After spending about two months back in The United States and corresponding with Shirley, I decided it was time to head back to Peru to spend time with Shirley and take her up on her offer to show me more of Peru. We decided to first meet in Lima and fly to Aruba for a week before coming back to Peru. I packed my bags, booked my flight for Oct. 2, and scheduled Shirley’s flight from Puerto Maldonado to meet in Lima.
I was excited to be returning to Peru and also looking forward to seeing Shirley. I arrived at Pittsburgh airport two hours early, and unfortunately, due to mechanical failures, my flight to Miami was delayed so that I would miss my connecting flight to Lima. So I had to take a completely different flight to Dallas Fort Worth with an eight-hour layover and then onto Lima. Eventually, I made it to Lima, and to my surprise, Shirley was waiting for me at the airport with our driver, “Walter” and flowers. I was not expecting her to be at the airport, mostly since my flight was twelve hours late and arrived at 6:00 AM, but I could hear her voice saying my name aloud as I made my way toward ground transportation. It touched my heart that she would not only come back to the airport to meet me but bring flowers. Lima airport is bustling, so I made my way to her. We embraced one another and made our way quickly outside, into our taxi, and an hour drive to our hotel in Miraflores. I was relieved to be in Peru and happy to see Shirley again.
I was exhausted, so I took a nap at the hotel Casa Andina Standard before Shirley showed me around lima, and we went to get something to eat. Experiencing Peru with Shirley was a significantly different experience than being alone or with a group as a tourist. She showed and taught me a lot of things that are customary for locals. I also learned of her great taste for Picarones, a donut-like dessert with a syrup type, and I must say it is very delicious. We explored lima more, including; the coastline, Locomar, Lovers Park, Miraflores marina lighthouse. She explained to me the history and politics of the region before we walked back to our hotel. We got ready and went out that evening for dinner before calling it a night because our Aruba flight was in the morning.
Our flight to Aruba was a little turbulent but good overall. Shirley had not had much experience flying so it was a lot of new experiences for her but she handled everything with grace. Shirley has an amazing ability to stay positive and be kind yet assertive in stressful situations. Where as I sometimes get frustrated and have a hard time expressing my emotion without getting angry.
When we arrived in Aruba it was raining which was rare on the island. Our driver met us and assured us that the rain would stop shortly in the weather would be great. Since Shirley is fluent in Spanish she was able to communicate with some of the locals who came to Aruba from many Spanish-speaking countries including Peru. After about a 45 minute drive we arrived at our hotel the Marriott in Aruba and the rain had stopped. We checked in and made our way to our room. The partial view of the ocean was beautiful so we quickly unpacked our things, got our bathing suits on, and made our way to the beach. We enjoyed walking the beach looking for sea shells and absorbing the Caribbean breeze and sun. The Marriott is a beautiful and accommodating property. We had the most wonderful server named Odaliz. The Balashi Chill beer, mojito, and food were amazing but there should have been more entertainment, luckily I am pretty entertaining.
Aruba is a small beautiful arid desert island with a fantastic beach and ocean. Often called the Dutch Caribbean. The island itself is small enough (20 miles long) to explore in one day. So after spending a few days enjoying the hotel pool, beach, and ocean, we decided to go on a guided Jeep tour of the island, including snorkeling at Baby beach. A van picked us up, and several other people from various hotels, and we went to the starting point of the Jeep adventure. There were two other couples, including a couple on their honeymoon from Italy. They did not feel comfortable driving, and since I was very excited to drive the Jeep and explore the island, they decided to ride with us. This was a unique experience, especially since I am Italian, but I learned that Spanish and Italian are not as similar as I thought them.
We met our guide Juan who was a free-spirited, energetic guy. We all jumped in our jeeps and followed him to our first destination, which would be the Aruba lighthouse. When we got there, we got some fresh coconut juice and enjoyed a great view on that end of the island. Shirley got a picture with the local Parrot, and we got our photo taken. Together as bride and groom in front of the Italian restaurant “Faro Blanco” beside the lighthouse, which Juan said was excellent but expensive. We continued our journey along the very rugged rocky shoreline of Aruba, where we would stop occasionally and enjoy the ocean. We also decided to pick up any trash we saw while exploring various locations. We visited the “Alto Vista Chapel” where I said a prayer for my mom and then got a Coco Loco from Dr. Coco Loco, a rum spiced coconut water. We were then continuing to the “Aruba Ostrich farm” where we had lunch and experienced the life of an ostrich, which is a powerful, aggressive, but quite comical bird.
After leaving the ostrich farm, we drove for another hour or so until we reached Baby Beach, where we enjoyed the remainder of the day snorkeling and having A few drinks before returning to our starting point and then getting in a van in order to be dropped off at our hotel.
That night we had dinner at Texas de Brazil, a fantastic restaurant and a great experience I highly recommend. Our waiter Edgar was without question the best waiter I’ve ever had in my life who made our evening exceptional, including a canister of sangria on the balcony. After dinner, we walked along the beach back to our hotel and went to sleep.
The next morning we got up and went to the spa for our scheduled massage. The masseuses truly pampered us at the resort, and it was exactly what we needed to relax completely. We then headed down to the beach and spent the day enjoying the ocean before going to the pool to catch lizards. That evening we walked the beach until we found a vibrant tiki bar playing good music. We danced for a while and talked the night away. We enjoyed a few drinks, maybe a few too many, before returning to our hotel and passing out.
That evening we relaxed and enjoyed dinner at Giannis Restaurant, which has delicious pasta, especially if you like cheese and I highly recommend it. They bring out enormous rounds of parmesan cheese and light a type of alcohol to pour onto the cheese. When the cheese is melted, the pasta is placed onto the round of cheese and tossed in it before plating. After dinner, we enjoyed the local vendors and explored Irausquin Blvd. We then walked along the beach back to our hotel.
We got up the next day, excited for the Catamaran, and went to have breakfast. Odaliz, our waitress, explained that the dock we would depart from was close enough to walk, so we walked along the beach until we arrived at the pier and boarded the Catamaran, which was enormous and exceptionally well taken care of. They distributed the snorkel gear and gave us a brief orientation. Caesar was our guide, who was extremely entertaining, informative, and responsible. The cruise included snorkeling in two locations with lunch and free drinks. Shirley has not much experience snorkeling except what we had done at Baby beach, but this water was very deep and far out in the ocean. She handled it like a trooper, and I assured her she could hold on to me, and I would not leave her side in the sea unless she were comfortable. We saw an abundance of fish and, later, an amazing shipwreck. We also had time to swim, and I enjoyed doing flips off the side of the Catamaran. While relaxing and drinking a beer, Shirley spotted a beautiful sea turtle, which Cesar said is good luck. We spent another few hours enjoying the Catamaran before watching the sunset together, appreciating each other, God’s creation, and the fantastic day we had. We had one more day exploring Aruba before we boarded a plane back to Peru. We were a little sad to say goodbye to Aruba but excited to be exploring Peru more and visiting Shirley’s family in Abancay.