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Peru Frees American Incarcerated Since 1995

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Friday, May 28, 2010 0 comments

In response to the growing controversy in Peru right now over convicted American Lori Berenson's parole, the New York Times has written an article that defragments the history of how Berenson wound up in Peru and later arrested for collaborating with the terrorist group MRTA.




American Inmate Lori Berenson Released

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Thursday, May 27, 2010 0 comments

It's been 14 years since American Lori Berenson was arrested in Peru on charges of terrorism (1995).  She was convicted by the Peruvian Court in a closed military proceeding for collaborating with the MTRA (Tupac Amaru Revolution Movement) terrorist group.  She would then spend the next years in several prisons across the country before being transferred to the Santa Monica Women's Maximum Security Prison located in the district of Chorrillos (one of many districts that make up the capital city Lima).  Her transfer to Santa Monica was made just 5 years ago when she became pregnant (by her fellow terrorist buddy/husband/lawyer/ex-husband, now good friend) and needed to be transferred for the delivery and a back surgery. 



In the above video you will notice that she seems to be smiling and why wouldn't she be after being incarcerated for over 14 years she is finally going to breathe some fresh air be able to live outside the confines of a prison. 



Today the past came back for me as I was heading to teach an English class in the southern district of Lurin, while driving along the Av. Huaylas in Chorrillos (this is the quickest path which is taken to get from Miraflores to Lurin).  As my taxi drove past the Santa Monica prison my attention was diverted by the comment of my fellow co-worker who pointed out the large presence of news reporters quickly surrounding the prison perimeter.  That's when the driver mentioned that the American Lori Berenson was to be released on parole following a recent ruling, which would grant Berenson the opportunity of parole under the supervision of the Peruvian police (something similar to what is practiced in the US for regular convicts.  Good luck flying that option for convicted terrorists in the US). 

It's interesting to realize how quickly time goes by when your not serving a 20 year conviction for collaborating with terrorists.  While Berenson's release date is still set for 2015 I can already see a best-seller New York Times book in the works (How I Survived My Peruvian Imprisonment), which will later be followed by her Lifetime Channel made for TV movie: "The Lori Berenson Story".  For the meantime, she will apparently be able to rent her own apartment in Miraflores and will be expected to comply every 30 days with mandatory progress checks and will be prohibited from consuming alcohol and drugs and cannot leave the country until she has served her time.  Unfortunately for Berenson the residents of Miraflores aren't too thrilled with the idea of having a terrorist live in their district and have even staged candle light vigils to honor those who were killed in the terrorist attack which happened on the Av. Tarata in 1992 which killed several people.  The people of Miraflores have stated that they want Ms. Berenson to be extradited to the US to fulfill the remainder of her sentence and have asked the Peruvian government to take action.







As if things weren't bad enough for Berenson the media has already disclosed the location of her soon to be Miraflores residence, while interviewing her future residents as to their opinions towards living next to a convicted terrorist.  The general consensus is that they are not in favor of the idea and I wouldn't blame them either.



Of course with the controversy over the courts decision to give Berenson parole all the political candidates in the midst of elections have taken the opportunity to jump all over this topic like piranhas on a bleeding animal.  Nothing helps a politicians appearance more than getting behind the public and criticizing the government for their decisions as you can see from the below videos.



Here is a link to an article from MSNBC which goes into a little more detail about the ordeal 

FREE HDR Photography Tutorials

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Saturday, May 22, 2010 0 comments


I don't often post articles about photography but I figured I would share this amazing website I came across today by photographer Trey Ratcliff.  Now those of you who are big on photography may know who this guy is while I imagine that the rest of you probably have a blank expression on your face.  He is one of a handful of talented photographers who has truly mastered the controversial topic of HDR photography, HDR meaning High Dynamic Range imaging.  I won't get into the technical stuff too much but all you should really know is that it is a current method where the artist/photographer takes several photographs of a scene at various exposures, both light and dark and then uploads these photos into a photo editing software program where they are then merged and post-processed to create the final image.  The idea behind the technique/method is to have a final image that captures all of the ranges of lights, darks, and greys to make a very appealing photograph.


