Archive for January, 2010

Wheels that work

January 18, 2010

Hola queridos, we’re getting to the end of our stay here in Lima. It’s been a great time of friendship, exploring and adventures. Larry has “new” eyes. Anne enjoyed getting to know a city she merely passed through 35 years ago while a poor college student. One of the things that’s very apparent about Lima is that it is much more prosperous than it used to be. There are lots of late model cars on the road, lots of new construction and lots of awesome places to eat. However, there is still a large underclass here, making their livings in some creative ways. Here in Lima, as in most other developing countries, a bicycle, or its parts, can mean the difference between life or death, between being able to feed your children or having to leave them at an orphanage to be cared for. For me, a bicycle is a choice and fun. It’s a luxury.  Here, bicycles are so much more than transportation, sometimes they’re just parts to be used to deliver supplies, some are outfitted to carry things for sale, or they can also be a moveable salesroom. For instance, this being the summer in Peru, ice cream vendors seem to be everywhere. In the neighborhoods they make their presence felt by using a duckcall. We’ve seen bikes outfitted to carry LP gas tanks (the size we use on BBQs), to carry equipment (including push lawnmowers), and to deliver periodicals to newsstands. The neighborhood where we’re staying, San Isidro, has its security officers on bicycles, as well as in cars.

Aside from having to “fight” the light when taking pictures, I also hate to take pictures of people without their permission. I’ve tried to take some pix of the ice cream salespeople but but they didn’t turn out well. Here are some street vendors near where we had lunch the other day:

In an earlier blog I showed a passing gardener:

Here’s a more traditional use for a bike that I saw at a swank jetty:

Peruvian-made bicycles have rods instead of cables for braking.

Then there are the guys for whom wheels will always be a way to have fun. Larry learned how to ride a skateboard on this trip.

Ciao, mijos!

Creatures at the beach

January 17, 2010

Yesterday we went to a nearby Lima beach so Kevin could surf and Larry and Anne could continue to be on vacation. Here are some pictures of the human and otherwise creatures at the beach.

Birthday Day

January 16, 2010

So, it’s my birthday. And, I’m lucky to be able to celebrate it with friends in a warm, exotic place. (The only thing that’s missing is my kids. I miss you tons, guys!) This is the big 5-6 for me. I suppose I just have to keep the word “big” in front of all birthdays now. I started the day with a nice big bowl of “Quaker Larry,” oatmeal with fresh mango. Later we went to Centro to tour the catacombs at San Francisco Dominican priory.

The plaza was loud and hot and busy. Here is a picture of Larry and Kevin.

We left there quickly and went to Barranco, to a hole in the wall place called Cafe Tostado. Bow down before  lunch.

Worship before the platter of conejo con naranjas. We weren’t sure if the naranja referred to oranges that the rabbit was marinated in before it was pan fried or to the color of the fried sweet potatoes. That sort of discussion came after the three of us worked through the conejo, sweet potato, rice, and refried beans. Oh, and we had mushrooms marinated in oil as a starter (with roasted garlic and red peppers).

Kevin told us the story of the restaurant. During the ’80s and ’90s when Lima (actually a lot of Peru) was too dangerous for people to spend any time in public places, some of the local men would hang out at the house of the owner of the restaurant. He would cook for them and they had a safe place to socialize. What is now Cafe Tostado is the roofed over entry and garage of the house. Here I am with the owner for a special birthday picture.

That is pretty much the entire kitchen.

After that we had almost enough energy to stroll or waddle (stroddle?) around the area a bit. When we got back to the apartment, both Larry and I took naps. Kevin, being young and surf-obsessed, went surfing.

Now it’s about 9:30 and it’s birthday dinner time. As I type this, Kevin is preparing filet with asparagus and potatoes. We picked up sweet little desserts at a local bakery and for happy hour Kevin is making a local version of Pisco Sour.

All bow down.

Blooming things

January 16, 2010

Growing in the park behind the apartment.

Standing on ceremony, pt 2

January 15, 2010

When I last left you, Queridos, I was attempting to write about two pre-Columbian pyramids we’d visited here in Lima. The Internet, however, was in a dial-up mood (not really, since it was actually slower than that) and I gave up. It seems to be behaving today so we can finish looking at pictures.

As I wrote earlier, Huaca Pucllana (Subtitle: Templo de Adoradores del Mar) was built between 400 and 700 AD. Its hand-made adobe bricks are stood up vertically and packed with mud. The walls are put together in trapezoids for greater strength.

A second ruin that day was Huallamarca, which was built between 500 and 1450 AD by the Hualla people. It’s an interesting site where the archeologists have furnished a long ramp to the top for the visitors. Its construction is of good-sized rounded rocks with mud “glue” inbetween.

Standing on ceremony

January 14, 2010

Huaca Pucllana is the Quechua name used in the 16th century for a ceremonial center built by people from the Lima culture between 200 and 700 AD. The site has been studied and excavated since the early 1980s. The original site was about 20 hectares and is now 6. Before the municipality took over, the land was privately owned and was being knocked down and paved for houses and streets. A young woman was our English-speaking tour guide.

