Here is an article from a few weeks ago that I wrote about the elections but never had the time to post it.
It's been less than one week now and many Peruvians are still recovering from the shock of Ollanta Humala's victory over Keiko Fujimori for the coveted seat of power. A total upset victory which had the two candidates practically neck and neck in the elections polls, that is until millions were stunned by the election day flash results, which painted a much different picture. Now the reality has sunk in that Humala will be Peru's next president and like it or not there is nothing any of us can do about it. When talking with most people I noticed that for many Limeñans what was initially a total aversion to the idea of Humala as president has quickly evolved to a lesser disdain that is transmitted through words and phrases of submission and uncertainty. People genuinely want to believe that their predictions about our newly elect president will be wrong and that a contrary outcome could be possible, but for most those thoughts are about as possible as grandma winning the lottery. Only time will tell what lies in store for many Peruvians as they sit playing a metaphorical game of russian roulette (except with five bullets load instead of one).
Incoherent and grammatically incorrect ramblings aside, I spent last week documenting several key political election events and thanks to poor planning had to take a most of my photos ala pedestrian. As you read in my last post I spent Thursday night covering the end of campaign rallies that were being held downtown which was a complete blast, photography issues aside. Sunday however was rather calm in the early morning hours, though there was a larger presence of traffic. I decided to hit up my voting center first just to get it out of the way. My original DNI was created while I was living in the US the address used on my ID card was the one in Portland, now because I moved to Lima I had to change my address to the one in Chorrillos which meant my voting number/code changed as well, no biggie right? WRONG! My father whom I reside with only votes a few blocks away from our home at some school (FYI all voting centers are at some school or university, in Lima there are a LOT), so naturally I should to right, same adress and all, but nooooooo... I have to vote clear on the other side of the F#$&ing district, nearly five to six kilometers away, in fact it's so remote for me that I wasn't sure I was even in Chorrillos anymore. I guess the on the plus side the voting lines at IEP Tupac Amaru II are short and sweet, it took me only ten minutes to vote. This school was also perhaps one of the few that actually let me take photos with hasseling me for such ridiculous things as credentials and permission.
Did I mention that traffic was hellacious (please forgive the poor spelling, apparantly my British friend was unsure as to it's spelling), after about an hour I was able to get a colectivo to take me to Breña, where I met up with Zdenka. There we hit up a few schools in the district and were forced to leave by the naval mp's and ONPE officials. The day after that pretty much drudged on until the closing hour of the elections. While having a late lunch at one of Lima's finest franchised establishments (KFC), everyone inside were glued to the incoming wave of flash reports that flooded every local channel and as everyone awaited for the response on the sound of the TV and the deep friers could be heard. Then the faces of the presidential candidates were posted on the screen and in came the numbers from each department in Peru, the stress and anticipation in everyone's faces was almost similar to kind of response you get when watching for your Lotto numbers on TV. Defeat and victory were both experienced shortly after and then just as quickly as the whole thing started it was over, and while some were unhappy with the end result little was left for them to do in response except continue about with their lives like they had been doing.
I found this rather cool video that was taken by Thermikfresser of his paragliding flight over Miraflores. This video gives a great impression of what its like to fly over Lima's coast and might be enough to encourage those who have been reluctant to give it a try.
Last night was brutual in terms of taking photos of both end-of-campaign rallies. I had found out about the events at roughly noon yesterday while waiting to be transported to an English xclass in Lurin, Peru (which ended up being cancelled mid route). There was literally no time available to place my name of the list of journalists and photographers, which ultimately left me fighting to take photos among the crowds.
Keiko Fujimori of Fuerza 2011 held her rally in the Plaza Bolognesi of Downtown Lima at the end of Av. Colon., while Gana Peru's, Ollanta Humala returned to the "red plaza" (as it is referred to by many locals, due in part to the communist parties who have their offices located there) or Plaza Dos de Mayo, located roughly 1km from Keiko's event. After spending an hour sardined into a small combi, I disembarked at Av. Venezuela, a few blocks from where I normally get off, thanks in part to the last minute route change. At about 8:30pm I arrived at Plaza Bolognesi with my camera gear and my press pass hoping to squeeze in among the other photographers but was shot down when I ,at that moment, learned I was not on the list and therefore was denied entry along with many other journalists who found out the hard way.