Japan - Heartbeats of Time from Trey Ratcliff on Vimeo.


Anyways, back to Ratcliff, this guy has his very own blog/website where he posts many of his photos as well as videos which are all simply amazing!  Now I am not a hardcore fan of HDR photography but when it is done right and not overdone like many examples floating around on the internet, it is a truly beautiful thing.  What makes Ratcliff's website even better is that he offers his readers FREE inside knowledge as to how he created his artwork.  We're talking FREE HDR photography tutorials from a talented photographer, something which is very hard to come by these days with having to pay for it!  I have yet to try my hand at HDR photography but his tutorials are very interesting to watch and I might just have to give it a try sometime.

If you are a big time fan of photography or a fellow artist then I highly encourage you to check out his Free HDR photography tutorials as they are simply gold!

Here is Trey Ratcliff talking at Google.com about HDR photography, a must watch!

La Bodega y Taberna Queirolo

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza 3 comments



 
Located on the Av. San Martín 1062, just one block down from Av. Sucre and across from Av. Vivanco in the beautiful and tranquil residencial district of Pueblo Libre.  This is the bar I managed to stumble on during one of my many photowalks through the city.  Tucked away in the vast urban jungle that is Lima, I practically stumbled upon this famous watering hole around mid day one Saturday weekend (looking back it was the same day that my intraocular lenses decided to come loose, but that's another story entirely).  The sky was grey and overcast and I had just trekked all the way from Av. Canada near the Via Expresa, which for those who don't know is a fairly long walk, especially since I passed through two districts to get there (about a hour and a half walk).  The mere sight of this ancient corner tavern literally packed and overflowing with inebriated patrons.



As I drew closer the roar of laughter and loud conversations echoed through the opened windows and doorways with an alure all to powerful for the regular drinker and bar hopper to pass up.  Walking into the bar through the old saloon doors my seemed to gravitate towards the bar and before I could really realize what was going one I had some how managed to ask the bartender for a house drink, only to find my hand clentching this ice cold refreshing drink.  One taste was all it took for me to render my verdict, I was hooked the Chilcano de Pisco that I tried was beyond delicious and had somewhat classy presentation that could be given a place alongside other sophisticated drinks like gin and tonic.  The drink was served in a high ball glass with the tavern's logo etched in gold on the side.  I would think it was safe to say that the bartender gave a more than generous help of Pisco in my drinks as I began to quickly feel it's effects, and boy did I like it....total relaxation!  As I let the sweet alcohol work it's magic through the inner confines of my body I grabbed the closed available seat I could find and began to absorb my new surroundings.  The tavern's environment is so inviting that you feel like you've been there many times before, something similar to the feeling you get when you share a few drinks with you best friends in your hometown bar.  You feel welcome in it's environment to the point where time just seems to fly, what makes this amazing is that I wasn't even with anyone, I was alone, imagine what one would feel if they had gone with friends and/or family.




El Queirolo is one of Lima's most famous and older bars and has maintain a large following over the years.  Here you will find both men and women of varying ages from both young and old alike all present to enjoy the warmth and inviting comfort of the wonderful antique atmosphere, the outstanding drinks and food, and above all with most popular bars in Lima, a great social environment.  Speaking of food El Queirolo offers a variety of food options from typical and traditional meals to the popular and widely sought after sandwiches made up of delicious meats like Jamon de Pais among others.  The drinks are amazingly good and a recommended drink would definitely have to be their Chilcano de Pisco.  This refreshing drink is made from their very own Queirolo Pisco mixed with ginger ale and a few squeezes of lime juice, making it the perfect refreshing summer drink that's actually great just about anytime of the year.  Their Chilcano de Pisco is recognized by many Limeños to be the best in the city! 


El Queirolo has won such recognition in the eyes of the citizens of Lima that it is a highly frequented and recommended location.  The old tavern is seen as a cultural and social hub where people can gather to pass the time with friends and family where they can have that experience of being in a bar that is literally frozen in time from an era long forgotten.  The feeling that you get when you first walk into the tavern is that similar to stepping back into the past, as the decor and old wood floors, furniture and ceiling along with the many antiques that embellish and adorn the place.  Some of the antiques that will catch your eye when you first walk into the tavern will be the old cash register and phonograph, but what really stands out is the old telephone near the front entrance of the tavern.  This telephone is one of two very first telephone's to ever be installed in Peru!  It's even more amazing to see all this antiques still in their preserved state.


