Monthly Archives: April 2013

Buenos Aires: Day of the Dead

February 4, 2013 – Day 563

As part of our South American summer cruise, the family spent two days in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires. While we saw many more sites than the subject of today’s posting, I wanted to take this space and highlight one of the locations we spent a chunk of time at.

Because nothing screams “Happy Time With the Kids” more than spending it among the dead, we toured La Recoleta Cemetery. Here’s the entryway…

Come on in....

Come on in….

Entering this graveyard allowed me to crack open one of my standard jokes. I asked our kids if they knew why cemeteries had fences around them. When they said, “No”, I was able to reply, “Because people are dying to get in.”

[insert rimshot here]

Some of the crypts were massive…

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For those of you playing at home, this final resting place belongs to Marcelo Torcuato de Alvear (1868 – 1942), who was a lawyer, politician, ambassador, and whose name scores thrity-three points in Scrabble.

The following picture will not do justice to my next description, but this entire cemetery is crammed and packed with stone crypts. Sometimes the paths to and from graves were only wide enough for one person to walk through – which tended to be an issue when large tour groups came filed their way through.

RecoletaCrop

We came across this interesting pair of crypts. I must admit that when I think of a mausoleum, my picture of it is a place that remains static. I never really thought that a place like La Recoleta would allow new tenants, but I was wrong. In the picture below, the crypt on the right is from 2011 whereas the one on the left is from 1905.

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Since I can’t imagine that there had been an opening just waiting for the 2011 crypt to be built, it did make us wonder who was evicted to make room for the new burial…and where are their remains now?

Despite being surrounded by marble, stone, and corpses, this place did manage to keep the interest of our two boys. They have recently become fans of the British television series Doctor Who and we spent a good deal of time walking around the statues telling each other not to blink.

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For those who have not the wonderful pleasure of watching the Doctor Who episode “Blink“, go here.

While it is crowded in La Recoleta and there are famous Argentine folk buried there, this place is renowned for being the final resting place for one person in particular.

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Above is the grave of Eva Peron. For more, non-musical, information about her, you can jump here. The line to walk past her crypt was long and – because of the crowded nature of the place – single-file so it took some time…but well worth it.

After a few hours, we were done. As we left, this was the message presented to us as we emerged back into the land of the living.

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My Latin is even worse than my Spanish, but Google Translate reads those two words as “We expect the Lord” or “We wait for the Lord”.

And with that lovely thought in our head – you will die one day also (at least that’s how I read that message)- we continued our vacation.

Have It Your Way At Home Was Here First

April 25, 2013 – Day 643

This adventure to Peru would have been radically different had it taken place two decades ago (heck, even ten years ago). Back in that bygone era known as the early 1990s the Internet was known only to those who had mastered UNIX and were privy to the arcane arts of FTP (that would be “file transfer protocol”). There were no browsers as there wasn’t even a World Wide Web. Podcasts weren’t even a glimmer in the eyes of tech-savvy folk.

Had I lived in Peru a score of years ago, I believe I would have been out of contact with the news that emanated from the United States. Perhaps, in the 1990s, I would have been able to keep tabs on the happenings in the States by reading days-old newspapers that were shipped to Lima.

However, I am in Peru now and now means the Internet, the Web, and podcasts. Courtesy of all of that technological wizardry, I am able to keep abreast of all manner of news from the sea to shining sea as well as all other sections of the globe.

One of my favorite podcasts is Marketplace, a business-oriented program from American Public Radio. Today, I heard the program from April 24 and was greatly humored by the final item of Wednesday’s program as narrated by the program’s host, Kai Ryssdal. In its entirety, here is that transcript

This week’s sign the apocalypse is upon us: (And honestly, I don’t know how I missed this, but somehow I did.)

It seems just because fast food isn’t already convenient enough, you can now get it delivered. I learned today Burger King franchises in Chicago, San Francisco and eventually here in Los Angeles will start delivering Whoppers, et al.

After all, to steal a line from one of our producers here, a microwaved $2 hamburger isn’t enough. Now you can get it cold, on your door step.

My apologies, Mr. Ryssdal, but if your metaphor is to be believed, then the Apocalypse has already been upon us based on life down here in Peru.

Fast-food delivery from the burger-makers of McDonald’s, Bembo’s, KFC, and yes even from Burger King, has been the epitome of normal since we arrived. Delivery is done via motorcycle as can be seen in this picture…

Fast Food on Fast Wheels

Fast Food on Fast Wheels

Are the burgers cold? No. Why? For the same reason, Mr. Ryssdal, that your delivered pizza isn’t icy when it arrives at your doorstep. The burger joints use insulated boxes that keep the hot stuff hot and the cool stuff cool.

