Working Out and Celebrating New Year’s Eve 2018 in Lima, Peru!

We made plans to celebrate our first New Year's Eve together in Lima Peru with friends, but had a couple of early hitches that included needing to find a hotel, make our own plans for tours and plansfor New Year's Eve itself.  We quickly got off on the right foot by choosing the Courtyard by Marriott in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima.  It turned out to be the perfect choice for us.  From checking in to helping 
us find tours the staff was an 11 out of 10 all the way. The room was very modern and housekeeping answered all request -there were many- 
within minutes.  The big surprise though was the gym on the 11th floor.  It had a full set of dumbbells from 5 to 100 lbs., an adjustable 
flat to incline bench, and a good universal machine also with flat to incline to shoulders press bench, legs and back stations not to 
mention the beautiful views north and west.  We could not have been happier with this find.  We always workout when traveling and this 
hotel's very well-equipped gym, perfect location and outstanding staff all at a very reasonable-price turned out to be the prefect way for 
us to bring in 2019.

We are pictured together here getting in our last  workout of 2018 on January 30th.  The year 2018 sawus workout together in Patagonia,  
Argentina; Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Johanesburg, South Africa; Pemba and Maputo, Mozamibique and Terelj, Mongolia. (The Terejl Hotel and Spa also had a greatgym if you ever find yourself in that part of the world.) The gym at this Courtyard in Miraflores, 
Lima, Peru was so well equipped we weren't even tempted to workout at either of the 2 SmartFit Gyms a few blocks from the hotel.  I did do awalk by though. I had spent a lot of time working out at SmartFit chain gyms in Sao Paulo, Salvador and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, so 
wondered if the Lima locations would be as good.  From the outside they both looked to be as good or better, but I could not justify paying to workout, especially under the circumstances of now having to pay for accommodations, when I had everything I needed 3 floors above me at the Courtyard.  All in all, I highly recommend the Courtyard, Miraflores, one of Lima's most vibrant and gay neighborhoods. 

Having solved the where to stay, where to workout problems with one swift stroke of very good luck we needed to start thinking about where 
to bring in the New Year.  We spent the rest of the 30th checking out sites and possible locations.  Nothing really struck our fancy before 
dinner time.  For dinner we choose a small restaurant with outdoor seating, Mezze, a few blocks from the hotel. The food, with a 
middle-eastern flare. The food was delicious and once again the staff outstanding!  Suddenly, everything about this trip started to go our way. We noticed, but didn't book for the New Eve Dinner the following night. Always the worrier about such things I wanted a 
reservation. Rafael, never the worrier about such things wanted to play it by ear. As I often do in these situations, I caved to him on 
this, but insisted on booking our tours.  We spoken with the front desk staff about wanting to make a trip to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site commonly known as the Nazca Lines. The Nazca lines are a group of very large geoglyphs formed by depressions or shallow incisions in 
the soil of the Nazca Desert in Southern, Peru.  Created between 500 BCE and 500 CE they are best seen from the air. The front desk staff 
recommended a company, Peru-HOP with and office only blocks away.  We went over and spoke with the two very nice gay men staffing the officethat day.  Both recognized Rafael, but both maintained professional demeanors during the long conversation with many questions about the 
tours offered.  We choose a 3 day, 2 night tour that included an overnight stop in Haucachina, a desert Oasis, neither of us had heard of before. Nothing left to do but celebrate the following night we went for a walk to the beautiful Kennedy Park.  On our way there we bumped 
into the guys that had been staffing the tour office and initiated a friendship that would prove valuable for the last days of the trip.

As has happened many times in my life, New Year's Eve was upon me (us) without any firms plans.  Dressed in the suits we had brought along 
for the original plans, sans ties, we headed out, a littlelate into the warm night. Stopping in several fancier restaurants on the 
waterfront only to be told they were fully booked we decided to try Mezze from the night before.  They were also fully booked, but took pityon us, it was now 10:50PM. They set up a very small table meant to set severing trays on basically in the kitchen.  We sat on two wobbly 
chairs they pulled out of the back room and had our second delicious meal at this fun, small restaurant quickly making friends with the 
owner and his party form our "table" between them and the kitchen.  Honestly, we were both very thankful to start 2019 with this stroke of
luck.  They even had us out in time for us to walk back down to the waterfront, about a 5 minute walk, for the fireworks.  A perfect start 
to the new year!

Now on to the tours.  We arrived in Haucachina, a desert oasis and tiny village just west of the city of Ica in southwestern Peru. At the 
center of town is the beautiful green waters of the Huacachina Lagoon, ringed by palm trees welcoming you to the towering, mountainous sand dunes surrounding the village.  The scenery was in two words, unexpected and stunning.  As part of the tour we went for 
a dune buggy ride, which turned out to be exhilaratingly thrilling!  No joke, exhilarating and thrilling.  Also, unexpected.  As part of theride we had the chance to sand board the dunes.  Here weare picture with our "boards", right after the first of our many runs.  The next daywe saw the Nazca Lines from a very small plane.  Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures because of a problem with my camera.  (Rafael 
promises to send some, which I'll post went I get them.)  Of the ll lines we flew over, the tiny prop plane banking side to side to an 
almost 90 degree angle leaving everyone but me, the pilot and co-pilot more then just queasy, my favorite was the monkey.  Of course the 
mystery of the astronaut and the lines themselves, created long before man had flight, made seeing them a highlight, but I have a special 
place in my heart for monkeys!  

Back to the new friendships we started with the guys at the tour company.  After several WhatsApp text exchanges they found a driver willingto take us on the 5 hour, each way, trip to the ancient city of Coral.  I had been to Coral once before and knew Rafael would want to see 
this oldest know city in the America's and possibly the world.  Our driver, Alejandro, a cuban native and licensed tour guide arrived at ourhotel as planned at 7AM with his girlfriend, Paolo.  In less then a hour the four of us became instant friends making the long drive up and 
back in the same day more enjoyable that it could have been.  If you find yourself in Peru, be sure to make the trip to Coral.  This still 
mostly unknown tourist site was for us a must see and I bet will be for you too.

Overall, our first New Year's Eve together went better then either of us could have predicted. The adventures we had and the new friends we made in Peru, will be cherished memories for the rest of our lives.  When you find yourself in Lima, I highly recommend the mid-priced 
Courtyard, Miraflores and the Peru-HOP.  

Look for my next blogs about our upcoming trip to Antartica and my trips to Thailand and Cambodia.