 

El Queirolo's history is an intriguing one which dates back to the year 1880 when the Queirolo family first arrived it what was once called the district of Magdalena Vieja, which is today named the district of Pueblo Libre.  The name Pueblo Libre was given by the famous "Liberator" General Don Jose de San Martín in 1821.  The Queirolo family was a traditional winemaker family whom upon arrival to Lima set up and founded the "Bodega Santiago Queirolo",  this was to be the very first location of the families vineyard.  It's important to for the reader to understand that in those times Lima was a much smaller and centralized city that it's much larger and gigantic iteration.  Many of the outlying districts that surrounded the central city hub were known for being the location of many vineyards, plantations, and farms all of which are long gone in today's modern version.  As the city of Lima began to grow throughout the first have of the 1900's so did the Queirolo families need to relocate their operational facilities and in 1963 they did just that by moving their vineyard operations to the southern coastal city of Cañete (which is one of many wine producing cities along the souther coast).  Today the wine-making tradition continues as future generations of the Queirolo family continue to keep the family practice alive and well.  Their wines and Pisco's are among the most popular and respected in the country and can be found and purchased in many of Lima's supermarket's, liquor stores, and especially at La Taberna Queirolo.


The Queirolo family business maintains an amazing company website which offers very interesting and useful information about their wines and Piscos for those interesting in learning more about the process of production. 

I highly recommend this bar/tavern and give it 5 stars out of 5 for it's over the top service, drinks, food, environment and overall excellence which is hard to find in a city of 9 million inhabitants.

Anticuchos Peruanos - Peruvian Anticuchos

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Friday, May 21, 2010 1 comments


As the sun sets on yet another busy day in the bustling city of Lima, the streets are flooded with employees are rushing out of their offices in an attempt to beat the long (and believe me it's LONG) rush hour traffic.  While highways slowly fill up the street vendors of the city have already set up their stands in anticipation of their hungry patrons, from hamburger carts to mazamorra morada and arroz con leche (a popular Peruvian desert combination) stalls, on particular food cart stands alone among the rest and that is none other than the Anticuchero(a).  There is nothing quite as appetizing and tantalizing as the thick smokey aroma of grilled meat, I am of course speaking of the popular and famous Peruvian Anticucho. 

Since my first visit to Peru back in 1997, anticuchos have been a favorite food of mine, even before I learned what they were made from.  The first time my tastebuds had the privilege of trying an anticucho was during a family party in Comas (a district located on the north corner of Lima).  I was young and had never tried one before but the smell was almost intoxicating and their visual appeal had me curious.  The moment I ate that anticucho I knew I was hooked and in fact I ate many more that night.  At the time I thought the meat used in an anticucho was beef and to a certain extent I was correct, however I would soon come to find out the true identity of the mystery meat to be none other than beef HEART!  I was shocked one because the meat was so tender that I had easily identified it as regular beef, but due to the anticucho's amazing flavor and texture the initial shock quickly wore off.  It's hard to put an exact number on how many anticucho's I have eaten since that day but I would imagine the number to be quite high, which is what I would imagine to be the same for many Peruvians as well.

A dish of Peruvian origin similar in style and appearance to that of a kabob or brochette, consists of a marinaded beef (most commonly cow heart) skewered on sticks of sugar cane.  They are cooked on grills and can be found on virtually every highly trafficked street corner in Peru.  The marinade is made from a mixture of vegetable oil, red wine vinegar, cumin, lime juice, aji panca and garlic.  The anticucho's are usually served with other popular Peruvian alimentary staples: the potato and white corn.  It's also not uncommon to see the sweet Picarones and Chicha Morada being sold along side anticuchos in Peru.