Keiko's rally was already underway and felt more like a concert than a rally thanks largely to the celebrity appearances of Eva Ayllon and Hermanos Yaipen. Av. Colon was packed with supporters and curious pedestrians as the rest of the plazas five streets were closed off. It was at this point that I was cracking my skull open to try and find a solution to my dilemma (having special press priviledges and access has spoiled me), when I received a phone call from Zdenka informing me that Humala was already giving his speech in Dos de Mayo. Not wanting to waste anymore time, especially since Keiko hadn't shown yet, I began to hoof it over to the other plaza via the disable strech of Av. Alfonso Ugarte which connects the two plazas. It was a dark walk over to Dos de Mayo, one which I was partially not looking forward to, given it's reputation as a high crime and theft spot (imagine it at night!) and I was not liking the prospect of having my camera stolen. The feeling of uncertainty was intensified as I saw a couple leaving the Plaza, where a young man was doing his best to console his crying female companion who hystarically clutched her right hand while staring horrified at her bare ringer finger. It's the kind of scene that can kill any or all remain confidence in a particularly risky situation. After passing a temporarily erected metal gate I found myself in the lions den that was Plaza Dos de Mayo, a place that was swarming with throngs of people. A sea of heads and flags was all I could make out from my initial location as I dove in among the crowd, following line of people who were pushing their way through the crowds. I was at first hesitant to reveal my camera with no viable escape route but I managed to find a spot next to a few food carts where I was able to take a few shots quickly without drawing to much attention to myself. I continued to burrow my way to Ollanta's stage but soon realized that it was going to be near impossible as it became increasingly difficult to progress through the crowds. I made the most of it and took a few more photos (still not pleased with the overall situation), when Humala finished his speech, a bad time to be among the crowd. Luckily I was able to menuever my way out before the congregation gained any real momentum. Wanting a better vantage point I entered a nearby building and was granted access to the up floors, it was here that I was able to take photos of the plaza in it's entirety. The crowd began to migrate down, what was once referred to as Av. Colmena, towards Av. Abancay on the other end of Downtown Lima (Cercado). It was unbelievable to watch such a large amount of people advance in a singe direction, almost like watching cattle being herded. Just as I was getting ready to leave one of the kind old ladies pointed out a car in the distance that was heading down the street in our direction. As it got closer I was able to see the candidate Ollanta Humala standing on top of it as it slowly made its way through the people. Quickly I switched lenses and was able to capture a few decent shots.
Once Humala had left my sight I made my way out of the building and down the street following the same path of the crowd. Police dressed in full riot gear lined the streets ready to handle the unexpected, in what would eventually turn out to be a fairly controlled rally. A long walk later, and I finally found myself on the other side of Av. Colon and as I progressed the concentration of people continued to increase as elbow room went from scarce to nil. Keiko had arrived minutes before and was well underway in her passionate and compelling (at least that's how she was trying to work the crowd) final sell. Unlike Humala's presentation, Keiko had her stage full of well recognized public figures making a real spectacle of her show, as sports atheletes to ex-presidential candidates (PPK) made appearances. The biggest difficulties of the night were met here as I made my way as close to the stage as possible, eventually stopping just short of the press box some 150 meters or so from Keiko. Giving myself the all clear approval I pulled out my camera and began taking photos when I noticed a group of people forging a path through the spectators. At first it was hardly a problem but minutes later Keiko ended her speech (with confetti and fireworks) and what started out as a non-threatening group of people trying to find a way out, soon converted into an ugly stampeed like display of young and elderly pushing (practically fighting) to get the hell out of the plaza. Instead of joining them I foolishly decided to wait and hold my position (against what was likely hundreds of desperate and impatient people), and as I waited I could feel the crowd gain strength as I found it harder and harder to stand. At one point I almost lost my footing all together which could have been disasterous for me. Not wanting to wait and see what could happen I saw an opening and fled the scene, eventually making my way back to Av. Arica and to my home.
Overall I am not thrilled with the photos I took last night but it was definitely interesting to be a part of a political rally of that size and scale. Also I am grateful that I still have my camera. :)
This is a photo I took a month ago of this beautiful (at least in my opinion) house which was just across from the Estadio Nacional in Jesus Maria. What drew my attention to this building was it´s wonderful big balcony just above the main entrance. The way it was designed for being a house on a street corner just gives it so much appeal and those tall palm trees seem to add to it´s personality.
Since working at LivinginPeru.com I have done a lot of photography of special events and Lima's nightlife but last Sunday I got my first big break when I was sent to cover the presidential debate. This was my first real assignment covering a news/political related event, and it was awesome! The event was held at the well known Marriott hotel in Miraflores just in front of Larcomar and was scheduled to begin at 8:45pm. Being new to such an event I arrived early in order to get a good spot among what I anticipated to be a heavily crowded press section. When I reached the Marriott at 4pm the streets were barricaded in a two block radius of the hotel and the press section was already teeming with a good size group of veteran photographers and cameramen who had claimed their spot and set up their gear. The press section was situated a about 25-50 meters from the hotels entrance with a blocks length of waist high metal fences and a stair step xstyle stand for the press to position themselves for the candidates. I was totally excited about being there but at the same time felt like such a rookie that I'm sure I must have let out the stench of one as the vets all seemed to have that same look on their faces which probably shared the mental thought of "great, who the hell is this fucking noob!" To make matters even more embarrassing for myself I played the role of the guy who asks everyone 100 questions about photography and the biz, not that I really cared though since it was so interesting to hear how many of these guys got their careers started.
