Living in Lima Peru (05/2010)
05/07/2010 (Friday) Shopping in Gamara, Sarritas, Time with friends, Friends comes to visit
It’s been a busy, fun few days since my last entry. I hope the rest of May is as nice as the first week has been. On Saturday Steve and I went to Gamara to buy the bed platform for the third bedroom since Mike was going to be here in a few days. I already had the mattress. It was an interesting experience to say the least. We got two platforms, a double and a single, for the astounding price of S/.120 Soles. Then we had to hire a cab (S/.10) to strap them to the top of his cab and bring them to the apartment. Afterwards went to Plaza Vea to get sheets and pillows. It made for an interesting time. After the shopping Steve, Antonio and I went for a drive to Punta Hermosa for lunch at Sarritas. I just love their Tamals.
Sunday was a fun packed day for me. In the morning I went to breakfast with my buddy Tim, his girlfriend Lourdes, and his family. They were visiting him from Canada. His Mom and Dad are really great people. After breakfast they took off and went on a tour of Lima by bus. I headed back to the apartment to get ready for a lunch with Larry in his home. He has this beautiful place in Barranco with amazing architectural details. We spent most of the time talking about our writing and him telling me about his wife’s trip to Spain to visit their new grandbaby. It was a great time and all too soon I had to take off to meet Katrina and her boyfriend Oswaldo at the Parque de Exposicion to go to the Art Museum located on the grounds. We say a show by a famous Peruvian indigenous artist from the early part of the 20th century and a display of archaeological discoveries from new sites throughout Peru. It was fun and very educational. After wards we went to the new Mall in Lima Center for snacks and then Steve met us before heading over to Polvos Azules to buy CDs and DVDs. Needless to say, I had a great weekend.
On Monday my friend Kathy came over and spent the better part of the day. We had coffee and strolled around the neighborhood for a bit before having a great lunch prepared by Sonia. Kathy is going through a rough time and is a little depressed and I hope our day together cheered her up a little.
Tuesday I spent the day getting the house ready for my visitors and then late that evening we headed to the airport to pick Mike and JP up. Their plane arrived a little early but because so many planes land around that time, it took them awhile to get through immigration. They did make it through with no problems though. First we headed to Miraflores to drop JP off at the Hostal and then went out for something to eat before heading back to the apartment with Mike. Then it was off to bed to get some rest before starting our first day on Wednesday.
Wednesday morning I walked Mike through the neighborhood here in San Borja after we went to breakfast at a nice little place I know here. Then it was in the car and off to the Costa Verde so Mike could get some good views of the Pacific Ocean for the first time. We took him for a nice drive along the coast and up to the top of the hills outside of Chorrillos for some nice views of the city. Afterwards we stopped at Salto de Fraille (The Diving Priest) to see the cliff divers and have a drink and snack before heading into Barranco for a late lunch at Las Mesitas. After lunch we walked to the Bridge of Sighs and out to the Mirador for another view of the Pacific.
Thursday it was off to Punta Hermosa for Tamals and Ceviche at Sarritas before taking Mike to Pachacamac for a tour of the archaeological site there. He was duly impressed with the site and I gave him all the historical details that I knew including the story of how the small islands off the coast came into being. He had his movies camera with him so he has some good footage of the site. Finishing the tour we headed back to the apartment for a short rest and to wait for the sun to set before taking him to the Water Park to see the fountains. It is my favorite park in Lima and we were lucky enough to see it without the crowd being too large there. It took us about one and a half hours to see the entire collection of fountains and then we had a late dinner at Pardos before heading back home.
