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Rospigliosi Castle

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Wednesday, April 28, 2010 2 comments

The History of Castillo Rospigliosi (Rospigliosi Castle)

The city of Lima can be considered both a modern city as well as an old colonial city, but did you know it is also host to it´s very own medieval castle!  Until recently I had no idea that Lima had a medieval castle, well ok it´s not officially medieval since it was built in 1929 but it can be considered a very impressive representation of one.  So how does a turn of the century spanish colonial city come about the idea to build a medieval style castle?  The answer is as old as the castle´s history.

Situated in the heart of the urbanized district of Lince at the intersection of Av. Montero Rosas and Av. Manuel Ascencio Seguro, just a few blows from Av. Petit Thouars sits the almost century old castle.  The castle takes up an entire block and is hard to miss when driving by it, though well concealed in the vast urban sprawl of Lima.  The exquisite castle is embellished with all the recognizable features characteristic of a medieval castle, from it´s multiple turrets to very large drawbridge in it´s entrance.  The history of the castle rests on the shoulders of the distinguished, Dr. Carlos J. Rospigliosi Vigil.  Dr. Rospigliosi a doctor who specialized in the field of natural sciences and medicine and widely recognized for his works in scientific investigation was also a filthy rich millionaire.  It was through news of a visit to Lima by the king of Spain, king Alfonso XIII, (of whom which Rospigliosi maintained a good long standing friendship with) that Rospigliosi enthusiastically set out to welcome the king with the construction of a castle.  The task of building a large castle in the city of Lima was not a usual one and was one that met with certain difficulties and opposition during it´s constuction in the late 1920´s. 

The castle was intended to be presented as a gift to king Alfonso XIII upon his arrival but destiny had other plans for the castle´s fate.  Rospigliosi working hard on the castles construction came across certain building restrictions when he filled with the local municipality to grant him permission to dig a moat around the perimeter of the castle which would in turn serve the function of the installed drawbridge entrance (which was to be the icing on the cake if you will).  Unfortunately for Rospigliosi the municipality more than likely having had enough with the elaborate conception of a medieval castle in district denied the grant for a moat, seeing it as excessive. 

To make matters worse than they already were, when the construction of the castle was finally completed news of a Spanish revolution was announced with king Alfonso XIII and the Republic overturned.  The fall of the Spanish Monarchy led to the inevitable and for obvious reasons cancellation of the king´s scheduled trip to Peru.  When Rospigliosi received word on the situation in Spain he decided it was time to cut his loses and fold the cards he had held is hand,  seeing no other options for this newly constructed castle Rospigliosi took the only decision he had left and used the castle as his new residence where he and his family resided there after.  The castle from that moment on was known as Rospigliosi Castle or Castillo Rospigliosi. 

Today the castle is the under the ownership of the Peruvian Airforce (FAP = Fuerzas Aereas del Peru) and is the site of the Airforce´s Escuela Superior de Guerra Aérea or Superior School of Air Warfare.

Here is a link to their site:

Teaching English in Lima, Peru

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza 1 comments

When most English speaking foriegners travel to Lima, Peru the most common question often asked is "what kind of jobs are there for foriegners in Lima?"  The response to this question is simply "teach English!"  When I first arrived in Lima I was working with my father in his plastics manufacturing company in Chorrillos, while I had worked with my father in the past it wasn´t quite what I was looking for in terms of a job (though I did learn a lot from working in that particular industry).  Searching newspaper classifieds and on-line classifieds I soon discovered that finding a good paying job was not as easy as I had initially thought it would be, in fact it took me 6 months of searching before I finally found an ad for English teachers.

Since I was running low on luck I decided to apply for the job and sure enough two weeks later I was called in for orientation and before I knew it I was giving business English classes all across Lima.  It was through teaching English that I discovered that for most English speaking foriegners the occupation of English teacher was in fact a very popular and very available job.  At the institute, the majority of my colleagues are from several different English speaking countries like: Australia, New Zealand, England I mean Britain or the UK, USA, Holland, Ireland, Scotland, and many other non-English speaking countries.