The anticucho's origin dates back to Pre-Columbian times and the Incan Empire with scientific evidence and documentation from the Peruvian National Library Archive which shows that the Incas prepared the dish using llama meat as well as other local meats.  The name Anticucho recieves it's name from the Quechua language and the word "Antikucho" (anti = Andes & kucho = mix &/or cut).  When the Spanish Conquistadors arrive to Peru in the 16th century they were quite possibly the first outsiders to ever try the Peruvian anticucho, and like all cultures they took the dish and made it their own through adaptations to the original receipe by introducing beef in place of llama.  With the gradual fall of the Great Incan Empire at the hands of a few hundred Conquistadors, Peru entered into a re-structing of the country or what has also been recognized as the colonization period.  New cities were established and erected, new cultures were presented, foreign foods and animals were brought, religion was forced on the natives like current modern policy, and in the next hundred years Peru entered into a new era.  One of the many changes that occurred as a result of the countries re-structing was the introduction of African slaves by the Spanish.  It was at this time that the anticucho would see it's second iteration at the hands of the slaves.  In their food preparations the Spanish would frequently throw out the internal animal organs by passing them off on their slaves as a form of ailment.  The slaves would then take the organs (tripe, liver, and heart) and skewer them on sticks made from sugar cane followed by a heavy seasoning before marinading them.  The anticuchos would then be cooked over fire.  In the many years to follow this Afro-Peruvian adaptation would continue to proliferate poorer and middle-class parts of the city, where today it is favored by many Peruvians and is considered the official form.

For Peruvians anticuchos have become an iconic symbol of Peru's diverse culture and heritage that will no doubt continue to live on for many years to come.  In Lima alone there are many places where a person on a hunger quest can find some of best anticuchos in the city...but that's for another article!

For those that are interest in preparing this wonderful dish I have included a receipe as well as some other websites which also have the receipe.

Here is also a very interesting video of Peru's very own famous chef Gastón Acurio as he hits the streets of Lima on his very own tv show.  This video documents the cities best anticucho stands.  Unfortunately it's in Spanish and there doesn't seem to be a translation.  I would still recommend watching it though to get an idea of what anticucho stalls in Peru look like.



http://www.spiceworlds.com/anticucho.html - This website has the recipe but also sells the anticucho marinade already pre-packaged for those who would rather skip all the busy work.

Another website that sells the marinade already jarred called La Bodega Peruana.com has it for sell HERE

THE FOLLOWING RECIPE WAS TAKE FROM THE WEBSITE: RECIPE ZAAR - LINK HERE

SERVES 10 -12 , 30 -40 skewers (change servings and units)

Ingredients

Directions

  1. Place the pieces of heart in a glass or ceramic tray.
  2. Previously, soak the chiles in hot water until they are soft, devein and take the seeds off. If you want you can keep some of the seeds to make it spicier. In Peru we use aji panca, but this works well too.
  3. Blend the vinegar, garlic, aji panca (or dried chile), and all other ingredients with 1/2 cup of the oil until you have a soft paste.
  4. Pour it on the pieces of heart and distribute evenly so all pieces are well covered and can absorb the marinade. Cover and let sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Do not let them marinade for too long or they will dry out because of the vinegar.
  5. In the meantime, place thick bamboo skewers to soak in water so they don't burn when they go on the grill.
  6. Use a charcoal grill and make sure the coals are very hot before you start.
  7. Stick three or four pieces of heart in each skewer, so that the meat lays flat.
  8. Save the rest of the marinade in a cup or small bowl and add the rest of the oil to it, mixing well. This will be used for basting the anticuchos on the grill.
  9. Tie some pieces of fresh corn husk with a string made out of some more husk and shred them half the way to make a kind of brush and use it for basting. (You can use dry husk too but you need to soak it for a while in warm water to make it flexible and then pat it dry before you use it).
  10. When the coals are ready and the grill is hot place the anticuchos flat on the grill and baste them generously with the leftover marinade and oil mix.
  11. This will drip and cause the coals to flame, make sure it flames over because this is what gives the anticuchos their distinctive flavor.
  12. Let anticuchos cook for about 1 minute and a half on each side. DO NOT OVERCOOK! They will dry out and become tough. Medium or medium well is fine. Turn them over continuously and keep basting and flaming until they are done.
  13. Hold two or three at a time to turn them over quickly.
  14. At the same time, place the pieces of corn and potatoes on a corner of the grill, baste them with the same marinade and allow them to be flamed too.
  15. Serve three skewers in each plate, accompanied by one piece of corn and one potato. You can also cut the potatoes in half (across not length wise) and stick a piece at the end of each skewer.
  16. Serve hot, right out of the grill, don't let it get cold! ENJOY! :P.
  17. What takes the longest time is to slice and cut the heart in squares and stick the pieces on the skewers; as you get practice doing this it will be faster, allow yourself some more time of preparation the first couple of times.
  18. You can also use regular beef, chicken, fish, prawns, or lamb to make anticuchos, but the original and traditional recipe calls for cow heart. Hope you like it! :).


