Seeing the world, one country at the time

Living the Good Life in Lima

We arranged to arrive in Lima on Christmas Eve, when Swedes celebrate Christmas, in order to surprise my parents where they were partying at the Jonsson’s home. The Jonssons are old friends from our days in Peru in the seventies. Carmen is Peruvian and Sune is Swedish. Their daughters Karin and Kerstin have been good friends since I can remember. Seeing the Jonssons is seeing family and now we would be staying with them. Carmen and Sune had managed to keep our arrival a secret, so my parents were thrilled when we walked in, shabby but ready to celebrate the big holiday, Swedish style. It was the only real gift we could afford.

We spent Christmas Day visiting good friends and relatives of Carmen Jonssons after a morning with the family. The next two weeks we spent with them was a whirlwind of social gatherings and shopping, as we visited all our old haunts and close friends like the Liras, the Grahammers, the Wiersema’s who were visiting from Holland, the Malmstroms and the Alvarezes at their homes. One afternoon we took her and Sune to the Granja Azul to celebrate their wedding anniversary. They had danced there every Saturday night when courting, and it was a popular place for my parents and their friends to go until the Sendero Luminoso terrorists made the drive to the remote restaurant dangerous. Even now they didn’t want to drive there in the dark. It is known for its delectable baby chicken and cocktails served in humorous ceramic glasses that you can take home as a souvenir.

Boxing Day we were sailing in the gulf of Callao south of Lima on the Lira’s luxurious yacht as my Dad and Marlies Lira boogied on board to Elvis hits. The Liras and the Moores have visited each other all over the world and their daughters Claudia and Marlisita are two of my oldest friends.
Claudia and I went to nursery school together. We visited their mountain estate in Chacarilla del Estanque another day and gorged on delicious Peruvian delicacies and barbecue while admiring Claudia and Bruno’s newborn twins Camille and Isabelle. The Liras getaway has its own putting green, tennis courts, barbecue area, outdoor pool and custom-built windmill to honor Marlies’ Dutch roots. At the top of the windmill is a breezy seating area where drinks were served to us and below is a lounge area and tv room. Underground is the real gem; an indoor pool, sauna and Turkish bath. Now THAT is the highlife. We also squeezed in visits to Claudia and Marlisita’s jewelry shop so I could purchase more items designed by Claudia for my collection. Check them out at

All of my friends are married and having children. Claudia Lira and Bruno just had twins, and Alicia Campos and Jorge just had a baby girl named Isabela. Karin Jonsson and Javier have adorable two-year old Aitana and her sister Kerstin and hubby Juan Carlos just had Sofia. Mariela Alvarez and her husband Jorge just had an Isabela. Isabela is a very popular name these days! We managed to visit Alicia in the hospital with her new baby Isabela. Paloma was learning to be a big sister, a concept Alicia and I will never understand, being only children ourselves.

We spent an afternoon with the Alvarezes at their beach home south of the city, where their Mediterranean-style oasis was in stark contrast to the brown dusty roads of the town and shore outside its high polished walls. Safely behind the high walls, we swam in the pool and drank cocktails while watching the sunset over the ocean.

Carmen and Sune were extraordinary hosts. Sune was always serving up a glass or two or three of rum and coke, now renamed “Sune Libre”, and telling funny stories about his life in Peru as a Swede, to accompany the drinks. Every other day, Carmen had plans for us involving an elaborate dinner or social activity. There was no rest for the weary with her boundless energy. Martha Stewart had nothing on her as she organized a christening party, birthday and the New Year’s Eve extravaganza, personally contributing to the cooking and decorations and overseeing the work of those she hired for venue design. She is a fantastic cook, coming up with several courses for every dinner and always ensuring that we had more than enough to eat, no matter the time of day. Her creations spanned the Peruvian gamut and were all delicious. We couldn’t have eaten better at five star restaurants. I don’t think it is necessary to point out that we didn’t lose any weight while staying with them.

Carmen’s New Year’s Eve party was a glorious festival of gold and white complete with tent, full floral arrangements and a live band. The carousing lasted until the wee hours of the morning. Lars and I were the youngest besides the new parents Mariela and Jorge. After them, we were the first to go to bed at four in the morning when the other guests were still cutting a rug. They made US feel like the old farts, laughing at us for retiring so early. We were wiped out after several hours of dancing, but some sixty year olds, my mother included, put us to shame with their dance floor antics. One older gentleman shimmied and gyrated with the energy of a high-schooler. He was fascinating to watch as he went from one lady to another, leaving no stone unturned. There must be something in the Peruvian water.

The next two weeks were spent visiting friends, shopping and doing sight-seeing around Lima with my parents. We had to do the requisite stops by our old homes, Larco Mar, the popular shopping arcade on the sea front, and the touristy Incan markets, for typical llama and alpaca goods to take home as gifts and souvenirs. We got to practice our bargaining skills which were far too rusty, but which didn’t rule out some great bargains like new glasses and movies and music. We also visited the Museo Rafael Larco Herrera, housed in a beautiful colonial home with warehouse rooms filled with shelf upon shelf of countless huacos, or grave ceramics from different pre-Columbian cultures. It also had a risqué pre-Columbian erotica room that we let my parents see on their own. Some things are just too embarrassing to share with your folks, no matter how adult you are!

On my birthday not only did Carmen host a large post-christening party for Isabela, Mariela and Jorge’s daughter, but she capped the night by taking us to Sachun, an impressive folkloric show showcasing all the dances and music of the various regions of Peru. The show began at eight in the evening and was still going strong when we straggled out at six am after dancing, dinner and drinks had taken their toll. My parents, Lars and I left the next day for our trip south and only made it back for one day of shopping, errands and repacking before Lars and I were off to the north and my parents were on their way back to the United States.


Below, you see two pictures of Hubert's beach place where we spent a very nice day - the outside picture to the left gives little reason to suspect the oasis that one can see in the right picture - I suppose showing it off to the outside world would be to invite trouble.

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