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Merry Christmas Eve Everyone!

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Thursday, December 24, 2009 0 comments

Christmas Eve in Lima, Peru

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza 2 comments

Well we are finally a few hours away from the Eve of Christmas and the house is in full motion as both mom and grandma continue to rush to finish the Christmas dinner.  Since our flight to Cuzco tomorrow is scheduled for 7am we have to be there at 5am, which means have to be awake at 3:30am, therefore this years Christmas dinner will take place at 5:30pm so we can all go to bed early.

In Peru the Christmas dinner includes either a turkey or lechon (which is a small pig), this is followed by sweet potatoes, salad, Panetone, and champagne.  In recognition of the good ole' U. S. of A., mashed potatoes and gravy, fresh strawberries w/ whipped cream, and noodle salad.  The house is strong with the aromas of a slow roasted turkey which make your mouth water!  I of course have not contributed to the upcoming banquet and instead have been hard at work putting together a list of all the hotels we can stay at in Cusco, as well as all the must see places to visit.  I am super excited especially because I have not been to Cusco and Machu Picchu since 2003.  It will be interesting to see just how much the city has changed since I last visited there.

According to the internet, through the months of December-April are Cuzco's rainy season.  This means I should expect cold temperatures and lots of RAIN.  The good thing is that it is also a time of low traffic for tourists to the ancient capital of the Incas, so there shouldn't be to many other tourists around.

As the sun begins to fall over the Pacific's horizon, we come closer to the beginning of the Christmas festivities.  In Peru, like in many other Latin American countries the people celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve instead of on Christmas day (morning) like most Americans do in the States.  Families gather around the table for their Christmas Eve dinner and toast with Champagne at 12am.  Once dinner is finished only then are gifts passed around and opened in a fashion similar to the United States.  At 12am most people will take to the streets and set off a wide variety of fireworks in celebration of the birth of Christ.  It is truly a wonderful and unique experience.  It is important to keep in mind that Christmas is celebrated in this fashion due largely to the fact that like Peru, most countries in Latin America are Catholic, which has a large influence over the population.

Update:  I just got done eating dinner and it was wonderful, the turkey was amazing and very flavorful.  It was like having Thanksgiving dinner in December.  Now I am off to go and pack because tomorrow is going to be a long day!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

Grandma's Travel Blog

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza 0 comments

For the past few days I have been traveling and touring the city with my family from Portland, Oregon who have come to Peru for their Christmas vacation.  It has been great to be around familiar faces and hear old childhood stories because I know that soon they will be on their way back home.

Since she arrived in Lima, my grandmother has been hard at work as an overseas news correspondent for her friends and family back home.  She spends a few hours each day diligently working on articles based around her travels in Peru.  When she is in the field she is hard at work documenting each moment and activity with her trusty kodak camera (she takes both video and photo).   Her blog is a keyhole to those interested in her journey to a land abroad, a place of wonder and growing popularity in America's contemporary culture. 

I have visited her site many times and I smile each time I read her articles, each one is filled with her accounts of her time spent in Lima and in Peru.  As I assist her with the technical aspects of blogging and the internet, I am amazed and convinced that age holds to no bounds on modern technology.  As I watch her continue to work on her blog project I am inspired to continue mastering the craft myself (I have a long ways to go). 

For those of you who are interested I encourage you to take a minute and check out her blog. 

Here is the link to her site: LINK

An Old Peruvian Woman

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Monday, December 21, 2009 0 comments

A few weeks ago I went with my girlfriend for a weekend getaway to the small city of Chosica located just east of Lima.  I don't want to go into too much details about the trip since I am currently working on a separate article for it but I wanted to showoff one my all time favorite photos.

there are few photos in my so called "portfolio" that I truly consider beautiful works, while the rest are ok or mediocre, and recently on that said trip to Chosica I managed to shot a real beauty.  It was around 12am and I was walking through the main plaza park with Zdenka when we came across this little old Peruvian woman who was selling candy, beverages, and cigarettes with nothing but a sole candle flame to light her face.  It was at that moment that I made eye contact with the woman that I knew I had to take a photo of her.  I mustered up the courage and politely asked the woman if I could take a picture of her.  She blushed and commented "are you sure you want to take a photo of an OLD lady?", to wish I eagerly nodded my head.  I was so happy when she agreed that I took as many photos as I could, clumsily fumbling around with the camera settings to get just the right exposure.  Once I felt pleased with the photos I had taken I offered to show the lady my results, she even wanted a copy but I had to break the bad news that my camera was digital.  I asked if she had an email address but wondered if that was a dumb question to ask.  In the end I thanked her many times and even purchased some candy in exchange for her time.

