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Hilarious Video About English Teachers

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Tuesday, September 28, 2010 0 comments

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.

A Wonderful Tribute to Peruvian Photographer Daniel Pajuelo

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Monday, September 27, 2010 0 comments

During one of my evening classes which shall remain annonymous for obvious reasons, I often have to wait anywhere from 10 minutes to half an hour for my students to arrive.  While at first it was rather annoying I soon came to understand the reality of my students taxing work situation.  Naturally I adapted to the situation but mostly thanks to their comfortable guest room which had a modest quantity of interesting popular magazines.  One particular favourite of mine is El Comercio´s Somos magazine which is published with the Saturday newspaper (it´s a pop culture related magazine). 

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.  


Travelling South for Lima's Best Bread Ever!

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Friday, September 24, 2010 0 comments

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

Tambo Rural
Avicola Don Bruno SRL
Autopista Panamericana Sur
Km. 52 - Santa Maria del Mar

Awaken by an Earthquake in Lima, Peru

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Wednesday, September 22, 2010 0 comments

While enjoying my nightly five hour sleep (might as well call it a siesta) I was rather rudely awaken by the moderate vibration of my room.  An earthquake had broken my sleep and before my body could register what had happened I had already leapt from my bed, quick as a jack rabbit. 

By the time I was on my feet the earthquake had stopped which I took the opportunity to go and see if my father had felt it or not (he was still snoring with the TV on).  My presence woke my father and we were talking about the earthquake when we felt another tremor,  this one though lasted much longer than the first (about 30 seconds or so).  The force of the tremor was definately stronger than the first, which was enough for us to both pause mid conversation as we stood in silence waiting for the tremor to pass. 

We spoke for a minute after the earthquake had ended and then I left my father and returned to my room where I was informed by my alarm clock that I had only an hour and a half of sleeping time left.  Naturally I wept and grunted my discontent for a few seconds before falling asleep to recover for lost time.  I should mention that the last hour and a half were awful since it only felt like 15 minutes of rest (DAMN EARTHQUAKE).  I don´t think I will ever get used to waking up at 5am in the darkness of the cold mornings. 

UPDATE:  According to local news source El Comercio the earthquake´s epicenter was located 39 km east of Tambo de Mora in the province of Chicha, about 3 hours south of Lima.  The earthquake weighed in at 5.7 grades on the Richter scale at a depth of 65 km.

This Week's Photo

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Sunday, September 19, 2010 0 comments

This isn't going very much of a post but I wanted to share a photo that I took this weekend while walking with Zdenka in Jesus Maria.  The photo was taken near Campo de Marte which is a beautiful park located in front of 28 de Julio Avenue. 


As you can see the colors are very vibrant just like many buildings you will find in Lima.  The shapes and lines also add to the photo, along with the sun's hard light reflection from the right hand side (it gives the photo a dramatic effect).  Let me know what you think!

This Week in Peru Blogs

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Wednesday, September 15, 2010 0 comments

I have been surfing the net lately checking up on some of my favorites blog sites that like Inti Aperture, also examine the daily rituals and cultural quirks of life in Peru.  I managed to pick out some of my favorite posts and decided to share them with you.

First up is a surprise post from blogger Barbara Drake who has been on an unofficial sabbatical from the blogosphere over the past few months.  She recently posted about an interesting Italian Trattoria which according to her article is perhaps one of the most authentic in Lima.  To make this discovery even better the prices appear to be fairly comfortable for this little tucked away restaurant in Surquillo.  Here is an excerpt from her blog:

"Nearly every large city in South America has at least one or two very good, if not excellent, Italian restaurants.   What every city does not have is an authentic Italian trattoria — a mid-priced, family-run restaurant that serves delicious, regional  dishes  in a casual, home-like setting.
Lima’s Trattoria Napoli does just that, serving up first-rate southern Italian fare in a sliver of a building tucked in no-frills Surquillo.  The trattoria is truly a family business:  The owner’s from Calabria (the toe of the boot), his wife keeps the tiramisu in the fridge next-door, and the ponytailed son-in-law can often be found munching on gnocchi with the grandkids at a nearby table.  The homey ambience embraces diners, too: Eat here and you feel like part of the family — welcomed and satisfied."