Today, Friday turned into another full day. Mike and I got up and Met JP in Miraflores for breakfast at Café Z. While JP regaled us with stories of his time in Miraflores, we had their infamous “special” omelets with coffee and juice. They are huge and filled us up quite nicely before we walked over to Huaca Pucllana for the tour of the ruins there. Mike and JP were suitably impressed with this site and enjoyed the tour given by the guide. I think they will remember seeing the Peruvian hairless dogs at the site the most. Leaving the archaeological site I walked them up to the Inca Market where they shopped for gifts for friends and family. I rested my poor aching knees while they did their shopping. They both bought quite a lot while there and when they were done we headed back to Café Z to wait for Steve to pick us up and take us to Lince for lunch and then to drop us off at the Zoo. Lunch was at a “Menu” type restaurant, I wanted them to experience what it was like to eat in a place where the working Peruvian had his meals. They were both happy with their lunches and cleaned their plates nicely. Then it was off to the Zoo where we say Lions, Tigers and Bears; oh my! Both JP and Mike were impressed with the Zoo and the Huacas located within it. We got there a little late so we did not have a chance to see the entire Zoo. Still it was a nice ending to the day. Afterwards, JP took a cab to Miraflores and Mike and I took one back to the apartment here in San Borja. Now I’m doing this entry and getting the photos ready to post here with this entry. I hope all of you are enjoying your week as much as we are.
05/11/2010 (Tuesday) Showing friends around, meeting for lunch
I have spent the last few days showing Mike around Lima along with the occasional meet up with JP to see how he was doing. On Saturday we took a cab into Miraflores again to have a coffee at Café Z before heading over to meet some friends for Lunch. Tim and Katrina joined us at a little Gelateria on Comandante Espinar for sandwiches and a drink. We sat around and talked while we caught up on the happenings in Tim and Katrina’s lives. Tim’s trip to teach English in Huaraz was postponed a week and he had done the border hopping thing to renew his tourist visa. He doesn’t have a work visa yet. Katrina is still enjoying her job at the Egyptian Embassy and doing a little teaching on the side. Afterwards we headed over to Mezze on Larco for more coffee and to see my friend Raafat. Mike had brought some Pepper Spray at my request for him and his wife. We enjoyed a nice desert there also. Afterwards, Tim had to head out to meet his girlfriend and so Mike, Katrina and I went for a walk along the Malecon. We took Mike to see the Love Park and the Lighthouse before returning to Larco Mar to have a snack at Mangos and watch the sunset; a perfect ending to another perfect day.
Sunday it was back in a cab again and off to Lima Center to show Mike around the Historical Center of this magnificent city. We started out at the San Francisco Church where Mike toured the Catacombs while I walked around the courtyard taking photos. Then we headed over to Cordanos for a snack before doing the rest of the tour. They have these really great ham sandwiches there. From there we headed into the Plaza de Armis where the changing of the guard was taking place at the Presidential Palace. It’s a nice sight and very colorful. After it ended I talked to Mike about the buildings surrounding the Plaza. Besides the Presidential Palace there is the Cathedral, the Arch Bishop’s Palace, the Municipal Building and several nice restaurants. From there we headed out down several streets where he saw a couple of convents, some of the oldest homes in Lima with their magnificent balconies and several more churches before we ended up having Pisco Sours at the Hotel Bolivar. The stained glass dome in the lobby is worth the visit alone but they also have a Model T on display there. The bar is small and cozy with a nice restaurant. From there we headed out to walk around the Plaza de San Martin, in my opinion one of the most beautiful plazas in all of Lima. We ended our tour at Huefernos, an Italian restaurant that has been part of Lima Center for many, many years. Then we headed to the Plaza de Armis where we sat in front of the Cathedral and waited for Steve to come and pick us up. He then took us to Polvos Azules where Mike bought 20 movies to take back home with him. After that, back home to rest up for the last day.
Monday we headed over to this computer sales place where Mike picked up Rosetta Stone for Spanish and Corel Draw for a price that you wouldn’t believe unless you were with us. Then we jumped in the car and Steve drove us to Chosica to have lunch and enjoy the day with a little sun outside of the city. It was a nice drive and Mike got to see some things outside of Lima to give him a little clue as to what was going on in the countryside. We had a big lunch at one of the outdoor restaurants and relaxed a little before heading back to Lima. Then after a rest we packed up Mike and JP and took them to the airport. It’s always nice to have company from the US, I really enjoy showing my friends around the city.
Well, that’s been my few days; I hope yours has been as filled with fun as mine. Have a great week everyone.