The real question is "how are there so many English teaching jobs?"  The reason for the large and popular demand of English is due to Peru´s interests in foriegn business and tourism which have both grown significantly over the past two decades.  The rise in demand for English proficiency has contributed to the plethora of private academic institutes, whom all compete to prove that they provide the best in English education.  This trend also lead to many already pre-existing universities and private institutes to adopt English classes in attempts to break into the English as a second language market.   What does all this mean exactly?  This means that the large demand for English has also given rise to a large demand for English teachers in Peru, which is good news for anyone who is a native English speaker. 

If you do decide to persue a job in Peru teaching English I highly recommend that you take sometime before hand to research the institute or school that you are interested in working for, as many have bad reputations in terms of how they treat their employees.  The last thing you want to do is take a job with a sketchy English institute that has an widely acknowledged history of not paying it´s teachers on time.  For those of you who are currently considering or are currently looking for English teacher positions in Peru I highly recommend the following links.

The first link is from a well respected blog writer who has a lot of experience in teaching English abroad, the link is to an article that she has put together ranking the TOP INSTITUTES IN LIMA

The next link is to an article that provides additional advise for those intersted in TEACHING ENGLISH in Peru.

Earning a living in Peru

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Sunday, April 18, 2010 0 comments

Tom Filipowicz in Chiclayo shows us how an expat/foreigner can earn a living in Peru.

Article brought to you by Mochica Hostess Tours

One of the most frequently asked questions by people thinking of relocating to Peru has to do with the availability of business or employment opportunities. I can’t tell you how happy I am that the days of having to concern myself with earning a living are behind me. Retirement is the best thing that ever happened to me. Well, make that second best. Meeting and marrying my wife is first. Anyway, I don’t know what advice to offer to those looking to make a buck in Peru. I do know that many people try teaching English, either privately or affiliated with a school. Others attempt to open restaurants though the success rate is not so good. There is a new restaurant that is either owned or being constructed by a gringo opening near our apartment. We saw him recently. I offered my standard…”How ya doin?” greeting but he didn’t respond which pretty much rules out American, Canadian and British nationalities, unless he was just having a bad day.

What I can talk about is how Chiclayanos make a living. Just about every occupation you can name exists in Chiclayo. From politicians to plumbers to prostitutes, they’re all here. What’s different is the scale. As opposed to huge and lavish, small and modest is the rule. If you have a white collar job – bank or government employee as this woman is, lawyer or teacher, your work area will be small and humble. Nor will you be supported by the latest in technology. Instead your desk will be covered with paper, pencils, and rubber stamps. Lots of rubber stamps. But there really aren’t that many white collar jobs in Chiclayo. Mostly you’ll be selling or transporting something. The sales jobs range from fast food to all sorts of manufactured products including jewelry, clothing, furniture and appliances, cars, etc, just as you’d see in the States. If you’re in transport you’ll probably be moving people but could also be delivering products or moving material to construction sites.

If you’re a self employed laborer or laboring for someone else, the same conditions apply. There are no mega-manufacturers with robotic technology in Chiclayo. Instead you’ll be working in a two or three man shop, doing your carpentry, auto repair, metal fabrication (as in this photo) or whatever the old fashioned way… hand. Hand-held electric drills, grinders and saws are about as good as it gets.

Building construction is also done on a small scale. Concrete is usually poured via the bucket brigade, even on three and four story buildings. Bricks are hauled up by hand, and tree limbs are used for leveling and as temporary supports. Given the methods I am surprised at the quality of the completed buildings. This building dates back to colonial times and is being renovated.

Obviously there are more standard type jobs I haven’t mentioned but you’ve probably got the picture by now. Let’s look at some occupations you may not be familiar with. Any and everything, legal or illegal can be bought pretty much openly on the streets. Selling pirate DVDs as in this photo (5 movies on a disc for $1.50 - quality sucks) is a popular occupation, though not without risk. Frequent police raids sometimes result in the confiscation of the merchandise. There is a raid warning system and in under 5 seconds these people and their display racks can be inside the Bata shoe store behind them.