Chicago, San Fransisco, and L.A., please enjoy your delivered patties.

From the 80s to Today

April 24, 2013 – Day 642

Over my time here in Peru, I have made mention once or twice about how Lima appears to be a magnet for musical acts that were popular back in the 1980s.

The City of Kings has seen Roxette, Aerosmith, and Erasure make appearances while I have lived here. The hits simply keep coming as the news is out that the music group Yes will be performing in Lima in May.

However, the era of Reagan, Flashdance, and shoulder pads for women is not the only period of time that sends its musical acts to Peru. Nope, Lima is also on the leading edge of music hip-ness as Korean pop music (aka K-popwhich is a vastly different musical style from K-Tel) sends its practitioners to this South American capital.

PSY has not yet shown up (only a matter of time, I suppose), but this weekend sees the ten-member boy band from South Korea, Super Junior, in concert. Actually, there will only be nine members showing up for the gig as one of them dropped out to join the Army.

How big is this concert?

It’s so big that one of Peru’s largest newspaper, El Comercio, placed a large poster of the group in its paper as a souvenir item to promote the April 27 show. Part of the poster is reproduced below…

Their show is called "Super Show 5"...that's why their hands are that way

Their show is called “Super Show 5″…that’s why their hands are that way

I may laugh about the bubble-gum quality of K-pop, but I did the same decades ago when the Backstreet Boys hit it big.

And now that quintet has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Who’s laughing now?

Weekly Photo Challenge: Up

February 1, 2013 – Day 560

Today’s photo is my response to WordPress’s Weekly Photo Challenge that has the topic of “Up

In February, the family took a cruise/vacation where our first port of call was the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro. As mentioned in a previous post, part of our scenic looksie through the city that will host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games was to make a stop at the statue known as Christ the Redeemer.

Here is my “up”lifting photo.

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I look forward to the upcoming themes from WordPress such as toy stories, a bug’s life, and monsters.

Park of the Fountains

March 28, 2013 – Day 615

Over the Semana Santa (Holy Week) holiday during the Thursday and Friday before Easter, our family took the opportunity to visit some sights around Lima that we had not yet seen.

High on that list was the Parque de la Reserva (Park of the Reserve). Completed in 1929, this public green space was built to honor those who fought in the battles of San Juan and Miraflores during the War of the Pacific (1879 – 1883) where Peru and Bolivia fought against Chile.

As a side note, and to highlight the fact that some folks are still steamed over the outcome of that conflict (over a century+a score+a decade ago), the government of Bolivia has gone to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to obtain the coastal land it lost to Chile.

In other ICJ news, Peru and Chile are awaiting the Court’s ruling on Peru’s petition to redraw the maritime boundary between their two countries.

However, all of that judicial and military maneuvering flowed to the back of our minds as we enjoyed a lovely evening walking around the park’s signature feature, El Circuito Mágico del Agua (The Magic Water Tour).

The tour is a series of a baker’s dozen of distinct and different fountains. Each one is numbered and named.

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The Tour is best seen at night when the floodlights makes the dancing waters sparkle. We arrived near dusk.

Fuente de la Cupula Visitable

Fuente de la Cupula Visitable

I also learned a valuable lesson for tourists. I learned that one needs to make sure that the battery in the digital camera is charged up before going on an outing. Sadly, I neglected to check the level of electric charge in my trusty camera and so right after I took the above picture, I was greeted with the “Recharge battery” message.

Ignoring the mocking green letters on my camera’s screen, I was able to squeeze out a few more images (seen below) before my camera truly gave up it lithium-ion ghost.

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My apologies for the grainy, fuzzy nature of these photos. I’d like to say that I used some sort of Instagram filter on them, but as I said before, I had little battery life and so I only had a few seconds to turn the camera on and take whatever shot I could before my camera died.

Fuente Magica

Fuente Magica

The above fountain, Fuente Magica, is the tallest of the thirteen. People are not allowed in it, but that doesn’t mean the fine folk of Lima couldn’t enjoy a cool blast of water on a March evening.

Fuente Laberinto de Ensueno

Fuente Laberinto de Ensueno

Two days later, we went from the wet to the dry as we visited Caral.

Photo Friday: Natural Light

February 11, 2013 – Day 570

The picture below is my response to the Photo Friday challenge of “natural light“.

In February of this year, the family made a trek out to Iguazu Falls (as mentioned before here and here), a stunning natural wonder of falling water that straddles the border of Brazil and Argentina.

As this week’s challenge is all about natural light, please allow me to show you what happens when sunlight interacts with droplets of water.

