Living in Lima Peru (08/2010)
08/03/2010 (Tuesday) Dinner at Steve’s Moms, chapters for the book, lots of writing
As far as excitement is concerned, it has been a rather uneventful few days since my last entry in July. The one big thing was a dinner at Steve’s Mom’s house in celebration of Fiestas Patrias (the independence day of Peru). Jaita (Steve’s Mom) fixed a great meal with a ton of food. There was Asado Cuadrado (red meat dish), Pavo a la Olla (Turkey dish), Papas, Tallarine (spaghetti), Arroz, Ensalada (with carrots, beets, avacado and peas) and Flan along with Arroz con Leche for desert. The whole family was there, including Tio Panchito, and it made for a wonderful time. Jaita is a great cook and I thoroughly enjoyed the meal. Other than that little adventure, I spent most of my time at the computer trying to work out the next chapter of the book Larry and I are working on, writing my next two short stories for Peru Writers and getting my next article together for LiP. Who said I’m retired? Some days it feels like I have a full time job but at least it is one I truly love.
As for my friends here in Peru, Tim and Lourdes had a nice time in Huaraz. They enjoyed biking and soaking in the hot baths there. Katrina spent time with Oswaldo’s family and Larry spent his time with family in Barranco. Victoria enjoyed the holidays with Juan Carlos’s (her husband) family. Nathan went to Ica to enjoy the sun and party it up a little. His parents will be here this Friday to visit him for 12 days or so. I hope to get to meet them while they are visiting. It seems that I was the only one of the crowd to immerse myself in work. That’s it folks, hope to have more with the next entry. Oh, I know I have mentioned Chicken Foot soup in the past. Well, they had it at the Menu for lunch yesterday so here is a poor quality photo taken with my phone. I can actually remember my dad eating chicken feet when I was very young. I love the soup but haven’t built up the courage to actually chew on the feet like my friend Steve does. Have a great week everyone.
08/07/2010 (Saturday) Writers Group, Novel, Breakfast with Jose, the Sun, another Mercado
It was a full few days for me, filled with good times and lots of work. I have been concentrating on the Novel and the short stories with my writing. I managed to get out three chapters of the novel and get the first draft of two short stories done in the 5 days since I last posted. Now I am working on going through the first 11 chapters of the book and fixing inconsistencies in the story while Larry works on the next three chapters. Larry and I met a little early for the last Writer’s Group Meeting and went over the work we had already done, discussing changes that needed to be made. Since Larry has an actual paying job here, I will be the one to do all the grunt work on the manuscript in addition to my chapters. Afterwards the three of us had our usual meeting and went over a work by Victoria called “On the Way”, which will be published this coming Tuesday on out blog. Be sure to read it if you get a chance.
On the days that I wasn’t meeting with someone I would take a break from my writing and have lunch with Steve at a local Menú. The Menús serve some of the best meals you can get here in Peru and usually for less than 10 Soles. The one we eat at here is only S/.6 Soles. On one of those days after eating, I took a walk through another local Mercado, one much larger than the one near my apartment. I took a lot of photos in the place as it was full of colorful stalls selling a large list of products. It even had stalls for electronics repairs, shoe repairs and tailors. The fruit and flower stands were definitely the most photogenic but I took pictures of almost everything while I was inside.
Saturday morning I met with my very good friend Jose Perochena of “Bike Tours of Lima” for breakfast at Café Z. Naturally we had the omelets. It was great talking to him again in person; I hadn’t seen him since last March when I first arrived in Peru. It had been far too long. He told me he was having problems with other people starting Bike Tour businesses and trying to take away his employees. They were even using photos stolen from his website on their website; some even have Jose himself in the photos. Now he thinks he will have to start legal proceedings against these businesses. Other than that he is doing very well and will be starting some new tours before the end of this year. For those of you coming to visit me, I highly recommend that you take one of his tours. They are great adventures and he will definitely teach you some of the history of the places you see on his tour.
The sun was out a few times this week and I managed to get a walk in along the Malecon in Miraflores while it was shining. I love walking along the cliffs and looking down on the beautiful blue Pacific, seeing the surfers and watching the waves roll in. The blue sky and fading into the ocean pulls you into it so that you feel like you a part of something bigger. The Skyline of Miraflores against a cloudless sky with the ocean washing up on the beaches below, it is just so relaxing, a great way to spend an afternoon.
That was my few days; I hope all of you enjoyed yours as much as I did mine.
08/14/2010 (Saturday) Private Lessons, meetings with friends, writing
WOW, where did this week go. I can’t believe it’s been 7 days since my last entry. Things are obviously going well if time flies by that quickly.
