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Marketing Globetrotters Tour in Lima, Peru
It was one of those strange twists of fate, and being open to opportunity, that finds me halfway across the world in the lobby of the Sonesta Hotel in Lima, Peru as part of a program called Marketing Globetrotters. Marketing Globetrotters is the brainchild of Yngrid Arnold, CMO of Viventura Travel, a socially responsible tour operator that specializes in providing unique, sometimes “off the track” vacations and adventures, and Mike King, an engaging speaker, SEO specialist and, as incongruous as it may seem; a rapper. Their idea was to take their enthusiasm and expertise in online marketing on the road through a series of speaking engagements in various venues throughout South America.
For some reason (and lucky for me) Mike and Yngrid felt that it would be a good idea to have a travel blogger along to write about the experience and somehow I managed to fool them – er — I mean convince them that I was the ideal candidate. I found out that I had been selected on a Tuesday and less than five days later I found myself on a plane, flying literally halfway across the world, from Chiang Mai, Thailand to Lima, Peru where the adventure begins.
The plan is to spend a few days here in Lima, Peru’s largest city, where Mike and Yngrid are scheduled to speak at then then off to Arequipa, Cuzco, the Sacred Valley, Aguas Calientes, and something I have dreamed of for years, Machu Picchu! From there we will go to go Lake Titicaca, Capachica, Puno then off to Santiago de Chile! From Santiago we plan to go to UNESCO World Heritage Site Valparaiso for a few days of seaside relaxation before ending the trip. To be honest, other than Machu Picchu, I don’t know very much about Peru or Chile, but I am completely psyched to be able to participate in this adventure.
I met Mike and Yngrid, who was accompanied by her German friends Julian and Francesca in the lobby of the Sonesta. We decided to go across the street to a Japanese/Peruvian fusion restaurant called HANZO. HANZO is one of those places that, if you had to guess what country you were in just by looking around, you would be hopeless. Dark, hardwoods, chrome and a vaguely Japanese décor belied a menu that to me could have been in Greek. Luckily Yngrid, who was born and raised in Peru, intervened and suggested, which if it isn’t Peru’s national dish, it should be; ceviche. She also suggested something that just may change the timbre of the entire trip: Pisco Sours. I will go more into Pisco later.
We, along with Daniel Falcon, professor at University of the Pacific – one of South America’s most prestigious universities, founder of “Neo Consulting” and overall great guy, joined us because Mike and Yngrid were friends who would be speaking at his school the next day and maybe – because he wanted to keep an eye on us. Okay, we had a Pisco (or two) before the meal arrived. As the food started coming, we abandoned the “my plate is my plate” attitude and everyone started sharing Thai style. Yes, the ceviche and everything else that got muddled up in my Pisco altered mind was amazing but I think the best of the evening was the Peruvian Sushi which is everything you expect, but with chilies and some other spices, I have no clue as to what they are, but they do add depth.
The next morning, feeling much better than I deserved to, Yngrid, Mike, Julian, Francesca and I all loaded up into cabs to go to the university. We were shown to a large auditorium where Mike rehearsed his talk, Yngrid coordinated and I just basically sat there, mesmerized by the fact that not only I am in South America at one of Peru’s most prestigious universities as some sort of guest, but surrounded by students and many of Lima’s most prominent business leaders who were there to hear Mike’s talk. Pretty disorienting considering less than 48 hours ago I was in Chiang Mai.
Yngrid did her presentation in Spanish. I like to pretend that I could follow along, but most was lost in translation. However I could see that the audience was fully engaged. I could almost understand Mike, who was speaking in English, but the subject matter was somewhat over my head, nevertheless I could tell the bilingual students were captivated by the material he presented. I knew I was in South America but what I was witnessing was a scene that you would find on many of the most advanced university campuses of the world.
What you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the world was the seafood at a “cevicheleria” known as “Pescados Capitales” where we went for lunch. Again, the menu was largely a mystery, but I think I was beginning to understand it was kind of hard to order anything that I wouldn’t love. A few seconds after being seated we were brought complimentary spoons of mussels in what looked like a mignonette sauce. We were also given addicting bowls of crunchy Cancha, a snack made from large kernels of corn roasted in oil and salted just so. I tried to decipher the menu but in the end I just closed my eyes and pointed. I think everyone but Yngrid did the same, but no one came away disappointed. In fact Mike ordered his main course twice!
Stuffed and almost ready for a nap, Yngrid led us to a large van that was, with guide, to take us into central Lima to have a look around. The first stop was a lively square filled with people, a guy on a horse, (I was still a little tired) and pigeons; lots of pigeons. The guide discussed the history, which in and of itself was quite interesting, but I was more fascinated by the general scene. The plaza was a gathering place, a spot for people watching, a slice of Lima, and I think more interesting than the history of the place itself.
Next, we made a short drive to the Basilica Cathedral of Lima, a Roman Catholic cathedral located in the Plaza Mayor of Central Lima. If anyone has been following me you know that I am not a religious person, but I find religion, be it Buddhism, Islam, Paganism, or Christianity to be fascinating. The Cathedral was built in the 16th Century when Spain was trying to consolidate its influence in South America. Soaring ceilings, neoclassical Spanish architecture and artwork made by locals artisans who were taught to copy European masters, made the Cathedral absorbing. While not the most spectacular of the cathederal, what is to me, the most weirdly amazing part is the burial place of Francesco Pizarro, located in a place of honor near the front of the building. It seems totally incongruous to me that the man, who greedily caused so much death and destruction in this part of the world, holds such a place of respect in one of Peru’s most holy places.
After the Cathedral we walked past the Presidential Palace to the Convent of San Francisco. The architecture is a mix of Moorish and Spanish architecture. The convent became famous and quite wealthy because, as was explained to me, the Franciscans there were tasked, “unexpectedly”, with administering the spoils from the Spanish Inquisition. My favorite part of the convent was the library that houses over 25,000 books, handwritten in Latin, that document the history of the Catholic Church from the 15th to 18th centuries.
After that it was time to drive to the Pacific coast and visit El Parque del Amor. “Love Park” was built in 1993 to commemorate the end of the “Shining Path” guerrilla movement. The center piece, Victor Delfin’s sculpture, El Beso is very popular, but is said to have caused quite a stir when it was revealed to the somewhat conservative Peruvians. Everyone there seemed to be enjoying themselves and watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean was a great way to end the tour.
Afterward we went back to the hotel to get freshened up for another of Mike’s presentations to be given in a bar in the haughty Miraflores District of Lima. Daniel had asked that Mike repeat the presentation that he had given earlier in the day for the people who were unable to attend before. The bar had a full audiovisual system and a kind of hipster vibe. The crowd, mostly dressed in black, was enthralled by the content of his talk and now that I had heard it twice, I started to understand the content myself. After he finished the main event Daniel asked Mike to rap. Reluctantly (well, okay I don’t think he was too reluctant) Mike “relented” and the darkly clad crowd began to sway to Mike’s rhythmic rhyming. Afterward we stayed around so Mike could pose with his new students and fans and well, have a few more Pisco Sours.
In only two days I think I got a pretty fair introduction to Peru, well Lima anyway. From what little I have learned I know that it is a place that sucks you in and makes you want to know more.
In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to take early retirement and pursue a life of adventure instead of comfort and possessions. His philosophy is, “Why sip life from a straw when you can drink it from a fire hose?” When he is not traveling, he lives in Chiang Mai, Thailand. You can sign up for his newsletter here, visit his website at LifePart2.com or visit him on Facebook.