Happy Anniversary!

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been married a year now. It feels like our wedding wasn’t that long ago, but we did accomplish a lot in that year and here we are now in Peru. What a nice way to spend our anniversary. We spent the morning looking at the Sechin ruins. I tried to bargain for a taxi ride there, the lady that runs the hostal said we should pay no more than sl. 3 for a mototaxi to the ruins. Mototaxis are quite bad-ass. It’s a motorcycle that ends at the driver’s seat, then a sort of rickshaw contraption is attached to it with two wheels. The rickshaw barely fits three people and is covered in vinyl that is personalized by the driver. On the way there, they tried to charge us sl. 5 to the ruins but I insisted that we were told no more than 3. Then the taxi drivers banded together and explained it was Sunday, blah blah blah. I didn’t believe them and luckily someone came from across the street and said they’d take us for sl. 3. Ha! I worked hard to save that 60 cents :)

Anyways, the ruins were really interesting. We were the first to arrive and it looked like a ghost town. I thought for sure the taxi driver was going to murder us for bargaining the price and dump us in the ruins, but luckily all went well. The ruins had a dated museum with a lot of artifacts recovered from Sechin and other sites as well. There was a mummy from the Wari tribe which freaked me out a bit. She was a sacrifice and most of her skin remained on her body—so it was strange not to see a skeleton. She had her upper lip still attached to her mouth…it was unnerving. The ruins themselves were interesting, especially since it’s still in the process of being unearthed. They ran out of funding in 1999 so it’s been abandoned until some rich old dude wants to pay for archaeologists to come back. The whole front wall and main steps were exposed. On the walls where detailed petroglyphs of warriors and lots of decapitated heads and eviscerations. There was a hiking trail that went up the mountain the ruins were on, so we could see from above. There’s supposed to be a bunch of warriors buried in the earth that haven’t been discovered yet.

That afternoon, we caught a bus to Trujillo, which is the city closest to Huanchaco. It made a lot of stops but the drive was really beautiful. It’s mostly sand dunes, dotted with shanty towns and lush agricultural fields. I don’t know where the water comes from for the farming, because the desert looks pretty dry. I saw a lot of corn fields and a few rice paddies. When we arrived in Trujillo, we bartered for a taxi straight to Huanchacho and settled into our new place. We took a walk along the beach, checked out the boardwalk and there were about 4 guys fishing off the pier (in the dark at 8pm). We found a little surf shop/restaurant called The Wave and had some yummy Mexican food. Veggie quesadillas and taquenos, which are like mini burritos that are deep fried. It tasted like mozzarella sticks if the breading was a wonton wrapper. We shared a margarita, watched the waves and was entertained by our 10 year old waiter.

Last days in Lima

We decided to stay in a hostal in the centro district of Lima (where
it was almost 1/3 the price and a little shabbier) and we visited the Museo de la Inquisicion. Lima was the seat of the Inquisition and people were sent from other South American countries to be tried and persecuted. Luckily, people were given many chances before the torture to confess and only 40 people (I think) were killed there. Not that that was good, but compared to Spain, much more were spared. We got to see the rooms and go underground to see some tunnels and pits. It was creepy but not as much as the catacombs of San Francisco. At that church we took a tour and saw an amazing library (with spiral staircases and dust-covered, rotting books) straight out of Harry Potter, according to our guide. The catacombs were really strange. I think 35,000 people were buried there, regardless of class or wealth. In the past it used to be the burial grounds. Only until later on was it for just patrons and the monks of the cathedral. We went into one room on the main floor that had some beautiful gigantic paintings and a big hole in the floor with a staircase. We didn’t go down it because immediately at the bottom was a skull on top of a grave. Off to the side was an entire human skeleton. I thought at first how disrespectful it was to have a tourist viewing of a dead guy, but then I realized he paid big bucks to be buried in the cathedral. Maybe he was very proud to be show off his body as well, so we know he was buried there. Maybe.