The photos below have been minorly touched up in my digital darkroom, one is in black and white (my personal favorite) and the other in its original color.

Saturday Morning Cartoons - Week 5

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Saturday, December 19, 2009 0 comments

Finally a Saturday morning where I actually post on time instead of a day or two later.  I managed to round up some really great animation from the web today and I hope you all enjoy it!

Oxygen from Christopher Hendryx on Vimeo.

Alma from Rodrigo Blaas on Vimeo.

Traveling Tourists From Far Abroad Countries

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Friday, December 18, 2009 0 comments

Tourism, a huge industry in today's world where millions of people manage to break away from their mundane daily 9-5 routine for a few weeks of rest and relaxation.  Here in Peru tourism is an industry that has helped the country gain more and more recognition in the world, and with beginning days of summer in effect and the yule tide vacations the number of tourists is at its PEAK.  For most people entering Peru the first land they step onto is that of the renovated Jorge Chavez International Airport located in the Constitutional Province city of Callao.  Being the main international airport, Jorge Chavez sees large volumes of people migrating and traveling from all parts of the world, and believe me it gets crowded.  The airport itself is not a large airport in comparison to behemoths like JFK or LAX, and therefore can create a sense of claustrophobia during high traffic seasons like December and June.

Yesterday I traveled with my father to Callao at 11:59PM to pickup my mother, grandmother, and brother from the airport.  We arrived to a full house with almost no place to park.  It made me wonder that with all that open parking lot space why they never thought to build a multi-level parking structure?  After circling around the parking lot like vultures waiting for a meal to hurry up and die, we finally found a spot towards the back of the lot (you know the part where no one wants to park because they don't want to have to actually use their legs and walk 100 meters).  By this time it was 12:20PM and my families flight from LA had just landed and so we made our way towards the arrivals section of the airport and waited amongst hundreds of other people.  After an hour of surveying the ocean of travelers we finally spotted my family and rushed down to meet them.  It is always a great feeling to be reunited with family especially when separated by distance.

For my grandmother this trip marks her very first time visiting the country of Peru or the continent of South America for that matter.  I can sense she is nervous and excited as the mystery of a foreign country and its marvels and perils do tangos in her head.  My brother is excited to be back in what for the last seven years he considered home, free to once again take back the night and reclaim his teenage youth with his old Leoncio Pradiño friends.  Mom is happy to be by her husbands side once again and I'm sure to see her FAVORITE SON of the bunch.    The next few weeks will be full of trips to museums and ancient cities to the south, so I will be posting quite frequently.  This should be an interesting Christmas season, and this American Photographer plans on taking a lot of family memories.

Saturday Morning Cartoons - Week 4

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Saturday, December 12, 2009 0 comments

Here is this Saturdays pick of internet animation.  Enjoy

Trichrome Blue from Lois van Baarle on Vimeo.

Germans in the Woods from Rauch Brothers on Vimeo.

Video Footage of Lima, Peru in 1944

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Friday, December 11, 2009 0 comments

Surfing the internet the other day I came across some pretty cool videos on YouTube.  As an amatuer photographer living in Peru I have had the opportunity to scour and explore a large portion of Lima and I am always amazed by all the old structures that still remain to this day.  Lima is definately an old city and has a lot of history that is still available to it's citizens and tourists, which is why I was so excited to find a video that was put together by the US government in 1944 and is a documentary on the City of Kings (Lima).  

The video is a fun to watch for those who have always wondered what Lima looked like years ago before the formation of all the "pueblos jovenes".  Having watched the video it is fairly evident how quickly the city of Lima has grown and how much it continues to grow as a large population of Peru's people continue to migrate to the capital. 

Here is the videos below enjoy.

Peru's Famous Female Boxer - Kina Malpartida

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Wednesday, December 9, 2009 0 comments

If you live in Peru you may have heard about female boxer Kina Malpartida, you may have even seen one of her latest fights.  Well it's know surprise that Kina has become a national sensation and hero in the eyes of many Peruvians.  Kina Malpartida is better known for her accomplishment as the 2009 World Boxing Association Champion in the Super Featherweight division. 

I first heard about Kina in June of this year when I was at a bar in Los Calles de Los Pizzas in Miraflores with a few friends of mine.  There we watched on a large projector screen what was a highly anticipated fight between Malpartida and Halana Dos Santos from Brazil.  That fight was the first time I had ever heard the name Kina Malpartida and when she won by KO in that very same match I would continue to hear her name and see her face everywhere.  Following the fight with Dos Santos, Kina became an overnight sensation in Peru and she started appearing everywhere from billboards to toothpaste commercials on TV.

