San Diego DJ Mikey Beats, and his nurse wife Jenny, decided to take a vacation to Machu Picchu, Peru. For the next few days San Diego Free Press will publish their daily adventures. Read parts I & II, part III, parts IV & IV.5, part V, part VI, part VII and part VIII.
Monday 6/10/13 Day 9
We awoke to our last morning in Cuzco. The Arqueologo Hotel had been very good to us as was the whole city of Cuzco. As we ate our last delicious continental breakfast, we met a couple who were in their mid forties who had hiked the Inca trail and were from Sacramento.
We also met a woman from Tijuana, who heard me mention TJ in a conversation and I thought I had offended her. She mentioned how the running international joke is how the best part of TJ is San Diego. I agreed but I forgot how defensive Tijuaneras could be about their nationalism. She argued a bit about how they have beautiful beaches in Ensenada and so on, so I defused the argument by saying, “somos un pueblo sin fronteras” [we are one people without borders]. That perked her up and our conversation turned positive.
I came to the conclusion after Jenny and I were so impressed that all the travelers we met were such nice people that it was because the destination we all had in common, Machu Picchu.
It was a place that sorted out all the single minded, materialistic douche bags of the world simply by being difficult to get to. Having to risk life and limb for a view into the past of a long gone culture must have seemed undesirable to champagne showering, iced wrist flossing, Hollywood worshipping drones that were mass produced by pop culture. At least that made sense to me.
Most of the people at the Sanctuary Lodge I can’t even comprehend how to dissect due to such class differences, but I could only stereotype them in that this was another notch on their luxury hotel bed post and another conversation at their tea parties.
I was snapped out of my mind rant when Jenny said it was time to go. So we packed our things, said goodbye to Cuzco and caught our plane to Lima.
The view into Lima was anything but welcoming. We flew into a marine layer that spanned for miles in every direction. As we broke through the clouds, we got our first peek at the coastline which was littered with industrial yards and factories. The land was covered in a brownish grey soot and the buildings were all the same color.
Flying into the airport was smooth, but I expected a mouthful of industrial pollution when the plane hatch opened. Looking out the window, the entire city was masked in a June gloom that sucked any living color out of it. The hatch opened and there wasn’t a mouthful of soot but to the contrary, it was a welcomed easy breath in and out, unlike in Cuzco. We were back at sea level.
The cab ride from the airport to the hotel was a classic case of hurry up and wait in big city traffic. The air reeked of diesel from the buses and work trucks while the traffic was an everlasting fur ball being coughed up from an alley cat.
As we drove on, a familiar smell was in the air. It was my longest lasting love affair, the Pacific Ocean. We dropped down a hill and were headed south along a cliff to our east and the ocean at our right.
It reminded me of parts of Malibu along PCH if you sprinkled some Tijuana on it. The beach was all dug up from a project to build a boulevard next to the one we were driving on. It seemed like a weird idea but we were still in South America and sometimes that made sense.
We busted a U-turn a few miles down and drove up a hill to get on top of the cliff and there was Miraflores, a coastal neighbor similar to Ipanema in Rio De Janiero, but the buildings were only five stories and there was a lot less sun.
We checked into our hotel and talked to a bartender while our room was being prepared. He told us of various spots to eat that were good and cheap and clarified that the places we were planning on going were good.
Once in our room, I jumped online to communicate with our friends in Lima who were the newlyweds Adam and Maria as well as Zach Galafankis’ doppelgänger, Mike. The newlyweds responded first so we left our hotel to meet with them in their hotel where we decided to go to Pescado Capitales, which got great reviews from all sources around. Spirits were high with the double daters and since our stomachs were empty, we were ready for a food tour of Lima, Peru.
Pescado Capitales is a place where business people and socialites of Miraflores in Lima, Peru, go to seal deals and gossip over some of the best seafood culinary concepts this side of the equator.
At first glance the decor seemed modest to the prices set for each dish. The restaurant was set in a large patio, seating about 200 with high transparent ceilings allowing the marine layer shaded sun to illuminate the menus with an average of 45 Soles, or $20 per menu item.
We started off with grilled octopus accompanied by asparagus lathered with butter and a 3x3x3 traditional ceviche with three different types of fish, chiles, and onion. Between grunts and groans the conversation went from anticipation to adornment.
Next round we ordered baked scallops served in shell with a thick layer of parmesan. In my opinion that was the greatest thing I had put in my mouth since I had been nursing as an infant. The crisp layer of thick parmesan kept the scallop underneath juicy and tender through the baking process.
Next up we had Leche de Tigre, which I thought came in a shot glass, but showed up in goblet. This was basically the ceviche fish juice with small bits of fish, onion and a few pieces of corn meant to be drank and not eaten with a utensil. Our New York friends were slightly hesitant to endings in this Lima libation, but I pounded the full glass like a marathon runner drinking water at the finish line.
Next up was the battered prawns on top of sweet mashed potatoes which were postured up like Shamu at Sea World when he beaches himself at the show finale. These prawns were huge and needed dissecting by our utensils. The finalé was a squid and shrimp ceviche in a light curry and coconut sauce.
Food boners aside, we all not only enjoyed the cuisine but the conversation between us and the newlyweds were devoid of awkward moments of silence and rich with laughter and commonalities.
At one point when I mentioned Jenny’s all-time favorite movie was Elf with Will Ferrell, Maria jumped with enthusiasm while both wives were giddy that they had just become best friends. Adam and I shrugged our shoulders and smiled, carrying on our own conversations.
We dropped off the newlyweds and headed back to our own hotel to eventually explore on foot Miraflores. The neighborhood next to our hotel was more similar to Leblón or Baixu Gavea in Rio de Janeiro than Ipanema, as previously stated, with salty sea air covering streets filled with people shopping, eating and drinking.
We made it down to Kennedy Park that was dedicated to the memory of America’s beloved JFK and the brotherhood between Pensacola and Miraflores. Although we didn’t know there was a brotherhood between the two cities, it was very nice to see a friendly face. What we couldn’t understand was why there were so many cats around the memorial; there were 20+ cats all over the place.
Moving forward, Jenny and I posted up at an outdoor cafe to people watch and sip some drinks. We noticed some vendors had set a small display of goods in the middle of the park, so we went shopping to pass the time.
We eventually decided to walk back to our hotel when we passed several casinos, which caught us off guard. One was called Atlantic City and the coincidence that my partner Fred happened to be DJing in America’s Atlantic City at the same time was undeniable, so we walked in.
We did a lap around the roulette and blackjack tables when Jenny recognized the familiar Zach Galifianakis doppelgänger: It was Mike who we met at Machu Picchu! He was as surprised as we were and asked if he had told us he’d be there. We said no and promised we weren’t stalking him. We proceeded to gamble for a few hours on black jack and then on craps. The crap table was so sour that we switched to betting the Don’t Pass Line and made some soles. Throwing dice really builds up an appetite, so we headed to La Lucha, a sandwich and juice stand that dishes out comfort food for the late night drinking crowd.
After a lost cab ride back to our hotel where the cabby drove backwards down a busy street, narrowly avoiding getting rear ended by a speeding bus, then driving the wrong way for a few blocks, Jenny and I retired in preparation of our final 24 hours in Lima and Peru.
Mikey Beats Beltran is a native San Diegan and veteran of the local music scene. He started off as a teenager working at Soma Live in Bay Park and he’s currently the co-owner and Vice President of Sleeping Giant Music. He has over ten years of DJing experience that has taken him all over the US. He lives in Pacific Beach, with his wife Jenny, where he was recently elected to the PB Planning Group. You can follow him on Twitter @MikeyBeats.