Complete Peru Travel & Tourism Guide

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Thursday, May 20, 2010 3 comments

Planning on traveling to Peru in the near future?  Well today while at work I came across this website called "issuu" which offered a complete viewable copy of Frommer's Peru Travel and Tourism Guide.  The website is some form of literary YouTube where members can upload any kind of literary document from magazines to books.  It's an interesting website and frankly I was quite surprised when I came across it, and yet found it odd that I had never heard of it before. 


Anyways the Frommer's Peru travel guide is quite useful as a informational resource for those who are interested in visiting Peru or who are perhaps planning on traveling to Peru.  The guide has everything from places and attractions to visit to recommended hotel accommodations and restaurants.  The book is a complete travel guide/companion.  The book is the 2nd edition and was published in 2004 so it's somewhat outdated but still has lots of useful information that will have not changed since then.

The book is separated into several sections which I have taken the liberty of listing below for those who are curious but not yet convinced.

  • What's new in Peru
  • The Best of Peru
  • Planning your trip to Peru
  • The Active Vacation Planner
  • Lima
  • The Central Coast and Highlands
  • Cusco
  • Machu Picchu & The Sacred Valley of the Incas
  • Southern Peru
  • Amazon Basin
  • Northern Peru

The book also comes complete with several useful and informative maps that are broken down by region and included in each section.  All in all I would highly recommend checking out the book for those who are going to be travelling to Peru soon, especially for the first time.  The best part is you can save some money on having to buy a brand new travel guide.  I also highly recommend the website Issuu as it is an interesting concept, one which was ranked by TIME.com as one of 2009's TOP 50 websites!

Living in Peru and dealing with constant internet problems

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Wednesday, May 19, 2010 1 comments

Well as you have noticed I haven't posted anything on here since almost a week ago and that has mostly been due to internet connection issues that I have been having lately with my router system.  Granted I have internet access at work but to be honest the computers are these awful ancient relics that should be retired, not to mention the connection there is glacial slow and I have to share it with many of my fellow co-workers. 

So far life in Peru has been great, there have been a few hardships and difficulties but I try not to place blame on the city in which I life and instead recognize it as just another one of life's obstacles.  I never really thought that living in abroad in Peru would be so difficult and even figured that my English and degree in Psychology would be more than enough to land me a job on easy street, now I just look back and laugh at myself for having conjured such beliefs.  I this new year of 2010 I am very thankful to have found a job that is somewhat reliable and pays well enough for me not to want to hang myself or turn to a life of prostitution like those guys you see in Parque Kennedy in Miraflores.  I look forward to what the future holds for me and I have embraced the lifestyle here in Lima even if it frequently pisses me off (which is probably how Che felt when he met the Bolivians). 

I have made many friends while living in Peru and it helps that the people here can be rather friendly though often times they will do a complete 180 on you.  The customs of the Limeños and those who have migrated from smaller towns are to a point now (especially after the last 20 years) where they are almost indistinguishable.  Many reading this while probably disagree (mostly those who claim to be true Limeños) but the truth is that since Lima has grown so have the customs and cultures changed with said growth, some for better while others for the worse.  Those living in Lima find many ways to cope with the cities inhabitants customs, some choose to ignore it while others frustrated from there exhaustive efforts to try and understand them have surrended into a state of assimilation.  More on this topic in another post.