So who is Kina Malpartida Dyson aside from professional boxing champion?  I did some reading and was intrigued to learn that miss Malpartida belongs to the classification of what I like to call Super Humans, these are people with extraordinary athletic abilities commonly seen in professional athletes.  Kina Malpartida (a Peruvian-Australian) since her childhood has always been involved athletically, earning her boxing reputation from her beginnings in Karate at the age of 6.  Aside from her martial arts activities, Kina also played competitive Soccer, Basketball, Tennis, and Track & Field. 

In 1996, Kina having surfed since she was 10 became the Peruvian Surfing Champion when she competed in the Women's Open World Surfing Championship, it was in this very competition that Kina defeated world renouned surfering champion Sofia Mulanovic (also Peruvian).  Kina has competed in our championships in Peru as well as in Australia where she has placed in the top 10.

With professional boxing as her new athletic challenge Kina is on a roll and with her victory defeating her title from British boxer Lindsey Scragg in Citizens Business Bank Arena in Los Angeles where she won by unanimous decision.  Her current boxing track record is listed below:

Boxing record
Total fights 13
Wins 10
Wins by KO 3
Losses 3
Draws 0
No contests 0

Halana Dos Santos
Coliseo Dibos Dammert, Lima, Peru
Maureen Shea
Madison Square Garden, New York, USA
Rhonda Luna
San Manuel Casino, Highland, California, USA
Ela Nunez
Marriott Hotel, Irvine, California, USA
Elizabeth Moreno
Marriott Hotel, Irvine, California, USA
Crystal Morales
Marriott Hotel, Irvine, California, USA
Miriam Nakamoto
Irvine Marriott, Irvine, California, USA
Lisa Martin
Marriott Grand Ballroom, Irvine, California, USA
Mirelle Walford
Bronco's Rugby League Club, Red Hill, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Holly Ferneley
Southport RSL Club, Southport, Queensland, Australia
Leona Nicholls
Shire Hall, Gatton, Queensland, Australia
Sharon Bischoff
Southport RSL Club, Southport, Queensland, Australia
Katrina Harding
Southport RSL Club, Southport, Queensland, Australia

Observing her long history of accomplishments it's not hard to understand how this competitive and young (born in 1980) woman has managed to accomplish so much and it is no doubt that Ms. Malpartida has much more in store for us down the road.  

Here are the videos from the last fight that took place in LA on the 5th of December against British boxer Lyndsey Scragg

Today I have posted my first photography related article on my new website Digital Photography Fans, which covers questions regarding ISO/Film Speeds, a topic in digital photography that is commonly addressed among photographers (both novice and professional alike).

If you have an interest in Photography or haven't seen the site yet I highly encourage you to check it out.

Saturday Morning Cartoons - Week 3

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Sunday, December 6, 2009 0 comments

As an American living abroad in Peru in don't see too many good cartoons on TV so thankfully I get my fix through the internet.  Today I have quite a good selection of cartoons for your viewing pleasure so please enjoy!  PF3C6VZED55U

The Waif of Persephone from Nick Cross on Vimeo.

Yellow Cake from Nick Cross on Vimeo.

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice in Lima, Peru

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Saturday, December 5, 2009 0 comments

One the best things about living in Lima is the fact that there are thousands of street vendors lining the streets, each one selling something different from succulent anticuchos (cow hearts) to alfajores (peruvian pastry) and empanadas.  These vendors can usually be found at just about all hours of the day and usually have an identifiable cart or stand.  Quite possibly one of the most popular and numerous of street vendor items is none other than orange juice and BOY is it GOOD!

As you can see from the picture above an orange juice stand consists of two special devices that help to make the juice making process easier.  The first device is located on the end of the cart and resembles a vice with the exception of a small blade and a crank handle that is used to quickly and efficiently peel the oranges.  Next, the peeled oranges are cut into halves and placed inside an old fashion juicer, this device like your grandfathers push mower requires good ole fashion brute strength to operate.  The juice is produced rather quickly as the perveyours have several years experience in their field.

The quality of the fresh squeezed orange juice is uncomparable to anything I have ever drank in the States, here the oranges come in a wide variety with some of the sweetest types that you wont find in your local grocery store.  Once you have tried GOOD fresh squeezed orange juice like what can be found in Peru, you will be able to tell the difference when you try drinking pasturized orange juice.  What makes fresh squeezed orange juice so popular in Lima is not just it's availablity throughout the city, its also its price.  Often times S/.1.00 is all you need to purchase two tall glasses of OJ, probably one its main reasons for success after flavor of course. 