Next up are a few recently uploaded videos from the website La Habitacion de Henry Spencer, which has posted footage from this year's Mistura event.  For those of you who might not be familiar, Mistura is a gastronomic festival that celebrates and highlights the best in Peruvian cuisine while offering it's patrons to sample some of the best dishes prepared by famous chefs, street venders, and so forth.  Mistura may only have a few years running now but it has already managed to gain international acclaim and recognition.  Unfortunately, I was unable to attend this year but I did hear good things about it from friends who did go.  Anyways, the videos on this site are in SPANISH (sorry!) but they are still well worth a watch for anyone interested in seeing footage of this popular event.  Below is a sample video!

 

The Gringo of Chiclayo as he calls himself has been battling with his stomach's homesickness for good ole' fashion American food (I don't blame him, what I wouldn't give for a nice ribeye steak or a BBQ pulled pork sandwich w/ coleslaw).  What exactly did he do about it?  He decided enough was enough and he made CHILI!  Check out his page to see more details about how he went about recreating this southwestern American favorite. 

Photography Etiquette in Peru 101

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Sunday, September 12, 2010 0 comments

The website How To Peru has posted a wonderful article recently about the importance of photography etiquette for those visiting Peru.  The author Tony Dunnell puts together a rather useful guide to taking photos in Peru and how it is important to always ask for permission or to check for restrictions before taking the shot. 


I will agree with Tony on the fact that in Peru it is important to try to ask an individual before attempting to take their photograph, especially if it is a portrait photo, however other times an opportunity presents itself that just can't be missed (this is where reward usually outweighs risk).  Just be prepared for the consequences that will follow your shot. 

Another good issue that Tony addresses is that of photographing military and police personnel in Peru.  In cities like Lima police officers (especially men) tend to shy from camera's especially when they are being photographed while "questioning" (note the use of quotes as this word is used lightly and can be left to your imagination.  Those who have or currently lived in Lima will understand) a driver.  Anywhere outside of Lima and unsolicited photography of police officers will more than likely get you in trouble (remember its just you and him out in the vast open, far from protection of the city.  Basically he/she has the upper hand in this situation).  As far as military personnel, I agree with Tony, always ask these uniformed individuals since their power and authority FAR surpasses that of most national police, except perhaps a high ranking police officer. 

Basil, Tomato, Peach, and Mozzarella Salad

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza 0 comments

As I have mentioned in the past one of the great perks of living in Lima is the vast availability of fresh produce, dairy, and meat products, thanks largely to the numerous markets that exist.  Portland may have been an exception when it came to fresh ingredients when compared to other cities in the US but it still can't compete with Latin American markets (similar markets are found in lesser developed countries all over the world). 

My growing interest in cooking has definitely increased since I first arrived and having CHEAP fresh ingredients at hand has made it convenient and practical, since I spend at well over half of what I would if I wanted to cook from scratch back home (probably a leading factor in why Americans don't cook as much anymore). 

The weather in Lima has been slowly attempting to break free of winter's hold over the city, but each day hope of an early summer continues to fade.  I can't help but laugh at the irony of leaving one cold city for another, and the weather in Lima does not reflect the fond memories of basking in the tropical warmth of  the southern hemisphere's sun (those days are gone, blame global warming or something).  To escape the mundane and dreary dark skies I often enjoy staying at home on a Saturday and preparing a nice home cooked meal (maybe try a new recipe).  Luckily I live near two small local markets that are open EVERYDAY and if I can't find what I need there is always the supermarket Plaza Vea just a few blocks (walking distance) from my home, though food items tend to be a bit more pricier there. 


Last Sunday I decided to prepare a nice lunch for Zdenka and I, so I went out and bought ingredients to make a simple pasta with Bolognesa sauce (typical red tomato sauce).  I wanted to accompany this dish with something fresh and light in flavor and usually I would prepare a Caprese Salad but I recall seeing a recipe on photographer Penny De Los Santos blog, about a Basil, Tomato, & Peach salad.  The photos were amazing and mouth watering, which were accompanied by what I consider to be a fairly quick and easy recipe.  Fortunately for me peaches and nectarines had just come into season again and were being sold in the local markets.  I walked over to the market and picked up the ingredients for the salad, the basil was only 20 cents for a huge handleful.  The mozzarella cheese was about the only real expensive ingredient (costing about S./7), which I had to buy at Plaza Vea since it's not typically sold at markets (they tend to sell more regional type cheeses).