After waiting a few hours I met up with another co-worker and professional photographer from my job who after having just entered the hotel as part of (what I initially believed to be the more privileged journalists) a group of journalists who were going to cover the event from inside, had quickly turned around and left when she was informed of the reality of the controlled situation that had been arranged by the internal security. Apparently all the press were crammed into a "special" room which had one lousy TV that would broadcast the event, while the photographers on the inside would be given the opportunity to take a five minute photo op of the candidates before the debate and nothing more. It turned out that the best photo opportunities that night would be the ones taken outside. One after another the candidates arrived in their security detail convoys and took turns posing briefly for the press before entering the hotel. It all happened so quickly and I remember that when the walked towards the press section my body went into autopilot as I frantically took photos all while desperately trying to remain calm. Though the area was fairly well lit, thanks in part to the camera crews of various TV channels who set up these huge spotlights which had what looked like big pieces of white paper taped to them in order the soften the light, I still had to use an ISO above 1600 for my f4-5.6, 55-200mm lenses. The noise in my photos were fairly high but luckily I was able to tone it down later in Lightroom.
Once the candidates were inside Elie (the co-worker I mentioned earlier) and I went out and took photos of the supporters who had been corralled into their respective corners. Just like any sporting event the supporters of each candidate were both watching the debate while cheering and jeering as loud as they could, a spectacle that was aided by the use of live bands, air horns (damn, were there a lot of air horns!), and music. I rapped up the shooting at around 10:30pm, a little after the debate had ended, having spend six hours waiting and taking photos. I was beat but it was an amazing experience, one I look forward to repeating in the future.
Here is a photo that was taken last night while I was shooting the Tricky (former member of the group Massive Attack) concert in the upscale Miraflores nightclub, Gotica (located in Larcomar). The event lasted about an hour and a half but for me flew by in a matter of minutes.
I will post more photos of the event latter.
There were some things that I came to realize while shooting this event, one was that I realized just how difficult flash photography can be in a very poorly light and fast moving environment, another was the technical limitations of my camera in low light situations, and my overall surprisingly shocking low self-esteem while rubbing shoulders and competing for good shots with veteran professional photographers. The culmination of these three things made last nights event a real nightmarish fiasco for this photographer. More about this to come....
Etiquetas: [peru] [video] Fecha Publicación: Tue, 24 May 2011 21:56:00 +0000
I know this is probably old news but I absolutely love this video and just wanted to share it. It's interesting to see a country as a brand but apparently PromPeru believes that Peru can be marketed in such a way. What are your thoughts on this approach and what could it mean for the future of tourism for cities and countries?
Some photos from the popular cajón festival that takes place every year in Lima to celebrate the lively and upbeat percussion sounds of the wooden cajón (it's basically a box with a hole in the back, simple yet wonderful). The event is amazing because it's open to anyone who is a fan of the instrument and provides a great experience for those learning or experienced to gather and play. This year had a great turnout, though smaller than the previous years.
That's right, I was at work yesterday when we received a phone call from RPP news (a national radio station for those who don't know), who were interested in interviewing some Americans to get their perspective on the recent death of long sought after terrorist, Osama Bin Laden. At 11:45 they showed up at the office and with a microphone and camera in hand began their brief interviews. The whole thing happened fairly quickly, one by one they interviewed us and got our opinions on the subject and then it was over. Personally I didn't really expect to make the final cut since I didn't look directly into the camera but surprisingly I did.
My voice sounds awful when it's recorded for audio or video but there's not much I can do about that. UPDATE: after watching the video myself I just realized how lame my responses were...yeesh!
Just like all over the world Peru being a very religious, like many Latin American countries, has been celebrating the holy week and boy has there been a turn out. Downtown (Cercado) Lima was literally packed with thousands of devote (at least during the religious holidays, that is) Catholics who flooded the streets on Good Friday to take part in the tradition of visiting seven churches, a holiday that commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, including his death at Calvary. Here are just a few of the photos that were taken yesterday I traveled with Zdenka to visit some of these churches.
Today marked the first day of a long over due vacation (granted it's unpaid), with plans of nothing more to do than lying around the house watching movies and hanging out with my family. In theory it seemed like a fail proof plan with little that could possibly get in the way, but boy was I wrong. Yesterday, after having finished my last xclass for the week I headed off home as quickly as possible to meet up with the wife and child who had been eagerly awaiting my arrival. Wednesday afternoon and evening were amazingly relaxing and it was nice to spend some much needed time with Rosemary, who seemed more than content with being carried around while she gazed up at here obscure yet vivid surroundings.
Night came and Zdenka and I (like a couple of medical residents) working in shifts took one our new routine of caring for Rosemary's needs. A process that was not willfully excepted at first by my part and which had to endure the harsh assimilation of my duties. Though a short time has passed since Rosemary has entered this world the night shift still remains difficult for those who covet sleep and like any other night we spent it waking up at odd yet synchronized hours to change diapers and feed the baby. Everything up until 0400 hours was going well right to the moment where Rosemary out of nowhere let out a large shriek which quickly evolved into a loud (ear-piercing) and sharp cry, one which seemed to be unstoppable. Now I'm new to this baby/fathering stuff so my experience at this point in handling such situations is as limited as a security guards during a bank robbery. I look over at Zdenka who lies lifeless next to me, her attempts to play dead throughout the night has been interpreted as code for "your turn". Realizing I am on my own I quickly pick up Rosemary who is flailing her little body like crazy, I employ my method of swaddling while walking around which seems to work at first until I make the premature move of placing her back in the crib before she is fully asleep, she cries again.
