Living in Lima Peru (06/2010)
06/04/2010 (Friday) Coffee with friends, a restaurant review, writers meeting and Spanish Classes
Well my friends I have had a pretty busy week. Tuesday I spent writing and working on some articles, also Victoria sent her piece to be reviewed by the writers group so I spent time reading it over and making notes on my suggestions. For a person who has English as a second language (did I mention that she is Russian), she definitely has a way with words (palabras) and she put together a nice piece on how colorful Lima is. I am sure she will be submitting it to Living in Peru for publishing so look for it. On Wednesday (miercoles) I returned to ICPNA for my first day of Spanish Classes for this month. My professor will be Senorita Olga again. I had her for Spanish II and I love the way she enunciates. Of all my teachers so far, she has been the easiest to understand (entender). As I stated earlier, I am taking level 6 of the Basic courses again. Level 1 of Intermediate was not being offered this month because there were no students graduating from a level 6 class in the month of May. So, next month I will have a group to move forward with. On another note, I am amazed at how differently this level 6 is being taught from my previous one. If it weren’t for the book, I would swear it was a different class altogether. Today we had to pick 5 items from a list for surviving on an island for a month and tell why we chose those items. Talk about stretching my vocabulary, and then to top that off we had to write a one day journal type entry to tell what we had done on that day. WOW! I am not complaining though, this is what I need to improve my speaking (hablando) and listening (escuchando) skills. She’s also assigning homework which I am grateful for. It makes me study more outside of class. Also Wednesday evening I did something to my left foot (feels like a stone bruise) back close to the heel. It was extremely painful Wednesday Evening and a little worse on Thursday, I could barely walk. Today it’s getting better though and hopefully will be all well by Monday.
Thursday morning after Spanish class we had our usual writers meeting. Besides discussing all manner of things, including Victoria’s piece, we talked about forming our own website to publish pieces of fiction we are writing, based in or about Peru. The publishing world is changing what with E-books, Amazon.com, the Ipad, and the cost of doing business in that world. A recent article I read in the New Yorker talked about the growing number of authors who are self publishing and it gave me the idea for us to start self promoting ourselves. At the end of the meeting, Larry and I had to go to “Restaurante Royal” in San Isidro for a restaurant review. I was there to take photos of the dishes and restaurant while Chef Kim of LiP did the food review. Larry and Nathan were there for additional input and to help where translations were needed. It is a beautiful place with amazing wood work and the management and staff were wonderful. For me the food was so so and I probably would not go back as the prices were quite high. I am not a big fan of Chinese food anyway. Afterwards I hobbled home via cab and spent the evening doing my homework and watching a little TV. Today (Friday) I am just back from my Spanish class and am working on the photos from yesterday (ayer). I need (necesito) to go (ir) to the local Mercado for some fresh veggies but other than that I will spend the day on my writing again.
I hope all of you (ustedes) have (tienen) a great weekend (el fin del semana).
06/08/2010 (Tuesday) Boring weekend, the gym, household chores, and other boring stuff
What can I say; the title to this entry pretty much says it all. I spent the weekend doing a lot of stuff in the apartment. Things like the laundry, cooking, cleaning cabinets and other little things I noticed that needed to be done. Add to that a couple of trips to the Mercado and a short walk for some exercise and you have my Saturday and Sunday in total. It was nice to relax though and it gave whatever was wrong with my foot a chance for it to heal. Monday it was back to Spanish Class and then home for lunch and my first trip back to the gym in a week. It’s amazing how quickly time can get away from you when it comes to exercising. Top that off with the foot problem and before you know it, seven days has passed and your first day back is a killer.
Today after Spanish class I went to have coffee with Kathy and Sonia. I ran into them in the lobby, it wasn’t planned beforehand. We had a nice long chat about generalities. Kathy moved into her new apartment yesterday and is looking forward to starting her new life there. She has plans to join a gym/social club nearby and to start going to the Senior Citizen’s Center for events and some classes. Afterwards I came back to the apartment with Sonia and she jumped into cleaning the place officially. I also spent time today working on putting the packet together for my Rentista Visa. All form have been filled out, letters have been written and now I just have to have one document translated into Spanish by a sanctioned translator and I will be done. Then it’s off to the immigration office and praying I did it all correctly.
That sums it up, sorry for the boring life. LOL It happens, even here. I promise the next entry will be a little more exciting. Hope you all are having a great week.
