While I definitely miss what I consider to be the classic version of Christmas (snow, lights, Christmas songs, REAL Christmas trees, etc.) it is not my first time celebrating Christmas in Peru. I do what I can to make the most of a favorite holiday and I have been looking forward to Christmas Eve since that is when it's celebrated here. Dinner this year will take place at Zdenka's parents home in Breña, where the Christmas presents will also be opened after midnight. Everything is just about ready for tomorrows upcoming festivities but the turkey was one of the few chores left to tend to.
Turkey like in the US has become an integral part of the Christmas Eve dinner and is exclusively consumed during this holiday (how the custom of eating turkey was adopted by Peruvians is a mystery to me) and like many hard-working citizens in Lima whose employers are generous enough to gift turkeys lies the arduous task of collecting a turkey. A voucher for a bird of certain weight is presented to the employee who must then undergo what can only be described as a gastly experience.
Zdenka received a voucher from her job and her father and I decided to go today to claim a turkey, it seemed simple enough but we would later discover how wrong we were. Arriving to one of the many locations available by the poultry company San Fernando we were amazed yet not surprised by the long formed line of people awaiting their turn to get a turkey. As we tried to find our way to the back of the line we were quickly diverted to a waiting bus where we were boarded and transported to an alternate location (first time in my life have I ever had to be ferried to my poultry). The ride was short but the mass amounts of complaints generated during the trip could last a lifetime. We got off at a large mall on Av. Colonial in Callao where we made our way to the underground parking lot near the loading docks. Hundreds and hundreds of people waited in lines seperated by weight, the situation was so serious that the Red Cross had set up a first aid booth! After waiting what felt like an eternity in line we finally received our turkey but not the weight we had wanted since there weren't any left.
In retrospect it probably isn't as bad as I try to make it seem but it sure is something I am glad only has to happen once a year.
Last Saturday I had agreed to help paint one of the bathrooms at Zdenka's parents home in Breña (a task which turned out to be more trivial than I had anticipated). The day was perfect, the sun was out and the sky was clear as far as the eye could see. I took a colectivo as I normally do however lately it has been fairly difficult to find many due in part to the increase in police activity (these are either official and therefore legal or they are the more common batida which is illegal since the police are only looking for an excuse to harass and extort citizens, tis the season!).
Arriving at Plaza Grau in downtown Lima I saw several guys performing some pretty amazing displays of acrobatics in front of stopped vehicles. These were just a few of many street performers that take to the city streets in order to earn a living or often just some extra pocket change. I asked them if they would mind me taking a few photos and they agreed, and as a sign of good faith I donated S/. 2.
Well things have been a little slow around here mostly due to the holidays but to keep you entertained until I finish some the projects I have been working on please enjoy this hilarious song.
As most of you know the "political correctness" movement has really progressed over the last 10 years or so and while understandable in some respects it has also managed to get a little carried away. Luckily here in Peru, political correctness hasn't quite taken off yet which isn't all that bad, although things like this tend to be commonly excepted.
I was on Chase Jarvis's awesome blog today and I saw a video posted where famous actor Kevin Spacey explains to what seem to be students about what it takes to achieve our goals in life. Very motivational words!
The video is short but well worth a watch. I highly recommend it!
Last Sunday was Zdenka's youngest brother's first communion at their church in Breña. Just like many things related to religion this was something new to me, something I had never experienced before and it was very interesting to witness. According to Wikipedia (which is probably not a great source to quote in terms of credibility but it should be),
"The First Communion is a Catholic Church ceremony for a person's first reception of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Catholics believe this event to be very important, as the Eucharist is one of the central focuses of the Catholic Church".
Read More >>
This plaza is frequented daily by many tourists who also visit the principal plaza known as the Plaza de Armas (officially named Plaza Mayor de Lima) where the presidential palace and the municipality building of Lima are located. This area is also popular to many residents of Lima who visit the plazas which are linked by a very old and well known street called Jiron de la Union. Jiron de la Union is a commercial street that spans several blocks and is closed off to vehicular traffic. Here people are free to roam as they peruse the many stores and restaurants.
Plaza San Martin has a short history in comparison to the rest of Lima, in that it was constructed in the early 1900's following the subsequent demolition of San Juan de Dios hospital as well as a railroad station. The plaza was inaugurated in July of 1921 in homage to the 100th anniversary of Peru's Independence. The statue in the center of the Plaza was the result of a competition where Spanish artist/sculptor Mariano Benlliure won with his masterpiece which depicted war hero Jose de San Martin during his travels through the Andes, hence the name of the plaza as Plaza San Martin.
