“There Are Going to be a Lot of Surprises This Weekend”
¨How do you manage to do it?” June asked when I told her that Ana and David had invited me to go to their ocean-front house for the weekend. “You move around all over the world and always meet such interesting people.”
“We still talk about your friends in Casablanca,’ she continued.
The Cook family – June, her late husband George, daughter Nancy, son-in-law Nelson and grandson John – visited me in Casablanca in 2010.
As I lived in Derb Omar in the old part of the city, we were well off the tourist trail.
“Remember when your friend invited us to her villa? We couldn’t believe the opulence – the massive furniture, the plush rugs and the family portraits. Then the maid served the most delicious sweets. And the tea-pouring ceremony was a work of art.”
I smiled as I remembered the afternoon when Hadjia Naima invited us to visit. That evening I took the entourage to the Churchill Club where they were impressed with Judge Bouchid and Jalil.
Yes, I do manage to find spectacular people.
“Ana is a friend of Alvaro’s – even though he hasn’t seen her in 40 years — so he gave me her phone number. She is a very talented artist and we collaborated on an article.”
Ana’s email instructed me to meet them at La Baguette in Miraflores at 10:30 on Saturday morning. Vale. Details like where we were going or how long we would be gone weren’t important.
Over breakfast at the restaurant I asked Ana about our destination and she shook her head.
“That is still a secret, but there will be a lot of surprises this weekend.”
“Fantastic. Count me in.”
The surprises start
The first one likely wasn’t on the list. David got behind the wheel and we headed out of the city. He drove well and confidently.
After the kamikazes and Formula One bus drivers of Medellin, it was a delight to just sink back in the seat without being bounced around to the point of acquiring bruises.
We stopped at a market in Mala, a small town on the way to their house. Shades of Placita de Florez. I trailed after Ana as she bought fish, vegetables and flowers.
The bustle and life of markets is the pulse of the country. Fresh, cheap, in-season and where the real people shop. Supermarkets are sterile, non-interactive and dull. Spare me.
Just before we arrived there were two tunnels cut through the underside of the mountains.
My first experience in raw boulders. Much more beautiful and rustic than the cement covered versions as it lets people see exactly how much work it was to create the passage.
Then we arrived at their house. Mansion might be more descriptive as it sleeps up to 14 people. It was huge and filled with Ana’s art. And it opened onto the beach. I breathed in the sea air and slid into relax mode.
An hour or so after we arrived, David and Ana went for a swim. Temperature wimp that I am, I managed to get my ankles wet. It was relaxing and reflective to stroll along the beach and dig my toes into the sand at sunset.
Ana organized the food she had bought and prepared a gourmet fish dinner. Not exactly a surprise, as I suspected she was adapt in the kitchen.
While the quality of her meals was well out of my league – hey, I do a great boiled egg – I am an appreciative eater. I would have asked for her recipe for preparing fish that is similar to ceviche, but different, except that the chances of me getting it right are limited.
Both Ana and David are polyglots and worldly. They met when Ana was studying in Paris and David was working in Germany. About 20 years ago they moved to Lima. So we talked about art, world affairs and whatever other topics that wove themselves into our conversation.
Conversation over diner and a bottle of rose was delightful. While I have met friendly people in Peru, intellectual isn’t exactly an adjective that springs to mind for the locals at the Plaza de Armas in Surco.
The sound of the waves rolling in was hypnotic.
The quiet, the peace and the calm wrapped around me like a cocoon. So by about 21:30 I started to yawn.
Early to bed meant an early to rise at about 04:30. I wandered out to look at the ocean. There was a light on the fishing boats pulled up on the shore. Beautiful.
At 06:30 I walked on the beach. Just me and the seagulls.
After an hour on the shore I curled up on the terrace and surprised myself by finishing transferring Spanish verbs from one book to another. This had been a drag-on project that seemed to go on forever, so it was liberating to get it done.
Having kicked back into totally relaxed mode, I didn’t pay attention to the cupboard next to the bedroom door. So with Spanish books in hand, I whacked my head on the side of it. I must have hit a vein as the blood started to pour down my face. More drama than injury.
I wet my karma – never underestimate the uses of those Cambodian scarves – and David gave me a chunk of ice. Medical incident solved. Note to self: pay attention to space and distance.
After another of David and Ana’s gourmet meals we packed up and headed back to Lima.
Less traffic, an enjoyable trip.
While it wasn’t unexpected as I knew it would be enjoyable, my weekend at the ocean has been the highlight of my time in Peru.
Intelligent company, gourmet food and all sorts of surprises. Really, does it get any better?