Why is the orange juice so good here in Peru?  It's because of Peru's geography really, Peru is regarded as one of the only topographically diverse countries in South America.  What does that mean?  That mean's that the geography of the country is widely diverse from coastal deserts to high mountainous plains all the way to dense rainforests.  It is because of this that Peru is also known for being a resource rich country (not just minerals and oil either), a reality that has helped the country through it's rough economic situation. 

So the next time your in Lima, Peru I recommend you hunt down an orange juice stand (its not hard to do, really) and give it a try, I guarantee you'll love it.

Christmas in Peru - Part I - Mesa Redonda/Mercado Central

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Thursday, December 3, 2009 0 comments

well its that of the year again, when the weather starts getting cold out and the days are short.  Snow begins to fall and families gather at a local tree farms to pick out their Christmas Tree....WAIT A MINUTE what am I talking about I live in Peru not Oregon.  Here in Lima the weather is just starting to warm up as we enter summer, and I have spent many Christmas's here in Peru with my family.  Instead of skiing and snowboarding in the mountains we head to the beaches during the days and scour the crowded bars and discotecs at night.  In fact, I believe I have even seen Santa himself bringing gifts to all the children wearing only a t-shirt and shorts.

With Christmas only a few weeks away the citizens of Peru and Lima are busy at work preparing their shops, decorating their homes, and most importanting spending their hard earned soles, on just about everything.  That's right its a sellers market this time of year and each vendor is clocking in some serious hours as the holiday spirit (also known as the seasonal capitalistic effect) is in full swing.  In Lima, places like Comercial Centrales (large shopping developments)  are at full capacity as shoppers flood the aisles and stores in search of the quintessentail gift (preferrably one that doesn't cost too much).

One of Lima's most popular and frequented Shopping Centers is none other than El Mercado Central de Lima (Central Market of Lima), located in the center of Lima.  Here Peruvians from all over the country come to Mercado Central to purchase merchandise of all kinds to take back to their towns and cities to be sold at markedup prices.  El Mercado is also the place where thousands if not millions of Limeños and Chalacos frequent on a daily basis, and with the holiday season already underway the Mercado is seeing tremendous numbers of shoppers than normal.  The large number of shoppers is so overwhelming that certain streets in and around El Mercado are closed off to vehicles so that the shoppers can walk freely in between destinations.  At times the congestion of the foottraffic can become so overwhelming its almost clastrophobia inducing, and it creates a haven for theives so shoppers and visitors need to be on guard.  Christmas its not just for shopping its also a perfect season for crime and the theives know it.  They can always be spotted among the crowd if you stand in one spot and observe the people long enough.  They often travel in packs like wolves or hyenas just sitting and waiting for that hapless, unaware and unsuspecting victim.  Once they swoop in for the kill its usually too late because by the time the victim realizes whats happen its all over and they are left shocked look on their faces.

In El Mercado Central exsists a street or calle called Mesa Redonda (Round Table),  located near the infamous Calle Capon or Barrio Chino (Chinese Neighborhood - Chinatown) Mesa Redonda was long known for its vendors of pyrotechnics or more commonly fireworks, and not just any kind of fireworks...Illegal ones, you know the good stuff (the kind of stuff you have to travel to Washington to buy and better).  Like most things in Peru (a good example is all of the pirated products that are proliferate in Lima) that are outlawed or illegal, have often if not completely gone unaddress or unenforced by the local law.  This fact has to do with Peru's economic position as a third world country, especially according to the World Bank, which has seen organizations like PNP (the Peruvian National Police) underfunded and underpaid.  This has resulted in police who have resorted to such embarrassing acts as taking bribes instead of issuing tickets or jailing potential criminals in exchange for a few extra bucks (soles actually).  All this being said Mesa Redonda was the place to go for all your firework needs.  Unfortuantely due to overcrowed shops which used just about any space available as storage for their merchandise, the street and its stores were hard to navigate.  Add thousands of Peruvians shopping during the Christmas season and it was just a matter of time before an accident happened, and day, it did.

It was the christmas season of 2001 and the streets were crowded, it was late afternoon and the roar of thousands of shoppers echoed through the tight streets, then suddenly a long firework was light.  It screeched loudly through the air and then disappeared inside the top floor of a building.  Minutes later a fire began to brew as smoke began to billow and blanket the street below, then panic as several fireworks began shooting into the air in all directions.  Other buildings began to catch fire and the people began to stampede like cattle in the streets, some climbing over parked cars and knocking over other shoppers in a frantic effort to escape.  The crowded pandemonium created a bottleneck which caused several shoppers to end up caught in the fire.  The destruction from the fire was devastating and the death toll was horrifying.  By the time the carnage was over and the flames put out nearly 300 people had died and several hundred more injured.  In response (as is common practice in Peru, since change only happens when enough people die), the city of Lima and the Republic of Peru placed heavy restrictions and bans on fireworks vowing to never allow what happened that day to ever occur again.  The tragedy marked one the largest fires in the history of Peru.