In those seven days I had two of my private sessions with the instructor. They went really well and I can tell I am going to like the one on one instruction better. The teacher (Carmen Diaz, can you believe that?) is very nice and patient. Her English isn’t that good but I think that’s a positive thing for me. I explained to her that I prefer she teach in Spanish and I will ask for explanations in English when I do not understand her. To this point we have covered things that I know already but it’s good to have a refresher and know that I have absorbed more than I thought from the ICPNA classes.
I have increased the length of time for the writers meeting on Thursdays. Larry and I show up about an hour early to discuss the book we are writing together. So far that has proven to be extremely helpful. In addition we have decided to write three chapters each instead of one. We think it will improve the flow of the book and it certainly helps with the writing. Now I have to take time to go over the chapters continuously to make sure that we are not creating inconsistencies with each new chapter. This is a learning experience for both Larry and I but we are enjoying it immensely. Then after Victoria shows up at the regular time, we go over the short story for the Writers’ Group website. This week it was my turn again and they gave me helpful suggestions on a piece I call “The Choice” which will be published this coming Tuesday. I need to come up with a couple of new articles for LiP also. They have one in the can from me but I need to get ahead of the game again.
My friend Tim came into town Thursday night and I met him for breakfast Friday morning. It was great to see him again. He’s getting a little tired of being up in the hills so to speak without any friends and working 12 hour days. He’s talking about asking his boss if they can send someone up in his place and rotate him back into Lima. He wants to spend more time with Lourdes and his few friends here. I hope it all works out for him.
Not much else to say. No pictures for this entry, I’ve been spending too much time writing. Unfortunately I have put a few pounds back on because I haven’t been making it to the gym as often as I would like. Also, the walking is suffering since I moved to San Borja. I need to change that immediately. I hope to make it to Cieneguilla for lunch today with Steve. A chance to just get out of the city for a bit and work behind the lens instead of in front of the Lap Top. LOL I hope all of you had an exciting week with lots of time with friends and family. Enjoy your weekend everyone.
08/18/2010 (Wednesday) Cieneguilla, Coffee with friends, New Shoes, writing and more
Steve and I made it to Cieneguilla Saturday for lunch. It was a nice drive over the mountain and into the valley. The sun was shining and it was nice and warm. Arriving, Steve wanted to stop and have lunch at a place called “Adventure Land” and if you think it’s like a Disney ride, you would be close. The place was mainly for kids with rides and kiddies shows but there was an adult area with nice pools and a decent restaurant. We had Pollos Abrazos and I also ordered some Taqueños that came with the best guacamole dip I have ever had. The Taqueños were pretty good too. After lunch we took a drive around Cieneguilla just to see what’s what. All in all, it was a great afternoon and nice to get out of the city for a little bit.
Sunday I met with Tim, Lourdes and Raafat for coffee before Tim headed back to Huaraz. Tim wanted to buy some perfumes from Raafat for Lourdes and a bottle of cologne for himself. We had a nice long talk and Raafat told us how far he has progressed with opening his business in Miraflores. He will not only be selling his “Habibi” brand of perfumes but clothes and jewelry also. I also gave him some photos I had printed of his new baby boy so that he could give them to relatives and friends for their wallets and purses. Afterwards I went for a walk along the Malecon again. It’s still the only thing I miss about now that I am not living in Barranco or Miraflores. It was a gray day but that never bothers me when I am looking at the water and coast next to Lima. It’s always beautiful, no matter what the weather is.
Spanish class on Tuesday went well. She is still covering stuff I know as far as verb tenses are concerned but I am getting a lot of new vocabulary and she is forcing me to use it with her. This might turn out to be the best decision I could have made in regards to learning Spanish. She is giving me lots of homework (which I actually asked her to do), that helps me to study.
I managed to get some writing in between all those activities for in the past few days. We have completed 17 chapters of the book now and Larry is presently working on chapters 18 – 20 and then it will be my turn again. I am very happy with the way the book is going but it is a lot of work. I have to go back through the chapters every time we add more to make sure that our storyline is true. We are both learning a lot about the writing process by doing this and definitely enjoying doing it. I had one article published in LiP this week and posted another short story on our Peru Writers’ Group blog. I always try to stay ahead of the curve and have articles and stories in the bag so to speak in case I hit a dry spell. I can tell you at this point what the hardest part of writing is for me. It’s getting that first sentence written, after that the words seem to flow. Not always well or in the order that I would like but all that can be fixed with revision. Well, that’s enough for today. Hope all of you are having a great week, I know I am.
