At a small Washington party last night, a group of people celebrated one of the turning tides of international polictics -- the return of democracy to Peru. For many it was also a return to a diplomatic world of status and the ubiquitous world of parties.

"I have been here as a student librarian at the Library of Congress in 1947, I have been a tourist, I have been here as a housewife during exile, and right now as a grandmother, but next month I will be back as the ambassador's wife," said Carmen Schwalb, the wife of the ambassador-designate to Washington from Peru. She was standing in the art-filled alcove of Harvey Baskin's home. Baskin is an investment banker, who along with his sister, Lee Kimche, the director of the Institute of Museum Services, gave the small party.

Besides the homecoming sentiments, the late afternoon gathering honored Lucha Belaunde, the sister of the recently elected president of Peru, Fernando Belaunde Terry, and gave Dorn McGrath, a professor at George Washington University a chance to show some slides of the July inaugural and of ancient and modern urban development in Peru. Belaunde's brother has been president twice, the first immediately before the 12 years of military rule. During that time she was head of the welfare system. "There's still very much to do, in that area and others. Just the transition from autocratic to the democratic rule is very involved. My own role is undefined but I am supportive of his thrust on roadbuilding, hospitals, education and unemployment," said Belaunde.

As the Peruvian Embassy's cultural attache, Nestor Benavides liberally poured out pisco sours, the guests expanded on their Peruvian connections. During five of President Belaunde's eight years in exile, he taught at George Washington Unviersity. Abelardo Valdez, the U.S. chief of protocol, remembered one of his Washington lectures. "He was speaking of the urban development of the great cities of the world. And he just stood at the blackboard and drew a map of Paris. It was fascinating," said Valdez. Though he hasn't had firsthand knowledge of Peru since he was an AID official, Valdez said, everything I hear is very postive. He's a man of great ability wisdom and leadership."