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National Holiday: Dia Nacional del Pisco

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Thursday, July 29, 2010 1 comments


Last Sunday the country celebrated what they have called their national patrimony, the very popular and famous liquor Pisco.  The very importance and strong significance of Pisco to the Peruvian people was more than enough to have culminated the creation of the national holiday which now honors the drink.  For those who may not have known the word Pisco is taken from the Quechuan word Pisqu, which means little bird.  Some say that Pisco gets its name from the the clay pottery that was used to be aged in however, most will recognize that the name for the popular liquor comes from the old coastal city of Pisco where it was first distilled by the Spanish.  


Pisco was first prepared with the use of the Quebranta grape, a dark black colored grape which the Spanish brought with them to be used in their wine distilleries.  Since then many other types of grapes have been used in the production of Pisco.  Interestingly enough this symbolic liquor soon became the target of controversy between Peru and Chile, as both countries have fought over the intellectual rights of Pisco for many years now.  Both countries believe that Pisco holds origins within their own country which their for affords them the rights to the liquor, topics which will have to be discussed in another occasion.  

The national day of Pisco was celebrated in full force this year with over two thousand liters of delicious Pisco being pumped through the Plaza de Armas main fountain.  The city saw quite a large turnout this year as thousands of Limeñans congregated upon the plaza in hopes of drinking Pisco in it's celebration.  My first thought was that people would be seen with their heads submerged in the fountain, like someone bobbing for apples, however the situation was a more tamed and controlled one as the provider Tabernero and the city of Lima had everything blocked off and organized.  Instead of a large mob of unruly and drunk Peruvians I encountered an orgnaized and orderly queue of Peruvians patiently waiting their turn for a small plastic cup of heaven.  Conforming to the order within the Plaza I waited my turn in a line which unlike other lines in Peru was moving quite fast.  One thing I noticed when I first arrived to the Plaza was the sweet smell of grapes in the air as I moved towards the fountain.  The event also offered music and a few performances from a pair of Peruvian pace horses which danced for the public to a popular northern marinera.  Perhaps the only drunks in the celebration were the pigeons who in my opinion had the best seats at the event with all the alcohol they could drink.  The event was somewhat entertaining but it felt to much like a promotional party then an actual national holiday. 

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Nissan Pathfinder Stolen and Chopped!

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Sunday, July 18, 2010 2 comments

Time for some bad news and possible an obituary ad I suppose, as I have recently been informed to the tragic fate of my family's Nissan Pathefinder in Portland, Oregon.  It turns out that it was stolen a few days ago from right in front of our very own house!  Things seemed bleak for the fate of our family vehicle until Friday when my sister was informed by the Portland police that they had found our car on some street near SE 55th and that it was waiting for us in an impound lot.

While things may have seemed wonderful at first it wasn't until my mother and sister actually went to the impound and saw the car that they realized a more grim reality.  It turns out that while the car was recovered it had been stripped of several engine parts along with the outer shell of the front of the car.  What seemed odd was that the rest of the vehicle was intact and even the tires (which were brand new) were still on!

Unfortunately the damages caused from the theft would be to high to restore the vehicle back to its original condition so I think it's safe to say we arrived too late to save the Pathfinder.

I would like to take this moment to look back and remember all the wonder moments that I have experienced in and with that car.  It was like a member of the family and the thought of it's absence almost brings a tear to my eye.

Rest in Peace Pathfinder, your riding the highways of heaven now.

Pollada in Breña

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza 0 comments


In Peru when people want to raise money regardless of the need, they often throw what is called an anticuchada (where the dish anticuchos are served) or a pollada (where chicken is served).  These events usually offer a plate the mentioned food at a set price in an environment that offers music and the opportunity to socialize and dance.  Beer and soda are also commonly sold, as these events are also seen as an opportunity to get together with friends and family to party. 

Yesterday Zdenka held her pollada in the local (a place that is offered to those who want to throw a party or event) a few houses down from hers.  I managed to arrive about 2pm which was just in time to assist her father with the preparation and frying of the chickens.  Thankfully most of the prep work had already been taken care of in advance so all that was really left to do was fry the chickens.  For the event Zdenka had purchased around 75 whole chickens, each of which cost S/. 14 and which she sold during her event at S/. 8 per quarter piece of chicken with sliced potatoes and hot sauce (rocoto)!  If you can manage to wrangle up a large enough group of attendees then you can make a good amount of money. 

Probably the most tiring process throughout the entire event was the job held by Zdenka's father, who was in charge of frying all the chickens!  Since one fry pan wasn't enough to take on the large task, several pots and pans, including one huge pot were enlisted.  On six separate burners, four from the stove and two from the portable stove were used in order to fry about 15 quarter pieces of chicken at a time.  Her father must have used about 20 bottles of canola oil to fry the 300 quarter pieces of chicken, a process which left the chicken completely covered in oil and grease. 

