waiting for me, with a sign!
It was exciting. Usually, like most people, I arrive at the airport and have to figure out a way to get to where I’m staying. It so nice that I didn’t have to do that – I could just relax, I was allowed to feel tired and let somebody else take care of me, take my suitcase. It was a dream, because carrying a heavy camera bag, another bag, and a huge suitcase, is not much fun, especially when you haven’t slept in two days.
At 9pm my taxi dropped me off at a restaurant which had the rest of the group, minus Vicky – I deliriously introduced myself to them. The camera was away. I wanted to meet them without the lens, just get to know who they were and connect with them without hiding behind the camera, which is something I sometimes do. Beer, food, excited discussions of the trip ahead – I kind of felt like I was swimming, a little. So when my head finally hit the pillow I was out like a light.
But… I only slept around three hours. Loud drunk people, breakfast setting up, my hotel was next to the others’ as my booking was so last minute, and it was a little echoey so I wasn’t super refreshed when I woke up this morning.
But, I have grabbed some fruit for breakfast and I’m heading to meet the group for a full day of food and Lima.
10:30am , somewhere in Lima
We headed out to a local market. Somewhere small, intimate, where we can learn about Peruvian fruit, veg, and culture and try some things we may not have seen before.
It was the first time I really got to see the group. Vicky was here now and we were all kind of sussing each other out, working out how far we could push it with our humour. It didn’t take long to break down any awkward barriers (if there were any to begin with, anyway)! We all just instantly warmed to each other and I could already see that we were going to get along just fine.
I wouldn’t have problems getting shots of them. They were pretty damn photogenic, even when they were mid-way through a bite of avocado.
13:00pm, Urban Kitchen, Lima
After being stuffed with fruit at the market, we jumped in our little bus and headed elsewhere, ready for our Peruvian cooking class.
I was a little nervous coming on this trip – being vegan. I knew that I would probably have to make some compromises and not be as strict as I usually am. Back home I struggle if somebody puts my food in the oven alongside something non-vegan, so the cooking class did make me feel a bit nervous. But, there was nothing to worry about. There was one veggie and one pescatarian on the trip, so I didn’t feel so alone. The chefs were really accomodating and made sure we had our own dishes! I got to chop potatoes, so I was happy (byt the way, did you know there are like 3,000 different types of potatoes in Peru? Mind. Blown.)
However, despite being vegan and having a strict set of values I did take photos of all the dishes and prep – non-vegan and vegan. Because… well – it’s my job. And if I really value being a photographer, I need to settle on my boundaries and be okay with certain things. I’ve made my peace with this.
We got into the kitchen, washed our hands, and sat down. The head chef asked us to put our hands up if we’d like to have a shot of Pisco (Peru’s famously strong spirit). The group’s hands shot straight up (lead by Phil or Joyce probably) and I started to get more of an idea about what this group was like. The chef was joking. We were not.
We had our shots of Pisco, pulled faces, and then settled down to prep our lunch.
As well as our shot, we had a ginger Pisco drink made for us, and lots of red and white wine served at the dinner table. Safe to say this set the tone for the rest of the trip: alcohol, and plenty of it.
The food – it was to die for. We made two Peruvian dishes, with veggie and non-veggie options, and we were pretty proud of ourselves for making something so delicious. The chefs had also prepared us a dessert – this fruit chocolate mousse thing that was a little reminiscent of Angel Delight. It wasn’t vegan, but I did have a spoonful and then give my bowl to a very grateful Phil to finish off.
One thing I really valued was that there was a seat for me at the class- a job for me. I wasn’t sure whether I’d be on the sidelines of the activities on this trip – an outsider looking in. But the fact that I was part of this first activity made me realise that I would be taking part this whole trip; that I would be juggling participation and photography. And that suited me perfectly.
16:00pm, City Centre, Lima
In food and wine comas, the last thing we wanted to do was walk around but, actually, it was the best thing for us. We got a tour of the city centre, exploring Cathedrals, historic sites, fountains, and city squares and everything associated with the Capital city. We learned about the history of Lima, ate some cacao, and visited the Love Park and a really weird statute on our way back to our hotels in Miraflores.
We then dashed into our rooms for 45 minutes before jumping into a taxi to Central – the 6th best restaurant in the world. Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!
19:00pm, Central, Lima
I had no idea what I was walking into and, perhaps if I had known, I may have dressed a little smarter.
After our reservation was checked, we walked through the gate into a beautiful walled garden and along a path that lead to the restaurants and bar.
We were seated in the bar, presented with the most aesthetically pleasing menu I’ve ever seen, and then we got to ordering cocktails – all based around the different places in Peru. They were incredible.
Joyce had made the reservation for Central weeks before the trip, before a few of us had been confirmed for the trip. She’d managed to stretch the bar reservation to the 9 of us, but the meal at Maiyo was still for 6 people. So – Phil, Nirav and I stayed behind and asked if the bar did food.
They did the Central food.
But, instead of the 18 courses, it was 9 in the bar, which was fiiiiiiine with us!
I won’t go into too much detail here because I would love to do a separate blog post about eating at Central. Especially as I got to see the vegan menu, the veggie menu, and the non-veggie – it was fascinating to see how the dishes had been adapted for the different diets.
All I’ll say, for now, is that the food was magnificent and we just carried on ordering cocktails as the meals were presented, getting louder and louder and louder. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much – it really was a beautiful time getting to know both Phil and Nirav and knowing they’d be a lot of fun for the rest of the trip.
It was past 11 when we met up with the others and I said goodbye to the nicest place I’d ever eaten in my life.
23:30pm, some random bar, Lima
It’s totally smart to go out for midnight drinks the night before you gotta get a morning flight, right?
Weirdly enough, this rainbow drink was called Machu Picchu? I mean… they couldn’t have called it after anything else could they?!
02:30pm, Miraflores, Lima
Way past bed time.We’re up for a 6:00am bus to the airport tomorrow.
We’re heading to the Amazon.
Check out the Lima video if you fancy it! I talk a little more about being less strict with veganism, how I’m feeling about the job ahead, and show some more of the photos I took in Lima.