Ready to start telling some tales
Padre y hija, visiting in the Plaza de Armas, Lima.
Having blogged about the run-up to mine and Sophie's trip to Peru, and having done no posting since we left in June, I feel like perhaps some reportage is owed to you, dear reader. As I explained to Alejandro at PeruFood, besides being overwhelmed with work upon my return, I was kind of "peru-ed out." (He said he didn't understand what I meant.)
But we're all better now. So, over the next few weeks, as time permits, I'll start posting some vignettes of our experience. Meanwhile, allow me to enumerate some highlights of the trip:
We spent at my aunt's house in the Pueblo Libre neighborhood of Lima, mostly spent eating, cabbing around the city and generally getting to know the megalopolis that is Lima.
- Life in the crowded capital of a developing-world country is hands-down way more dynamic than life in the midwest USA. It's dirty, loud and at times brutal, but never boring.
- Lima is as tradition-bound as ever, but at the same time increasingly connected to the rest of the world.
- The food scene has exploded and was a source of great joy. Miss picky Sophie experienced many new foods and was pleasantly surprised.
- Dunkin' Donuts' Peruvian doughnut flavors (lucuma, manjar blanco, etc.) are reaaally good.
Beauty is in the nostrils of the beholder.
We flew to Cusco, made it as far as Pisaq, but were sick as dogs the whole time, thanks to Atahualpa's revenge, or, altitude sickness. After three days, we retreated back to sea level and salvaged the week by heading south along the desert coast, hitting Pisco, the Islas Ballestas, Ica, Huacachina and Nasca.
- Nothing helps you cope with soroche better than nursing a beer at the Cross Keys pub, watching the Americans fend off Italy.
- Pisco and Nasca feel a bit dusty and junky by day but then become absolutely charming by night.
- The Ballestas rock!
- Dune buggy rides in Huacachina are well worth the price.
- The Nasca Lines are not nearly as big as you might think.
- Helena Chocotejas are delicious.
Weeks 3 and 4
Surfer grrl. Sophie tries her foot at snowboarding near Huacachina.
We hung in Lima some more, making sure to catch most every game in the World Cup finals and then took an impromptu trip to Iquitos and the Ceiba Tops lodge, about an hour or so downstream. A sweaty but amazing time was had by all!
- Cocona is the best fruit ever. My kingdom for some fresh cocona juice!
- The World Cup is best viewed in a country where it's the most important thing in the news.
- Kinkajous are really fun little creatures. If they were housebreakable and didn't cost $2k, we'd sure as heck get one.
- Cutting a cocoa pod off the tree, cracking it open and sucking on the raw seeds is great fun. The white pulp is like nature's cotton candy.
- Generally speaking, when your flight out of Iquitos is delayed and you're languishing in the airport, don't engage a born-again Republican from a gated, white community in Mobile, Ala., about the politics of immigration. Nothing good can come of it.
- Be careful with your digital camera in the desert or it won't work when you get to the jungle!
Stay tuned for stories, pictures and video!
Two creatures who greatly enjoy sleeping. (Not the best image quality, but undoubtedly my favorite picture from the trip!)
Tags: Peru, Lima, Pueblo Libre, Dunkin' Donuts, lucuma, manjar blanco, Cusco, Pisaq, Pisac, Pisco, Islas Ballestas, Ica, Huacachina, Nasca, Nasca Lines, Cross Keys Pub, Dune buggy, World Cup, Chocolates Helena, Helena Chocolates, Cocona, kinkajou, cocoa, Iquitos
Peruvian fountain of youth?
Rebeca Roa Alva at her 107th birthday. Photo courtesy of Trome.
I've told some of you that my dear old abuelita credited her old age (she lived to 95-ish) to onions and strong drink ("cebolla y trago"). But here's a woman who's considerably older, and whose recipe for long life is very Andean. The 107-year-old, quechua-speaking Rebeca Roa Alva eats lima beans, quinoa, kiwicha and amaranth and chews coca on a daily basis.
Peru Food and LAX-LIM, has become my favorite blogger of late. If I can pin him down for an interview and get him to reveal his true identity, I'll be sure to do a write up on his growing enterprise.
Tags: Peru, Rebeca Roa Alva, quechua, 107, onions, lima beans, quinoa, kiwicha, amaranth, coca
Brother, can you spare some coastline?
Vice Admiral José Alba Arnez, commander of the Bolivian Navy. Photo by Simon Romero.
The New York Times recently added a little color to the age-old story of the Bolivian Navy, who, since the late 1800s has been limited in its range of operations to the 12,500-foot high Lake Titicaca.
Read Bolivia Reaches for a Slice of the Coast That Got Away (until it gets archived).Even before reading this article, I leaned toward the view expressed by many Bolivians -- that their umbilical cord to the sea was taken unjustly by Chile.
I could see if Bolivia had been left with even a few miles of usable coast. Then they would have been free to pariticpate in maritime trade, like most everyone else. Then any arguments today about the Chilean landgrab would be mostly academic and mostly fueled by wounded pride. But considering Bolivia's pathetic economic situation (it is the poorest country in South America, probably for many reasons, not just this) and the fact that Chile has around 4,000 miles of coast, it seems downright shitty (to use the diplomatic parlance) that Chile is only now condescending to consider Bolivia's plight.
But, hey, I live in the country that strongarmed vast tracts of land from Mexico in the 1800s and has never expressed any regrets. So, perhaps that was just the way they did business back then...
Tags: Bolivia, Navy, Jose Alba Arnez, Simon Roberto, New York Times, Lake Titicaca, Chile, coastline