The catacombs are three levels underneath the church filled with bodies. We only visited the first level, which archaeologists had been to as well. The archaeologists categorized the bones, so one room was just a pit of femurs. There were some intact skeletons, but not much because their method of burial was to put the body into a pit, cover with lime, layer with up to 4 more bodies. When they had decayed to just bones, they were moved to another pit. There was a large stone well under the center of the cathedral that was 30 meters deep, filled with bones. The top layer was arranged in an artistic swirling design of bones. Not my kind of art.

We enjoyed walking around the plazas and at one we made friends with two artisans. One of them wanted to talk politics with Matt and we must have been there for at least an hour and a half, talking about government systems. The quiet guy was a 17 year old boy from the Amazon who is learning the trade from his mother. I think we had our Spanish immersion of the day chatting with them. Everyone we meet has been so friendly and interested in why we’re here and how we like Peru.

We got to spend a few hours with Effie’s cousin one day, which was nice. She took us to the mall, which she really liked (it IS beautiful, an open air mall on a cliff overlooking the ocean). We walked around the mall a bit, got to see her condo (which is beautiful. You can have a maid for $1 a day in Lima, but she doesn’t have one, at least not right now. She does have her own personal carpenter who made all her furniture in her apartment. She says it’s cheaper to design it yourself and hire someone to make it than go to the store. That sounds good to me!) She also took us to a restaurant about a block from her condo, where Effie’s aunts like to go to when they visit. It was a good restaurant, but it had American prices for the food and very attentive service. It was very different than how we had been eating, but we wanted Ana Maria to show us her favorite things to do, and I won’t complain about good food. I got to try chicha morada, which is a juice made from purple corn. It’s really good and is good for you as well. We have been eating great non stop in Lima. There’s a street in the centro that has 3 vegetarian restaurants, which we have visited them all. I was worried that it would be hard to be vegetarian in Peru, but the main concern is getting to try everything there is.

The photo is a a random dance we saw in Lima Centro. There was a live brass band and marinera dancing, which involves “much romatic handkerchief waving.” It was fun to watch because the dancers were young and really seemed to enjoy what they were doing. There’s going to be a big marinera competition coming up, but I’m not sure exactly where or when. There was also a horse demonstration nearby as well, but they just trotted in circles. The kids loved it.

Estamos en Peru!

After 2 short flights and a loong layover in Costa Rica, we are in Lima, Peru.

We spent our first two nights in Miraflores, a suburb of Lima where there’s apparently more going on. We walked around our new neighborhood, which has a bunch of casinos, churros and money changers on almost every corner, they supposedly give you a better deal. I changed my dinero at the casaac de cambio, which is sort of in between a bank and a guy on the street. I’m not ready to haggle for changing money yet.

On our first real day, we walked almost the entire day. Hooray for my new sneakers, Saucony Jazz lo-pro. My feet don’t hurt yet and I don’t feel jet lagged. We walked along the cliffs, where it was basically a well maintained park friendly to walkers, bikers, runners and dog-owners. It is nice to see people walking everywhere or on crowded buses. We visited the Parque de Amor, which is along the ocean side cliffs and has a giant sculpture of people making out. There’s also a handful of couples at the park, also making out. There’s a beautiful Gaudi tiled bench system in the park that reminded me of Parque Guell, designed by Gaudi in Barcelona. We wandered around town, ate at a Hare Krishna place where we had a 3 course lunch for about $3. We took an afternoon siesta and then saw La Borgia at the movies. While buying the tickets, the woman made sure we knew it was in Spanish, she seemed worried about us going in there. It wasn’t easy to understand–not only Castellano spanish, but more like Spanish Inquisition Castellano. I know we got the plot and some of the dialogue. Not bad for Day 1. It was all about the Borgia family and their rise to power. It’s amazing how the Catholic Church can be seen as so conservative now, usually with history it’s the past that was puritanical. This guy, Rodrigo Borgia became the pope, had lots of sex with young girls, his daughter and he encouraged his sons to basically rape and pillage people all the time. Maybe my Spanish isn’t up to par yet, but that’s what I got from the film.At night we took a taxi to Barranco, another suburb of Lima on the cliffs. It has more colonial architecture and is more of a party scene than Miraflores (which didn’t seem like much of a party scene). Within 5 minutes of us getting out of the taxi, we were offered weed, coke, and free pisco sours. Instead, we walked around the plaza, looked in at the bars and settled on Outre Mama bar, with live Afro-Peruvian music. I’m not totally familiar with the money here yet, basically one us dollar is about 3 nuevo soles. Only they writes the money like this sl. 15 equals 15 soles. I went to order some wine, the menu said sl.55 and my eyes tell me it’s 1.55 soles for a glass of wine (it didn’t say it was by the bottle, every thing else on the menu was by the drink) so i ordered TWO things of wine….me thinking I’m getting this great deal for a glass of wine (50 cents a glass!) Ha, ha. Luckily I figured my mistake while they were corking the bottle and was able to talk them into letting me just buy a glass. I’m sure they were disappointed to find out I was a cheap gringa. Oh, well. It was Peruvian wine and I didn’t really like it. It was very alcoholic and high in sugar, not too much depth or tannins.