The pollada went well although it was not as successful as the anticuchada which was held about a month and a half ago.  People began purchasing beer around 5pm and the party went on until 1:30am when the event began to die down. 

For my experience with these types of fundraising events I have come to learn that one can make a good amount of money but to do so requires a lot of pre-planning and labor to make it payoff.

The Risks of Public Transportation in Lima, Peru

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Tuesday, July 13, 2010 1 comments

I can't believe I am writing about this cities public transportation problems again, maybe since I just saw a bus crash only a few feet from my home!  Just when I've raised my white flag and assimilated to the fact that traffic and everything pertaining to driving rules and regulations for the most part ceases to exist, something like this happens that gets my blood boiling again.  Growing up in the States has truly spoiled me this much I know for certain since I can never seem to get over such differences in lifestyle.

Last week I witnessed a large public bus try to pass a car by going into oncoming traffic only to collide with a large truck and veer onto the sidewalk and into the side of a building.  This display of the bus driver's complete disregard or lack of concern for the safety of his passengers aboard reflected a very common trend in mentality.  In Peru, one would argue that the passenger sacrifices certain securities in exchange for shorter travel times and quick arrival to destination, however at some point one has to ask whether the risks of public transportation in Lima are worth saving a few minutes on the highway.

To better understand the situation it is important for the reader to realize that Peru has one of the highest transit accident rates in Latin America, second only to Argentina whom of course has ten times the number of vehicles.  According to a study conducted by the Universidad Católica de Lima in 2007, in 2006 the number of victims involved in public transit accidents (in all of Peru) totaled 77,840 of which 6% were fatal.  Studies futher indicate that the number of accidents registered in the country continue to rise from year to year, even more surprising is that the number of fatalities rise with this trend as well.

The Ministry of Communication and Transportation published statistics that placed the most common cause of vehicular accidents was due to excessive speed (31.8%), which was followed by driver recklessness (25.4%).  This doesn't surprise me in the least bit since these are the problems which continue to persist today on the highways and streets of Lima. 

The publication further goes on to point out that an estimated 7,000 public transport drivers operate under suspended drivers licenses (for infringing upon public transit laws), of which shockingly 70% operate in Lima!  In Lima, there exists this almost complete disregard for traffic laws, which is apparent when a stop sign is taken a merely a suggestion by drivers rather than as an obligation (god forbid you ever try to cross at a cross-walk and a car has to stop at a designated stop sign, you might just get yelled at and insulted by the driver for not giving him/her the right of way).

How is one suppose to feel safe when the enter a public bus and put their lives in the safety of a driver whose only concern is to pick up as many passengers as possible while competing with other buses both rival and fellow company drivers.  Don't even get me started about the travel buses that transport citizens across the country while trying to beat the clock at all costs.

According to the Director Juan Tapia, of the Center of Investigation for Terrestrial Transport (Cidatt), "Peru has one of the highest index for transit related deaths in Latin America, with 30 fatalities for every 10,000 vehicles."  Director Tapia also stated that from 2001 to 2008 that the number of death and injury related transit accidents within the country (excluding Lima Metropolitan Area) has decreased by 6%, where in Lima it has increased 82%, with the common cause being the recklessness of drivers.  In this study the most common victim were pedestrians.

Some believe that the problem with the large incidence rates is due in part to a lack of a structured authoritative body to better enforce the plague of transit problems in Peru and Lima.  At the moment the streets remain unsafe and the risk still exists if not stronger than before when someone chooses to take public transportation.  This danger is also present for those who choose to drive their own personal vehicle on the roads and highways of Peru.  How does one drive safely while respecting the transit laws when many do not, it gives a whole new meaning to defensive driving.



Sources:

Universidad La Católica de Lima
http://revistas.pucp.edu.pe/willay/node/518

TerraPeru News
http://noticias.terra.es/mundo/2009/1229/actualidad/peru-tiene-el-indice-mas-alto-de-muertes-en-accidentes-de-transito-de-la-region.aspx

US Embassy Fees Rise in Lima, Peru

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

Rachel from Rachel in Peru just posted an article talking about the changes that the US Embassy in Peru is making in regards to US citizen and Resident fees.  This isn't good for those currently living in Peru and currently planning to get a visa or any other service.  Below is the full rundown.

