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Brittany and Chases Big Misadventure

Griffiti in Lima/Amazon Basin in Iquitos, Peru

What’s playing? Dave Rawlings Machine – A Friend of a Friend

So, after weeks of long nights spent tweaking, twiddling, pondering and performing countless other generally creative activities, it’s finally time for my first blog post.  (A little disclaimer: I’m going to skip straight to some content, so if you’d like to know more about who I am and why I’m writing head over to my About Me page.) Now, where were we? Oh, right… my first post.

This summer Brittany and I planned a trip to South America to explore the expanses of Peru. And by planned, I mean decided and left in the short span of, oh, you know, three weeks or so. There was that midnight run from Birmingham to New Orleans to pick up our passports short on notice and on sleep, purchasing plane tickets, arranging virtually no travel plans, and departing for Lima with hostel reservations for the first four nights of our trip…

…did I mention that we stayed for 19 days? If you’re thinking what everyone else I’ve talked to was the you’re probably saying to yourself,  ”Wow, that’s a long trip!” and it was a long trip. In fact, at times it was an awesomely long trip.  In fact, Before we left I had this weird  fear of flying, but by about the 3rd flight out of 9 I’d doze off like a baby right after the initial excitement of taking off. Sure, there were hard times, too — cold showers, the  language barrier, and that time we accidentally got off the plane in a city we didn’t know existed. Wait..? What..? That’s right, we willingly stood up, got out of our seats, and touched ground about 400 miles ahead of schedule. In our defense, everything the flight attendant said was in Spanish and no one ever said anything about the plane making a connecting stop.

As it were, one minute we’re happily making our way from Lima to the jungle city, Iquitos, and in the next we’re unknowingly stranded somewhere in between. We sit down in a dingy, and remarkably humid, open air Peruvian airport and wait patiently, like good travelers, for our ride into town. Something is wrong, though. Our tickets are either wrong or we’ve arrived an hour early. Meanwhile, over to our left, a group of taxi drivers are pointing and laughing at us for seemingly no apparent reason, in Spanish, mind you. You’d think it would all just click at some point, but apparently we’re just that oblivious.

After an hour or so a man approaches us and, after roughly translating an entire conversation with my iPhone, we realize that we’re stuck in a city named Pucallpa without a flight to Iquitos, our destination, until the next day. Desperate, we ask if we can get to Iquitos by boat. Turns out it’s a 5 day trip and is extremely dangerous. Scratch that one off the list. So now we have to find a safe place to sleep, buy a new (expensive) pair of plane tickets, and start worrying if we’ll ever make it out alive. Sure, he seems perfectly nice, and he’s offered to take us to a safe hotel, but what if it’s just a set up? The Peruvian mob could steal our stuff and leave us for dead and no one would be any the wiser. Imagine: no money, no passports, no phone — it’s terrifying. Around the world headlines read: “Two Gringos Gone Missing in Newly Discovered City.” Anyways, turns out we’re just paranoid (and broke after buying new tickets). The people were nice. Apparently tourists never go there (they clearly have no idea what take out food is supposed to be like).

Takeout in Pucallpa

Anyways, the trip was great — even that part. We experienced a wonderful culture, ventured off into the Amazon jungle, met really amazing people, and  ate some really delicious food (we loved the Chicha Morada and Piquerones.)


But perhaps the most memorable aspect of our trip (food wise, at least) was our multiple visits to the world-renowned restaurant Astrid & Gaston, a local culinary powerhouse and brainchild of acclaimed chef Gastón Acurio and his equally talented chef-wife.

The food is a sophisticated yet delightfully rustic take on the local Peruvian cuisine, known as Crillio, with a notable French influence as both chefs studied extensively at Le Cordon Bleu en France.  It’s a world-class restaurant, and with dishes like the mouthwateringly-tender suckling pig confit of 20 days, Alpaca ossobucco in a spicy red curry sauce, roast duck with 1000 spices and desserts so amazing we nicknamed whoever was making them Picasso, it’s not hard to see why. They were that beautiful and that delicious. (Sorry about the lack of savory food! We got a little excited and forgot pictures!)

Astrid and Gaston in Peru

’till next time

1 comment

1 Mom { 03.09.10 at 8:46 pm }

Just getting around to finishing this story. You guys did better than I think I would do in a foreign land with the language barrier and not knowing where I was. I got all nervous being on a resort in Costa Rica… and I wasn’t being paranoid.. “banditos” were a business there.
What a great experience that you will always remember. I am so glad that you guys are able to have these experiences. They are priceless.
I know you said that you were limited in the number of pics that you put up a month. But for mom, how about you upload them to snapfish so I don’t have to wait so long.
Oh and didn’t it used to tell you about the picture with the baggies somewhere? Isn’t that how you got your take out food?

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