The buildings that enclose the plaza were constructed in gradual order and all share the same Neocolonial design being what was at the time popular.
**Edit** Here is an old photo of the Plaza San Martin
Last weekend Zdenka and I went to a well known clinic in Jesus Maria called "INPPARES", which is an acronym for Instituto Peruano de Paternidad Responsable or Peruvian Institute of Responsible Paternity. The clinic is popular in Lima mostly for testing pregnancy and paternity, aside from other things however, we were there to get a 3D/4D Ultrasound of our six month baby Rosemary.
In the US a 4D Ultrasound can range in price from as low as $50 to $200 depending on which private clinic you attend. Here in Peru the cost situation is about the same, depending on where you go you will pay anywhere from S./150 to S./200 (remember that the Peruvian Sol is 2.78 to 1 US Dollar). For us the 4D cost S./190 and that included gender determination, a DVD copy of the session (which I have included below), a 3D photo in a nice glass picture frame, a full diagnostic of the babies health, and the babies heart rate. Now a 4D is not necessary and serves more of a novel function for the couple but I have been told does have some benefits.
The session was 10 minutes long and the video footage was displayed on a large flat-screen LCD. Below is the video from that session.
As I write this email I am still taken back by the powerful words in travel photographer David duChemin's recent post about the reality of human existence. "Life is too short", the title of one of his latest posts on his popular photography blog sends a strong and awakening message of the uncertainty of life and man's fallacy to truly appreciate his short time on this planet.
We have all heard this kind of inspirational prose before and while it might seem redundant to highlight one of the most commonly known and feared truths, the message still seems to resonate within us as our minds urge our bodies to take action, to make something worthwhile happen.
I personally never seem to tire from reading and hearing this message as it serves as a reminder to take advantage of what has been given to me. Below is but just a paragraph or two of duChemin's post but I highly recommend going to his site and reading the rest.
"I had breakfast with a close friend of mine yesterday and it’s that meeting that is making me write this, because I can’t keep it in this morning. His wife, one of my favourite people on the planet, is fighting for her life against inoperable brain cancer. She’s fighting, but she’s not well, and the doctors are talking in terms of quality of life, not healing, not remission. My heart is breaking for her. My heart is breaking for him. A young couple that, like all of us, thinks they have forever together, have all the time in the world to chase their dreams. But we don’t. None of us do. It’s an illusion.
Life is short. We seem to think that we’ll live forever. We spend time and money as though we’ll always be here. We buy shiny things as though they matter and are worth the debt and stress of attachment. We put off the so-called “trip of a lifetime” for another year, because we all assume we have another year. We don’t tell the ones we love how much we love them often enough because we assume there’s always tomorrow. And we fear. Oh, do we fear. We stick it out in miserable jobs and situations because we’re afraid of the risk of stepping out. We don’t reach high enough or far enough because we’re worried we’ll fail, forgetting – or never realizing – that it’s better to fail spectacularly while reaching for the stars than it is to succeed at something we never really wanted in the first place."
The chicken plays an important role in the limeñans diet and is therefore a core ingredient in most dishes served in the restaurants and homes with seafood and fish competing alongside it.
These however are roosters in the photo and are raised for the traditional and controversial "cock fights", a sport (if you can call it that) that was brought by the Spanish during their conquest / colonialization of the Americas.
Special thanks to blogger Juancho over at Camina El Autor, for posting this video made by PBS he discovered recently. The film is from the PBS TV show "A Moment of Luxury" hosted by Bill Stubbs, which has visited Lima to highlight some of the cities beautiful interiors of some of it's oldest buildings, along with other popular sites. The good news is that it's in English, something not always available on this site when it comes to videos.
The video is fairly interesting for it's footage and information if you can overlook all the additional side commentary.
Once upon a time there was this guy who came to Peru to visit his father who unknowingly met a girl and got married....what was I talking about again....oh right PIE! Married life is definitely interesting because you discover that things you once never did are now the things you spend time doing, like cooking and baking. Now in the States I cooked every now and then and I enjoyed it but I never saw an interest in baking and therefore never did it, the same is true of Zdenka with the cooking part included. So as a newly married couple we have been cooking and baking like crazy every weekend, trying new recipes and experimenting with cooking/baking techniques that are new to us.