05/15/2010 (Saturday) Writing, meeting for coffee, relaxing
The last few days have been a little slow, or at least they seem that way since my friends have left. Mostly I have been writing and trying to get a few articles for LiP ready for publishing. I haven’t had the camera out since they left so any photos in this section are just some that I have taken in the past. For me, sitting down and starting an article is always the hardest part. After I get the first sentence written the words just seem to flow out of me. Then it’s a matter of going back and editing the writing till I am satisfied it’s ready to be published. I also want to change the subject of my writing and make it more about living here in Lima versus the tourist aspect of this amazing country. That process might be a little slow as I have to be careful not to infringe on other writers doing this and make mine unique enough to be interesting. The article I wrote on getting Health Insurance here was an example of where I want to go. Interspersed with these “How To Do” type articles I would like to inject some aspects of daily life and how I have to deal with them as an expatriate.
Thursday I did get to meet with Victoria and Larry for coffee. Larry had written a short piece called “Under the Mattress” and we critiqued it for him. Telling him what was good and what could be improved as far as our reading of the story goes. It was a nice exercise for all of us and we hope this type of exchange of ideas will help all of us as writers. The story was about a poor immigrant from Mexico who sold Burritos and Tamales in the country side. When he died they found over $400,000 dollars under his mattress. It is a true story that Larry read about when he was living in California.
I met Tim for breakfast on Wednesday morning. We met at Café Z where I had their special omelet. It’s one of the best I have had in Peru so far. I believe I mentioned it from the time I took Mike and JP there. Tim is leaving this morning for Huaraz to start the teaching gig with one of the mining companies there. It is a Canadian company and since Tim is Canadian he thinks that he might be able to work some sweet deals with them if they like his work. I hope to go visit him there sometime around the end of June. I hear it is beautiful up there.
I’ve been to the gym twice as of this writing and will go again today. I can tell I have put on a couple of pounds lately so it’s time to get them off before it gets hard. Like most people I hate going to the gym but once the session is over I feel so good I am always anxious to go back. No plans for the weekend other than writing and maybe a movie. I think I want to get out and take some photos too. There are some interesting little markets in the area that would make for good photo opportunities. All of you have a great weekend and get out and do something.
05/18/2010 (Tuesday) The gym, movies, a Mercado and lots of writing
I have managed to keep myself very busy since my last entry. I have worked on several articles and ideas for other writings also. Hopefully my first since getting back in the grove will be published in LiP this week. LiP is getting ready to launch a new version of their weekly newsletter. If you enjoy reading the articles in LiP you should sign up for the newsletter. It goes out once a week and has all the latest in it with even more than the website offers.
I’ve made it to the gym four out of the last five days and am feeling a lot better now. My knees were starting to bother me a lot and it might have something to do with my lack of regular exercise recently. Of course with Mike’s recent visit I had the opportunity to do a lot of walking and that helped. I have stopped working out on the machines for my legs for the time being and am concentrating on cardio and upper body for now. I hope to get back in the grove with my leg work by the end of this week. Need to keep the old knees working for at least another two years.
We went to a movie on Sunday evening. It was the recent movie starring Tina Fey and Steve Carrell, “Date Night”, and despite being panned by the critics I thought it was hilarious. Maybe I was just ready for a good laugh but in truth, I haven’t laughed that much in a movie in a long time. Anyway, it’s definitely worth renting when it comes out. Other than that, I spent Sunday working the kinks out of a couple of articles. It was the one day I didn’t make it to the gym as they are only open from 7 – 11 and that’s my prime writing time.
Monday I went for a nice walk and took my camera along. I spent a lot of time in the local Mercado just looking around and taking pictures. These places are amazing. Lots of little stalls with every kind of service or goods you can imagine. They are kind of like a Convenience Store in the USA only with barbers and a farmers market attached. The sights, sounds, colors, tastes and smells are almost overwhelming. I did buy some cheeses and raisins before departing the place and I love that you can buy half a dozen eggs in a plastic bag there. Anyway all the pictures in this entry are from that little excursion. Naturally an article is forthcoming about the experience of shopping in one.
That’s it for now; hope all of you are having a good week. I will be meeting friends the rest of the week for coffee or lunch. Naturally you will hear all about it right here.