You can be a “vigilante” – which corresponds to a private security guard who sits on a chair in a strategic area of a neighborhood and watches houses for 12 hours. Each home owner pays about $10 monthly for this service. Many young men earn a living by twirling flaming batons or doing gymnastic feats at major intersections for stopped traffic. Informal parking valets will offer to stop traffic so you can back out of your parking spot. Roving shoe shine men and photographers are numerous at high traffic areas. There are also roving musicians, usually three or four who walk slowly through neighborhoods playing their instruments. Custom has it that, should they see you watching them play through a window or from a balcony, you owe them money. They can be very persistent about banging on your door until you show up with a coin or two.

Selling candy, bread, brooms, juices and everything else imaginable is common on street corners. And if business isn’t so good you can quickly move to another location or, as this man is doing use the time to catch up on your sleep.

Curbside restaurants are very popular, especially with taxi drivers. The food is basic, filling and cheap. You can eat fast and be on your way in minutes for less than one dollar. Ceviche is a big favorite at these stops. If you’re only going to be in Peru for a few days I’d recommend not eating at a curbside restaurant, or drinking juices sold from roving carts. Dealing with Montezuma’s Revenge is not a fun way to spend your vacation.

People don’t generally earn a lot of money in Peru, but they don’t need a lot of money. It’s amazing how little it takes to put food on the table for a large family. Rice, eggs, vegetables, bread and chicken are cheap. Rice is part of nearly every meal. Many families literally don’t know where tomorrow’s rice will come from but they know that somehow they’ll get it. Chiclayanos; men, women and children are not afraid to work.


If you’d like to experience events like this and get a taste of real daily life in northern provincial Peru, speak to Tom & Maribel via Mochica Hostess Tours

Amazing Colombian Food in Pueblo Libre

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Saturday, April 17, 2010 0 comments

About a month ago I was with Zdenka walking around Pueblo Libre on a Saturday afternoon when we came across this Colombian bakery that had just opened up on Av. Sucre.  Outside a brightly colored sign read: "Villa Colombia".  The thick aroma of baking bread and pastries was what ultimately guided my nose to this quaint little panaderia (bakery).  First off I have never had Colombian food before and was eager to try some of the delicious looking items.  When we walked in we were warmly greeted by three eccentric Colombians whose accents were thicker than the smell of bread that had originally brought to their store.  Seriously though their accents were so thick I could have passed them off as Brazilians, luckily Zdenka was with me to help in the translations so all turned out well.

As I gazed upon the plethora of delicious and tantalizing bread based bits of heaven, I soon became lost in indecision, thankfully one of the owners kindly recommended one of their specialties.  A small golden and flaky bun with the consistency and texture of a croissant was placed on a small plate before my hungry eyes.  The man with pride and joy that seemed to resonate from deep with in his soul proudly introduced the pastry as Pan Hawaiana (Hawaiian bread).  As described above the bread has the flavour and texture of a croissant and houses a delicious medley of salty and savoury pork, melted white cheese (not sure what kind exactly), and sweet pieces of pineapple.  Together the flavours are harmonious and the crisp crunch of the bread helps to add another dimension to the experience.  The sign outside of the bakery states: "ricos y deliciosos productos con el auténtico sabor Colombiano", translated it states: "rich and delicious food with the authentic Colombian flavour".  Having experienced for the first time Colombian food I would have to agree with their slogan.

The Colombian bakery had many other types of amazing Colombian food from the famous Arepas (a flat bread made from corn and is similar in flavour to the tortilla but much thicker making it ideal for sandwiches and such) to Almojabanas (a Colombian bread made of corn flour) and Buñuelos (a wheat-based fritter with a slight Anise flavour).  These were but just a few of the many delicious Colombian food items being offered at the Villa Colombia Bakery.

For those interested in making the trip on over to Pueblo Libre in Lima, I have included the address along with a Google map to help navigate you to this wonderful haven of amazing Colombian food.