For the next five hours this would be the scene, where baby would cry, one of the parents would get up in their ogrish and drowsy state to pick up the baby, a comforting method would be executed, the baby would suspend crying (an enticing trap for the parents), parent would foolishly place the baby back in bed, said parent would quietly tip toe back in to bed where they would flop down lifelessly onto it, baby would resume crying shortly after, and rinse and repeat. A stressful and daunting situation for the noob parents as tensions run high and the will of an adult is crushed leaving them crying pitifully in the corner while the rock themselves for comfort. By the time the sun had risen both of us were exhausted and defeated as the baby who apparently could not be consoled continued her rain of terror. Another hour went by and suddenly there was silence in the house, an almost eery silence that left us unsure what to do, terrified to trust our instinct and take advantage of the situation. There she lied in her mothers arms, resting peacefully, like an angel she smiles and the tension is cut, Rosemary is gently placed in her crib and with no words exchanged both of us veered off into separate rooms to enjoy the comfort of a bed all to ourselves.
Not being able to sleep I managed to take a few photos with my camera and grabbed a quick peek of Zdenka curled in a ball under the covers of the bed in the next room, not even an earthquake could have pulled that woman out sleep. After that rest became the decree of the day as everyone took to sleep in their own respected beds, so as not to disturb each other. Hours went by and soon a refreshed family emerged with an insatiable hunger which was dealt with by visiting a local cevicheria just a few blocks down the street.
Being the holy week and all, fish was the preferred item for a late lunch and was well received. The place we ate (of which I can't remember the name) had a wonderful open environment and great service but what really made it a winner was the high quality of the food. We ordered two popular favorites one being Tiradito tres tiempos (a dish of thinly fileted fish cooked ceviche xstyle and served under a blanket of three popular pepper sauces), and the other fried calamari.
The rest of the day has been rather relaxing and I am confident that last nights experience has definitely put some hair on both our chests in regards to child rearing.
Just saw this on the internet a few minutes ago. The Lima photo event was started last year apparently and has returned for it's second year along with a photo competition for any interested photographer who would like to enter one of their works. The Spanish oil company Repsol is sponsoring the competition and will be giving away to prizes to the two top finalists. First place offers a prize of $3,500 while second place receives a fairly modest $1,500, all in all not bad for just submitting one of your best photos.
I may just very well be participating in this competition since it would be my first time competing in a photography event. Those of you who are in Peru and are photographers should definitely consider competing in this event. The deadline for submissions is June 15th and must be sent to Centro de la Imagen located on Av. 28 de Julio in Miraflores. If you are interested checkout the rules on their website here.
I saw this video on Facebook today and wasn't the least bit surprised at what I saw. The video is old (posted in 2008) and shows just how bad traffic can get in the capital city of Peru. There may be laws that supposedly enforce traffic but when the police don't even follow them how can you expect the general public to take them seriously.
So a few weeks ago a bunch of my co-workers, Ryan, and I headed out to the famous Plaza San Martin in downtown Lima to produce a small film about the highly underrated nightclubs. I personally had no clue that there even existed nightclubs in the Plaza, aside from the well known bars and pubs. Some of the bars turned out to be really cool while others were nothing more than average dark and crammed meat markets. I was in-charge of photos that night and with the constant flow of free drinks that I received while working I can honestly say that the quality began to take a downward spiral fast. The video was taken by The Break's very own videographer, Carlos who did an excellent job putting the film together.
If you have been checking this website since early last month (which you probably haven't) then you may have noticed a lack of articles being posted. I would normally blame this sort of behavior on good ole procrastination but luckily I actually a good excuse this time! As most of you don't know my wife Zdenka gave birth to our daughter Rosemary, on March 3rd at around 12:05pm. She was born at about 8 months and weighed in at 2.6 kilos roughly. A few colds and stuffy noses aside, her health is great and she has really grown in such a short period of time. Since her arrival home there have definitely been many and I mean MANY sleepless nights which have rendered both Zdenka and I certifiably dead from exhaustion. Sure she looks like an angel during the day while she sleeps with little difficulty but once the sun sets over those coastal hills she transforms into this tiny insomniac child who will stop at nothing to keep her parents from catching one single hour of uninterrupted sleep. All in all it has been a real joy and learning experience to have this girl in our lives and I for one look forward to all future trials and tribulations that she will unwilling bring.
On another note, work has began to breathe new life as the xclasses start to roll in (just when I was getting accostomed to my prolonged vacation). I also obtained a rather interesting and fun part time job working for Living in Peru.com, a very well known English website about all things Peru. Aside from some rather menial computer work there is the more interesting aspect of the photography work I am paid to do. This usually involves a few hours of my weekend but has been really fun. My photos mostly comprise of popular events occuring in Lima. As of so far I have had the opportunity to photograph (GAG!!!, sorry I'm sitting next to my aunt who reeks of a stripclub ashtray) crazy events like the 2nd annual pillow fight which sounded lame at first but was rather amazing to witness, or the nude bike march that happened not to long ago where many Limeñans bared all in a fleshy displayed protest against the horrible conditions of Lima's traffic and it's loose laws. What makes the job so great is that it affords me the ability to gain more experience as well as build up my photographic resume for the future, which are both BIG pluses in my book.