This weekend we decided to bake since we hadn't done it in a while, not since we baked that orange cake (which could have used a little more orange). I naturally came up with the idea of making a lime pie (not a key lime pie but a lime pie), especially since in the past Zdenka has never been really fond of lime pies (which they call lemon pies?). Neither one of us had ever made a pie so we had to do some research (makes me glad there's the internet). We found many different variations and picked the one which was the simplest but we couldn't find a pie crust recipe that we liked so I called my grandmother who is a veteran at baking. She sent me a few photos which she scanned from an old cookbook.
She gladly passed on her recipe and it required the following:
Basic Pie Crust
*to make one(1) pie crust
1 cup of flour
1/3 cup of lard
1/8 cup of water
Looks simple enough right? Well at first it started off rather simple but as we mixed all the ingredients together the end result was a little bit like cake batter so we added more flour until we got the consistency we figured was right for dough. The dough itself was very sticky something both of us were not prepared for and we had a bit of difficulty forming it into a ball. Through trial-and-error we got the hang of it and we proceeded to roll the dough using an empty wine bottle since we didn't have a rolling pin (very useful alternative). Once the dough was rolled out enough we placed it into the pie tray and poke a few holes in the base to keep it from rising/inflating. The crust went into the oven at 425 F for about 10 minutes and was then removed and left to cool while we prepared the filling.
The filling itself wasn't to complicated but it did require some work to get the end result. the filling recipe is the following:
Lime Pie Filling:
4 large eggs
2 14oz cups of condensed milk (though I would recommend 1 and a half)
1 cup of lime juice (about 25 key limes/other small limes)
a good quantity of lime zest
The most time comsuming task was probably cutting and squeezing all the limes along with removing the zest. Once all the ingredients were in the mixing bowl I whisked for about 10 minutes and then poured it into the pie crust. Then the pie was place back into the oven at 325 F for another 10 minutes where it was then removed and left to cool before being placed in the fridge to set overnight.
It was a lot of fun to prepare a pie and a lot of work but the end result was good and we had pie for breakfast today!
This beautiful photo above was taken in Toledo, Spain by La Asociación Fotográfica de Toledo or the Photographic Association of Toledo. What makes the photo even more amazing is that it's not the work of a sole skilled photographer but 50 skilled photographers from Toledo!
The association's website has also included an article that details in both Spanish and English how this amazing feat was accomplished. Well worth a read! Read More >>
One of my favorite Peruvian blogs written by Vladimir Velasquez called "Una Lima Que Se Fue" or "A Lima That Once Was", has recently posted a video from the popular Peruvian TV show "A La Vuelta de La Esquina". The video shows beautiful footage of some of Lima's most famous and oldest mansions along with some great information regarding their fascinating history. Unfortunately the video commentary is in Spanish but the footage is well worth a view. Enjoy!
A LA VUELTA DE LA ESQUINA - CASONAS DE LIMA 1-2
Cargado por vladimirvelasquezgonzalez. - Mira más videos de TV y películas.
A LA VUELTA DE LA ESQUINA - CASONAS DE LIMA 2-2
Cargado por vladimirvelasquezgonzalez. - Mira películas y shows de TV enteros.
While on Flickr.com the other day I saw a photo taken by Peruvian photographer Christian Vinces, which illustrated how thieves/burglars use their own form of hieroglyphic-esque code to identify potential targets. As the photo shows below this is done on the target home/building itself usually with the use of chalk, pen, pencil or even a chisel/screwdriver. These drawings help the other burglar associates understand the possible dangers they might face once inside the property or know how many people occupy the dwelling along with the hours that they are normally present. The fact that this information is public now probably means that they have adapted and altered their code to protect their illegal activities.
The symbols in the photo on the right side cover the following: big dog, not very interesting, easy in the morning, easy at night, their away - no difficulties, old woman alone all day, easy in the afternoon, children alone in the morning, abandoned, woman alone, home of rich people, children alone in the afternoon, good objective, recently observed, very interesting/lucrative, and home of businessman
On the left of the photo the following symbols mean: Unoccupied home + the months unoccupied, generous people, don't bother/insist, people available, Sundays, and nights
Here is a small compilation of photos that were taken a few weekends ago. Zdenka and I got up about 7:30 on a Sunday to head on down to the beach right in front of Miraflores Tennis Club. The weather was overcast and a bit chilly but that didn't seem to keep several Limeñans from donning their wetsuits and diving in the ocean. The waves weren't very big but everyone seemed to be having a great time.