Av. Sucre 672 - Pueblo Libre
In front of Edelnor and opposite the Italian restaurant La Romana (which is one of the VERY FEW good Italian food restaurants, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU TRY THEIR PIZZA!)

On the google map the bakery is in-between the Av. Callao and Av. La Mar.

View Larger Map

Traveler's Daily Dose of Inspiration

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Thursday, April 15, 2010 0 comments

I found this wonderful and inspiring video put together by the Pacific Northwest's very own famous photographer, Chase Jarvis.  The video features world renowned adventurist and mountain climber, Helen Thayer.

Yes the video is commercial done for a private company called "Russell Investments" but the message given by Ms. Thayer is very inspirational and well worth the watch if not for her words of wisdom then for Chase's amazing photography/video.

Chase has also provided a bit more information regarding Helen Thayer on his website, which is rather interesting as well.

What Happened to Centro Camino Real in San Isidro, Lima?

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Wednesday, April 14, 2010 3 comments

Those familiar with Lima and San Isidro will recognize the name Centro Camino Real.  Many have seen and even been in this once large shopping center which is currently but a hollow shell of it's former self.  Located on the famous Av. Camino Real, parallel to Av. Conquistadores in San Isidro and just across from the Church Virgen de Pilar.  The name Camino Real was given to the street because it originally served as a recognized path of the Incas, prior to the Spanish conquest. Centro Camino Real was first inaugurated in December of 1980 and was the second mall in Peru along with Plaza San Miguel.   Word on the street was that Centro Camino Real was once the place to be back in it's day, a real popular place to hang out with your friends, eat, shop and go see a movie. 

I first came to know Centro Camino Real about a few months ago when I started teaching classes in a few of the several commercial and financial torres (towers).  It took a few visits before it dawned on me that the Centro was an old shopping mall similar in design to the malls of the US, complete with food court (which is still somewhat active) and a movie theater (which is currently abandoned).  Just walking through the wide and largely empty halls of this once highly trafficked mall, you can almost begin to imagine what it was like back in the 80's when it was alive and bustling.  Almost all of the stores are abandoned with nothing left but several unpaid bills and notices left behind.  Some shops and restaurants still have all their tables and stands, almost as if they were closed for the weekend or something.  The feeling you get when you walk through the mall is almost eerie, especially when most of it has been left untouched since the 90's (like Chernobyl).  A few stores continue to operate inside of Centro Camino Real these days but it is obvious that most the people who visit are there because of the several private business torres that were build after Centro Camino Real's downfall. 

The question that still rattles my mind is what exactly happened to Centro Camino Real to have turned this huge mall in a very popular part of San Isidro into a literal ghost town?  In May of 1992, at the height of it's success, Centro Camino Real became the site of an attempted terrorist attack.  The attack was conducted using a car bomb to cause $14 million USD in damages along with the death a civilian.  The attack was the work of the terrorist group Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) and was only one of many sites that was targeted that year within the city of Lima (others include: the old US Embassy and the two car bombs in Miraflores).  Following the attack fear began to spead among the populace as the number of people who once frequented the mall rapidly declined in response.  One of the problems which may have led to it's decline was the development that occurred with both Jockey Plaza Mall in Surco and Plaza San Miguel in San Miguel.  Another know problem of Centro Camino Real was that each store was individually owned instead of rented which later proved to be a problem when a proposal was made to sell the mall, leaving many owners at odds on the proposal to sell, which required a unanimous vote.  Many companies have offered to purchase the relic mall but unfortunately due to the indecision of the owners no company has yet to acquire it. 

I did manage to find some vintage footage of Centro Camino Real from back in the 80's

11 Must-See Exotic Birds While Traveling in Peru

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Tuesday, April 13, 2010 0 comments

Gunnar Engblom is an avid birder, biologist, owner/manager, and guide of Kolibri Expeditions (based in Lima, Peru) has provided both aficionados and tourists with amazing birding trips all over Peru and has done so since 1998.  Engblom's website is a testament to his dedication and appreciation for birds and nature.  One article in particular was the culprit that originally led me to discover his website a few months back.  

