Monthly Archives: December 2012

Road Reading

Day 528 – December 31, 2012

As New Year’s Eve moves into New Year’s Day, I wanted to take this opportunity to share with you one last observation I had about living in Peru for 2012.

This nugget about life in Peru came while at a stoplight one morning a few weeks ago. Looking around at all of the other cars, it dawned on me that none of the privately owned vehicles had any bumper stickers. After having that realization and after realizing that I was basing my judgement on only one point in space and time, I began to take notice of the bumpers of all the other cars around me.

Sure enough, my initial impression was correct: The vast mass majority of Peruvian drivers (at least in Lima) do not have bumper stickers on their vehicles. Because of this absence, I am at a loss to determine who is a proud parent of what honor roll student, what the driver’s other car is, what they would rather be doing than driving, or what their political preference is.

The sole exception to this gross generalization are the taxis, but only then the bumper stickers that adorn these compact cars are advertisements for local radio stations.

The other sole exception (“other sole”…sounds like that came from the Department of Oxymorons) is that some privately owned cars have the decals on their back window that show their particular combination of dad, mom, kids, and/or pets. I only bring it up so I can link to this funny (IMHO) comic from xkcd.

And with that…I wish you a happy and healthy dos-mil-trece (It’s how you say the year “2013” in Spanish).

Weekly Photo Challenge: My 2012 in Pictures

Days 163 to 525 – January 1 to December 28, 2012

For their last weekly photo challenge of 2012, WordPress has asked people to create the year gone by in pictures.

I’ll start off my septet of Peruvian (except one) photographs in the month February with a shot of Laguna Huacachina in the southern coastal portion of the country where we vacationed.

Laguna Huacachina in Peru

Febrero – Laguna Huacachina

In the third month of 2012, our neighborhood of Lima saw its playground undergo a makeover. The slides were replaced with a large sandbox (see below) and it only took a few months for the new structure to arise to the delight of all the local children.

Playground under construction

Marzo – Missing Slides

In April, the family enjoyed one last gasp of summer, by the reckoning of the Southern Hemisphere, as we trooped on down to the beach in the Miraflores area of Lima. This visit is where I also took this photograph (as previously seen in another WordPress challenge).

Lima beach

Abril – La Playa

Jumping to July and outside of Peru, I simply must share this photo of a gentleman doing his own thing in National Airport in Washington D.C. I share because I can.

Man at Reagan Airport with French horn

Julio – A man tooting his own horn

For the ninth month of the year, our family went to Lima’s Parque Kennedy and attended PeruFloral 2012, an outdoor exhibit centered around flowers and plants. One of the displays was a design on the sidewalk composed of parts of flowers. It’s probably the only time I could snap a pic of a non-blurry hummingbird.

Hummingbird in petals

Septiembre – Bird in Flowers

October saw us enjoy a quick weekend in Lunahuana where we partook of the available activities including river rafting and riding on ATVs. There was also the option to try our hand at ziplines, but we passed. However, I did not pass up the chance to take a picture of those who did not pass.

Zip line at Lunahuana

Octubre – Zipping along

To finish, here is a photo I took in December while the family was on a double-decker bus taking a scenic tour of Lima.

The Kiss - statue in Lima, Peru

Diciembre

To cap off the year and this post, I wish you the best of holiday wishes – Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy New Year – and I also hope you, my wonderful reader, have someone to kiss when 2013 comes a’knocking.

Like the Fourth in December

Day 521 – December 24, 2012

“Like Christmas in July” is a phrase common in the United States.

Down here in Peru, that phrase can be turned on its head because for the past few weeks it has felt like “The Fourth in December”…as in the Fourth of July.

Here is what has been transpiring over the past twenty-four days…

…there have been newspaper articles documenting police raids on companies selling illegal fireworks;
…there have been other stories in newspapers telling their readers which are the safest fireworks to buy; and
…vendors on the street have been selling all manner of pyrotechnics – from individual things that go boom to shrink-wrapped packages that contain about twenty explosives;

All of this firework-related news and commerce is due a Peruvian tradition that begins tonight.

The carol “Silent Night” has no meaning in Peru because when midnight strikes tonight and Christmas Eve moves into Christmas Day, citizens all over the country light off their trove of fireworks.

We were in Cusco last year when the rockets went off. I am curious to see what time I will be able to finally drift off to sleep here in the larger city of Lima with all the bombs bursting in air.

Finally, and tho’ it’s been said many times, many ways….

Feliz Navidad and to all a good (and quiet) night.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Surprise

Day 486 – November 19, 2012

It was a surprise to wake up on this Monday and be serenaded by a cacophony of trilling alarm clocks courtesy of the avian septet seen below.

Parakeets on roof in Peru

Birds on a cold tile roof

They were surprised when I gave them my critique of their warbling and shooed them away.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delicate

Day 443 – October 7, 2012

Yes, I realize I am seven days overdue with this theme from WordPress but I am a proud alumni of Procrastination University and this is simply par for the course.

