Peru: Rainbows, Rainbows Everywhere…
Story by Amita Parashar. Photo credits in photo notes.
The rainbow flags may be out in full force, but this land is far from Santa Monica Blvd. Gayness is mostly under the radar in Peru -- the bright flags are actually a nod to the Incan empire -- but the cute surfer girls and real rainbows couldn’t help but turn my vacation a little bit gay.
Lima: Spend your time in the Miraflores and Barranco districts, two relaxed, artsy beach towns. Admire hot surfer boys and girls along the water, then visit Dédalo (e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org),a shop/café that sells blown glass and silver jewelry handcrafted by local artists. For more traditional Peruvian kitsch, check out the Inca Market in Miraflores. At night, we hit local watering holeEl Tayta, for cheap beer and freshly roasted cancha (Peruvian corn nuts). The bar boasts a good mix of Peruvians and foreigners, plus an incredibly cute girl-with-guitar singer who covered everyone from Colbie Caillat to Alanis.
Machu Picchu: Although it’ll take you a plane, train, bus and handful of altitude sickness pills to get there, you must visit Machu Picchu. You’ll forget the pain-in-the-ass journey when you reach breathtaking views of the Sacred Valley and walk among the ruins from the last seat of the Incan empire. You’ll be dreaming about this place for days. For a romantic date after the exhausting journey, eat at open-air Pacha Papa in Cusco for Peruvian and fusion fare. While in Cusco, stay at Niños Hotel, all the profits provide daily food and support to over 500 kids in the area. Plus, they have plenty of coca leaf tea to help with the altitude adjustment.
Paracas: A four hour luxury bus ride (yes, actually luxury) south from Lima will land you in Paracas. Take a 30 minute boat ride to the biodiverse Ballestas Islands, home to penguins and sea lions. While in Paracas, try the Chita Frita, fried whole fish. For the athletically-inclined (or just daring), head to nearby Huacachina to sandboard down 300 foot dunes. For more highly-spirited travelers, Paracas is also a great place to tour wine and pisco vineyards.