Why are there so many songs about these arcs?

Why are there so many songs about these arcs?

As you can see from some previous postings (like here and here), I’m a sucker for arcs of color.

An OK Caral

March 30, 2013 – Day 617

So how did you spend your Saturday before Easter Sunday?

We went to an archaeological site.

To be more specific, we drove north of Lima to Caral, considered to be the oldest city in the Americas.

After a three-hour drive north – of which the last twenty kilometers was done on a road that had not been paved since Caral was last inhabited – we arrived. This is the entrance sign in all of its glory letting you know you have arrived.

There's a sign post up ahead

There’s a sign post up ahead

Caral is located in a desert. This should help you understand why all the next series of pictures are rather bichromatic (tan bottom half / blue upper half).

Not worth $20,000

Worth more than $20,000

We were assigned a guide as that is the only way to tour Caral. There are no free-range tourists at this site. As there are no ropes, fences, string, or any other barriers to keep the crowds off the ruins, having an ever-present guide is a good way to keep the rocks where they have been for the past five millennia.

The highlight of Caral are the pyramids which may even be older (but not larger) than the pyramids at Giza.

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks

In front of the main structures at Caral Alto was a pit that – according to our guide – served as a sacred space for the upper echelons of the Caral citizenry. This picture below doesn’t do the structure justice, but you’ll see an aerial shot of the place at the “Thank You” sign

Take those stairs and you're movin' on up

Take those stairs and you’re movin’ on up

After a ninety-minute tour of the ruins, we were done. We knew we had completed our journey when we saw the sign thanking us for our visit. Politeness is always appreciated when one is dusty, hot, and thirsty.

Y'all come back now, y'hear

Y’all come back now, y’hear

And, yes, the exit here does drop you off at the gift shop / refreshment center.

Fashion Season

April 9, 2013 – Day 627

Two items of note concerning fashion…

Signs of the Season

The calendar down here south of the Equator says fall (or otono) but that autumnal season has yet to arrive. One way I know this is that the high temperatures for these days has hovered around the upper seventies.

The other sure sign that summer still has its hooks in Lima has to do with feet. As of this date in April, I still the vast majority of women in the Peruvian capital wearing sandals. A definite barometer that the winds and weather have changed is when women switch from open-toed shoes to boots.

This Southern Hemisphere-ical seasonal change of style is similar to the end-of-winter/start-of-spring phenomenon observed in the Northern Hemisphere with the pants/shorts worn by UPS delivery people.

“And We’re Coming to Town”

This week has seen the start of LIF – otherwise known as Lima in Fashion Week – a five-day festival of all things sartorial. As with anything fashion-related, there are events where designers can showcase their latest creations.

Please allow me to share with you three items designed by Elfer Castro that were examples of clothes inspired by the Incas. This trio of photographs were in today’s El Comercio as part of a special supplemental about LIF.

Not sure what this is #1

Not sure what this is #1

Not sure what this is #2

Not sure what this is #2

Bank robber or runway model?

Bank robber or runway model?

Part of me is quite content to know that odd fashion is not limited to Paris.

Tech Genius

March 2013

With the advent of the start of the second semester of my children’s School down here in Peru, the high school that my eldest attends has implemented a new policy. The School’s administration highly, highly, highly encouraged that every student bring a laptop to school. The School can’t mandate that every family shell out $$$ to purchase a laptop, but the head pooh-bahs of the School made it clear that any child sans a portable PC would probably suffer in their educational pursuits.

I had my reservations about letting high schoolers loose at school with computers hooked up to the Wild Wild West of the Internet. Yes, the School IT Wizards assured me that the educational facility had appropriate filters set up on their firewalls which was probably as useless against tech-savvy teens as this fence was.

I had my reservations about letting high schoolers loose at school with unlimited access to Facebook and Twitter. If you thought that passing notes was a distraction at school, I can only imagine that allowing high schoolers unfettered access to social media would be as distracting as a room full of laser pointers to a cat.

However, I had my reservations turned around as I was shown the utility of having the kids in classrooms be equipped with laptops. On a particular day in March, my eldest stayed home from school because he wasn’t feeling well. As it happened, on this day, his Social Studies teacher was giving an important lecture about an upcoming assignment. Now my son knew when his class was so he fired up his laptop, started up Skype, called one of his classmates, and my eldest was able to videoconference into the class and hear and see the whole lecture.

Genius, I dare say…genius.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

February 4, 2013 – Day 563

My response to the theme of color from WordPress is below…

A horse of a different color

A horse of a different color

These colorful equine statues and the buildings you see are a small part of the La Boca neighborhood of the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires.

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