Feliz Dia Peru!!! Getting ready for this weekends adventure.


Today is Peru’s Independence Day I’m so excited.

There will/ is a parade in Miraflores. People don’t celebrate Independence Day here the same way that we celebrate the 4th of July – there aren’t any barbecues and I’ll find out about fireworks later. People here travel to visit family and friends and go on mini vacations. Why not they get Thursday and Friday off of work to celebrate. That’s a four day weekend! We need to catch up with this USA =).

At first everyone asked us what are we doing for the holiday, we’re like what do you mean – you’re not having a party/barbecue that we can go to? No, everyone is traveling. So when in Peru do as the Peruvians do. We’ve always been interested in visiting Chincha which is a city that is predominantly inhabited by Afro Peruvians. They have traditional Afro Peruvian food, Afro Peruvian Music and even a few Incan sites. Near Chincha is El Carmen – a small town that I’m told will have lots of partying and celebrations for the holidays in the penas which play Afro-Peruvian music. Unfortunately there’s not a lot written about Chincha, so I will have to stand out like a sore thumb and take a billion pictures and write something nice. This is one article that I have found http://nlip.myperuvianrecipes.​com/travel-1392-ica-discoverin​g-chincha-perus-afro-peruvian-​culture-vineyards-inca-ruins

We are also going to go to Huacachina where you can either sand board or ride dune buggies! While staying in Huacachina we will visit museums in Ica and at least one winery. Click this link to see Huacachina – its a desert oasis like you would see in a movie:  http://www.google.com/search?q=Huacachina&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=i17&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&prmd=ivnsm&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=kXQxTpHfJI_egQeBro35DA&ved=0CEQQsAQ&biw=1280&bih=562

We will get to these places by bus (a two hour ride to each destination) and we will look for hotels/hostals when we arrive. I’ve packed the dried fruit, crackers, cheese and water bottles. Now its time to pack our backpacks. So excited about our adventure =).  I’ll post pics when we get back on Sunday. This is how you live!

Feliz Dia Peru!

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Rustica – Buffet vs. Erica


We’ve been told by our friend Andres to go to the Rustica on the beach its the best one and it has a buffet, over and over again. But we asked a cab to take us – but they didn’t know what we were talking about.  We usually go to the Rustica in Miraflores for our Parillia which is delicious. Then last week we went to the Rustica in the park in Barranco and we were like whoa look at the buffet. It looked pretty nice and it also had ceviche. But this still wasn’t the buffet that Andres was talking about. So I just got the arroz con pollo.  The arroz con pollo here is green because it’s made with cilantro. Its quite delicious. The buffet was S/30 (S/ = soles) per person. So later that week Lupe (the person that designed all the great freakin cabinets and closets in our apartment) comes by and tells us about the Rustica on the beach. Apparently we can walk there from our apartment.  Its just down the road past Chala and over a bridge to the beach.

We arrived at Rustica and wow check out the buffet. My goal was to try every single thing (that I thought I would like) on the buffet. It included ceviche, sushi, creola Peruvian, Chinese, la brasa, and dessert. whoo.. here goes.

First veggie salads, light ceviche with mangoes yumm, and a spectacularly yummy soup. The soup was a tomato base with beef, pasta, and cheese. (I had the camera on the wrong setting)

Second course sushi – I should have skipped this.. I’ve had sushi before and this was nothing special. It just took up room in my stomach. So I didn’t finish my plate

Course 3: Ceveche – Ceveche and more Ceveche all very spectacularly yummy.. I’ve already started to get full at this point =(

Course 4:

  • Beef stew – this was pretty good
  • lomo saltado and papas frita (only a little bit its blending into the stew in the pic)
  • that round dough looking ball is potato filled with ground beef
  • that green square thing is called causa – a traditional peruvian dish. The green part is actually mashed potatoes. Its traditionally a layer of potatoes then chicken or tuna salad then potatoes on top again.
  • the bright orange thing is actually sweet potatoes (I should have ate that with the ceviche – ceviche is typically accompanied by corn and sweet potatoes.
  • the green sauce is over potatoes I’m not sure what its called but .. didn’t like it.

Course 5: Dessert. First arroz con leche (rice pudding) … the best darn rice pudding I’ve ever had. They eat it warm here its great. The purple stuff on the right you mix into the rice pudding. I add just a little – Peruvians eat it about half and half.

