Strolling Through Lima and Touring Hot Springs in Churín

Wandering Lima

It is funny to me that we assumed that we wouldn’t like Lima and skipped it entirely the first time through. We had to return because it is the transportation hub for not only the country but for this region of South America. Surprisingly, we ended up liking it so much that we stayed there altogether for 10 nights. I felt right at home in the little bohemian neighborhood of Barranco. We developed a routine there, taking frequent strolls to our favorite spots. Lima is a gastronomic paradise. It was hard to leave the wonderful food and tranquil atmosphere we discovered.

Hanging out in Barranco
Hanging out in Barranco
Fresh crab found in my soup
Fresh crab found in my soup at Cevicheria Union in Barranco
Mouth-watering Fresh Maracuya Cake with Organic Coffee from La Panadera
Mouth-watering Fresh Maracuya Cake with Organic Coffee from La Panadera
Street Art in Barranco
Street Art in Barranco

One afternoon I awoke from a nap and told Kurt we were going on an adventure. We left our hotel room and walked to the Puente de los Suspiros just as the sun was setting. I had no real plan besides this. We discovered a man painting a mural with a bird inside of a head. It reminded me of a Portlandia episode, “Put a bird on it”. We wandered around some more and found ourselves in an art gallery set in a historic mansion. My favorite part was the antique chandelier adorning the entry way. Later that evening we stumbled upon BLU, an italian owned gelateria. It was the best gelato we had anywhere in South America. The Roman owner knows what she is doing and even gave us some tips for our upcoming trip to Central America.

Bird Mural in Barranco
Bird Mural in Barranco
Antique Chandalier at ??? in Barranco
Antique Chandalier at Victoria Gallery in Barranco
Ice Cream at BLU in Barranco
Ice Cream at BLU in Barranco
Near Puente de los Suspiros in Barranco
Near Puente de los Suspiros in Barranco

On our last day in Lima, we spent the day in the Miraflores neighborhood. We saw the Kennedy cat park. I had never seen such relaxed cats. I saw many people laying in the grass which seemed unsanitary. We passed the church in the park which had a Virgin on an exterior wall. A man stood out front praying. A cat hid in the bushes encroaching the shrine. We sought a vegetarian restaurant but found they were all extremely heavy in fake meat. Serendipitously, we stumbled upon a comic book themed grill. We were served grilled “tollo” with french fries, rice and salad. We later learned that “tollo” is houndshark, a small bottom dweller that feeds primarily on crustaceans. It was quite tasty, one of the best meals in Lima.

In Miraflores
In Miraflores
Antique Car in Miraflores
Antique Car in Miraflores
Sleepy cats in Kennedy Park in Miraflores
Sleepy cats in Kennedy Park in Miraflores
Kurt was tired too in Kennedy Park in Miraflores
Kurt relaxing with cats in Kennedy Park in Miraflores
Admiring the Menu at Krypton Restaurant
Admiring the Menu at Khrypton Restaurant

Absolutely the best meal and the most expensive of our entire trip was at AmorAmar. You would never find it if not looking for it. It is located in an old colonial building surrounded by fences. On the main street, it is enshrouded in a large black screen. You have to enter from the back alley. Once inside, it transforms into a modern, gastronomic paradise. I ate sea bass with mariscos and Kurt had a lamb leg with meat that literally fell off of the bone.

Sea Bass with Mariscos in Coral Sauce
Sea Bass with Mariscos in Coral Sauce
Kurt's Duck Leg
Kurt’s Lamb Leg

One day we tackled shopping at Gamarra, an enormous clothing market taking up blocks of real estate in central Lima. We stumbled upon a delicious local restaurant where Kurt ate a large plate of arroz con pato. I had a delicious fish dish. I bought South American style jeans and a unique blue dress.

Shopping at Gammara
Shopping at Gammara

It was great meeting up with a friend and local to show us around. We met Victor in Pucallpa some months before. We thought we had seen the center of Lima when we went to Plaza Grau, an enormous plaza surrounded by six lane traffic lanes where we were nearly run over by a charging bus. Victor took us to the cathedral and judicial building at night and to plazas in the surrounding area. We had no idea that Lima was so grande. It is a stunningly beautiful city. It was a holiday so less people were out but it was still very crowded. Limeños love the night life and the evening constitutional. We saw street performers, unique street food and even a group doing a religious ceremony for Pachamama outside of one of the most posh restaurants in the neighborhood.

Kurt and Victor in Downtown Lima
Kurt and Victor in Downtown Lima
Strolling through Lima
Strolling through Lima

We spent one evening with Maggie and ate gourmet veggie burgers. The place was very similar to Hopdoddy in Austin. Maggie and Cory were in town for a few days before leaving for the jungle. It was great to see them in Perú one more time.