Yesterday marked the beginning of the annual art exhibition Noche de Arte which was created and is run by the US Embassy Association of Lima. The goal of this art exhibition for the past years has been to promote Peru's art culture, this is done through the support of over 400 local artists who collaborate each year close to 500 pieces of artwork.
Noche de Arte has existed for more than 41 years in Peru with the goal of generating funds to support the needs of several social institutions that lack the necessary resources crucial for their development. A charitable cultural event that has had great success over the years.
This the event was held in the BBVA Banco Continental headquarters office in San Isidro and will continue its exhibition until this Sunday. Tickets can be purchased through their website and the times for the event are listed below.
Viernes 22 de octubre 7:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Noche de estreno
Sábado 23 de octubre, 7:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Noche del artistas
Domingo 24 de octubre, 2:00 – 6:00 p.m.
S/. 10 (niños y tercera edad S/. 5.00)
I managed to take a few photos while inside the bank though I did not have a ticket since I was teaching English there but I might just go this weekend.
Today while reading one of my favorite local photography blogs PeruFotoLibre, I came across this YouTube video about Photojournalism in Mexico. The video is in Spanish but the photographs are amazing and well worth a look in my opinion.
Watching it makes me want to dedicate even more time to photography if I could only figure out how.
I found this rather cool promotional video put together by the Spanish bank BBVA, who is owner and operator of the Peruvian bank Banco Continental. The video is about an educational program that was created a few years ago by BBVA to help promote reading in Peru, which would help to increase the literacy rate in Peru.
The artist in the video has some amazing drawing skills and it's fairly entertaining just to watch it, even if some of you don't speak Spanish. Check it out!
These were but a few of the photos that I took during the week which I manage by lugging around my camera along with all my teaching supplies. The fact that Lima is such a busy and active city makes it a perfect place for street photography, as each day provides something new to photograph.
It´s 6am in the morning as the sun slowly rises over the Pacific, meanwhile in the district of Chorrillos the first wave of people have crawled out of their dwellings in a zombie state, barely ready to take on the arduous work week. The street lights have just turned off and the various street vendors have begun setting up shop on their designated street corner (serving all the breakfast essentials like hot emolientes with artisanal breads to fresh squeezed orange juices). It´s a typical scene that is quite common all over the city but one that is not witnessed by everyone. The buses at this hour are one time since there is hardly any traffic.....yet, and even better is the availability of a place to sit once onboard. If your unlucky you might find yourself on a bus that has several missing windows or broken ones which means you get to ride air-conditioned whether you want to or not.
In the early morning the bus is like a bed on wheels where it´s nap time onboard for most who haven´t slept off the 12 to 14 hour work from yesterday yet. Everyone is dressed in a wide variety of outfits suited to meet the needs of their job and it´s clear where their destination is. Silence dominates on the bus almost like a private meditation session perfect for getting prepared for the long day ahead, a practice which is often visible on the bus ride home at night. The only sounds audible are the ones generated by the bus itself as in it´s old deteriorated age rattles while it drives through the streets at full speed. The horn is not necessary at this hour and is uncommon which helps the passengers rest somewhat peacefully. Read More >>
Lima like many large cities all over the world are reservoirs of cultural, historical, artistic, and visual wealth for the traveling photographer, yet one major pain about most large cities is figuring out how to get from point A to point B. For many this could mean a ride in a taxi cab (of which there are many in Lima) or it could mean renting a car, but if your a traveler on a low-budget or a recent expat residing in Lima you probably need a more inexpensive form of transportation. Luckily Lima has hundreds of bus and combi routes that are spread throughout the city like a spider's web, which is great except when you don't know which bus to take.
In the past, I have resorted to age old practice (often loathed by men and advocated by women) of asking for directions which usually worked well when you wanted to figure out which bus to take, granted it helps if you at least know in what direction your destination is. This methods seems practical enough however for a tourist it can be to their disadvantage as it isn't usually safe to announce that "your not from here" (overlooking the fact that your thick accent doesn't help much either).
Unfortunately the public transportation in Lima is privatized which might not sound like a bad thing at first until you either see it in action or come to the realization that there exists over 600 hundred (roughly, could be more) bus and combi routes run by several
syndicates companies. Fortunately, now there exists an option for those who want to find the best route/bus line to take to get to their destination thanks to Jeroen Prinsen's useful website called Rutas Recomendables or Recommended Routes.
Rutas Recomendables is Prinsen's realized vision of a functional transit map for Lima similar to that used for the London Tube. His website and map are the products of a project that took him over a year in field research to finalize, but is now available to the public and is well worth a look for those who are not familiarized yet.
