Re­vis­it­ing the dif­fer­ent his­tor­i­cal pe­ri­ods of Peru

Red Magazine - - Contents - WORDS PRIS­TINE DE LEON

There are cer­tain ways to know a coun­try like Peru: through the fa­bles of its for­bear­ers that re­call the hey­days of the In­can em­pire, through travel re­ports cit­ing the eter­nal al­lure of Machu Pic­chu, jux­ta­posed against the back­drop of eras-long po­lit­i­cal up­heaval, or through tours—first, the train route over­look­ing the Sa­cred Val­ley, then the cloud-en­shrouded ranges— that thou­sand others have tra­versed since tourism here reached its peak.

Yet, as they say, there is no more in­ti­mate way to lose one’s self in the folds of a for­eign coun­try than through know­ing the lives its lo­cals live. “There are few places on earth where you can still see what I call ‘ liv­ing cul­ture,’” says Diego Ve­lasco of Coltur Peru. “[ You see] peo­ple keep­ing their tra­di­tions and [sus­tain­ing] the way they’ve lived for a hun­dred years.”

Peru on a Plate

Ve­lasco and Coltur Peru have made the many pri­vate Peru­vian worlds more ac­ces­si­ble to sea­soned trav­el­ers. For in­stance, glo­be­trot­ters can now be ad­mit­ted into the homes of the food scene’s cur­rent stal­warts.

Over the re­cent years, Peru has seen how its cap­i­tal Lima gained world­wide ac­claim through the in­creas­ing ubiq­uity of the neigh­bor­hood ce­vicheria and its rec­og­nized restau­rants, like Miche­lin-starred chef Vir­gilio Martinez’s Cen­tral. Chef Pene­lope Alzamora, who has worked in Bos­ton and San Fran­cisco, takes trav­el­ers to the boule­vards of the coun­try’s renowned culi­nary desti­na­tion. “She will pick you up at the ho­tel, drive you to the mar­ket, choose which pro­duce you’re go­ing to take home, and pre­pare food with you,” says Ve­lasco. Af­ter a tour to the lo­cal mar­kets, Alzamora holds cook­ing work­shops in her kitchen where guests can whip up their own Peru­vian fare with a view of the nearby ocean.

Por­traits of Con­quest

The cap­i­tal, which the con­quis­ta­dor Fran­cisco Pizarro had ar­dently called the “City of Kings,” still dis­plays rem­nants from the cen­tury when the Spa­niards reigned.

Among the sto­ried land­marks of Lima is the cen­turies-old Casa de

Aliaga that has housed Peru­vian art and ar­ti­facts since the 1500s. “Jerón­imo de Aliaga was a lieu­tenant of Pizarro,” ex­plains Ve­lasco. “And so, as a gift, Pizarro gave Aliaga a piece of land [ad­ja­cent to the gov­ern­ment palace].”

The old­est man­sion in the Amer­i­cas, filled with colonial fur­ni­ture and tell-tale ar­ti­facts such as the sword that Lieu­tenant Aliaga wielded in his con­quest of the coun­try, is sim­i­larly home to sev­eral art­work from dif­fer­ent eras. “You can find these pri­vate art col­lec­tions that we can take you to,” says Ve­lasco. “There are 16 gen­er­a­tions of the Aliaga fam­ily that have been here, and we can take [guests on] a pri­vate tour, hosted by one of the [mem­bers of the] Aliaga [clan].”

Nat­u­ral Her­itage

In Peru, the nat­u­ral land­scape is sim­i­larly a por­trait of long-for­got­ten times. Inca, lo­cated in the south of Lima, gives view of the sto­ried Nazca lines, cre­ated by pre-In­can civ­i­liza­tions. “This is a desert. There are strong winds, and thou­sands of years have passed, but the lines are still there. The way they were made is still a mys­tery,” says Ve­lasco. The only way to see these lines is from the air, and trav­el­ers can take Coltur Peru’s sys­tem air­craft to bet­ter see the pre­his­toric mar­vels.

Part of the coun­try’s ap­peal is the lore and lure of the Cusco re­gion. The moun­tains and rivers of its Sa­cred Val­ley play host to a sce­nario fit for folk­lore: “[It’s] liv­ing cul­ture. You will be able to see lo­cals trad­ing things with no money, like pota­toes for sugar, onions for veg­eta­bles,” says Ve­lasco.

Cusco also holds Peru’s most talked-about at­trac­tion Machu Pic­chu, touted as the lost city of the In­cas. “When you start get­ting there, the scenery changes, be­cause Machu Pic­chu is closer to the clouds,” says Ve­lasco. Sea­soned trav­el­ers can take the train or the In­can route to mine the many other myths and mar­vels of this coun­try, each one planted dif­fer­ent points in time.

Built by the In­cas, the so-called hid­den city of Machu Pic­chu was con­structed with huge stone blocks cut to fit to­gether with­out mor­tar.

De­vel­oped dur­ing the pre-In­can era, the Sali­nas de Maras lie above the Maras For­ma­tion in Cuzco. Folks have sus­tained the tra­di­tion of mak­ing salt, along­side pro­duc­ing bath salts and oils.

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