The following videos are in Spanish but they showcase the true terror that occurred that night.

Today, the city of Lima takes the Christmas season serious as they crack down (well, sortof...) on local vendors in El Mercado Central and even have the city serenazgo's patrolling the streets with their very own pyrotechnic squad that comes complete with illegal fireworks sniffing canines.  Unfortuantely the shop owners of Mercado Central continue to disobey city ordinence laws and regulations by carelessly blocking stairways in shopping centers and obstructing exits with merchandise.  The uncertainty of whether or not the past will repeat itself lies uncertain.  The saddest thing is knowning that the potential for another disaster still exists.

With all the changes that have taken place recently on my website I realized it was time to write a little bit about myself for those who might not know much about me.  I thought about writing my bio in third person but then realized that too weird so I just going to wingit instead.

I am was born and raised (mostly at least) in Portland, Oregon, a state largely unknown by most people of the world.  I attended Cleveland High School, a time in my life I vaguely remember especially since I was already on my way to college after graduation my sophmore year (I'm no Einstien, I just knew the grass was greener on the other side).  I attended Portland State University (PSU for short, GO VIKS!) in 2002, there I spent my first years in and out of both classes and parties, Life was GOOD!  Then realizing that I had spent the last 3 years test driving nearly every degree option aside from Liberal Arts, I discovered (like many eventually do) Psychology and it didn't take long for me to realize that I had found my calling (A+ grades and a rising GPA are great motivators).  While finishing my B.S. in Psychology I met a few guys who at first I thought were douches (they will remain nameless, You know who you are) who latter turned out to be great friends.  It was those friends that encouraged me to join a fraternity, Phi Delta Theta, an notion which in the past I would have never really given a second thought (saddly I was a believer of the common frat boys stereotype).  Meeting the rest of the gang I learned that they were men of diverse backgrounds and personality types and I felt at home so it was no surprise that three months later I was being initiated into the Bond.

Finally after an unforgettable year and a half of drunken dubachery, scandalous parties, late night pranks, and just about any other textbook college activity you can think of, it was time for me to graduate.  After graduation I worked various jobs until I decided to go to Peru where my father is currently working/living (He lives in the city of Lima).  Since I had'nt seen my father in seven years I figured it would be a great opportunity to catch up before I decided to pursue my career goals (which at this point seem unclear).  In this time I discovered a love for photography and purchased my first dslr camera which I have used to take many of the photos seen here on this blog.

Currently I teach English and work on my photography skills.  My goal is to provide those unfamiliar with Peru and Life in the City of Lima a window into the world in which I reside.

Peruvian Food - Restaurant Review

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza 0 comments

Today's review is of Las Terrazas Grill located in the heart of Barranco.  With Peruvian food always in demand among locals and tourists an establishment like Terrazas has the appeal and presence to draw just about anyone through their intricate and lavish doors.  Located across from the parque municipal "plaza de armas" (municipal park)  Las Terrazas (the terraces) has a structual design that is very unique and stands out among its surrounding environment.  The terraces of the building are beautifully designed, and like the buildings exterior, the interior of building is just as wonderfully decorated with large oil paintings on the walls and the bar made of an indistiguishable carved wood makes you feel like you have gone back in time.  However upon further inspection it becomes evident that Las Terrazas is more about its nightlife that its restaurant is a secondary attraction.   Las Terrazas has four floors with each one hosting its own dedicated dance floor and music, but lets face it in these economic times a nightclub is much more profitable than a restaurant any day, and if your located in an area that has several competing nightclubs that cater to a large number of locals and tourists then why the HELL wouldn't you want to jump on the band wagon.

The food at Las Terrazas is primarily seafood with dishes like ceviche being a flagship of the menu.  If your not into seafood or have just had more seafood than you care to eat, Las Terrazas also offers meat and pasta options like their beef medallions in mushroom sauce served with white rice and french fries or beef raviolis en their own special Terrazas meat sauce.  I had the opportunity to try both but was a little disappointed in the quality of the food.  First off I chose to visit the restaurant on a Sunday around 3pm in the afternoon with my girlfriend when the restaurant was rather deserted.  We took a few minutes to look over the rather large menu that specialized in almost everything (I'm not a big fan of restaurants that serve a broad range of food, it's usually an indication that food quality is going to be poor or mediocre).  Once we ordered we waited about a good 20 to 30 minutes to recieve our meals which given the fact that we were the only ones there was also disappointing.  To top it off our meals didn't even come out at the same time, there was roughly a 5 minute wait for my girlfriends dish to come out of the kitchen.  This makes me wonder about the restaurants service capabilities and quality on a BUSY day.