I was recently contacted by Prinsen who had found my blog through an article I wrote earlier about public transportation in Lima, anyways he told about his project and website which i found amazing so I decided to post it here. His website is put together well and is very easy to navigate with clear and concise information about some Lima's most important bus routes. You can purchase a high resolution version of his map for ONLY $5 USD or download his low-res map from his site for FREE, either way you should check it out!
WEBSITE: RUTAS RECOMENDABLES
Since election day last Sunday the news media has been covering the ballot counting and the possibility of election fraud. The allegations and rumors floating around in Lima currently suggest that the right-wing (derechista) candidate Lourdes Flores with the support of the political parties UN-PPC and APRA, along with the government and private local and international investors, have or are attempting to manipulate the outcome of the election results to favor Lourdes over Villaran. While I'm not going to go into detail or speculation about what is currently going on, others in the community both locally and abroad have been voicing their concerns.
At this point it is uncertain whether a case of fraud is at hand or whether this is just a case of poor government organization and planning (especially when it takes over 50 hours to count votes from Sunday). Here is what few others have said regarding this fiasco... Read More >>
Over the past few months Peruvians have been caught up in the political fever that has swept the nation. In every department of Peru political talk and campaigns have been at the forefront of social interest. Citizens in each district of the 24 departments (including the constitutional province of Callao) have been preparing to elect their next mayor, with Lima dominating the attention of the public media (which is common of a centralized country)
The streets of the nation´s capital over this period of time have been literally littered with ads, flyers, and billboards, which like graffiti have been everywhere (the comment "leave no stone unturned" is an understatement to quantity of
Came across this hilarious parody about English teachers in foreign countries. What makes the film so funny is how well it parodies the stereotypical English teacher types that are likely found all around the world. A great video in general and well worth a watch!
English Teachers - Episode 1 "First Days Suck" from Nameless Media and Productions on Vimeo.
About three weeks ago while waiting for said class I was flipping through the latest addition of Somos when I came across an article paying homage to a famous Peruvian photographer Daniel Pajuelo who had passed away 10 years ago. From the few photographs illustrated in the magazine I could easily see just how talented this devote photographer was. A man who dedicated his craft to capturing the heart and soul of human existance in the omnipresent city of Lima. His photographs documented life in the 1990´s and his use of black and white photography sets the mood and tone of the perfectly. Pajuelo unfortuantely passed away in 2000 after a year long battle with a brain tumor. Though he is gone his spirit lives on, as his work will be forever remembered.
Today while on the internet I found a video tribute put together by his Renato which was uploaded to YouTube (though I saw it on an awesome Peruvian photography website called PeruFotoLibre). I have posted the video below and I highly recommend everyone to watch it! The video highlights a collection of Daniel´s best work.
There is something relaxing about driving down the Panamericana Sur highway, a road divided by the mighty Pacific Ocean and the expansive sunbathed deserts of Peru's coast. The southern coast is a drive that takes you towards some of Peru's most popular beaches where thousands upon thousands of Lima's city dwellers migrate to during the summer months.
Does there exist a food worth driving an hour and a half for? The answer is a definite HELL YEAH! Head south towards the province of Cañete and you will see a medium sized chicken farm on your right hand side at about Km 52. Here you will see a small straw covered kiosk accompanied by this small businesses prized gems, a trio of earth and clay made ovens. The Tambo Rural as this unexpected roadside gastronomic landmark is called caters to many hungry travelers and road warriors making their journey's south. What keeps people coming back is the Tambo Rural's famous and addictive artisan breads. An intended light snack which ultimately ends up as a meal, these finger long breads (which have an appearance and flavor similar to Mediterranean bread, think Lebanese style flat bread) are filled with either Botija black olives (similar in taste to Greek Kalamata olives) or queso fresco, and are baked until golden. Both bread fillings are guaranteed to satisfy the appetite of any individual.
The robust aroma of baking bread that escapes from those dome shaped ovens has forever been impregnated in my mind and just to write about it causes me to drool uncontrollably over my keyboard. Any road trip down south whether with friends or family now requires a pit stop to the Tambo Rural, a place which has made die hard fans of the skeptical. The bread is always best eaten as soon as they are pulled from the oven with a little bit of the spicy rocoto sauce for that added kick. I ate there last weekend and like always it didn't disappoint. Below are the directions to this must visit ma and pa food site. A definite 5 out of 5
Avicola Don Bruno SRL
Autopista Panamericana Sur
Km. 52 - Santa Maria del Mar