Sensitive Privacy Act
This email is UNCLASSIFIED.
WARDEN MESSAGE
July 7, 2010

FEE INCREASES GO INTO EFFECT JULY 13, 2010
PASSPORT AND CITIZENSHIP SERVICES:
- The application processing fee for adult passport applications will change from $55 to $70.
- The passport book security surcharge will change from $20 to $40.
- The application fee for passport cards will increase, from $20 to $30 for adults, and from $10 to $15 for minors.
- A new fee of $82 for additional passport pages will be imposed.
- The fee for file search and verification of U.S. citizenship (generally conducted only by domestic passport agencies) will increase from $60 to $150.
- The fee for a Consular Report of Birth A broad will change from $65 to $100.
- A new fee of $450 is being established for documentation of formal renunciation of U.S. citizenship, which applies only to those persons who choose to take the Oath of Renunciation pursuant to Sec. 349(a)(5) INA.
OVERSEAS CITIZENS SERVICES:
- The fee for making arrangements for a deceased non-U.S. citizen is changing from consular time (Item 75 on the
Schedule of Fees) plus expenses to $200, plus expenses.
DOCUMENTARY SERVICES:
- Notarial and authentication services, which now range from $20 to $30, will all be $50.
JUDICIAL ASSISTANCE SERVICES:
- The fee for processing of letters rogatory will increase from $735 to $2,275.
- Fees for taking depositions and executing commissions to take testimony will change as follows: scheduling/arranging appointments for depositions, from $475 to $1,283; attending or taking depositions or executing commissions to take testimony, from the consular time charge of $265/hour to $309/hour plus expenses; swearing in witnesses for telephone depositions and supervising telephone depositions, from the
consular time charge of $265/hour to $231/hour; providing seal and certification of depositions, from $70 to $415.
ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES:
- Consular time charges (item 75 on the Schedule of Fees) will decrease from $265 to $231.

Google's Newspaper Archive Search

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Friday, July 9, 2010 1 comments

While currently researching a story about a murdered American journalist, Todd Smith who was killed while investigating the drug trade in 1989, I managed to uncover (new for me at least) a Google feature that I was unaware even existed.  The search option is a Newspaper Archive Search and it allows the user to type the name of the newspaper and then pick the specific publication based on year and exact date.  Once you select the newspaper you are able to view the ENTIRE paper!  For someone like me who is constantly searching for answers this is an amazing feature and yet I am surprised that I have never heard of it until now.

Here is the link for those interested in giving it a try: http://www.google.com/archivesearch

 

July in Lima, Peru

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza 0 comments

Well July has finally arrived and cold winter weather has set in as I must hold tight for the next 5 monthes until summer arrives (hopefully on-time).  Work has slowed a bit since some of classes have ended and I find myself with more free time than I would care to have, still it´s nice to have a day or to during the week to breathe. 

This month as well as last month I have been busy getting all my papers in order with the municipality of Breña for my upcoming wedding in August, thats right folks I´m getting married!  Even as I type this post from Zdenka´s home I am currently finishing up the last remaining tasks in order to get married here in Peru.  Let me just say that the while living in Peru may be great there are a few things that are quite tedious, like getting married for example.  So far Zdenka and I have had to fill out numerous declarations and documents of which are only the beginning of the civil marriage process, then we had to pay to publish an wedding announcement in a local newspaper (I believe it was called La Razón, which means The Truth or Reason).  Meanwhile I had to get my birth certificate certified by the Peruvian Consulate in San Francisco to verify that I was indeed born in the US, this process was not as stressful since I already had an extra copy from a year ago.  Today we took our medical exams which was an interesting ordeal, first off the State requires that all couples get medical blood-work done to test for any comunicable diseases or viruses, sounds simple enough yet strange for marriage.  Well when we went to have the test done we first paid the fee and then filled out a standard medical form (so far so good) but then when we handed in the document the nurse asked Zdenka what her blood type was to which she gave the answer and when it came time to ask me I was clueless so guess what I had to have my blood taken.  A quick prick from a surgical needle and my blood was donated, exam finished?  What left me was confused was that because Zdenka knew her bloodtype she did not have to give blood, hell she didn´t even recieve a medical exam for that matter.  I guess the honor system and prefabricated medical results are common practice by the municipality! 

Anyways, whats done is done (even though I paid for an medical exam which was practically never conducted) and all that is left is for me to take my certified birth certificate to the Ministry of Exterior Relations to have them verify that the Consulate in San Francisco verified my birth certificates validity, a process of course which will cost money and time.  It´s amazing how they make up ways to stretch out a legal process for the sake of making a few extra soles.  Regardless of how ridiculous the process might be the end result is all that really matters to me.

Aside from the wedding arrangements there is also the independence week which is coming up and should be a lot of fun.  In Peru, the week of the 28th is a very special date since it marks the day the country declared it's independence from the Spanish Crown.  It's also important to know that this date was not the day Peru expelled and defeated the Spanish Army since this did not occur until December after the Liberation forces led by General Antonio Jose de Sucre claimed victory at the Battle of Ayacucho.

"... From this moment on, Peru is free and independent, by the general will of the people and the justice of its cause that God defends. Long live the homeland! Long live freedom! Long live our independence!".

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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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