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".
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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