Lets see, my college friend and Phi Delt brother from Portland, Oregon surprised me with a visit after his long stay in South Korea. I have been showing him around Lima and corrupting his precious little mind with the day to day lifexstyle that most citizens of Lima have to indure. Just like me he also has a lust for sick perversion that is photography and has been snapping away photos and putting regular tourists to shame, and with roughly 3,700 photos already accumulated since he arrived March 15th you can bet his Facebook albums are going to be HUGE! Interestingly enough since he first set feet in Lima his wishes were that he experience a slice of what it's like to be a Peruvian living in Lima and he sure has been fulfilling that wish with everthing from working in a plastics factory, to dropping of merchandise at local markets, to drunkenly arguing with taxi drivers at 2 am, to eating sketch and suspect street food. The street food was a two for one deal since it left him immobilzed for a few days short of wearing Depends everywhere.
I know that I have neglected my readers by not providing you with the nurishing sustenance of my insightful and deep posts, but looking back I understand that my hands been tied tighter than a guy in a bondage dominatrix film (and that's without a safety word). Granted things are expected to slow down here in the next few days as my friends heads home to the US before his return back to Korea (they apparently pay really well there...), but I do intend to keep feeding you with the same quality brand product you've come to love. Rest assured my friends, rest assured...
Saw this really well put together video by limafotolibre.com. The video shows footage of many Limeños celebrating day of the dead at Santa Rosa de Lima cemetery in Chorrillos. The photos used in the video were taken November of 2010.
It's February here in Lima and for those living below the Equator's belt it's summertime, but Marco you say "what makes summer in February so special?" The answer is simple my loyal readers, CARNIVAL! Now I'm not going to go into detail about carnival in Lima just yet but I have managed to find a few videos that provide a good visual base to what I will later discuss in more depth.
Etiquetas: [food] [random] [rant] Fecha Publicación: Wed, 16 Feb 2011 23:04:00 +0000
When work is scarce for the average English teacher/father to be, there tends to be few options with which to occupy your vast free-time and when boredom verges on insanity thats when most men turn to baking....well probably not most men at least. Ah yes baking the age-old male practice of merging wet and dry ingredients along with the aid of a hot oven in the hopes that the process will render an edible and delicious treat, yup nothing screams masculinity and testosterone better than baking. An act that much the military´s position on gays in uniform, is don´t ask, don´t tell. Now in the past I would have definitely shaken my head in disapproval at the sight of such a reality but as I have grown older I like to think that I have matured if not just a bit. To be quite honest I was rather surprised that until recently with the aid of my lovely wife, I found the unorthodox male act of baking to be, well not that bad, really.
Over the years I have discovered my growing interest in cooking and yet it shouldn´t have come as a surprise to me that I would find baking to be enjoyable as well, yet not nearly as much as cooking. The feminine stigma that has plagued the minds of many men in the western hemisphere is probably to blame for the countless years of persecution against those deviant and confused lads who put on the apron and oven mitts. Initially for me what started out as an uncomfortable and gender-conflicting scenario later became an open and acceptable one free of my paranoias. Though my first attempts at concocting a delicious treat were less than satisfying I soon figured it out well enough to not burn the orange pound cake I had baking in the oven. In no way would I ever consider baking to rival in complexity when compared to cooking, though that is not to say that baking isn´t without it´s own difficulties. There are a lot of factors one should consider if they decide to take up the task though, like the importance of exact proportions and volumes as well as oven temperatures and baking time. Many of these factors if left ignored or disregarded through gross negligence could have unsavory results in the end.
Returning to my opening sentence, yesterday presented itself to be among all things rather uneventful and dull. Now I´m not sure if Rosemary´s expected arrival or Zdenka´s more than lathargic state has played any role in our overall lack of activity but it was more than enough to encourage a baking session at home. It should also be noted that today is Zdenka´s birthday and yesterday it seemed like the perfect reason to make cakes. Initially what started out as one indecisive cake idea quickly became a safe bet cake idea. Having consumed more passion fruit (aka. Maracuya) in one summer than in my entire life I was perversely obsessed with making a birthday cake using maracuya juice. An unheard of procedure, I was told it could not be done, yet not willing to take shot in the dark on my wife´s birthday cake we decided to make two instead, one maracuya, and the other orange. In preparation of the maracuya flavored cake I gathered the strained juice of 1 kilo of maracuya´s which rendered about a cup of potently acidic juice. The rest of the ingredients were standard of your basic cake mix, though I never was prepared to deal with how long the cake would take to bake. At 250 degrees the cake started off smoothly baking for 45 minutes, when it came time to check the cake however, I realized that I had made a mistake somewhere in the process. The center of the cake had not fully baked yet which left me with no other choice but to foolishly raise the temperature in a desperate attempt to salvage what little hope I had left for the cake. At 350 degrees that cake baked for nearly another 45 minutes, yet surprisingly did not burn.
