My husband, children and I recently returned from a wonderful vacation in Lima, Peru.

We were diverted there extemporaneously after plans to vacation in Barcelona, Spain, and subsequently Aruba fell through.

A complete explanation of what happened would require more words than this column allows, so here’s the short version.

My son, Ervin, works for United Airlines. One of the perks that come with his job is that he, his parents and one other person he designates can fly standby, free of charge, to any destination that United flies as long as there are seats available on the flight.

Perry and I flew from Charleston to Newark on May 13 to begin what we thought would be a vacation in Aruba. We spent the night at an airport hotel to insure we were there for the early morning flight.

Ervin and our daughter, Lana, who were taking the “red eye” from Los Angeles, would meet us at 7 a.m. Tuesday at Ruby’s Diner in Terminal C for breakfast. Everything went according to plan. We had a wonderful reunion at breakfast and proceeded to the gate where the flight to Aruba would depart.

After the flight boarded, we learned there was only one seat available for standbys. We were crushed. A survivor and eternal optimist, I quickly recover from disappointments. There was no way I would allow this setback to ruin our family vacation.

I suggested we check the boards listing flights for the rest of the day. We discovered a flight to Lima, Peru, leaving around 2 p.m.

We decided to go for it, even though we had no reservations for accommodations and had packed for a much warmer climate. We boarded the flight to Lima and began what would be a wonderful vacation adventure.

We landed at the Lima airport at about 10 p.m. Tuesday evening. We breezed through security, no problems there.

Fortunately, there was a travel agency booth nearby, and we were able to book hotel rooms for the night.

The ride from the airport to the hotel was long and bumpy. We passed through sections that resembled the worst blighted areas in U.S. cities before finally arriving in the beautiful Miraflores district, where our hotel was located.

Needless to say, we were tired and jet-lagged, and promptly went to bed. The next morning I awoke early, opened the curtains and gazed out upon the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean. My God, what a spectacular view!

When we travel, I usually rent an apartment or condo through VRBO.com (Vacation Rentals by Owner). I went online and found a beautiful three-bedroom, two-and-and-half bath condo in Miraflores with availability for the duration of our stay.

I called the owner and booked it. We checked in two hours later. The condo was beautifully decorated, had floor-to-ceiling windows and breathtaking ocean views.

One of the highlights of our trip was dining at the famous La Rosa Nautica restaurant Friday evening. Saturday morning we took a bus tour of Lima. In the newer sections, international commerce — the Marriott Hotel and Casino, Citi-bank, Samsung, KFC and Burger King — exist among the backdrop of well-kept parks and panoramic ocean views.

In the older historical area, we saw the ornate French Palace, the University of Peru, theaters, museums and other interesting places. One of the most interesting is Plaza de Armas where the president’s palace, city hall, National Cathedral and Convent of San Francisco are located.

Lima is a work in progress with the obvious goal of attracting tourists.

In the beautiful Miraflores district, there are apartment and condo buildings going up everywhere, many with ocean views. This area of the city is pristine and there is an ongoing presence of security personnel. We did not see the homeless or benchwarmers in the streets.

The cost to visit Lima is quite economical, considering that the U.S. dollar is worth more than twice the Peruvian nuevo sol. No doubt this will change over time as more people discover the city’s amenities.

You may want to add Lima to your list of places to visit. I am glad fate took us there.

Bernice “Bonnie” Pearson Leazer, a native South Carolinian, is a retired human resources management professional who moved to Charleston in 2008 and lives in West Ashley. She is an avid reader, amateur home decorator and loves to travel. She is a member of Grace Episcopal Church.