We were on our way to Pachacamac; a restaurant with a 3 hour return trip.
Apparently, so I have been told, in Peru if you have a roof over your head and somewhere to sleep, you are doing better than 70% of the population. This means the concrete boxes with no sewage, running water or electricity, sitting in dirt with no grass or trees, are fortunate. In Australia we become concerned with the unemployment rate, here, I am in awe of those tirelessly working in the only option available for many, entrepreneurship. Candy, chocolates, sodas, fairy floss and juices are sold anywhere and everywhere. Little carriages pushed on wheels behold bursting colours of confectionary against the paint less corrugated fences like flowers on display at the markets. Families open their homes, if they are lucky enough to live on a road, to sell home cooked food. I am definitely coming back here with my canon (camera, not arsenal).
Eventually we turned onto dirt roads where our bodies went from front to back in time with the haphazard traffic to up and down with the large potholes and rocks. We passed impressive stonewalls with beautiful timber gates, guarding a civilization of a wealthier kind. A few metres later and many bops up and down, we see a dirt farm, less elaborate yet still framed by the lush mountains standing at attention behind it.
After a while, my imagination tried to convince me we were not going to ‘have lunch’ at all but something else entirely – as set up perhpas. I hadn’t yet thought of the exact details when two policia vehicles, as typical as you would expect from a movie set in Columbia appear behind us. There were tropical plants, dirt roads, and gated compounds, what else was I to think? At this time, I was grateful I hadn’t seen too many movies set in South America. So, due to lack of Hollywood storylines for reference my imagination reached a stand still and then so did our vehicles… we had arrived at our destination.
What a slice of paradise we had gratefully entered. A lush outdoor expanse with tables set for a feast surrounded by a covered area with a sprawling bar, just asking if bamboo had ever looked so good? My boys were in heaven with the play centre, jumping castles and wait for it …. go cart races. The lush garden screamed ‘local produce’ with rows of neatly lined fresh greens looking fresh and scrumptious… even the ones I didn’t recognize. I, and my husband of course, were mostly excited and grateful that we could eat a meal and finish a sentence with another adult with minimal interruption. As it turns out, we hardly saw our kids.
Being vegetarian (mostly) is not a boring fare in Peru as the dish I devoured contained the tastiest asparagus, eggplant, capsicum and zucchini on a bed of risotto soaking the in the most delicious juice. OH and the desert, how can I describe the velvety chocolate sauce inside the softest chocolate sponge with the passion fruit ice-cream that just simply dissolves in your mouth or the sponge soaked in milk and cream, a description that doesn’t adequately prepare you for the taste sensation in waiting.
The whole purpose for this day full of tastes, fun and freedom were to meet fellow expats for their priceless hints and tips but most of all, their friendship through our adjustment. To be provided with answers to questions I hadn’t even thought of built a sense of security otherwise undetected. At the end of the day, I found myself eager, excited and a little more confident that with the help of these generous people, through their stories and affection for this country, Peru will become my home away from home.