The final result was a cake that had both the bold tropical flavor and punch of maracuya with the soft texture (at least the inside that is) of any cake. I can´t say that my efforts were a success and I am pretty sure that the tart nature of the maracuya might overpower some lesser individuals but all in all I was quite pleased with how it turned out and as I stood there cleaning up the aftermath of our madness I am greeted by my father who in his smug nature contemplated verbally with me as to when I made the transformation from husband into housewife. I leave him without response standing there in the kitchen all the while realizing that certain mentalities don´t die easily,
Etiquetas: [lima] [peru] [random] [rant] Fecha Publicación: Sun, 06 Feb 2011 03:30:00 +0000
Well Zdenka spent the past week in the hospital all thanks to her wonderful screw-up of a gynecologist who through his several years of incompetence and blatant negligence spent the past few months of consults merely checking the babies heartbeat, measuring mommies stomach and taking her blood pressure, all while ignoring (not answering) Zdenka's questions and concerns and rushing her visit just like he did every other maternal patient during his shift (which unsurprisingly is the last of the day). If this guys passion for medicine was a candle flame then it's safe to say that it burnt out probably somewhere around his over-the-hill party. Now I'm guessing there definitely isn't anything medically exciting about the field of gynecology and after seeing your fair share of vaginas you've eventually seen them all so it's perhaps no surprise that this guy's sold his soul to his profession a long time ago. Now if I sound a little forgiving trust me that's not where this rant is heading, I mean here is a man who pretty much is killing time at work like any other demoralized employee yet what makes it so bad is that he is in a profession that dangles with peoples health and the health of their soon to be born children. Luckily we had the sense to change doctors though I wish we would have realized a bit sooner rather than two months before Zdenka's due date but hey, better now than never right? ANYWAYS... the good news was that Zdenka's new gynecologist (which surprisingly was a woman, not to many of those oddly enough in the field) was a young gal with a good head on her shoulders who when was informed of the atrocities of said previous doctor decided that the only solution was a temporary stay at the hospital in order to perform several tests (you know the ones that are fundamental of every pregnant women who spends 9 months in consultation visits...minor details really).
The week went by and while the experience for me was less than uncomfortable, Zdenka unfortunately had to deal with nurses, doctors, and the dreaded medical interns whose noob status in the medical realm makes their hands very shaky when it comes time to draw blood from the patient in the room next door. A true battle of wits in a place where the medical staff are desensitized to the point that they see patients as impatient whinny moochers rather than people who have paid for their health care and are less than satisfied with their medical experience. I am still rather green to the whole public health care system, a concept all to foreign to me and yet as I spend more time within the walls of the EsSalud hospitals I begin to realize just how unpleasant the reality of a well intentioned system can be (I begin to wonder if perhaps this is what the reality of such a system would be if it existed in the US). Friday came and thankfully Zdenka was released giving her the satisfaction of freedom from medical beds and clockwork patient checkups every hour, though happy and ecstatic to be out we both knew that it would only be a matter of time before we would have to return, and like many others excepted our reluctant dependency to the health care system.
It's experiences like this that makes me ask the question: "what is the lesser of two evils?" A country with private hospitals and insurance companies where people without insurance can't even afford to pay for a simple consultation let alone the medical bills for a blood test or a country with a public health care system where the health care staff are underpaid and demoralized, the facilities and hospitals are in shit conditions, and the people are unhappy. I shutter to imagine what the future holds for man in his ever continuous quest to solve the age-old puzzle that is health care.
The blog Una Lima Que Se Fue is a vault full wonderful artifacts from Lima's past. As the city of Lima continues to evolve the relics of a beautiful city slowly begin to erode from sight. Thankfully this website is doing what few others have attempted and that is archiving the cities history and past, through the many aging photographs and documents.
Today I found a photo that really caught my eye and just had to share it with you. I'm not quite sure who the hooded women behind the baby is but the title reads: "Another Wet Nurse". I'm not entirely sure what a wet nurse is but she looks like some kind of nanny. Look it up on Wikipedia if you really want to know.
Back in the forties and early fifties the movie houses always showed ‘news shorts’ before the main feature. Frequently there were 30 second clips on the ‘Amazon Jungle and the mighty Amazon River.’ The jungle had lots of monkeys and huge snakes and other dangerous things, but even worse were the Jivaro head hunters. These guys were fierce. I mean, before you could say “Hello, my name is…” Whap! - your head would be in a pickling pot with your lips sewed shut. We kids (and quite a few adults) used to fantasize about the Amazon and vowed that when we grew up we’d go there. It took more time than expected, but I finally made it.
Iquitos is a city on the Amazon accessible only by air or boat. It is the place I would recommend to anyone who could visit Peru only once in their lifetime, because Iquitos is a composite of almost everything Peru has to offer.
The city itself has three ‘faces.’ The inner city is not much different from any of Peru’s major cities or larger towns. Anyone from Chiclayo, Arequipa, Cajamarca or even Lima would feel a familiarity walking the streets.
A second facet of the city is the river shore inhabitants. This would include Belen to the south and the fringe area bordering the city’s east side, as can be seen while walking the malecònes Tarapaca and Maldonado.
A third distinct segment is what appeared to me to be new communities being carved out of the jungle on the city’s south side. I say “appears to be new” because in Peru what looks new may be ancient or vice versa, probably because the architecture and building materials don’t change. Houses in this section are being built with untreated lumber and thatched roofs as they have been for centuries.
