As we drove north from Lima, the dry desert roads gave way to lush palms and fields of banana trees, and a more relaxed vibe set in. After a brief stop in Chicama for the surfistas, we spent five days in Los Órganos, a small town just south of popular surf getaway Máncora. While Los Órganos hadn’t originally been the planned destination, like most of our last-minute changes it turned out to be an excellent decision. Together with our friends who had joined us in Lima, we were able to rent two bungalows with an amazing ocean view. And because it was the off-season, the area was quiet and peaceful and we truly had the beach to ourselves.
Like many towns in Perú, Los Órganos is organized around a main plaza where people congregate to socialize, shop, and eat. We visited the plaza daily, hitting the crowded market to find something to grill for dinner, or spending the afternoon at one of the many restaurants surrounding the square. The food options had changed along with the landscape, becoming decidedly more tropical. As I’ve previously noted, I’m bananas for plantains (you see what I did there?) and it wasn’t until northern Perú that they began to consistently turn up on our plates. Eating patacones for breakfast was a welcome indulgence. Patacones (also known as tostónes in some regions) are made from green plantains that are sliced, fried, pounded flat, fried again (!!!) until crisp and golden brown, and served with a healthy dose of salt.
And while we’d been happily scarfing down seafood since Chile, everything tastes better with fried yuca and sweet plantains on the side. In addition to the trusty standby of whole fried fish, we tried out a yummy tortilla de mariscos. For my fellow gringos who may be confused, we’re not talking about a tortilla wrap of the corn or flour variety. In much of Spain and South America, a tortilla is a thick, hearty omelette with potatoes and onions. And in this case, mussels, calamari and shrimp as well.
I think it’s safe to say that our month in Perú has been my favorite part of our journey. The country has so much to offer it’s hard to believe I once associated it with Machu Picchu and not much else…though I can’t complain if that’s where the tourists were flocking while I was strolling the empty beaches, thank you very much. Perú is packed full of mouth-watering flavors, eye-opening culture, and warm, friendly people. I can’t wait to come back. And next time, even if I flock to Machu Picchu with the rest of ’em, I’ll make time for plenty of additional stops.