06/13/2010 (Sunday) Work on visa papers, rest, writing, breakfast with friends and a book sale
It wasn’t exactly an exciting week but I did get a lot accomplished this week. On Tuesday after posting the last entry I worked on my papers for my Rentista Visa, including trying to contact a man who supposedly spoke English and would be able to help me. That turned out to be a bust, he did not speak English; it was his son. So as far as that is concerned I am still looking. I retyped some documents/letters I would need and put them in order in a folder ready to take to immigration. The one document that I was told would have to be translated and taken to a Consulate here in Peru for legalizing has turned into more of a problem than I thought. My friend Steve talked to the translator and he told us that we have to send the original document to the Consulate in the US for legalization first. Then I have to have the original mailed here, and then it goes to the translator after which we take it to the consulate here for legalization again. I’m sure all of this is going to cost money in some way or another. Anyway, what a pain!
I hadn’t been sleeping well the first of the week and it finally caught up with me on Wednesday. After class and a nice lunch I took a long nap, got up and watched a little TV and then went to bed at 9. That seemed to have helped and my energy level is back and I am sleeping well at night again. On Thursday after Spanish I met with the writers group again. We had a long meeting in which we discussed several topics. We started out talking about the new web page or blog I had created for us to publish our short works of short fiction on. Here is the link (http://peruwritersgroup.blogspot.com/ ) in case you would like to take a look. We discussed structure, content, how often we will publish and other things related to this type of project. We also discussed the work of short fiction I had submitted for the week (The Fisherman), a story that came to me while I was taking some photos on the Beach in Mancora Peru. That piece is the first story published on the site. From the meeting I returned home to modify the piece for publication and put the finishing touches on the website. It is certainly not finished yet but I think it looks nice.
Friday was another busy day for me. Spanish class as usual, which I must admit is something I look forward to during the week. The professor is starting to assign more homework which makes it harder to find time to write and this week she told us what our final project would be. We have to give a talk in front of the class about a train trip we took in the past. Not difficult per se, it’s just finding the time to do it well. After class I came home and wrote up the third and final article on my “Six Days in Lima” series.
On Saturday morning I met Katrina and Rafaat for breakfast at Café Z. It was great to see Rafaat again and he certainly has a lot going on in his life. He and his wife Estrella are due to have their baby on June 26 and he has quit his job at the restaurant Mezze and started his own Perfume/cologne business. I got to smell some samples he had with him and liked one so much I bought it. They are extremely reasonable. Katrina had a hard week at work and is becoming worried about the position. I know it can be hard working for people from a totally different culture. I certainly hope that everything works out for her. Tim was in town but was unable to join us as he was helping Lourdes’s family move into their new apartment. After breakfast I walked down to a church just off of Ovalo Gutierrez that was having a book sale. Three books for S/.10 Soles, what a deal and I ran into Larry and his wife just as they were leaving. I bought six books and then returned home to work on the computer a little. That night Steve and I went to the movies and saw “Sex in the City 2”. It was mildly funny and in some places certainly offensive to the Middle East and its way of life. Still, if you were a fan of the series, you will probably like the movie.
It’s Sunday morning and naturally I am writing this up to post. I’ve had my coffee and oatmeal and am looking forward to going for a little walk this morning. I also need to run to the store for groceries. So I am signing off of this entry and wishing all of you a great week to come and hoping you had a fabulous weekend.
06/18/2010 (Friday) Spanish Classes, Coffees with friends, Tickets to Huaraz
It’s been an off and on week for me. Spanish class, studying for class and doing the homework has taken up a good portion of my time. I am still getting more out of this class than I did the first time around. Also I can definitely tell that my vocabulary has increased. It’s still small compared to the others I know but at least I can tell I am improving and the old brain still works when I apply myself. It’s unfortunate that the bulk of my practice in Spanish comes from riding to class in Taxis. About 50% of the drivers feel it is necessary to get to know me better. At first this annoyed me a little as all I wanted to do on my ride to class was study out of my book. That’s when I noticed that the more I used the language, the better I remembered it. So take heart all you students of foreign languages out there. All is not lost.
As a part of my weekly routine, I had coffee with Kathy and Sonia this week. Kathy filled me in on her progress and how much she was enjoying the new apartment. She’s still sad from her situation and needs to work on getting a more active social life. I also joined my writer’s group for coffee and discussions this week. We evaluated another piece by Larry called, “Standing in Line.” It is a nice short humor piece which I think everyone will enjoy reading. We also talked about the Novel we are working on and went over Victoria’s C.V. in English and Spanish as well as discussing the new web site for short works of fiction. I really enjoy these get togethers as they feed my artistic soul. I also purchased my tickets to Huaraz for the weekend of the 25th by bus. I am looking forward to being there but not the eight hour bus ride to get there. We do get a nice hot lunch and they show three movies on the trip. I also plan on taking a couple of books (non-fiction) that I need to read. They are both on writing, one actually on writing and the other on self publishing. They have a lot of things I would like to see there, including the ruins of Chavin and a Hot Mineral Spring for soaking among others.