Several characteristics stamp Iquitos with a distinct personality. First would have to be the comparative scarcity of taxis and other private autos. In their place are thousands of moto taxis and motorcycles. Only in the jungle or outskirts of the city can you escape the sound and smell of these metal beasts. The heat and humidity were to be expected but still, the first step off the plane at the airport was like being confronted by a hostile living force. Another difference is the speech pattern of the Iquiteños, which is sing-song and melodious compared to coastal city dwellers.
And speaking of the residents, I would bet that as a percent of the total population, Iquitos has the largest gringo population of any city in Peru. There is almost never a time when several are not in view. Some are tourists, but the majority we saw were unquestionably residents, with many of them projecting an image of having ‘gone to seed’ over time. Whatever it is in Peru that brings out that ‘free spirit’ look, Iquitos has more than its share. There is even an English language newspaper – the Iquitos Times.
There is more to do and see in and about Iquitos than I expected. We managed to see everything we wanted to in five days, but just barely. A trip to the excellent tourist office will provide the visitor with maps and most of the standard tourist options.
Among the standard attractions we saw were the Manatee Rescue facility, sponsored by the Dallas World Aquarium, and that same day the nearby Quistococha zoo/lagoon/park complex. Both were worth the time. One of the attractions I reluctantly agreed to was a boat ride up the Momòn River to visit the Yahùas tribe. I was reluctant because I expected to see a theatrical production followed by various approaches to extract the last penny from my pocket…which for me is exactly what it turned out to be. Enough said about that. Subsequent days found us at the Amazon Sculpture museum in the city, and the ‘Serpentario’ located on the Nanay River, also enjoyable experiences.
The Belen market is worth seeing, but it is not a pleasant area in terms of sight and smell. Most people we talked with told us to avoid the area after 5:00pm because of pickpockets.
The activities we enjoyed most were ones we created ourselves. Boarding a colectivo at one of the terminals and riding it to its destination terminal is a good, inexpensive way to see the city. It’s also a cooling experience during the heat of the day as colectivo windows have no glass.
If you’re willing you can walk a long way along the river front in either direction from the Boulevard. Each step reveals a different perspective of the river shore inhabitants and their daily lives/activities. It was interesting to watch the river boats being unloaded at the Produce Market. It was mostly bananas and charcoal we saw being unloaded.
One of our favorite activities was to ride a moto taxi to the port of Nanay, and there to charter a peque-peque to take us to various destinations we selected on the Nanay and Momòn Rivers. We were told they don’t go on the Amazon as the current is too much for a peque-peque to handle. You don’t need a guide. Simply point to the place on a map that you would like to go and then negotiate the price with the captain.
Though there is lots of boat traffic on the rivers, riding on the Momòn River instills the feeling of a wild river and jungle environment without having to travel for many miles at significant expense. Incidentally, during our five days in the city, on the river and in the jungle we never saw a mosquito.
Walking the boulevard; stopping for a meal or cool drink (camu-camu became our favorite) and people watching is a relaxing pastime, especially toward sundown when the place comes alive. It reminded us a bit of the bohemia feel of Lima’s Kennedy Park and of Mancora.
I can understand why people would be attracted to Iquitos. It’s got something for most everyone plus there’s the attraction of the wild jungle just around the next bend in the river. The Jivaro head hunters are gone, but hey!...you can’t have everything!
If you’d like to experience events like this and get a taste of real daily life in northern provincial Peru, speak to Tom & Maribel via Mochica Hostess Tours
Etiquetas: [food] [random] Fecha Publicación: Fri, 28 Jan 2011 17:11:00 +0000
Yesterday in order to kill the boredom of being under house arrest (not literally) I decided to cook lunch for the two of us. Work is totally awful this month and I have been stuck in perpetual vacation status until further notice and while that might not sound so bad you should probably take into consideration the fact that Zdenka and I are practically counting down the days now until Rosemary is born. Zdenka's condition has made it hard for her to walk which means she gets tired easily, and I mean EASILY, after one or two blocks she is so winded that she has to rest and often it's hard for her to push forward. This has led us to spend quite a lot of time indoors. Anyways with limited options for entertainment in my home I decided to cook as it is one of the few things that I enjoy doing while at home. For yesterday's lunch the unanimous vote was made for the family favorite of pasta in red sauce, not very original but a dish that is well on it's way to perfection.
I have said it more than once and I will continue to proclaim my love for community marketplaces in Peru. In my opinion they beat any supermarket in the US hands down in produce any day of the week. Fresh and inexpensive make it easy to cook wonderful meals from scratch. All the vegetables that you see in the photos above only cost me S/.2 which is almost $1!!!!! To make this wonderful pasta favorite we needed red onion, bell pepper, carrots, tomatoes, pasta, oregano, basil, cumin, tomato paste, bay leaves, garlic, and paprika. Most of these ingredients make up the wonderful red sauce.