05/23/2010 (Sunday) Writer’s Meeting, Coffee with Kathy, Breakfast with Tim and the National Museum
I have had a good week, staying busy with my writing and meeting with friends for an assortment of reasons. On Wednesday I met with Kathy for our weekly coffee together. Her friend Aricela joined us on this particular day. We had a nice long talk about the things that are going on in her life. I think I get all my excitement from listening to the adventures she is going through now with her divorce and the way she is being pulled in different directions from an assortment of people she knows. I hope she comes out of all this well and is able to put it in the past and move forward with her life. She’s a lot stronger person than she puts on so I have confidence that she’ll be OK in the end.
On Thursday we had our writer’s meeting and discussed a piece of fiction I had written. It was nice and I received some great suggestions on how to improve the work. Only Victoria and her husband Juan Carlos attended with Larry and me. It was hoped that the producer and director of “Soy Andina” would be able to join us but in the end he had other commitments. Larry has submitted a piece for next week’s meeting called “Stand up Straight” which is a nice piece of work. I’ll let you know how it goes. These meeting are becoming ever more helpful to me as a writer; I hope the others feel the same.
Tim came into town early Saturday morning to see his girlfriend and ask her the BIG question. He missed her so much after being gone only a week and came to the realization that she was the perfect woman for him. I had breakfast with him at Café Z, my usual huge omelet, and we talked about his plan of action. He called her Mom after our breakfast meeting and asked her permission to marry her daughter; I thought this was a nice touch. Then that evening he took her down to Larcomar for a nice dinner and then a walk in the park where he asked her to marry him. It sounded so romantic. Lourdes called me a little later and told me she said yes and then I talked with Tim who was a little giddy from the experience. His family is ecstatic; they have met Lourdes and think she is a wonderful young lady. I can’t wait to dance at the wedding.
After meeting with Tim I came back to San Borja and walked over to the National Museum. What a treasure this place is. It is in the process of being remodeled still but progress has been made since my last visit when only 1/2 of a floor was open. Admission is free but I’m not sure if that’s because of the remodeling or because it’s the “National” Museum. There are three floors open now with an incredible collection of archaeological artifacts, art work and an entire floor dedicated to photos of horrible things done during the time of the Shining Path. I recommend a strong stomach for those wanting to take a look at this display. It was enough to nearly bring me to tears. I am always shocked at the cruelty mankind is able to inflict on each other in times like these. The artifacts span the entire historical timeline of Peru from 7,600BC to the Colonial Period after the Spanish conquest. They include lots of ceramic works, weapons, textiles, funerary objects, jewelry and musical instrument to mention a few. They are from an astonishing array of cultures like the Moche, Nieveria, Nasca, Inca, Wari, Chimu, Vicús and many others. There is a fantastic collection of art work by indigenous painters like Enrique Camino Brent, Camillo Blas, Jose Sabosal, Pedro Azabache and many others. I can’t wait to return to the museum when the work is completed and see everything they will have to offer.
That’s it for another entry. Not sure how this week is going to play out. I hope to see a man about my Rentista Visa and maybe pick up a couple more pieces of furniture. Otherwise I’ll be writing and taking photos every chance I get. Have a great week everyone.
05/28/2010 (Friday) Quiet week, coffees, a movie and the gym
Not much going on this week. On Monday I met with Kathy again for coffee and to see how things were going. She is doing well and her life is moving forward. We talked a great deal about our lives here and how different life is in Peru. The culture here is so different from the United Stated. Family is in the forefront of everything. I would say that the great majority of households here are multigenerational. It is not uncommon for a son or daughter to live with their parents even after they are married and have children. It is a pleasant change from the US but it takes a little getting used to. As Americans we are brought up to believe that you should move out and be on your own at an early age, especially if you have finished your college education. The closeness of the family here is in stark contrast to that and everyone contributes to household expenses. It is nice to see and refreshing but as I stated, it takes some getting used to.
The writers group also met this week. We discussed a piece written by Larry titled, “Stand up Straight”. It was about his mother and her refrain to, Stand up Straight throughout his youth. Something I am sure that we are all familiar with. This was something my mother always told me also, accompanied by, Sit up Straight. We gave Larry our suggestions for improvement, talked about what the piece meant to each of us and then moved on to topics of general interest to all of us. Victoria, Larry and I were the only ones in attendance for this meeting. Victoria was quite proud of the fact that it was her first time coming to the meeting on her own using the bus system here. I am told that once you become familiar with how it works; the buses and combis are the way to go. Unfortunately since I am so tall I would not fit in most of these vehicles, at least not without the aid of the Jaws of Life to get out.
