Living in South America/Peru – Part 7 (December 1, 2009 – December 31,2009)
Welcome to part 7 of the never ending story, or at least so it seems. It’s been a slow week as far as excitement goes. I spent a lot of time polishing off two articles and sending them in to Living in Peru, plus I had to work on the photos to go with them. I went out for dinner one evening with Katrina at La Memoria del Sabor. The owner was there and thanks us profusely for the article and photos. She told us that a couple of days after the article was published a customer came in with his lap top. He brought up the LiP web site and showed her the pictures in the article and told her that what he wanted for dinner. In addition there were many nice comments on the article and several others had mentioned to the owner that they had read the article and it was the reason they were there. We had a nice meal, I was in the mood for Italian so I had the Lasagna and Katrina had pasta with sauce made from blue cheese. They were both delicious.
The writing group met at Larry’s house on Thursday for our weekly meeting. WOW, what a nice home he has. I got to meet his wife and I am sorry to say I do not remember her name. She is a great lady and very affable. We were treated to Sandwiches of Cheese and Turkey and a pastry that I had never seen before. We also had coffee and a tea from Italy. As always spirited debate and conversation were the rule of the meeting. I stayed longer that the others and had a nice chat with Larry and his wife about living in Peru.
The tailor also came by this week for my second fitting. It took about 10 minutes and he was off again and he is supposed to be back this afternoon with the finished product. I hope he is since I have the wedding to go to tomorrow. Naturally photos will follow.
I know it’s a short entry but as I said, I didn’t get out much and I worked on articles a lot. This weekend should be more exciting since I have the wedding to go to and I may be interviewing a guy who has just ridden a bike from the Coast of Brazil to Lima to bring attention to environmental issues with the rain forests. Spanish class is still going well; I am amazed at how much I am learning. Have a great weekend everyone (el fin de semana).
On another note, for those of you using Internet Explorer to view my web page, if you click on the link called “Links to my Published Articles and Photos” they should all be showing now. I didn’t realize that only the top 5 or 6 were showing instead of the approximately 40 that should be showing.
Another great exciting weekend; Friday the tailor showed up with my suit. He does incredible work as far as I’m concerned. He ended up using a slightly heavier more expensive cloth than the one I selected (quite by accident according to him) so the feel and the way the suit hangs is much nicer as far as I am concerned. I think I look quite elegant in it despite the fact that I do not have a dress shirt and tie to wear with it yet. On Saturday I worked on an article and the photos to go with it, on Huacachina and the things there are to do there. I submitted it today for publication and it should be posted by this evening. After working on the article it was time to get ready and go to my friend Raafat’s wedding. I was excited about attending this wedding because he is Muslim and I have never seen a Muslim wedding ceremony. Raafat is one of my fellow students at ICPNA taking Spanish. He is from Egypt and he met his bride on line more than a year ago. They fell in love and now he is in Peru and has married her. Her name is Estrella and I thought the quote on their Wedding Invitation was very appropriate, “Nuestro destino estaba escrito y no puede ser otra forma.”
In true Peruvian fashion, the ceremony started late. The invitation said 4pm and the ceremony started at 5:20pm. Being Americano, I was there on time so there was a little wait. The ceremony itself was not that different from traditional American and Peruvian weddings. The bride wore a beautiful dress and veil, the groom was in a suit and the guests seated as usual. First Raafat walked the Mother of the Bride in and kept his back to the path (the ceremony was outdoors). Then came the flower girls (no bridesmaids) followed by the bride and her father. I’m not sure if this is traditional or it was set up this way because Raafat’s family could not be here from Egypt. The wedding part was preceded by the Iman (priest) who sat at the table at the head of the guests and waited for the Bride and Groom to join him. After they were seated next to him, he gave a talk about the sanctity of marriage (in Arabic) and said a blessing on their union. Then everyone stood and applauded. At this point the Bride and Groom had photos taken with EVERYONE who attended the wedding. I think this is more of a Peruvian tradition. They then walked down the aisle while people tossed flowers and confetti over their heads. After that it was more photos with friends and family and then a line to congratulate the couple on their nuptials.
The couple then got into a car and headed out to some nice scenic spot to have even more photos taken. It was a couple of hours till the reception so Steve, Stephen, his girlfriend (sorry I can’t remember her name) and myself headed out in Steve’s car to find the place the reception was being held. That was a little adventure in itself but we finally got there, way too early. So off to get a snack (proved to be a mistake) and then return when the reception was supposed to start. We timed that perfectly and got there just as the Bride and Groom were pulling up. The reception was very typical with music, dancing, food and drinks (lots of Pisco Sours). Naturally the devote Muslims attending did not partake of the alcohol or dance although Raafat had no choice where the dancing was concerned. There was an amazing amount of food and having had the “snacks” previously, I ended up STUFFED. Everyone seemed to be having a wonderful time. I’m sure the party went to the wee hours of the morning but we headed out about 9:30 as we had plans to go to Chosica the next day.