08/23/2010 (Monday) Writers Meeting, Coffee with Friends, Sarritas, Spanish and Other Stuff
Once again time has flown by and I find that more days than I had planned on have passed before I was able to make entries here. We had our usual Writers’ Group meeting on Thursday morning with Larry and I meeting up to discuss our Novel before the regular meeting started. We will soon be up to 23 chapters of what will probably be a 100 – 150 chapter book. Don’t freak out, the chapters are short, running in the 750 – 1200 word range. That will translate to 2 – 3 pages I think. I wrote an additional three chapters this week to insert between chapters we had already written. I felt that we needed more character development if we wanted our heroes to be more sympathetic. This book has started consuming my time which I have to fully admit is a lot of fun for me. I am thoroughly enjoying writing this novel with Larry. Since I am the retired person, I am the one having to do all the editing and re-read to make sure that we do not have any inconsistencies in our story line. I also think I might have come up with a title for the book, “The Cinderella Murders.” What do you think? The regular meeting was fun also. We went over a piece written by Larry for the “Short Story” web site called “The King Maker and the Crazy Lady.” It’s an interesting piece and a good read. Victoria will be submitting a new piece for this week and then it will be my turn next week again.
Spanish class is moving along nicely. We covered irregular verbs in Friday’s class. They are all about memorization. There is no other way to deal with them. Naturally I’m still enjoying the one on one with the teacher and feel that this will help me a lot in the end. I still wish her English was a little better. She has a hard time explaining some things to me.
I had coffee with Nathan my friend and the Managing Editor of LiP as well as Katrina at Café Z. We had a nice long meeting talking about our writing projects and what we had been doing lately. I hadn’t seen Nathan in at least three months and it had been almost two since I had seen Katrina. This is what happens when friends get good jobs and I become absorbed in my writing. Katrina has almost finished a children’s book she has been working on. Her boyfriend Oswaldo will be illustrating it. LiP has been keeping Nathan really busy and his parents were just here for a visit. It was good seeing both of them again. Who knows when it will happen again? After September I will be receiving guests for the next 5 – 6 months so I imagine I will have very little time for anything other than my writing and seeing that my guests have a good time.
I also made it out to Sarritas for some of their delicious Tamals. I went with Steve and his brother Antonio. We stopped at Plaza Lima Sur in Chorrillos and checked into tickets for the La Tarumba Circus. If you all remember I went to the show last year and had a great time. They change the theme of the show every year so I think it will be interesting to see again. Well once again I have come to the end of my discourse. I hope I didn’t bore you too much. Have a great week all and I will be leaving for Argentina this coming Friday (8/27). I’m really looking forward to that. I can feel the Tango coursing through my veins already. Oh BTW, the photos in this entry are all from delicious meals I have had at the local Menu. Hmmmm they were good!
08/28/2010 (Saturday) An ordinary week in Lima; Now in Buenos Aires, Argentina
The week flew by even faster than usual. Anytime you have to travel it seems that those few days just before your flight go by at the speed of light. The next thing you know, you are on the way to the airport and you aren’t quite sure that you finished all your little projects or that you packed everything you need for the trip.
I did manage to get in both my Spanish classes for the week and make the weekly writers meeting. The Spanish classes went well. We work on more irregular verbs. I can tell they might be my downfall, there are a lot of them and the only way to deal with them is through memorization. That’s fine for the ones that you use a lot but the obscure words, well, let’s just say that I might end up looking like an idiot. I still like the teacher; she’s very reassuring and always gives me encouragement. We also had our regular writers’ group meeting. Once again Larry and I discussed where we were at with our book and what timeline it was taking place in. Then we went over the new chapters we had written and discussed ways to make them better. Naturally I will be taking a week off from writing while I am gone and it will give Larry a chance to catch up on work he needs to do. After that, Victoria arrived and we went over a humor piece that she did. Very nice work on her part and it will be posted on Tuesday.
I’m sure you know by now that I left for Buenos Aires on Friday morning with my friend Steve. We arrived in the city fairly late; it was almost 9pm by the time we got to our hotel. The hotel was OK but the neighborhood was not so Saturday we met up with my friend David’s nephew and after having a nice lunch and tour of the downtown, Brian took us to a better neighborhood, Palermo, and I got another room here. It’s actually like a small apartment with a little kitchen and after much tribulation we have WiFi in the room. I have to admit, I am a little disappointed with Buenos Aires to this point and it’s a lot more expensive than I was led to believe. I would say it costs twice as much to live here versus Lima Peru. I also expected the city to be a little cleaner for some reason. Still lots to see though and I will hold off on total judgment until after I have been here a few days. We were supposed to go to a Tango club tonight with Brian (David’s nephew) and his girlfriend Luz but no internet in the room and miscommunication caused us to miss each other at our meeting time. Hopefully we will be able to get together and see a Tango show before I leave. I will post more in a couple of days along with more photos. Hope all of you are having a great weekend.