This week’s Last week’s theme of delicate and there will be no shots of gossamer webs, hummingbird wings, or flaky pastries in today’s blog. This is mainly because the spiders here in Peru are quite burly and they build mean-as-bugger webbing, the hummingbirds are a tad too quick to catch on digital film (this shot notwithstanding), and I don’t cook quite pastries all that well.

To answer the challenge of “delicate”, I take you back to Sunday, October 7 of this year where nothing massively unlucky occurred. The power did go out in our neighborhood but I hardly think that qualifies as an omen of ill.

We took the family to a paintball outing. There are two (yes, count them, two) outfits in our section of Lima where one can don camo overalls, lie next to a haystack or shell of a car, and have your legs bruised fifty shades of blue by your best friend firing pellets full of paint at you.

My children say it’s fun.

I sit back and watch and take their word for it.

After an afternoon of mock warfare, the family drove to a friend’s house where we would continue enjoying the day with snacks and beverages. On our way there, we came to a stoplight and being the good driver that I am (this post notwithstanding), I stopped when the light was red.

Out of the corner of my left eye, I saw a pair of figures shuffling across the cross walk. An extremely frail-looking elderly man was being helped across the street by a local security official. The man from the city was patient with his charge because the old man walked haltingly and tentatively. He walked so slowly that the light turned green while he was still in the cross walk. Look at this picture…

Person helps person cross street in Peru

Delicate Crossing

…and notice that stoplight to the left is on yellow. It took the pair another cycle of red and green lights until they were all the way across.

What amazed me more than the official’s patience was that during the entire time that the helper and helpee were in the cross walk, no one honked. Those who have braved the streets of Lima know what an amazing event that is.

XVI-rony

Day 511 – December 14, 2012

I know Peru is a majority Roman Catholic country. This is not a surprise to me.

Given that The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2012 says that eighty-one percent of population follows that faith (page 823) and twenty-two percent of people in the United States are Roman Catholic (as of 2010 / page 607 and 699); and

Given that in Peru workers receive the day off and students miss school due to holidays such as Santa Rosa de Lima Day (August 30), All Saints Day (November 1), and Immaculate Conception (December 8) and workers and students do not receive those days off in the United States; and

Given that many parks in the area have statues devoted to saints and even for a Pope and (as far as I could ascertain) few parks in the United States have similar shrines; and

Given that in December in Peru many public spaces contain Nativity scenes (such as this one in Parque Kennedy)

Nativity scene in Lima's Parque Kennedy

Nativity scene

…and messages of “Merry Christmas” (or “Feliz Navidad” considering the local language) without raising an eyebrow…

Christmas display in Peru

Christmas wish with a kiss

…while in the United States such displays are parties to judicial decisions or rallies;

With all those givens, I was fully acclimated to the fact that Peru was a Roman Catholic country.

Because of that acclimation, I was completely taken by surprise by a satirical drawing I saw in the editorial cartoon section, known as El Otorongo, of the Peruvian newspaper Peru 21. I had thought that as a Roman Catholic country, all aspects of that faith would be treated with respect.

I was wrong.

Editorial cartoon from Peruvian newspaper

Translation…

Pope Benedict XVI:
Yes, Pepito [a common name for a young boy], Jesus walked on water.
Yes, Pepito, Jesus multiplied the loaves.
Yes, Pepito, Jesus resurrected the dead.

Pepito (via computer):
And is it true that the world will end on December 21?

Pope:
Not so, Pepito. How can you believe such nonsense?

As dissimilar as our two countries may be concerning the display of the Nativity in public spaces, it was interesting to see that our two nations share a tradition of poking people in power.

Photo Friday: Men

Day xxx – Various Dates, 2012

Courtesy of Photo Friday, the photographic theme for this week is men.

Cue The Weather Girls for it is raining men…and with this being Lima — which has a lack of measurable precipitation — it would be more accurate to say it’s merely drizzling men.

We start this photo montage with a man of action. I managed to capture this hombre doing a good impression of a groundhog as he emerged from his duties under the streets of Lima to check on some reading (or a text from his jefe)…

Telecommunication worker in Peru

Man At Work

All work and no play makes Juan a dull boy so our next snapshot shows some guys enjoying some fun courtesy of Peru’s municipalities. This city-run skatepark is located in Miraflores. The man in the center is riding some form of all-terrain skateboard that had difficulty on the half-pipes but shredded on the ramps.

Skateboarder in Miraflores, Peru

Men Without Hats

Summer is drawing nigh and that means the weather is heating up. When that happens, the yellow tricycles hawking confections from D’Onofrio come out of hibernation. You hear them before you see them because all the D’Onofrio sellers blow a whistle that has a distinctive sound. Sort of like the Good Humor Man, but with a duck whistle instead of a calliope.

Ice cream seller in Peru

Man In the Yellow Hat

Back to Miraflores for this next photo and one of the options available to the tourist (or local) strolling along the Malecon (the boardwalk area of Miraflores) is to take to the skies. There is a bluff in this area that serves as a launching point for paragliders to use the ocean breezes to soar into the Peruvian skies. The picture below shows a pair of men ready to fly solo, but there are paragliders built for two where a paying passenger can hitch a ride with the more experienced aviator. No one in our family has tried this option, but they are fun to watch.