Sunday morning it was up early and get ready to go to Chosica. I was going with Steve, his family, Ruben (friend of family), Katrina and Kathy (my friends). We piled into two cars and headed out for the hour long drive there. It was a beautiful day, nice and warm with a mixture of clouds and sun. We stopped along the way to buy a kite for Katrina (childhood memories) and then arrived at El Tinajon for out “picnic” and whatever else that might be fun. We were all a little hungry so we ordered food which was delivered rather quickly and set about eating our meals. Afterwards we talked and laughed and had a generally great time together. Steve and Katrina tried to fly the kite for awhile, Kathy read by the pool and I took some photos. The rest set about doing things they enjoy. After exhausting themselves trying to fly the kite, Katrina and I worked on a word puzzle (I’m still having nightmares about it) and Steve opted for a nap by the pool. All too soon it was time to pile back into the cars and head home. It made for a tiring day and I was glad to get back and hit the sack after doing my Spanish homework.
Today, Spanish class and updating the web page. I also need to work on articles this afternoon and photos to accompany them. It’s never ending folks but I sure am enjoying it. This evening I will be interviewing the guy who rode the bike across South America so that should be interesting. Not sure about the rest of the week but I’m sure it will fill up quick enough. Oh, and the picture of the dog on the roof is just another site you see all over Peru, although I think one of the more humorous ones.
WOW, it’s getting so close to the day (12/29) that I have to return to the USA for an assortment of reasons. First and most importantly are the income taxes and then I have to deal with issues concerning my property and what I may or may not want to do with it. These eight months have gone by amazingly fast and I must admit that although I look forward to seeing my friends and family, I think I will be anxious to return to Peru.
It’s been another rather uneventful week. Another week of Spanish class under the belt. I had the usual round of meetings with friends for coffee and chats. My Thursday group met at a place called San Antonio’s this week. It’s a bit more upscale than the places I like hanging out at and I had coffee with my friend Kathy at Café Z one day where we discussed life and all the changes we were going through at this time in our lives. It was pretty heavy stuff for a coffee outing. The two meetings that might provide more interest for you all are the interview I did with Douglas Gunzleman who rode across South America by bike and the restaurant review of a place called Fusion that I did photos for today.
The interview with Doug was incredible. What a stupendous story. This young man decided to bike the Transamazonia highway (very long mostly dirt road) from Belen Brazil to Lima Peru. The purpose was to bring attention to the plight of the rain forests. He did it alone with NO backup crew or help, his only communication with the outside a SAT phone that only worked intermittently. He also only spoke a minor amount of Portuguese and Spanish which he learned using Rosetta Stone. This was certainly an act of bravery or stupidity depending on how you look at it. His low points were an emotional and physical breakdown about half way through the trip in which he had to stop and rest for a week; and five flat tires near the end of the trip. He saved for many years to be able to take the time off from his work and do this along with some help from sponsors and friends. I have already started and article on him and considering my notes alone were 500 words, it’s going to be hard to keep the article at around a thousand.
The restaurant review went well. It is a very upscale place with dinner and drinks costing at least $/.120 Soles per person. The food is marvelous though and as always in these places, the dishes looked like works of art. The owner, a woman of Norwegian descent, sat with us through the courses and explained each of them to us. She is a delightful person who enthusiasm is infectious. I personally would probably not eat at this restaurant but I can see my sister (Hi, Rita) and her friends going there often.
No real plans for the weekend although I might go spend a day at the beach in Punta Hermosa. Eat your hearts out my friends back home where the cold is bone chilling and the snow might be deep. I have the need to eat a couple of Tamals at La Saritas, they are so delicious. My friends Katrina and Jackie are going for the weekend and I will hook up with them if I go. Later Amigos.
Sorry everyone for this very late post but it’s been a busy but rather boring week for me. The Spanish classes are taking up more of my time than usual. We have been getting a lot more homework recently, which by the way I rather like. Naturally none of my classmates do but I find that it helps me study more. I am finding that I can actually string some intelligent sentences together now. Although, I still find that having a social conversation that involves more than “Hi, how are you, where are you from, etc” is very strenuous on me. This weekend I have to put together my project for this session. I have to make a poster of my family or favorite sport with photos and then get up in front of the class and give a 3 – 5 minute talk about them.
There were a couple of fun events during the week though. First there was a small party to celebrate Katrina’s last day at Living in Peru as Editor. A couple of us met up with her at La Memoria del Sabor for a few Pisco Sours and some appetizers. She was having trouble dealing with the owner and it was causing her a lot of stress which affected her health. She will still write articles for LiP though and attempt to sell some articles as a freelance writer. Katrina also came over to the apartment and cooked a wonderful lunch for me, Kathy (my ex-landlady) and Kathy’s girl friend whose name I cannot remember. This was after my weekly meeting with the writers of LiP to have our usual discussion on the state of things. I have also accepted a job here as a member of a board of directors for a new company that will be importing UPS’s and other electronic equipment. I will now be able to have a “work visa” here in Peru and be able to come and go as I please with no restrictions. My job will be to contact the American Company “APC – American Power Conversion” and set up a relationship with them for importing their products into Peru for sale. Minimal work with the possibility for big rewards so keep your fingers crossed for me.