The salad turned out great and took literally no time at all to prepare, not to mention it went well with the pasta.  I would highly recommend it.  Below is the recipe for those who are interested in giving it a try!

Ingredients for Dressing

  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1-2 teaspoons dark brown sugar, optional
  • 2 cloves chopped garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard
place all the ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake to combine

Great Chinese Food in Lima's Calle Capon

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Tuesday, September 7, 2010 0 comments

Chinese food or "Chifa" ( the word is derived from 酒饭 chī fàn, or "eat meal" in Mandarin)as it's known by most Peruvians could be considered a cuisine epidemic, in that the restaurants are widespread throughout many coastal cities (not very common when you go to the sierra or the jungle).  Lima by far holds the record for most Chifas in Peru (more than 6,000 restaurants), with each district containing several usually with each restaurant only a few meters from the next.  Interestingly, the popularity of Chinese food in Peru could easily rival that of the US, with most Limeños eating Chifa about once or twice a week (sometimes more!).  I should probably clarify that Chifa is NOT solely Chinese food but a hybrid fusion of both Chinese and Peruvian cuisine. 


When did Chinese food arrive in Peru? The Chinese first arrived to Peru in the late 19th Century as contracted laborers to work in sugar cane plantations, guano mines along the coast, the development of Peru's early railroads, and in the Amazon working in mines and agriculture, in order to replace the slaves in order to facilitate the end of slavery and the beginning of free labor.  It wouldn't be until the beginning of the 20th century that non contract laborer Chinese would begin to migrate to Peru.  Most Chinese upon completing their contracts would then adopt Spanish surnames and establish small businesses as many chose to settle in Peru rather than return to a communist ruled China.  It was likely at this point in history that many Peruvians were first exposed to Chifa cuisine just as they were being exposed to Afro-Peruvian cuisine or Criollo

Calle Capón, Lima's Chinatown is one of the oldest established Chinatown's in the Western Hemisphere, while not necesarily the largest.  Today El Barrio Chino (AKA: Calle Capón) is a heavily frequented part of downtown Lima, especially due to it's close proximity to the Mercado Central of Lima and Mesa Redonda.  Calle Capón even has it's very own website where those interested can visit to learn more about what it offers. 

If traditional and authentic Chinese food is what you are looking for then the Wa Lok in Calle Capón or El Dragon Rojo in San Borja on Av. Aviación are well worth a visit (note that with Dragon Rojo you will have to ask for the legendary second menu).  The Wa Lok in Lima is recognized by many Limeños as the best Chinese restaurant.  At the Wa Lok you will find many classic Cantonese dishes as well as a few Peruvian-Chinese dishes.  The portions are perfect for families or group gatherings which helps counter the modest price range of most dishes.  This is also a great place for those who are aficionados of Dim Sum, which offers a wide variety of popular favorites from siu mai to seong hoi siu lung bau (steamed dumplings).  The one downside to eating at the Wa Lok which I always seem to encounter each time that I've been there is the wait staff (the service is definitely lacking in this aspect).  The Wa Lok is still worth the trip not just for the food but also the experience of walking through Lima's Chinatown.  Make sure you check the large food market located near the large Chinese arch.

Fun Photography Tips: PixBoomBa

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Friday, September 3, 2010 0 comments

Ever since I received my first camera up until I purchased my first DSLR, photography has become more than just a hobby it's an addictive and expressive art form.  Since the emergence of the digital camera photography has seen a huge increase in popularity, with literally thousands of people all over the world taking photos.  Thanks to the success and popularity of the internet it is possible for just about anyone with a connection to learn about photography without having to invest thousands of dollars.  When I first got my DSLR I remember feeling overwhelmed with all the functions and controls that I sought help through internet websites and blogs, which has proven very effective and helpful, not to mention fun!

Learning photography for FREE is something that is actually possible today, granted there are some great photographers who offer wonderful teaching aids and classes at fairly reasonable prices that should not be missed either. 

One page that I found recently was put together by two veteran National Geographic photographers who have taken a humorous and educational approach to sharing their photography topics with the public.  Not only can you learn important and interesting techniques from their videos but they also make you laugh!  Their website is called PixBoomBa and it is definitely worth a visit.

About a month ago I was contacted via email by Kelly Cannon from The Expat Peru Network,  and it turns out that they wanted to jump start their new monthly blog spotlight with mine as the first.  Thanks for the recognition but more importantly thanks to my dedicated readers who keep me going.

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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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