Monthly Archives: March 2013

So Let it Be Written

March 25, 2013 – Day 612

Happy Passover (or Chag Sameach, if you prefer) from us down here south of the Equator.

This holiday is celebrated with a seder, the Passover dinner. It is a time when the whole family comes together to celebrate, commemorate, and remember their Jewish heritage and identity.

There’s lots of eating also, but that’s a given when it comes to Jewish holidays (uh, except for Yom Kippur…but that’s a whole other ball of wax).

Tonight our family has been graciously invited to another family’s seder in Lima. I am disappointed that our travels means that, for the second consecutive time, I will not be celebrating Passover with either my family or my lovely’s wife’s family. They will not be able to hear my children recite the Four Questions nor will my kids be able to ransom the afikomen from them once they discover its hiding place.


I am grateful for the invitation from the friends of my lovely wife so that we will all be able to enjoy matzah, charoset, and whatever other morsels our hosts are making. At least we will be able to celebrate in a fashion.

I will miss my family and my in-laws on this holiday, but there is one other facet to this day that I will sorely miss because I live in Lima.

I realize it’s a small thing, but it is often the small things that make a tradition.


Here in Lima, there is no broadcast television network (say, ABC) that will be airing The Ten Commandments, Cecil B. DeMille’s 1956 epic movie that is the story of Passover.

I will not be able to see Charlton Heston raise his arms and split the Red Sea. I will not hear Edward G. Robinson (in that oh-so-Egyptian-like New York accent of his) say, “Where’s your Messiah, now?”. I will not be able to hear Yul Bynner utter, “So let it be written, so it shall be done.”

I guess there’s always iTunes, but it’s just not the same.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Future Tense

January 20, 2013 – Day 548

Future Tense” is this week’s photographic challenge from WordPress. I have to admit that I did not follow the theme exactly as advertised. The creators for this month’s challenges has been calling March “phoneography month” and asking people to take pictures with their camera-phones. As I do not have such a device, I must rely on Siglo XX technology and my response comes to you courtesy of my plain ol’ digital camera.

One of the suggestions for this week’s theme was to capture the experience of waiting. This is the option for me.

On this Sunday in January, the family and I went to a local Lima amusement park called La Granja Villa. This location was a delightful way to spend a Peruvian weekend and I’ll try and remember to post more pictures about our stay.

There was one ride – and one passenger – that I simply had to capture on film bits and bytes. He is waiting so I belive he fits the theme, but he is not someone I would expected to be on this ride.

Will he yell, "Whee!" ?

Will he yell, “Whee!” ?

This gentleman is certainly waiting for the ride (and dare-I-say, “excitement”) to start. I also like this photo for the theme because I believe that this image shows a man who can look to his past and see the fun he once had at parks like this; but he also continues to look to the future to see what other fun he can still have.

I also like this guy because he is on the bouncy mechanism by himself. He did not strap himself in to be with his son or granddaughter. NO! He took his place on the far left-hand side because he wanted to ride that ride.

He stares off into the distance – waiting, hoping, dreaming – for the fun that is about to commence.

Countdown Day

March 21, 2013 – Day 608

Since the creation of this blogspace – and with a few omissions such as the entries that have I done from February until now – I have started every post with a date and the number of days that I have been in Peru. Today’s example shows that I have been living in the City of Kings for six hundred and eight days. Since July of 2011, I have been counting up.

Today, I can now also start counting down.

I have given a few hints here and there, but now – today – I can finally announce the news.

Why today? Because today is March 21. Written another way, the date is 3/21. Or, 3…2…1.

Get it? Countdown Day.

Come the end of June / start of July (actual dates are in still in flux), myself and the rest of the family unit are picking up from our locale twelve degrees south of the Equator and moving halfway around the world to be twelve degrees north of the Equator.

We’re off to Thailand – the Land of Smiles.

I am now accepting submissions for what to rename this blog because once we move to Thailand, I will once again be able to view the Pole Star.

Update From Last Week

Today’s post – as the helpful title up top suggests – is all about updates from stuff I wrote about last week.

Tuning Up

As mentioned in this post (among others), Lima attracts many music acts from around the globe.

Last week saw the following performers and groups ink deals to come on down to the City of Kings:

…Foreigner (April 2);
…Black Sabbath (October); and
…Ringo Starr (November)

Under The Robes

That same post about musical acts also mentioned that Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Antonin Scalia flew to Lima to headline a seminar about justice. While I could find no news clippings about Justice Scalia travelling to Machu Picchu or any other Peruvian tourist site, I did catch this photograph of him in El Comercio that accompanied an interview held with him.