Paragliders in Miraflores, Peru

Fly Like an Eagle

Finally, there was nothing in the post from Photo Friday that maintained that the men for this theme had to be human. Submitted for your final perusal is a picture that was taken at the Islas Ballestas, part of the Paracas National Reserve.

Wildlife at Paracas Natural Reserve

Not Seal

A beautiful, but loud, sight as the sea lions jostled their way on the beach to find the best territory. The male with the most prized real estate would increase his chance of passing on his Y chromosome to the next generation.

When You Gotta Go, You Gotta Pay

Day 492 – November 25, 2012

Today was a shopping day as the family hiked (okay, we drove) it down to the Miraflores area of Lima and wandered around one of markets. Our mercado of choice for today was Inka Plaza. This shrine to buying housing all manner of objects for the tourist to remember his or her visit to Peru. Stall are crammed full of alpaca shawls, T-shirts, chess sets, silver, jewelry, and other assorted items.

Here, look for yourself…

Inka Plaza

Market Stalls – Daytime

Inka Market, Lima, Peru

The exit (salida) is not underground

Inka Plaza

Stalls, Street, & Mural

However, this post is not meant to be a quaint retrospective about our mercantile visit. Instead, I wanted to draw your attention to a tiny facet of living in Peru.

During our shopping sojourn, the call of nature came upon me and I detached myself from the vendors and sellers to find the facilities. For those of you journeying to Peru for the first time, you should be aware that the letters SS.HH. are what you are looking for if you need a lavatory (or “loo” for those of your reading on the other side of the Pond). Those letters stand for Servicio Higiencios which could be translated literally as “Hygiene Services”…which is a good enough name for restroom if you ask me.

To borrow a turn of phrase from one of the members of the Fellowship of the Ring, One does not simply walk into a SS.HH. No, one must engage in a transaction and pay for the privilege.

Outside the SS.HH. in the Inka Plaza (and the same thing has occurred me to at Lima’s main zoo), there is a desk with an attendant. Before entering, I had to tell this individual standing guard outside the SS.HH. why I needed to use the facilities. I had to be direct and tell him exactly the mode of relief I needed because the price is different depending on whether I needed to stand or sit. After making my wishes known, I was presented with an admission ticket…

Receipt to use restroom in Peruvian market

A golden ticket?

Thirty centavos (about eleven cents) is a small price to pay for relief.

Travel Theme: Circles

Day 079 – October 9, 2011

The blog Where’s My Backpack? has offered up the theme of circles for their weekly photographic challenge. A fine theme it is but I will be expanding that choice into a higher dimension.

I will talk about spheres.

For this Sunday, the family and I took a small outing to a farmer’s market that is sponsored by the agricultural university in our suburb of Lima.

In addition to a playground for the tykes, a butcher for all your meaty needs, and an outdoor restaurant for any cravings for ossobuco or lengua, this market also has a wide variety of fruit stalls.

Since we live in a suburb of Peru’s capital city, it only makes sense to start off with a picture of this…

Limas in Lima

Yep, limas in Lima

This next fruit is also called “passion fruit”, but here it goes by the name of…

Maracuya

Maracuya….like the sign says

A word about the maracuya. According to our empleada, no one eats this fruit as is. People do not buy this fruit and consume it like an apple or pear. Instead, folks use the fruit and make a tangy, pulpy juice with it.

Membrillo

1 kilo = 2.2 pounds

Peru knows the fruit above as membrillo. You might recognize it as quince.

Aguaymanto

Big name / small size / big taste

This last fruit is a real find, mainly because I had never seen it before. This, again, is one of the great things about travelling and living in another place and culture – there is always something new to discover. This fruit, aguaymanto, was today’s discovery. While the taste (to me) is just okay, the fun is in the eating. Each of the berries is surrounded by a husk and the trick is to squeeze the fruit using just the slightest of pressure from your thumb and forefinger. Not enough force and you go hungry. Too much force and you’re cleaning aguaymanto juice off your shirt.

Ah, the sweet joys of discovery.

Mixed Messages

Day 502 – December 5, 2012

This story is why I think it’s important for a major metropolitan area to have more than a single newspaper serving its citizenry.

Today’s front page of Peru21 had a tease about a story with this lead, “Peru es el pais mas inseguro de las Americas” (Peru is most unsafe country in the Americas). The article, on page 7, references a study from Barometro de las Americas detailing how Peru, when measuring for violence and corruption, comes in twenty-sixth out of the twenty-six countries that comprise South America and Central America and also includes the United States and Canada.

Meanwhile…

Today’s front page of Publimetro has a picture of a beautiful panaroma of the Malecon area of Lima. The photograph has the caption, “…nuestra capital ocupa puesto 12 en America Latina entre las mejores ciudades para vivir.” (…our capital occupies the 12th spot for the best cities to live in in Latin America) and directs the reader to page 6. Once there, the article mentions the 2012 Quality of Living survey from Mercer. Peru’s capital city is ranked globally at number 121 out of 460 measured cities.

Feeling good or feeling bad about your city of residence (or any other matter) may sometimes depend on what paper you picked up.

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