On Engblom's website you'll find an article entitled "11 must-see birds in Peru for everyone!"  The wonderful article includes 11 amazing and exotic birds which are native to Peru or migrate frequently from other parts of the South American continent.  Engblom presents the 11 must-see birds as important tourist attractions that every traveler should see on their vacation (holiday to you Brits).  By far a must-see exotic bird would have to be the cock-of-the-rock or Gallito de la Roca, which is the national bird of Peru (I always thought it was the condor?).  Below is a excerpt from Engblom's article about the "11 must-see birds in Peru for everyone!"

 "Wow! Exclamation mark is necessary! This surreal member of the Cotinga family has a wide distribution from Venezuela to Bolivia. It is one of the most colorful birds of the Andes. The males gather in "lek" - displays - where the perform ritual dances and make noisy grunts and shrieks. In many places leks have become tourism attractions. The most famous is perhaps next to Cock-of-the-Rock Lodge, but there are several places in Central and Northern Peru where leks also can be seen. Locally, it has become good incentives to conserve forest. Since the cock-of-the-rock is also un-officially national bird of Peru kids all over the country learn to appreciate it. Only five years ago, when traveling in Central Peru inquiring where I could see it, I was directed to the zoo or a man that allegedly had stuffed ones for sale! Things have changed now."

 For those interested here is the link to the article: LINK

Working in Peru

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Sunday, April 11, 2010 0 comments

As most of you may have noticed I haven't posted anything in almost two weeks!  Lately I haven't had much time to write on this blog due to the increase in my hours at work, don't me wrong though I am glad to be working more hours since that translates into more money, which is a good thing but I only wish I had more time to dedicate to this wonderful blog.  A lot of things have happened in my life in the past few weeks, some big and serious some not so much and like most people I am doing my best to confront these changes and adapt accordingly. 

Working in Peru or finding work is not necessarily an easy task for a foreigner (expat), especially if your Spanish isn't up to par, but many have and do manage to find jobs in Peru eventually.  From my own personal observations the job most commonly filled by foreigners and expats are teaching jobs.  English in Peru just like in many other countries is in high demand as most businesses that work with the US (or the UK, I suppose) are understanding the importance of having employees that are competent in English and can communicate in English (WELL).  Outside of businesses in Peru, the boom in tourism has spurred the Peruvian government in the past years to promote English and many today study it, from primary and secondary schools to universities and the hundreds of assorted private institutions that promise everything under the sun all the way to "English for Free"....well sort of!  This high demand in English has also created a large need for quality teachers with native English speakers being highly coveted by institutes and institutions.  This is good news for the foreigner looking for work in Peru since some institutes don't even require their teachers to have a college education in teaching or certification.  These institutes compensate the lack of experience with intensive teacher training courses prior to employment.  Other institutions have more strict restrictions and others are more lenient by only asking that their teachers only possess certain certificates which can be obtained through an online course or a small intensive course. 

Since I came to Peru I have discovered that finding a good job that pays well and on-time (yes this is a REAL BIG problem in Peru) are difficult to find in that particular combination.  Fortunately for this author I managed to find a job (like many others from lands afar) teaching English at a private institute which pays well and on time.  It's a great feeling to be working and to be making money that can support me during my long residence here in Lima.  The consensus among most English teachers in Lima seems to be positive with the exception of the amount of traveling required to get from one job site to the next, but the payoff makes up for this downside. 

For those who are interested in working in Peru I highly recommend The Ultimate Peru List, a website created by an expat who is a professional English teacher,  her site provides interested readers with information regarding how to pursue a teaching job in Peru and where to look.  Aside from teaching information she also has information critical to those planning on living in Peru (for the long run).

I am going to make a stronger effort to continue to bring you more posts, articles and of course beautiful and amazing photos of Peru.

Other great sites for those looking for work in Peru are the following:

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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