Last but not least I am grateful to have Zdenka my wonderful fiancee at my side.  Life seems so much more enjoyable and uplifting with her at my side.  She helps me to get through all my tough times and allows me to be a stronger individual. 

I have some really great photos that I want to post in the next few days so check back soon.

Lamas Castle - Castillo de Lamas

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Sunday, May 9, 2010 0 comments

Blogger Tony Dunnell of Tarapoto Life, has written a fascinating article about Lamas Castle, a castle located 22km from Tarapoto.  Tarapoto is a city located in the northern department of San Martin.  The castle itself is fairly impressive and it seems that Peru has its own personal collection of castles.  Lamas Castle is a particularly interesting castle since it was build on a hill overlooking the town it was build near.  

For those interested the article can be found here: LINK

Peruvian Market´s

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Saturday, May 8, 2010 1 comments



Living in Peru can often have it´s downsides especially if you live in Lima, the terrible traffic, the loud honking, the constant littering, public urination, and carbon dioxide pollution are but just a few of the blemishes that are commonly mention among those living and travelling in Peru.  Since we already know about the cons of life in Peru, I figured that I would highlight just one of the many pros to living in Peru.

Peruvian markets or mercados are huge component of Peruvian life and provide just about everything one could possibly need from fresh vegetables and fruits to poultry and meat to flowers and household products.  What makes it even better are the reduced prices that one will pay in comparison to the more established supermarkets like Metro, Wong, Vivanda, and Plaza Vea.  Finding a market in a Peruvian city isn´t usually to difficult either since it is usually a large concrete structure which has several individual stalls and stands both inside and sometimes around the outside perimeter of the complex.  Peruvian markets are more than likely one of the most frequented urban location right after a bank or a restaurant. 

Peruvian markets can either be generalized where just about anything can be found or they are specialized markets which are called centro comerciales, which can be dedicated to selling only electronics and clothing or hardware and construction materiales. 

Those who have visited or lived in Lima will have already visited some of the many markets scattered throughout the city.  Lima is recognized as having the largest per capita of markets and centro comerciales than any other city in the country. Here are just a few of the most popular Centro Comerciales in Lima.

Polvos Azules - located in the Center of Lima near Plaza Grau, next to the Via Expresa.  The most popular market in Lima for just about anything.
Gamarra - located in the district of La Victoria and in between the streets of Av. Mexico and Av. Grau, before the infamous La Parada (would not recommend going unaccompanied).  Great place to buy clothing or have it made.
Mercado Central de Lima - near the Av. Abancay in downtown Lima near La Victoria
La Cachina - In Lima on the Av. Argentina.
Mesa Redonda de Av. Argentina -  on Av. Argentina, where you can get your cellphone fixed, unlocked, or but just about any phone that you can think of at a low price.
Centro Nicolini - on Av. Argentina across from Mesa Redonda and next to La Cachina.  Sells everything that is construction materials, plumbing, electrical, tools, you name it.
Paruro de Mercado Central - Located in Mercado Central de Lima, is named after the street (calle) Paruro.  Here you can get any electrical component for any electronic or audio device (e.g. fuses), also a great place to buy anything audio.

Granted this is not a complete list (of which I will have to put together eventually) but these are a few of the most popular and frequented locations.

My 200th Post!!!!

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Monday, May 3, 2010 0 comments

It´s hard to believe I have had this blog for a little over a year now and that 200 articles later I have managed to keep this blog afloat.  Being unprepared for such an occasion I have decided to put together a list of my top 10 favorite article posts of Inti Aperture!


TOP 10 ARTICLES OF INTI APERTURE

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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Un buen lugar para practicar ingles. Articulos sobre Peru, en ingles y escritos por un Americano viviendo en Lima. Todo lo que tu quieres saber sobre Peru en un solo sitio: experiencias, historias, recommendaciones de restaurantes, bares, y clubs, videos, consejos, recursos, guías de turismo, fotos de Peru, comidas tipicos del Peru, cultural Peruano, noticias de Peru, lugares y destinos turisticos, viajes en Peru, hasta SEXO....bueno todo menos eso... :)



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