Yes the buffet won =(…  I couldn’t eat anymore. Next time – la brasa (barbecue that they cook right there at the buffet), Chinese well actually Chifa – Peruvian/Chinese, and more Peruvian dishes.

Course 6: yes why not try a piece of flan, tres leches, and strawberry mousse.

Overall great buffet. I will go back again and try to conquer the dishes I didn’t have a chance to try. However, this buffet is S/50 and the one in Barranco is S/30 so it will have to be a special lunch or something =).

 

 

Vivimos en Barranco (We live in Barranco)


We had to keep the owners of the apartment in Miraflores waiting a little while because we had to see this amazing apartment in Barranco. But once we got a chance to see it in person we knew the apartment in Barranco was ours. Who wouldn’t its a block away from the ocean, 2b/2b, w/d, dw, custom closets, furnished.. need I say more! NO! Ok for all of you who have been waiting to see the pictures please click here :apartment pics  (FYI these pictures are taken by the apartment owner not me.. but she had a billion of them so this is the best way to show you).

Needless to say we love it!! And still do. We moved in July 3rd right after the previous tenants dirt was cleaned out =). It’s a great feeling to respond to the question “What country are you from” with “Estados Unidos, pero yo vivo en Barranco”. Get that another gringa tourist  look off your face please. lol  But please don’t ask me anything else except how long have I been here or how long will I be here. Now, if I could just get my Spanish down. Yes, I’m from Miami and Matthew’s from Pennsylvania but he’s the one who speaks Spanish. Go figure – going to IHOP instead of Spanish class is not helping me out now. Sorry Mr. Ruiz =(….. Well, actually teenage Erica needs to apologize to adult Erica. I accept. Moving on…

Barranco is great. Make sure you roll those RRs or people will look at you like they’ve never heard of the place before. It’s a very interesting neighborhood, we’re always running into something new. For instance last week we popped into this artsy cafe style restaurant and a band walks in. We think maybe salsa, afro-peruvian.. NOPE these guys get down and sing the blues in Spanish. Who would’ve thought.

You know this looks like the guy from True Blood

The second time we ran into each other that day.. why not meet

Lima – our new home


We said goodbye to the mountains and sunshine of Cusco and returned arrived back to Lima on June 28th. As you know we had a great time in Cusco, but before we left Lima most of the folks here said “We’ll see you when you get back”. Even though they knew we said that there was a possibility that we would stay in Cusco. OK so they were right- we’re back.

Chala

We returned to our friend Carla’s house that you saw in the previous post while we began searching for an apartment.While we were there Carla asked me for the 5th time or so have you all been to Chala yet. No. So we headed there for lunch one fine day.  The walk to Chala is quite pretty its hard to describe its location but its in the lower level of a small park.  Imagine a park that slopes into a valley but there’s also bridge that goes across it (The Bridge of Sighs). It’s in the lower part of this valley but this is actually a street going towards the ocean. Yeah I know you’re confused – I will have to go take pictures.  We arrived and the menu was a little more expensive than we would have liked for lunch but we could tell it was going to be a really nice meal (they actually don’t have a lunch menu). I ordered the duck with corn risotto and Matthew got chicken. OMG this food was amazing! We lucked up again. Thank you Carla! We even got a chance to meet and take photos with the Executive Chef. www.chala.com.pe  What do you think we should try next on Chala’s menu? Leave a comment below.

Apartment hunting

We decided we would focus on Barranco, Miraflores, and San Isidro. We also began looking at places in San Miguel.  I used www.expatperu.com  www.livinginperu.com and our tried and true www.craigslist.org. We ended up narrowing it down to two apartments one in Miraflores – the heart of Lima where you will spend most of your time, and the other in Barranco- the bohemian neighborhood we had gotten to know and love because that is where Carla’s house is.

  1.  Miraflores Apartment – One bedroom but right next to Parque Kennedy
  2. Barranco- great pics on-line.. 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms but pictures can lie.. and we hadn’t seen it yet.

To be continued… why not a blog cliff hanger =)

The Bus/Combi Chronicles: “El Bus de Diablo”


I apologize I have to do a quick fast forward past our arrival back to Lima to share with you my recent journeys on the Combi/Micro/Bus or whatever you want to call them.