This justice is not color blind

This justice is not color blind

While I will not categorize Justice Scalia as a fashion model, I must admit that he certainly can rock the casual “I’m-on-vacation” look better than Justice Ginsberg but probably not as well as Chief Justice Roberts.

Dry Elections

St. Patrick’s Day, as mentioned in an earlier post, saw a city-wide election in which the citizens of Lima were decided whether or not to recall the city’s mayor, Susan Villaran.

Starting on Friday, the concept of “ley seco” (dry law) took effect. The ley seco prohibited the sale and public consumption of alcohol for a few days before an election. At our local grocery store, the beer and wine section were covered with white plastic with a note to the customers explaining why spirits were not being sold. I’m not quite sure what the purpose of the “dry law” is, but the alcohol-free St. Patrick’s Day was not the oddest aspect of this Sunday.

Yes, the recall vote was held on a Sunday. For those in the reading audience who might be wondering how this civic function affected church services and attendance in this Catholic country, fret not.

The city of Lima simply cancelled morning and afternoon church services.


What is Spanish for “Irony”?

The votes have been counted and Mayor Villaran survived…barely. Just over fifty-one percent voted to keep her in office. However, there were casualties. Twenty of the thirty-nine regidores (akin to City Council members I believe) were voted out.

Ironically enough, the son of the man who was a main backer of the drive to remove Villaran was one of the twenty regidores shown the door by voters.

I bet that’s going to make for an awkward Easter family dinner.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lunchtime

Lunchtime” is this week’s theme from WordPress.

Normally, this here blog is all about Peru. However, since I already posted a picture about my new favorite pre-lunch Peruvian snack, cancha, in a previous posting, I will have to travel to another South American country to answer the challenge.

This post finds us in Brazil. Actually, it is the food court that resides inside the main international airport in Sao Paolo, but that still means we are in Brazil.

In my almost two years in Peru, I have not been all that surprised to see fast-food joints from the United States show their golden arches, finger-lickin‘ goodness, or Whopper-ishness in and around Lima. McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Burger King are all international brands and so their existence south of the Equator was not a shock.

What was a shock was, while walking around the Brazilian airport food court looking for a place to have lunch, when I laid eyes on a brand of hamburgers that I had not seen since I lived in southern half of the Golden State. Branded as Hardee’s east of the Mississippi River, I was not at all expecting to see hamburgers being offered up by Carl’s Jr, a wholly Californian eatery. But there it was…

What is "star" in Portuguese?

What is “star” in Portuguese?

My apologies for only having a close-up of the menu board, but it has been my experience that cashiers (and especially managers) of fast-food places tend to frown upon people taking pictures.


What I like about this picture is that almost everything about it is instantly recognizable to the devotee of the handiwork of Carl Karcher. From the font used in the text of “Star Burger” to the picture of the burger itself, I would assert (because an upstanding lad like myself never swears) that I was in San Diego, Los Angeles, or Whittier.

However, there are some tell-tale signs that one is not in Southern California while looking at this sign. The first is the price. Now while Carl’s Jr does have the $6 Burger and while we are at the airport (where prices are higher), it is not many fast-food places that would sell a sandwich for $14.90. Since we are in Brazil, they use reals (R$) and at an exchange rate of one Brazilian real to fifty US cents, this basic burger sells for  $7.45 (which is actually in line with what a burger at an airport should cost). The combo sets you back $11.45 in greenbacks.

Also notice that this burger is advertised as “com queijo”, which is Portuguese for “with cheese”.

Oddly enough, the Wikipedia entry for Carl’s Jr. says the chain is in the process of expanding into Brazil. I guess someone needs to update the article since the chain with the smiling star is in Brazil as of last February.

The same article says that there are a pair of Carl’s Jr here.


Total Recall – Perhaps

This Sunday, March 17 (which is St. Patrick’s Day, but this seventeenth day of the third month is also the feast days for St. Jan Sarkander, St. Ambrose of Alexandria, and St. Gertrude of Nivelles…just thought you might be interested), the citizens of Lima will go to the polls to decide whether to recall the current mayor, Susan Villaran, and thirty-nine of the city’s regidores (which I think is something akin to members of a City Council).

The ballot that voters will be presented with looks like this…

Forty options to have - forty marks to make

Forty options to have – forty marks to make

In case you can’t quite see everything on the ballot, there are forty rows with the name of the mayor (in the #1 spot) and the thirty-nine regidores. Each row has two boxes marked “SI” and “NO”. If a person wants the person recalled (i.e., booted from office), they mark “SI”. If the voter wants the person to stay in office, they mark “NO”. The instructions for the ballot are quite specific. Only an “X” or an “+” mark in the box will be considered a valid selection. No checkmarks, please.