08/31/2010 (Tuesday) Argentina, Walk around, Botanical Gardens, City Tour, Tango Lessons and Show
We woke up Sunday to a slightly chillier day despite the sun being out. Steve went out Saturday night and played Disco King while I stayed in and got some sleep. I was up early for a walk through the neighborhood and a visit to the Botanical Gardens. Palermo is definitely a nicer district than Montserrat was. Montserrat is one of the oldest areas in Buenos Aires but is known to be a little dangerous (lots of ladrones) and unwise to be walking around in after dark, thus our decision to move to a better area since I like walking around with expensive cameras hanging from my neck. They say that Palermo is the Miraflores of Buenos Aires but I think that Miraflores is much nicer than the parts of Palermo I have seen. It is nice here but Miraflores has that something extra. Maybe it is the fact that it is right on the ocean but I do like it better. Buenos Aires and Lima are nothing alike as far as I can tell so far. Lima seems to have more charm for me but that may have something to do with the fact that I know it better. The streets and “expressways” in Buenos Aires are definitely better. They are much wider and seem to be able to handle traffic better. They are a lot alike in the fact that a very large percentage of both countries’ population lives in them. I still have a lot to see here so I am still reserving judgment till I actually leave.
On my walk Sunday morning, I made it over to the Botanical Gardens. They are very close to where we are staying. They are very nice and remind me just a little of the Botanical Gardens in St. Louis Missouri in the USA. Unfortunately due to the time of year, there are not a lot of flowering plants out but the place is well landscaped and manicured with lots of statuary. It’s certainly not as large as the one in St. Louis and does not have the wide variety that is does but it makes for a nice morning walk through before having the only thing that comes close to an American Breakfast, McDonalds! Otherwise, it’s very continental here and pretty much all you can get are breads with cream cheese, jelly and some coffee. There were only a few other people in the park as I was walking through so I pretty much had the place to myself. There is a Zoo located right next to it and I hope that I can find the time to visit it also.
In the afternoon Steve and I headed over to San Telmo, a historical district with a large artists community. When we arrived they had a street fair going on that stretched for miles. They had a large variety of wares and food for sale. They were selling everything from Chorros, jewelry, masks and clothing to Tango hats. If I lived in Buenos Aires I probably would have loaded up on stuff but the thought of hauling it all back to Lima just did not appeal to me. We stopped at a local tour place and made arrangements for me to go on a city tour Monday morning and then a Tango Show and Lesson that evening. We walked the entire street and ended up in a totally different district, the center of Buenos Aires. By this time it was dark and we decided to head back to the hotel after we went down to the water front. It was very chilly out by this time so we decided not to stay for very long.
Monday morning the tour company came and picked me up in front of the hotel. They got me in a van and took me to their headquarters where I transferred to a large bus with about 20 other people. The tour guide, Diego, was very good and knew his stuff. They took us through the major areas of the city. Recoleta, City Center, La Boca and Palermo were just a few. I enjoyed seeing La Boca the most. It is one of the poorest areas in Buenos Aires but they have it painted in the most brilliant colors. There were lots of artists displaying their wares and interesting things to photograph. Naturally we toured some of the old mansions and passed by the famous old cemetery in Recoleta. They do have a lot of monuments and statuary throughout the city. After this tour my impression of the city improved considerably. I still like Lima better. When it was over, they arranged for a car to take me back to the hotel where I met up with Steve to get ready for the evening.
We had made arrangement to go to “Sabor del Tango”, it included a tango lesson, dinner and then a show afterwards. The theater was located in “District 11”, supposedly one of the most dangerous in Buenos Aires. We arrived by taxi and went straight into the theater. They snapped a couple of pictures of us with a one of the dancers from the show and then herded us into the souvenir shop to wait for the Tango Lessons to start. The lessons were a hoot. Approximately 50 people were in the class and everyone had a good time. We learned the basic 14 steps of one of the easy Tangos. Next we headed up for dinner which was good, not great but good although the Ice Cream Desert was excellent. The inside of the theater itself is beautiful. It was a great opera house in its heyday and has been restored beautifully to present this venue. While we were eating we had another opportunity to have our photo taken with one or two of the performers on stage. I definitely took them up on this offer since I figured it was going to be my only opportunity to ever appear on stage as a Tango Dancer. LOL The show itself was amazing with traditional tangos, some Gaucho Dancers and the musicians were excellent. Afterwards we headed back to the hotel, it was midnight when we got there, and Steve headed out to nightclub it again.
It’s now Tuesday morning and I am getting ready to head over to the Zoo after I finish this and post it. That will probably be it for my day’s activities today. Tomorrow we head back to Lima and hopefully this will be the last trip I have to make to get my Visa renewed. I hope all of you have a good week.