For the last couple of days I have felt like I was coming down with a cold. You all know the symptoms, stuffy nose, minor sore throat, headache and feeling a little chilly. So, I am eating chicken soup (best cure in the world), drinking tea with honey and limon (no I didn’t misspell it) and trying to rest when I can. Top that off with a couple of rainy chilly mornings and it seems it will linger through the weekend. I have a lot of homework for the weekend, I have to finish my project for class and we are planning an outing to Chosica on Sunday. I hope I am feeling better by then. Photos are from the neighborhood. For all of you, have a great weekend and try doing something fun. Then write to me about it. LOL
06/29/2010 Sorry for the late posting of the next two entries. My page got hacked and they corrupted my WordPress. All is OK now thanks to my good friend Haitham.
06/23/2010 (Wednesday) Project for Class, Exam, Coffees, lunch with the family
It amazes me how quickly the days get away from me. It seems like yesterday that I was putting in my last update. I spent part of the weekend working on my project for Spanish class and doing homework for the same. It took the better part of a day to get it all done. The project especially (about my train trip to New Orleans one year) was difficult for me to translate into Spanish. Then I had to find photos of the train on the internet has I had none on my Lap Top here in Peru. It’s all done now and I am ready to give the presentation tomorrow. I had the written exam today and I think I did well on it. I will find out tomorrow before doing my project in class. It also seems that I was not catching a cold but had a minor sinus infection which has cleared up now on its own. I am grateful for that, those of you who know me, know that I hate going to see the doctor.
I had coffee with Kathy this week and her life is slowly progressing into a new phase. She really likes her new apartment and has been to the new gym. She has yet to make it to the Senior Citizens place to sign up for classes there but plans to get that accomplished before the end of the week. My other friends are all doing fine. On Sunday we went to lunch with Steve’s Mother, Jose Manuel and his son. We went to Barranco and had the lunch at Las Mesitas, one of my favorite places to eat. Afterwards, Steve and I went to a movie at Larco Mar (Robin Hood). I really enjoyed it which surprised me. The movie is about how the character came into being, sort of a prequel to the Robin Hood we are all familiar with. I definitely recommend that you go and see it.
Friday morning I am leaving for Huaraz and my friend Tim tells me it is sunny and warm in the day there. It will be nice to get away from the foggy confines of Lima for a couple of days. Although, as I say that the sun has come out and it is warming up nicely here. Mostly I am looking forward to seeing the archaeological wonders of that area which include some amazing ruins of the Chavin Culture. Of course you will be able to read all about it here and on the pages of Living in Peru after I have the articles done. Tomorrow is our writer’s meeting and I have to do another food photo shoot in the afternoon. Still loving my busy life here and I hope all of you are enjoying your lives. I had a nice conversation with a taxi driver on the way home from class today on the importance of pursuing your passion. He drives a taxi all day so that he can attend university and study music at night. Think about that. Till next time, Buena suerte mi amigos, in all that you do.
06/29/2010 (Tuesday) Writers Meeting, My Trip to Huaraz and Chavin
It’s been a busy five days for me since my last entry. I wrote the last post and then went to put it on the site and found I had been hacked and my Word Press had been corrupted. Thank goodness my good friend Haitham was able to get in and fix it all for me. He is a great Pal (Love Ya Buddy!!!) and I wouldn’t be able to keep this web site up without him.
Victoria, Larry and I had a great meeting on Thursday before I headed over to do the photo shoot for the restaurant review. The place was an Indian Restaurant named “Mantra” and I must admit the food was excellent. Other than the Indian food that my old boss, Dr. Padmalatha, had fixed for me; this was my first experience with Indian food. It is apparently only the second Indian restaurant to be opened in Lima so I imagine it will get a lot of customers. The prices mere mid ranged for here in Lima, about S/.40 – 50 Soles would get you fed well. They served us almost every dish on the Menu and I left the place with a very full stomach. It was delicious and the presentation made it easy to photograph. Afterwards it was home to pack and get ready to leave for Huaraz by bus the next morning.