The food was ok but not much better than that.  What was consistent was the amount of salt the chef or cook (I am assuming the latter) decided to use in both dishes which was more than enough to make the meal unenjoyable, I believe a beverage became requisite in order to finish the meal.  The price was adequate for a restaurant located in a tourist hotspot.  Personally I don't see myself eating there again anytime soon, however this does not mean that I am writing off the restaurant completely since I haven't tried their seafood which as I mentioned earlier is their "bread and butter" so I might just have to go back and give them another try.  I would also like to check out their dance floors.

I give the restaurant 2 stars out of 5, a fairly low rating but given the experience I believe it to be fair.

New Photography Devoted Website!

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Tuesday, December 1, 2009 0 comments

Today I have launched my new website called Digital Photography Fans: A free digital camera photography tips for fans page.  Below is a snippet from a post on my new website:

"Today marks the first post of my new website devoted entirely to a recently discovered passion of mine, Photography. I have always been an avid admirer of art since I first started watching cartoons as a kid (I still do) and today that admiration of art continues in the form of photography. Since the purchase of my first Nikon DSLR last December I have been taking photos like crazy and frankly I can't get enough of it.

In the past I had always been considered the designated photographer among family and friends and so it was not uncommon to see me with a camera in my hand, but it was only a year ago that I began to start taking photos artistically. At the time I was taking photos with my still in use
Canon Powershot SD1000 digital Elph (which was a Christmas gift from my sister) which for the most part was an excellent camera for on the go, lightweight snap shooting, however I found myself one day trying to take a photo of a deer running through the brush in Eastern Oregon when I realized that all my photos were blurry. This caused me a great deal of frustration and I then came to the realization that my camera just wasn't enough, so I search endlessly on the internet to find the right camera for the job."

 The site will be dedicated to those interested in learning more about digital photography and how to get the most from their digital camera.  I highly encourage everyone to take a look at the new website and maybe share some input.  Thank you

Saturday Cartoons/Animation - Week 2

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza 0 comments

This last weekend was so busy and hectic that I never got around to posting Saturdays cartoons and since I am a firm believer of better later than never, I am posting last Saturday's cartoons, today instead.

I searched the web last night and managed to come across some rather interesting videos, one of my favorites is the Muppets version of Bohemian Rhapsody which I found pretty funny.  Enjoy


Pigeon Pilfer from Michael Stevenson on Vimeo.

"TEMPUS" (Winner of the Venezianimation) Mostra Internazionale d'Arte Cinematografica from zuscrofa on Vimeo.

Patriot - Animated Short by Roy Iddan from Captain_Fantasy on Vimeo.

Site Under Construction

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Monday, November 30, 2009 0 comments

Well as most of you can see my site has a new coat of paint, for months I have wanted to change the look and feel of my blog and with the help of a fellow colleague and friend(thanks Carlos) I have been able to breathe new life into my once outdated blog(you may even notice my secondary title that reads "A Traveling American Photographer Living Abroad").

Now please take into consideration that this blog is still undergoing changes and anything that doesn't seem to work will in time be fixed. Living in Peru has been hectic what with work and other obligations so I am trying to finish the sites development as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience and please leave a comment/feedback.

Thank you,


The Healing Properties of Andean Tocosh - Fermented Potatoes

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Thursday, November 26, 2009 3 comments