The buses

There are actually three/four different sizes of buses:

  • The Micro Combi- “Bus” that is the size of your typical household mini van- that yes you are expected to stand up in if the seats are all full. (I have not ventured into one of these as of yet)
  • The Combi – This “bus” is about the size of one of those rental/ church vans.. yes I’ve ridden this before, several times.
  • The school bus (this is my name for it)- duh.. it’s the size of a school bus
  • The bus- Its the size of your typical city bus – not the one with the extension in the middle.

The combis are operated by a bus driver and a cobrador. The cobrador is the person who lets you on and off the combi and who you pay your money too.  He/she is also the person that shouts the names of the streets that it is going to, to the crowd at the bus stops or just anyone on the street. All of the buses/combis are in competition with each other, all are owned by different companies and even within that company they are actually rented out. It’s a dog eats dog world. That being said each bus is racing the next to get to the next bus stop or crowd of people.

  • The Metropolitano- is not part of the combi system at all – this is city transportation that has one route north and south that is similar to a subway but its on the highway with its own private lane.

Wednesday July 13th:

So Wednesday morning I decided that I would take Metropolitano “Metro” and a combi to work for the first time.  I usually take a cab because I need to be there at 7am. I was told this would take about 15 minutes and I could jump right into a combi and go to the street where my class is. Wrong. It takes me 15 minutes to walk to the Metro. I get off the Metro and take the 10 minute walk to the main street – Javier Prado and meet a large group of people waiting for a combi. The first combi that shows up is completely pack, the next two that come have people standing in the stair well with the door open, and the fourth one that comes fills up in less than 20 seconds. I get on the 5th combi because it is completely empty grab a seat on the left hand side and decide its better to sit in the aisle than next to the window. #WRONG.  The bus was completely over full within two stops, and my landmark was on the right side of the bus I’m sitting – on the left. SMH.  I screamed out “Baha Calle Flores” (let me off on Calle Flores) every 3 minutes so that the cobrador would know to stop the bus. It worked =).  When I arrived to class I learned that most of the combis were on strike that day – hence the combis that weren’t were extremely overcrowded. I should have read this article: http://www.livinginperu.com/news/15486

Friday July 15th:

Note the bus driver is reading his newspaper

Friday morning went perfectly fine as I was told it would go. Friday morning leaving the office went ummm as expected but this picture above describes as expected.  Yes, there is so much traffic that my combi driver was able to pull out his paper and peruse it. SMH

Friday evening was a tale all of its own about going to have a class with a new client.

The green and white bus I was waiting for

I wait 15 mins for a particular green and white “bus” to come. That bus never comes so I decide to take the bus that says “Arequipa” even though I know there will be traffic going this way. Of course there was too much traffic and I had to get off the bus and take a taxi. Problem – I had S50 and I know the taxi was going to act like he didn’t have change. I then beg a “Cambia” (money exchange) person to break my S50 and he does =). Jump in a cab to my destination in San Isidro.  I arrive at my destination 5 minutes late of course its a complex of buildings and the one I’m going to is all the way in the back; only to arrive and my student to tell me “I’m sorry, I just got pulled into a last-minute meeting”. SMH
The adventure continues. I walk to the bus stop to go home as the bus I prefer zooms by me. Another one comes 5 minutes later but it wants me to get on at the back door and I was closer to the front, so I walked to the front. The driver of course pulled off. SMH.  A third bus arrives less than 3 minutes later I jump on and the bus is pulling off before I get both feet in the stairwell.  I’d like to name this bus “El Bus de Diablo”.  I got in and there weren’t any seats so I held on to the rails that barely reached down from the ceiling of the bus. I mean I could barely reach these things so I’m not sure how the locals do it (most are shorter than me).  The cobrador shows me someone who is getting up on the other side of the isle and yells “SENTARSE” (sit down). I then Matrix style download amazing acrobatic skills and make it across the 3 feet to the other side of the bus.. Wooh I almost fell.

The arobatic cobrador

It wasn’t just me everyone else on the bus had the same WTF expression on their faces too.   I mean this bus had to be driving 90mph in a 20mph zone (if there was a speed limit).  On top of that the driver is blowing his horn anytime any car or bus in front of him stops at least 5 times my cobrador also is beating the side of the bus like its his drum when this happens or the cars next to us get in our way.  Furthermore, our cobrador is yelling the streets/towns out of the window in the typical fashion along with beating his drum as we pull up to any street corner with a crowd or bus stop.