I also went to a movie this week, “The Prince of Persia”. It was an excellent movie. The acting was good, the special effects spectacular and there was an appropriate amount of comic relief. I understand the movie was modeled after a computer game of the same name. If so, the story line was wonderful and interesting. If you like these high action, fantasy kind of movies then I definitely recommend that you go. Even if you are not, this movie will entertain you and after all; that’s what movies should do.
When not doing the above I spent my time writing and going to the gym. I definitely have to watch my weight here and stay in relatively good shape. After all, there are no “Big and Tall” stores in Peru that I can just run to if I need something. Generally speaking I would have to have things made to fit which can be very inexpensive if you know where to go and have a Peruvian friend to look out for your interests. The days have been a mixture of sunny and rainy with a moderate variation in the temperature. Although if you look at CNNs weather forecast for Lima every day it will tell you partly cloudy and 72 degrees.
I hope all of you are getting out there and enjoying life. Each moment is a precious gift to be celebrated and participated in to the fullest of your ability. Take the time to stop and appreciate what you do have, not what you don’t. Till the next entry my friends, have a great weekend.
05/31/2010 (Monday) Breakfast with friends, the Malecon, coffees and signing up for Spanish
It was a nice weekend here in the beautiful city of Lima. The sun was shining most of the time and the temperature warmed up nicely. Not that it was cold by my standards but there can be a chill in the air during the fall winter and when the sun isn’t shining you can certainly feel it. Saturday morning I went to breakfast with my friends Tim and Katrina. We met at Café Z again; you know how much I love the omelets there. We had a nice long talk and caught up on going on with each other. Tim is still enjoying his new job in Huaraz and being an engaged man. Katrina has run into some difficulties at her job in the Egyptian Embassy but is trying to deal with them as best she can. She doesn’t have her work visa yet so there isn’t much recourse to her until that happens. I will be going up to visit Tim in Huaraz on June 25th for the weekend. There are some archaeological sites from the Chavin Culture that I want to see and he tells me that the countryside is beautiful there. After breakfast Tim headed out to take care of some business and Katrina and I went for a walk on the Malecon. It was nice to be by the ocean again, with the sun shining and the blue of the Pacific very visible it made for a nice time. We sat on a bench and watched the waves roll in for awhile and talked about other things going on in our lives. In the end we decided to head to Mangos in Larco Mar again to have a snack and enjoy the rest of the afternoon. After that, Katrina headed out to meet Oswaldo and I returned to San Borja. It was a great day.
Sunday I spent relaxing, watching a little TV, working on a short story I am writing and doing regular chores like laundry. My maid had been bitten by a dog on her hand and was unable to come and clean the previous week so I needed to do some work around the house also. That just makes me appreciate Sonia all the more.
Monday Kathy came by in the morning as she was in San Borja on business. We went out to the local coffee shop and had coffees and talked about everything going on in her life. I think I am living part of my life vicariously through some of my friends here. They seem to have a lot more excitement going on in theirs than I do in mine. Of course most of it is the kind of excitement I don’t really want in my life. After she left, I made lunch and afterwards headed into Miraflores to sign up for my Spanish Classes again. There was a fairly long line for paying and after I finally got to the counter I found out that I was the only student signing up for Intermediate Spanish, level 1. So I asked to take the Basic Spanish Level 6 again figuring I could use the refresher again anyway. At least the course was cheaper this time since I already had the book. I have been trying to practice this month by using my Rosetta Stone and the workbooks I have. I think it has helped some. We’ll see how it goes in class tomorrow. After signing up for class, I met Nathan for dinner and some conversation about what was going on in his life as well as LiP. I will be going to another restaurant review for them on Thursday as the official photographer and they will be posting my review of Café Z this week. I hope to talk them into adding a new section to Lip with short stories as the content. We’ll see how that goes.
Well that’s it for my few days. Hope all of you had a great weekend and that is has continued into the new week. Now that Spanish will be starting again, I will be a busy guy for awhile. It will be nice to be back in the classroom again. Despite my whining, I do enjoy it a lot.