You may be thinking what is Tocosh?  Up until recently I had not heard of Tocosh (Tocush, or however it is pronounced), I was told it was a potato that had a horrible smell associated with it but was supposedly really delicious.  My curiosity having already been peaked I decided to follow through by researching a little further. 
After a few minutes of searching on Google, I was surprised to discover that there wasn’t much information (at least on the English version of Google) about Tocosh, hell it’s not even on Wikipedia!  I decided to switch gears and use which is the Peruvian/Spanish equivalent of English Google.  There I found a more information on Tocosh, some of which I found rather interesting.
It turns out that Tocosh isn’t a type of potato if not an end-result product of an ancient fermentation - putrification process developed by the Incas many years ago.  Back in those days the Incans considered Tocosh as the preserver of the human body.  The Incans would prepare Tocosh by digging a small hole along the side of a river bank.  In the hole they would fill it with regionally picked potatoes and then placed rocks over the potatoes to flatten them.  There they would leave the potatoes while the water from the river slowly worked its way into the hole for a period of 6 – 12 months.  The water that ran through those holes was what eventually would transform the potatoes to the point that it produced a powerful and natural antibiotic.  After an almost year long fermentation process the Incans would take the potato remains out of the holes and leave them to dry under the suns powerful rays.  Once dry the Tocosh in its final form would be used in stews and dishes of the Incans, as well as medication.
In today’s modern world Tocosh continues to be used more commonly in rural towns and cities of the Andes by their population.  Tocosh can even be purchased in a powdered state and in capsule form for certain medicinal uses.  Tocosh is said to be effective (and has been confirmed in medical investigations) in dealing with postpartum (whatever that is?), pneumonia, common cold, curing wounds through direct application,  hemorrhoids, and gastric ulcers, altitude sickness (Soroche), and gastrointestinal infections.  It has even been used as an antibacterial agent due largely to its high Penicillin content.   It is said that the people of the departments of Ancash and Huanuco (in to the North of Peru) have had fewer cases of gastric infections due to Tocosh being widely consumed in those regions.  It is speculated that the strong and unflattering smell of Tocosh is what keeps it from being consumed in larger cities like Lima. 

Having conducted an initial investigation through limited resources I would like to actually try the intriguing fermented potato and see if I can handle its strong and overpowering smell.  I will definitely write a follow up once I have made physical contact.
For those of you interested here is the link to a site that sells Tocosh in capsule form, LINK.

Donating Blood

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Tuesday, November 24, 2009 0 comments

Last week my father was in the hospital recovering from a surgery and as a result of the massive blood loss was in need of a blood transfusion.  I had gone to visit my father on Friday when I heard the news and suggested donating blood, something I had heard alot about in previous years but had never experienced.  After returning from a rather decent lunch at a local chinese restaurant in San Borja I was instructed by my Aunt to head with her to the first floor where the Hematology labs were located. 

While I filled out the required paperwork I felt a little nervous, having never donated blood before but managed to put my concerns aside to help my father.  Apparently in order for a patient to recieve blood (or in my father's case, 1 unit of blood = 1 liter of blood) friends or family must donate an equal amount of blood to replenish the blood used.  On top of that the patient is charged the cost of the blood which at the Clinic in San Borja came out to be S/. 770.00, which isn't inexpensive!  When I was finally called in to the back of the lab I was taken into a room with two patient benches and a weight balance.  The nurse orded me to stand on the balance which I found odd for a blood donation, nevertheless I did as I was told.  I almost laughed when the nurse asked me "if I had lost weight recently or if I had always been that skinny?"  I had no clue what so ever that a persons weight was important for blood donation, in fact I was almost denied the opportuntity to donate blood because of my weight.  The nurse decided to take a few blood samples to test my hemoglobin levels in order to determine whether or not I would be able to donate blood, in the mean time I sent back to the waiting room to wait until further notice.

20 minutes of watching reggaeton music videos and I was finally called back to the room where I was guided on to the bench.  The nurse first took my blood pressure (for what reason I am not sure), then she prepared the blood recipient bag and followed up by soaking a piece of cotton in alcohol (which smelled strong of Vodka) which she then passed over my arm, marking the spot where she would eventually make the insertion.  Finally the moment of truth came as the nurse pulled out what was a huge needle and stuck straight into my arm with a rather painful piercing feeling (Damn, cartoon blood drop LIED TO ME!).  I laid there for what was 10 minutes making open and closed motions with my hand to help pump the blood from my veins.  It wasn't towards the end that I started to feel light-headed and sweaty, followed by an increasing sense of nausea.  I mentioned my symptoms to the nurse and she quickly grabbed a chair and placed it under my feet elevating above my head.

For my donation I was given a rather tasty juice box and a rather nasty packet of cheese crackers, all followed by a dissertation on: THE EFFECTS OF BLOOD DONATION ON PATIENTS by the head doctor of Hematology.  :(

Donating blood turned out to be an interesting experience in itself and one I will never forget.  I am proud that I could help my father and I am proud that I attempted something I onced feared.  Would I do it again?  If the situation required it, DEFINATELY!  Otherwise, it may be awhile before I voluntarily donate again.

Saturday Morning Cartoons! Week 1

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Saturday, November 21, 2009 1 comments

So I have come across several cool sites on the internet one of them Channel Frederator which is a site and business dedicated to animation.  I have always been a big fan of cartoons especially since I have always liked to draw them.

Today I announce to you my readers that starting today I will host Saturday Morning Cartoons where every Saturday I will post crazy and awesome cartoons from the internet, for your viewing enjoyment.  If there are any particular types of cartoons you would like to see just leave me a comment and I will do my best to find them for you.

