Lima is for lovers. Or, at least that is the message they send with this giant sculpture of a lovers’ embrace on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific coast. It’s called Parque del Amor, and it’s one of a number of pretty awesome sights along Lima’s sprawling shoreline.
We walk along the water for sometime for some time. It’s winter, and the surf instructors are hard up for business, soliciting us steadily in their laid back Peruvian way. I pick up a nice purple pebble from the Pacific coast of Peru for Rory. Only a three year-old would be truly thrilled with a rock I found. But it’s thoughtful and somewhat alliterative.
Soon after, we whisk across town in an Uber to the airport for our flight to Cusco. While there, I try Peru’s national soft drink, Inca Kola. It tastes something like cream soda with a hint of bubble gum. Kind of weird, but I like it.
Our flight puts the foggy gloom of Lima behind us at last, trading it for the intense winter sun of Cusco, some 3,000 meters above sea level. My heart is racing, not just for beautiful views, but for the thin air. Jasmine got a prescription to help her acclimate to the altitude, but I’m going at it like the locals. I pick up my first handful of coca leaves at the airport. I’m saving them for tomorrow, though, when we start walking around town.
Whereas Lima was founded by the Spanish as their capital and base of operations by the sea, Cusco is the ancient capital of the Incas. Modern Lima is all glass and glitz, while Cusco is stone and corrugated metal. Lima is New York, and Cusco is another planet.
That’s another reason my heart is racing. This is getting to the heart of the matter – why I’m really here. Tomorrow we start visiting the Inca sites in and around the city. Tonight, we already find our way to the still standing foundation of an ancient Inca temple which once housed the sacred virgins who devoted themselves to the sun.
It’s a Starbucks now.