I went for a few walks and took photos of things that interested me. I still love going down to the Malecon and taking a long walk near the ocean. It is so invigorating. I also walked over to Huaca Pucullana and took a few photos to add to the collection I already have. My neighbors across the street are in the Christmas spirit as are other people in the area. You don’t see the big gaudy decorations here like the ones in the US. It’s much more understated here. They also celebrate Christmas Eve more and have a big dinner close to midnight on Christmas Eve. As soon as it turns midnight, they exchange gifts.
Well, that’s it in a nutshell. I hope it didn’t disappoint too much. Only nine days left till I return to the USA. I am still in shock that these eight months have gone by so quickly. Hopefully I will not take so long before my next entry and there will be some more exciting stuff to talk about. I still need to go pick up that lovely parting gift for my wonderful Sister who has helped me so much this year. Love Ya Sis!!!!!
12/25/2009 (Friday) Merry Christmas
I hope all of you are having a wonderful Christmas Day. Here in Peru, Christmas is celebrated primarily on Christmas Eve. Families get together for a large dinner which is held just before midnight and then they celebrate the coming of Christmas Day at midnight. This year I had the privilege of spending Christmas Eve with my friend Steve’s family at their home in San Borja. We didn’t leave the apartment till almost 10 pm to head over to their house. On the way we stopped at a Roasted Chicken place so that he could buy some chicken and the fixings for the porteros who watch the entrance to the gated community where they live. It is a big deal here in Peru to give food to the people who are working on the holidays. It usually involves giving them something like the chicken dinners we bought the porteros or possibly a Paneton, something like a fruit cake from the USA only better.
Arriving at the house dinner was already set out and ready for us to begin the evening’s festivities. We had Turkey, potatoes, beets, peas, apple sauce, rice and Chicha or Coke to drink. Steve gave a prayer asking for the big guy to watch over all of us and blessing the food before we all dug in. The food was delicious and the meal passed without a lot of talking. For desert there were peaches and the ever present Paneton along with some of the most delicious hot chocolate I have ever had. If I haven’t mentioned it, they have great chocolate here in Peru.
After dinner the fireworks started. I should not really say started since people had been shooting them off all over Lima for most of the day. But, from about 11:30 to 00:15 they increased in intensity and all of the communities in Lima had huge displays that tried to outdo one another. We went up to the roof of the house (five floors up) and watched the fireworks from there. I could see all of Lima from there all the way into the foothills surrounding us. It was one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen. The night sky was lit up with these huge bursts of fireworks and it was hard to figure out which direction to look in. It was even more spectacular that the firework display I have seen in St. Louis and Chicago for the 4th of July. I had no idea that this went on as a part of Christmas celebration here. The people continued to set off fireworks till I went to bed at 3am. Even then I was occasionally woken up by the sound of huge explosions. Photos would not have done this scene justice, it was just TOO BIG.
The rest of the week I spent trying to get the paper work for my work Visa completed amongst other things. If you think bureaucracy is bad in the USA, you should experience it here first hand. Naturally I had the usual meeting with my friends for coffee or lunch. Carsten, the owner of LiP, threw a nice Christmas Party Tuesday evening for the writers and staff, lots of good food and conversation. Yesterday Steve and I went to Punta Hermosa to the beach and had lunch at Sarritas. It was a little cloudy but I always enjoy being at the ocean regardless of the weather. People were lying out on the beach while kids played in the surf. A few young men were body boarding on the waves. It was a great way to spend the afternoon.
Only three more days and I will be on my flight back to the US. I am looking forward to seeing family and friends and spending time with them all. Once again I have to comment about how quickly time has passed for me here. What a stupendous eight months I have had here in Per
OK, I changed my mind and decided to put one more entry in. As most of you know there was an attempt to blow up a plane as it landed in Detroit recently. As I enter the airport in Lima I had fears of long lines and extra security checks as I checked in for my flight back to the US. Much to my surprise, this was not the case. The only extra security check I noticed was being frisked just before I boarded the plane. Otherwise things seemed to be as I remembered them from my flights on previous occasions. It was the same as I came through customs here in Miami and had to reenter through security again. The only new thing was that everyone was being frisked. Not that big of a deal and it did not cause any delay that could be noticed, at least on my part. All TSA agents were friendly and thanked me for my cooperation, which was refreshing.
I’m still in Miami waiting on my flight to St. Louis; it doesn’t take off till 3pm so I have an eight hour wait here. As big a pain as that is, I prefer it to having to rush through the airport and having to worry about catching my plane. The airport here has finished up some renovations since I was through here in May. It’s a little more confusing but once you figure it out it’s nice. At least it’s one of the better airports to have a layover in as far as I’m concerned.
Anyway, this really is my last entry for the Living in South America/Peru series this year. I will continue to post on my adventures back in the USA under the Where in the World is Rodney section starting after January 1. Have a great New Year everyone, please be safe!
u. As much as I am looking forward to going back to the US, I am looking forward to returning to my new life here in Lima. There is still a lot for me to experience and do, not only in Peru but the other countries of South America also.
This will be my last entry on South America till I return to Peru around the beginning of March. Look for other adventures I will have in those two months while I am gone. I hope all of you who are reading my entries have a fantastic New Year.