And with out further a due I present to you Saturday Morning Cartoons, Enjoy!

ANIMATING RALPH S. MOUSE from Joel Fletcher on Vimeo.

Harvey Krumpet

Man on the Moon


Stephen Colbert and Woody Harrelson Sing The US National Anthem

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Wednesday, November 18, 2009 0 comments

I was watching the colbert report on my computer when Colbert and Woody ended the show by singing the Star Spangled Banner (US NATIONAL ANTHEM), while Stephen shaved Woody's head in a show of support for the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

GOOD MORNING AMERICA! (I hope I don't get in trouble for copyright infringement).  GOD BLESS THE USA!

The Colbert Report
Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Sign Off - Stephen Shaves Woody's Head

Colbert Report Full Episodes
Political Humor
U.S. Speedskating

Aww Portland How I Miss You

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Tuesday, November 17, 2009 0 comments

I had spent the evening with Zdenka celebrating our sixth month dating when I showed her a youtube video of Portland.  I am always talking about it and I wanted her to get a more visual image of the city I just can't seem to stop talking about (weird).

I never really imagined that I would miss Portland and yet I am always surprised when I do, but I guess there really isn't any better place than home.  Here is the promotional video that we watched, which I thought was rather cool.

Hotel Love in Peru

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza 1 comments

If there is one thing that differs culturally between Peru and the United States it's intimacy among lovers, couples, and spouses.  First of all it's important to take into consideration that Americans generally enjoy independence to the extent that we all long for the day when we can move out of our basement bedroom at mom and dad's (well at least most of us).  In fact, it is usually frowned upon in American society for an individual to live with his parents in his later years without a reasonable excuse (and even then it can still be very difficult to find a partner who is willing to accept the fact that Jim still lives with his mommy and daddy).  Peruvian families however are much different in this aspect with most children living with their parents as well as grandparents, uncles, aunts, and other close relatives under one roof, most of their lives (if not all of their life).  There does exist a collectivist mentality among Peruvians with a strong emphasis on family.  Poverty may be a leading factor in why this collectivist culture still exists also (with a little more than half of the nations population living in poverty, that's roughly 54%.  Don't quote me on that).

With entire families living together, intimacy among couples can be difficult to achieve with everyone present.  It's even considered disrespectful depending on where you fall in the family hierarchy.  Thankfully in Peru there is a solution, HOTELS!  In Lima there is an unbelievable amont of hotels, hostels, hospedajes, and even the occasional taxi cab (when you just can't hold the love in any longer), with prices at most of these establishments being fairly reasonable for the average Limeñan's or Chalaco's (the nickname for people from Callao) wages.  Hotels being the most expensive option provide a couple with such wonderful commodities as: an actual bed mattress (one that's not stuffed with straw and hay), blankets (most hostels and hospedajes only offer a bed with a bed sheet on it), better privacy, a sense of security, and the occasional jacuzzi.  Most hotels can range from S/. 35 to $200 or more depending on district and neighborhood.  For the average unmarried couple, sex occurs more frequently throughout the week and therefore a hostel or hospedaje is much more economical.  Hell the cheapest ones will only set you back a measly S/. 10, which buys you a small room with a bed and even a TV for the duration of a few hours (that's more than enough time to show that special someone in your life how much you love him/her).  The one amenity that almost every establishment provides their patrons with is a complementary baby repellent (also known as a condom), however I would personally recommend that you stock up before your head out on your midnight adventure (HELL, a decent pack of condoms only costs S/. 7.00 and just like hotels, pharmacies are literally everywhere). 

The practice of renting a room for the sole purpose of making love is actually accepted by Peruvians and is quite common and normal.  I wouldn't be surprised if sex was what kept the hotel industry alive and thriving here in Peru.  For Americans this concept maybe unusual to us considering the fact that most of us have our own place (apartment, home, car, etc.) where we can be intimate with our partner.  For most Peruvians the luxury of having one's own place is difficult to come by for various cultural / societal reasons, therefore the best option for quality alone time with a loved one is at a hotel.  For someone who is accustomed to renting a hotel room for travel purposes it may seem odd to rent one just to have sex.  Though with time the feeling of awkwardness and embarrassment wears off once you realize that most establishments understand that the majority of their clientele use their rooms for more intimate purposes. 

Welcome To Inti Aperture!

A travel blog about living abroad in Lima, Peru and my travels to cities like Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Inti Aperture is a blog about travel, Peruvian food, culture, adventure, jobs, tourism, travel, news, teaching English, photography, and living abroad, making it a perfect resource for the traveling expat.
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