The trip up was amazing and we passed through a lot of beautiful scenery. I took the Cruz del Sur bus line and they have excellent service for a very reasonable price. The seats are comfortable and stretch back if you want to sleep; they serve a meal and show at least three movies on the trip. I didn’t pay much attention to the movies though as the vistas we passed through were beautiful. The coast north of Lima is incredible and much like the coast to the south. There are lots of beaches and cliffs plunging into the ocean that make for exciting sights, of course it is winter here so the coast was foggy for that entire stretch. As we turned and headed into the mountains we passed through several ecological zones. We passed from desert to verdant valleys to high sierra and mountain top plains. It was all worth the 8 hour trip by bus versus going by plane.
I arrived in Huaraz about 6:30pm and was met by someone from the Hostal (Hostal Alberque Ishinca) where my friend Tim was staying. The place is very nice and he had arranged for me to have a room there. For S/.25 Soles a night (which included breakfast), I thought the price was great. I dumped my stuff into the room and Tim and I headed to the main Plaza to get something to eat and take a little look around. Then it was back to the Hostal for some much needed sleep. In the morning I got up early and headed to the roof. They had a type of patio on top of the Hostal and the views were quite beautiful from there. Breakfast consisted of a large Omelet, bread and coffee. Lourdes, Tims fiancé, arrived that morning and they both came down for breakfast with me. After eating we took a taxi to the Tour place to catch the bus for our tour to Chavin, another of the premier archaeological sites in Peru.
It was a long trip over the mountains to see this site and once again the spectacular vistas of the Andes equaled visiting the archaeological site itself. Unfortunately we had a couple of flat tires on the way which took an hour and a half to get fixed, which put us significantly behind schedule. We stopped at a beautiful lake on the way there and got to take some amazing photos, including some tourist shots with a baby llama and its mother along with the woman who owned them. A short 10 minutes later we were on the road again heading over the mountains to the city and archaeological site of Chavin.
The city of Chavin is nestled into a narrow valley of the high Andes and coming down out of the high passes it was a sight to behold. The fields surrounding the city looked like a patchwork quilt of multi colors and seeing the farmers working those fields as they had for probably thousands of years. It seemed to take forever to reach the town as there had to be hundreds of switch backs in the road as we headed down. Once reaching the town, our first stop was at a quaint little restaurant for lunch. Lourdes had the Cuy while Tim and I each opted for the Suprema de Pollo. As we were all very hungry, the lunch was decent and hit the spot. We left the restaurant and headed to the Archaeological Museum for the site of Chavin, located in the town. The museum was incredible and held many treasure from the site. Many had just been returned to the people from Lima’s museums. If you are interested in the Chavin Culture, a quick internet search will tell you much more than I can here.
After the museum we boarded the bus and headed over to the actual site itself. Once again we were all amazed at the engineering prowess of an ancient culture. Considering the tools they had to work with and where this site is located, it was astounding that they managed to build this large religious complex with its water works, plazas and temples. We had arrived at the site so late that the sun was starting to set and I had only a short amount of time for photos before it would be too dark. That meant I had to leave the tour group and rush through the site with my camera like a madman to get in the photos that I did. I had Lourdes tell me about the Guides comments later on the bus. Although I could understand some of what the guide was telling me, because my vocabulary is so limited I know I was missing a lot.
Leaving the site, it was back onto the bus for the long trip back to Huaraz over the mountains. I have to admit, taking that ride back in the dark was very exciting. We arrived back safely though and immediately went to eat dinner and then head back to the Hostal. It was 11pm as I was crawling back into bed to rest up for the next day.
On Sunday, Tim showed us around downtown Huaraz. We went to another archaeological museum there on the main square which had some amazing artifacts of its own. Finishing that we headed over to a little plaza to have a coffee and snack before taking Lourdes to the bus station. She had to head back to Lima since she had classes the next day. After she boarded, Tim took me up to see the Hot Springs and Mineral baths at a local place outside of the city. It was nice but the water looked very “rusty” so I opted not to take a plunge there, plus I was still a little worn out from the day before and wanted to have a little lunch and head back for a nap. We left the Hot Springs and walked down the hillside a little to a very LOCAL restaurant and had lunch. The price was right so Tim ordered Lomo Saltado and I got the Suprema de Pollo again. It’s amazing how much hunger can affect your taste buds. After eating, we headed back for a nap before getting up for a late dinner.
Monday morning it was back on the bus for me and the trip back to Lima. The trip back didn’t take as long but I imagine that was because most of it was downhill. The views were still spectacular and since I was seeing the other side on the way back, it was like a whole other trip for me. Arriving in Lima, I took a taxi back to the apartment and hit the sack as I was tired from all the sitting. Today, lots of work on photos and getting this post up. I hope all of you had a SPECTACULAR few days also.