If I see this again I will remember to hold on with dear life

Today (Monday, July 18th) I spoke with another teacher about my experience and apparently July 15th and December 15th are bonus days here in Peru. All salaried employees receive one month extra in pay on these two days as a bonus.  The buses/combis were rushing to get all of the extra money out there. I was also told that Taxis were charging more (they deserve there bonus too right). That explains it all doesn’t it =)

Here are a few pictures of other buses/combis for your viewing pleasure.

**** my disclaimer.. this has not been edited – have to run and cook dinner =)

Matthew’s Birthday Part II and Farewell Cusco


I can’t believe I forgot to add these pictures and moments of Matthew’s birthday in Cusco. FYI Matthew’s birthday was on June 25 and was celebrated on the 25th and 26th of June.

When we made it back from our tour of Moray and the Salt Mines Matthew and I decided to stop into this super touristy and what we thought was over priced restaurant Inka Grill for lunch. The main courses at this restaurant range from 25 – 50 sols. Now the exchange rate is 2.75 sol = 1 US dollar. So S50 = about $18. I know that doesn’t sound like much for a nice restaurant but when you get used to paying S10 for lunch (that includes an appetizer, meal, beverage, and dessert) S50 has a lot of shock value and super touristy non-Peruvian restaurants are not what we came here for. OMG —– do not choose a book by its cover. This place is freakin fabulous. The food was DELICIOUS aka Muy RICO! And worth every sol. Its got a great atmosphere and the drinks were pretty good too =) You can see more pictures on their website http://www.inkagrillcusco.com/

An amazing quite scrumpsious lamb with a tomato sauce and peas, mashed potatoes, and sauteed veggies =)
Matthew had a sandwich.. he did say it was pretty darn good =)

After lunch / dinner we returned back to home (Edith’s Casita). Unfortunately Edith’s grandfather passed away earlier that morning.  Earlier that day the rest of the house guest and I helped with lunch and told her that we would all go out to dinner so that we would not be a burden on her. Edith’s family came over that evening shortly after we returned home. They were all great and helped Edith uplift her spirits. Edith’s grandfather was 106 years old; most of the family was ok with this because he lived a very long life. Edith was affected by his death a little more because he raised her from when she was a baby.  But as I said everyone’s spirits were lifted and it ended up being a great evening.

“Smiley” the mom of the Swedish guest that were staying at the house even got Matthew a birthday cake since we didn’t have one the day before. People are amazing, you meet them one day and you are family the next. It doesn’t matter where you are from or what you look like kind people are kind people =).

Matthew prettending to blow out his birthday cake (he couldn't wait for us to take a picture smh). That's "Smiley" in the pink shirt and her daughters next to Matthew.
Carlos (he is hilarious) Edith's son-in-law, Matthew, me, and Edith
Matthew, Carlos, me, Edith's sister, Smiley and daughters, and Edith's niece

So in the beginning we came to Peru with the intentions of visiting both Cusco and Lima and then deciding where we would settle for the time being.  We chose Lima. Cusco is great, it has tons of activities to do for tourist and there is quite a bit of culture that is very interesting. However, it’s very cold in the evening a little too cold for us and we would prefer to live in a city like Lima that has more options for entertainment. In addition I was never really able to adjust to the altitude, walking up stairs or a steep hill/mountain was way too much for me. I never got the lung capacity required to be comfortable.  We will be back to Cusco before we leave we have yet to travel to Manchu Pichu =).  I’m actually going back in August with one of my BFF’s Keisha =).  Matthew will go back when he has someone of the same species (Y chromosome) to go with him lol.

FYI we are in Lima now and moved into a great apartment in the Barranco district.

The Sacred Valley and Cusco tours


 

The Incans were a magnificent people that built amazing structures in ways that we still don’t even know how.

  • They moved and sculpted stones that weigh thousands of pounds.
  • They created fountains and purified water supply from sources that we still can’t find.
  • They built stone structures without any mortar, that have wholes in them for sand that help the stones shift during earth quakes, and have withstood the times, the Spanish Conquerors, and earth quakes.
  • They have a culture so rich that their descendants still celebrate holidays such as Inti Raymi which bring the second largest crowd to South America outside of Brazil’s Carnival.
  • They were scientist that experimented with different types of climates to develop the best quality crops.
  • They were astronomers.

Please view Matthew’s and my pictures to see some of the amazing sites that Matthew and I got to experience around Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Go to this link to view pictures from Matthew’s Birthday celebrations which include Moray and the Salt Mines :http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150231925857927.319974.599187926&l=019494d3b0

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