Kate and Maggie in Lima
Maggie and Kate in Lima
Veggie Burger
Veggie Burger

We discovered the Metro, a bus that parallels the freeway but has its own lane. This saved us much time and money as we took the public transportation up to the city center and back. The helpful Peruvians were always kind enough to let us give them some change to purchase our rides on their cards.

Kurt riding the Metro in Lima
Kurt riding the Metro in Lima
Metro Station in Lima Close to our Hotel
Metro Station in Lima Close to our Hotel

I read about peñas, evening variety shows featuring local costumes and music that are very popular in Barranco. We inquired about ticket prices at one club. It was apparent to me very quickly that this was a total tourist trap. We walked away figuring it was something we probably wouldn’t enjoy when we heard some blaring pop punk music coming from a colonial home. The band had a sound similar to Cruiserweight. Curious, we ventured forth and peaked in. Turns out, it was a church. We were invited to join the crowd as the pop punk band led us through an Evangelical Christian service. It was a blast!

Hot Springs Marathon in Churín

We went very briefly to an eco yoga farm, run by Vaishnavites, but found the place not quite our speed so we left for hot springs north of Lima in the village of Churín. We are now officially hot spring aficionados. I tallied it up and in 3 days, we went to a total of 6 hot springs complexes, and 21 different pools! Churín is full of them.
One day we saw this comedy group coming through town selling tickets to perform for the children
One day we saw this comedy group coming through town selling tickets to their performance
We spent some time visiting the nearby complexes which had mostly mild-temperature waters with different chemical compositions. At Meseta, each pool had a separate sign specifying what ailment could be cured by its waters. The most natural setting and coolest waters were found at Mamahuarmi where legend says that the source of the water are the tears of the town patron, an indigenous woman of the same name who gave birth to a son fathered by a conquistador. At Tingo, I dipped my toe in water so hot that it began to scald me. It must have been more than 50C!
Velo de la Novia Pool
Mamahuarmi Pool
At Velo de la Novia Hot Springs
Mamahuarmi Hot Springs
Post-soak Walk Back to Town
Post-soak Walk Back to Town
At ???? Hot Springs
At Meseta Hot Springs
One Pool at ???? Could be Found Slightly Undergroud
One Pool at Meseta Could be Found Slightly Undergroud
Medicinal Waters at Meseta
Medicinal Waters at Meseta
Another Pool at ?????
Another Pool at Meseta
In the evenings we would wander the small town and sit in the main plaza. I enjoyed talking to kids that roam around with no parents in sight. They all offered to tell me the story of Mamahuarmi, the town patron whose statue lights up with blinking lights nightly in the central plaza. The girls wanted to learn English and hear about where we were from. They had wonderful questions like how long it takes to get here on an airplane and was I afraid to fly.
Mamahuarmi in the Central Park
Mamahuarmi in the Central Park
One day we took the Huancahuasi tour to the complexes outside of town. We chose a tour company which we soon found out also operated as a colectivo (a minivan that serves as public transportation, collecting passengers on the side of the road and dropping them off along the route). It was one of the most fun days yet! We kept picking up locals, women wearing ethnic hats topped with plastic flowers holding produce and big bags of lettuce. We shared the van with several Peruvian tourists as we made our way to the optimal temperature springs. One bath was developed by the ex-president and current convict, Alberto Fuijomori. One of our compatriot travelers wanted to take a picture with me, saying “Chocolate y Leche!” It was darling. If we come back to this region, we will stay in this valley. It was so peaceful and beautiful. On the way back, we stopped at a 400 year old church that appeared to be slowly collapsing on itself.
View from the Bus from Our Tour of Huancahuasi - Incan terraces could also be seen in the distance in this region
View from the Bus from Our Tour of Huancahuasi – Incan terraces could also be seen in the distance in this region
Sweet Woman on the Collective/Tour Van
Sweet Woman on the Colectivo/Tour Van
At Huancahuasi Hot Springs
At Huancahuasi Hot Springs
Chocolate y Leche
Chocolate y Leche
At Huancahuasi Hot Springs
At Huancahuasi Hot Springs
We Bought Some Cheese from this Woman in ?????
We Bought Some Cheese from this Woman in Picoy
400 Year Old Church in ????
400 Year Old Church in Picoy
In Churín, we discovered the local delicacy of alfajores, pastries filled with manjar blanco, or dulce de leche. The town was full of milk products due to the large amount of dairy cattle in the region. Fresh yogurt was easy to find. I also indulged in some delicious street food. Picarones are fried rings of pumpkin, sweet potato and wheat dough and served with fresh honey. Makes my mouth water just thinking about them!

Fresh Yogurt with Carob Sauce
Fresh Yogurt with Carob Sauce
Murals of Legends of Churín Painted on the Walls with Kurt eating Analfores
Murals of Legends of Churín Painted on the Walls with Kurt eating Alfajores
Fresh Picarones
Fresh Picarones
Our Favorite Analfore Place
Our Favorite Alfajores Place