Here we are standing as high as we are allowed to go. There is a swanky restaurant at the entrance.

What’s cool about this pyramid is that it is built of walls of handmade adobe bricks laid vertically. The spaces inbetween the walls are filled in to make the next level up. The bricks are laid in a trapezoidal shape for greater strength in case of earthquake.

The upload is being cranky and so, to avoid my getting cranky, I’ll be back.

Catching up

January 14, 2010

It’s Thursday already and I’ve fallen behind on my reports. Please forgive me, friends. I’ll try to make it good today.

On Tuesday, Larry and I took a taxi to the Clinic where the technician (we arrived too late to see the surgeon) said that he was doing “excellently,” especially since it was just 14 hours post-op. We began to walk back from there, with your Trusty Blogger in possession of the map. Along the way we stopped at a restaurant called Punta Sal for ceviche and soup. We then meandered back towards San Isidro and the apartment on foot. Along the way we saw several neighborhoods, passed over the expressway, and through some parks. Here’s one that is near the San Isidro municipal building:

Sorry about the exposure.  I haven’t quite conquered my camera in sunny, overcast light.

While we were sitting we saw a gardener pass by with a bicycle that has been altered for cargo. Bicycles are welded onto all sorts of wheeled carts.

Just before sunset we walked along the oceanfront park, which has a bike path and all sorts of sports facilities, including an awesome skatepark. I shot this next picture through the bars of a wrought-iron fence that surrounds it. Seems like a perfect place for young males to blow off a little steam.

D Day plus one

January 12, 2010

Yesterday was the day scheduled for the Lasik surgery. There were, of course, interesting obstacles. Culture, language, medical tests, no problema. Test results slightly off due to fatigue or a real disorder, possible problem. Yesterday, Kevin met us at the eye clinic after we checked in at 1 for more tests. We waited for awhile, then Patient Larry (PL) and Translator Kevin (TK) went in for the tests, which came up with different (though improved) results from Friday’s tries. We then tromped up two floors (pisos) to consult with the doctor, who at first said that PL shouldn’t have the surgery but after further discussion said he’d do it that night. After leaving the Clinic TK spent a lot of time on the phone (remember payphones on street corners—they’re still here!!) with the IC Clinic to ask them to fax a consent for release of records to PL, which would then be sent back, and the results of the tests (which had just been re-taken that day and Friday) emailed to the doctor. After a fair amount of hoo-hah, TK and PL were told that it was “illegal” to fax a consent form out of the country. Riiiiiight. We briefly discussed their faxing it to one of our offices in the US and then prevailing upon someone to fax it along to somewhere (as yet undetermined) in Lima.

By this time it was 3:30 here and we said WTF and went to lunch. (It was lovely!)

By 5 pm we were back at the Clinica. For the next several hours, we went from piso to piso to: consult with the doctor, pay, talk to the finance guy, go back to the doctor and and get re-tested, pay, and pick up the post-surgery kit at the pharmacy. By this time it was past 8 pm and time for the procedure so we hopped into the clinic’s shuttle van to go to the surgery, which was located a few blocks away in a converted (an unmarked) former residence. PL was called in a little after 9 and walked out on his own steam about 9:45.

He has to return to the clinic this morning for a check-up but he was up before me this morning to make coffee and pancakes. He’s smiling.

They’re hard to see in the picture, but he has to wear protective plastic eye covers until he sees the doctor the first time and at night. He can’t read fine print yet and is supposed to stay away from anything that would make his eyes tired like TV or computers or reading, but he has been puttering around all morning without needing his glasses so I’d say the surgery was a success!

One more thing. By the time PL was called in for the surgery, TK and I were positively giddy with relief. I was desperate to take a picture of the waiting room with its not-lovely yellow pleather chairs but the room was full and it didn’t seem cool to be such a dork. Anyhow, by the end there were only a few of us left so TK kindly posed for me.

More later!

An afternoon at the beach

January 10, 2010

Today’s adventure took your two intrepid Iowans to a beach south of Lima called Caballeros. It’s noted as a surfer beach and has two sets of surf. The right (as you look from the beach)  is “caballeros” and the left is “senoritas.”

Since it was 80-something degrees, we had no trouble just lying around under an umbrella.

We also ordered some ceviche and chicharron mixto.

We’ve now had ceviche two days in a row.

Larry and I alternated lazing around with dips in the ocean while Kevin and Doanh surfed.

Winter in Iowa, summer in Peru

January 9, 2010

Dear Readers, Your couple of Iowans have taken themselves to Lima, Peru for a little sight-seeing, some visiting with Larry’s oldest son and girlfriend, and some bodywork. We barely got out of Iowa ahead of the latest storm but by midnight yesterday (Jan. 7) we were basking in 70-deg plus Lima.

Don’t hate me, Winter Readers:

Winter skin, beach toes