Also of note on the instructions is the warning that there is a S/. 74 fine for those eligible voters who do not vote. At the current exchange rate, that comes out to be about $29. I wonder how a system like that would fly in the United States.

Here’s another fun fact about the election. If the mayor is indeed recalled, there will be an election to choose the next leader of the city. However, in the interim, who will be the head honcho? The answer is the highest regidore who is not recalled.  So if the mayor and the top three regidores are all kicked out, then regidore #4 becomes the interim mayor until the next election.

Not quite sure what happens if all forty folk are recalled.

As with any election, there have been some moments of forehead-slapping eye-blinking surrealism.

To start, the spokesperson for the “SI” coalition, Marco Tulio Gutierrez said this last week about the voting populace that was of the female persuasion

Las damas siempre dicen que no y terminan diciendo que sí, ese es el encanto de las damas.

Roughly translated, his words come out to…

The ladies always say no and end up saying yes, that’s the charm of ladies.

Needless to say, this tone-deaf appeal to women did not go over well. In addition to criticism from women’s groups in Peru, a local cartoonist lampooned Tulio’s comment by drawing him in front of a prison saying his words. In the background, were convicted rapists saying “Without a doubt!”, “That’s right!”, and “It’s so!”

Yesterday (March 10), a televised debate was held between the “SI” and the “NO” groups. Well, actually, only the “NO” people showed up. For some reason, two of the three “SI” folk failed to appear and the only one who did left after giving her opening statement. You can read an article about it here.

Too bad Clint Eastwood wasn’t around. Then he really could have had a honest debate with an empty chair.

With a week to go, I can only imagine it will become stranger.

Puzzle Post

During our cruise around the eastern coast of South America, I took pictures of many things.

However, this post is about a particular septet of photographs. Here, have a look. There will be a quiz later.

Outside a beach in Rio de Janeiro

Outside a beach in Rio de Janeiro

Street statue in Buenos Aires

Street statue in Buenos Aires

Souveneir items in Buenos Aires

Souvenir items in Buenos Aires

Another statue in Buenos Aires

Another statue in Buenos Aires

Couple and friend in Punta del Este, Uruguay

Couple and friend in Punta del Este, Uruguay

Cruise ship mascot all dressed up

Cruise ship mascot all dressed up

Outlet and warning in cruise cabin room

Outlet and warning in cruise cabin room

The seven photos above all contain objects that share a common theme. The first part of your challenge is to discover what those objects are and what they have in common. Once you discover that commonality, your next step is to figure out what are some other objects I could have included that fit the common theme.

Here Comes the Judge

Following on my earlier posts about how Lima, Peru, is a magnet for bands – and especially those groups from the 1980s – comes this latest news that the following acts will be performing in the City of Kings…

New Order (April 5);
The Cure (April 17); and
The Killers (April 4) (okay, not a band from the 1980s but still worthy of a mention)

One faction that you might not think of that would make the pilgrimage to this Andean country are justices of the United States Supreme Court. Yet, one of the nine robed members of the American judiciary is making the trek to Peru.

Associate Justice Antonin Scalia – on March 5 and 6 – is heading a conference entitled “Fronteras de la Justicia“. One of the panel discussions that will be held during this conference is called “International Law and National Sovereignty”. This is a topic in the Peruvian newspapers due to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) looking into a maritime border dispute between Peru and Chile (some – but not all – details can be found here).

By the way, this week will not be the first time Justice Scalia has come to Peru. He first made the trip in 2007.

No word if he went – or will go – to Machu Picchu so he can be added to this list of famous visitors.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details

From WordPress, their photographic challenge this week is entitled, “Lost in the Details“. The creator of this challenge asks bloggers to “…bring out the details that are often hiding in plain sight” and this is my response.

In the middle of February, the family travelled to Iguazu Falls (or Cataratas del Iguazú if you like your beautiful stunning natural landmarks named in Spanish). One day was spent on the Brazilian side of the falls and the second day was spent on the Argentine side. The officials on the Argentine side have built a walkway that extends right to the lip of the largest portion of the falls called “The Devil’s Throat“. The trek out to La Garganta Del Diablo is long and there are several picture-perfect sights one can stop at and take photographs.

One example is below…

Just an ordinary shot of a river, rocks, and vegetation

Just an ordinary shot of a river, rocks, and vegetation

But, hey, what is that lump hanging out in the lower left-hand corner of this picture?

Don't mind me!

Don’t mind me!

It’s a lurking animal that probably contains a bevy of sharp, pointy teeth. It could be a caiman or a crocodile or an alligator.  I didn’t leave the safety of the walkway I was on to interview it so I never did find out. I’m a blogger, not a herpetologist.

I think these pair of shots show how important it can be to not become lost in the details. That “rock” you breezily dismiss could cost you a limb.