For the onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes I like to cut them in halves and then grab a skillet or frying pan placed on med-high. I add a little bit of vegetable oil or olive oil and fry the vegetables on one-side until they are a little charred. I am not 100% sure but I believe that by doing this the vegetables sugars are caramelized in the process giving them a stronger flavor. For the tomatoes and bell pepper I like to then place them in a plastic zip bag and let them smoke for at least an hour or so. This makes the outer skin peel off very easily when I dice them up later. The next step for me is usually to dice the onion, garlic, and carrots into small pieces. Once this is done I grab a medium sized sauce pan/pot and on medium with a bit of olive oil, I fry the onion and garlic until golden brown. Once the onion and garlic are golden in color I then add the carrots with a bit of powdered cumin and paprika (the powdered ingredients are all measured to taste, but I would recommend using very little cumin and paprika in the sauce as they tend to be very strong flavors). This is all mixed together to make what Peruvians here call Sofrito, which will the base of the sauce. after about 5-10 minutes I turn the heat down to med-low and add the an additional ingredient which may not be available in the US called Aji Panca paste (a paste made from the red Aji pepper), this gives the sauce an additional level of flavor that is subtle but a wonderful addition. After this I push all of the mixture to the inside corners of the sauce pan, leaving the center exposed and pour the tomato paste into the middle where the heat will help to break down the pastes acidity (I also add just a pinch or two of sugar to help in this process). After another 5 minutes I finally add the tomatoes and the bell pepper into the mix and let simmer for another 10 minutes on low.
Photo of my wife Zdenka preparing the pasta
Above you can see the tomatoes being fried on one side
After the ten minutes are up I turn off the heat and let sit for a few minutes before transferring it to the blender where it is then liquefied. This process goes smoothly when you do it in batches rather than all at once, also I add a little bit of water to help it reach a puree like consistency. Once the sauce is in puree for I place it in a separate bowl while I place the original sauce pan on the stove under low heat. They say that when cooking the essence of flavor of a dish often is left stuck to the pan or pot, which is why it's so important to not leave it behind. To do this I grab a red wine (we have wine from Chincha of the Southern coast of Peru) and add a splash or two to the pan and let that alcohol clean the pan and collect all those tiny bits and morsels of flavor goodness. I let the wine simmer for about 5 minutes to cook off the alcohol (it's not a religious sin to cook with alcohol since in most preparations the heat burns off the alcohol only leaving behind the flavor, so relax!), once this is done I transfer the sauce into the pan with the wine. IMPORTANT at this point you need to be prepared and move quick as the sauce will start to bubble and spit hot sauce everywhere. This is where I add black pepper, salt, oregano, bay leaves, and basil leaves, they will help to really bring the sauce together and give it it's final form. Let the sauce sit for another 10 minutes on low and then serve hot. I like to serve this dish with a little fresh grated Parmesan cheese. To make this dish you will need the follow to make the red sauce:
INGREDIENTS FOR THE TOMATO-BELL PEPPER SAUCE
1 red onion
1 bell pepper
a handful of fresh basil leaves (Albahaca in Spanish)
Since I arrived in Lima I have been taking photos like crazy of anything and everything that best captures life in the big coastal city. When I'm not on the streets I spend quite a bit of time searching the web for Limeñans and Peruvians who share a similar passion for photography and art, fortunately there are ALOT!
A favorite website of mine is PeruFotoLibre, which is a blog that covers everything interesting the photography world. It is also a great page to find out about what is hot and current in the photography community in Lima, like events and art expositions. The page is in Spanish but there is a lot of useful and interesting content on there page.
Another great photography page is also that of an private exhibition gallery in Barranco called Espacio Exhibe. Their website has photos from several great Peruvian artists.
Lastly another El Comercio, the popular Peruvian newspaper has put together a Flash photo slideshow of the Rimac river from it's beautiful beginnings high in the mountains of the Peruvian Sierra to it's appalling and depressing form found in Lima, the countries capital. The slideshow documents the grim and sad reality of one of Peru's most well known rivers. I highly recommend this!
Today was a very full day with the trip to the Peruvian immigration office in Breña (conveniently located a block from Zdenka's parents house) to pick up our new Peruvian passports, followed by a trip to downtown Lima to pick up our OFFICIALLY translated marriage certificate (so much paperwork for a K3 visa!). Our last stopped was not a mandatory one but one of personal interest, as we both decided to head over to the Policlinica Chincha so Zdenka could get another ultrasound.
The Clinic is one of many satellite hospitals run by EsSalud and is considered one of the more popular ones to visit. Unfortunately due to its small size and the large number of patients that attend there the wait can be dreadful, luckily Zdenka had befriended the ultrasound technician during our first visit and so we were attended rather quickly (just another example that "who you know" matters in Peru).
The ultrasound office was a small one which consisted of a wooden desk, the huge ultrasound machine, the patient bed, and several windows draped with blue curtains. The room was dark with the lights off so as to help the technician (a very pleasant middle aged woman) view the ultrasound machine. Zdenka lied on the table and exposed her fairly small belly which was quickly greased up with some clear petroleum based gel. Unlike other visits it did not take long for the technician to locate Rosemary resting in an upward position with her feet pointing towards the cervix opening. We were informed that if the baby did not move from her current position before the birthing that a Cesarean would have to be performed. The whole visit only last about 15 minutes but it was wonderful to see my baby again. Definitely looking forward to the day when I can hold her in my arms!