Now we are in central Lima, which feels more like Madrid than anything. Lots of old buildings with great colonial architecture and plaza everywhere. We had a 3 course vegetarian lunch today for $2. We were stuffed. Corn (the biggest kernels in the world) stew, emoliente (a sweet herbal tea which I’m sure has aloe vera juice in it. it’s quite viscous), fake meat stewed with rice, corn, and more ingredients than I can remember. Dessert was strawberry yogurt. The side we ordered was mushroom ceviche which was amazing. Lots of lime juice, salt, cilantro and mushrooms and some soy protein on top of a bed of sweet potatoes. I think I’ll be full for a long time.

Now we are off to see more of Lima and hopefully meet up with Effie’s cousin, who lives here. By the way, soft serve ice cream cones here are one nuevo sole. Oh, how it tempts me!


Our Florida visit was not as jam-packed with activities as our time in CT, but we did get some quality family time and some fun adventures. We spent a day at Discovery Cove (luckily the rain held), a controlled, limited number of people interactive sea world situation. They only allow 1000 people in a day and they are very concerned about the animal’s health so they do not provide lids, straws, or paper towels (cloth hand towels in the bathroom). They give you special sunscreen that won’t clog the filters or hurt the animals, but it was a little hard to apply and soak in. All day you’d see people with white paint all over their bodies, we were quite a clan from our name tags to our matching wetsuit vests. Matt and I were signed up to a dolphin swim so for about 40 minutes we were part of a group in the water feeding, touching, kissing and interacting with our buddy, Rex. There’s a lazy river that goes through the aviary, which was fun to enter and exit via a waterfall. There’s a staff: guest ratio of 1:4 but since it was the slow season; it was about 1:2. By doing the Cove experience, we had a free pass to Busch Gardens for the next 7 days. I think 1 day was plenty; we got to ride one of the top 10 roller coasters in the country, Kumba and experience a 90-degree drop on SheiKra. It was fun to go on roller coasters again and I’m impressed Busch Gardens is making a visible effort towards conservation, animal education and environmental awareness. Something good can come out of crappy beer (oh, 2 free beers for everyone at Busch Gardens).

We spent some time on the Gulf Coast visiting my other grandma (we brought lightening to her town, too). We spent the remainder of the week at my parents, relaxing, watching movies and getting ready for Peru. There were also thunderstorms almost every day at my parents. When it wasn’t raining, we got in some swimming and the obligatory stop to Ritter’s for some frozen custard. It’s much creamier than ice cream so Matt and I had to share a small scoop. I think my addiction to ice cream is diminishing. I don’t crave it as much (it’s been almost 10 years since I was eating ice cream every day at my high school job as a scoop-tress). It’s weird, I never could imagine life without ice cream but I think it has just transferred to dark chocolate. Mmmm, Dagoba.


Our last few days in the US were spent with Matt’s aunt, uncle and cousin who live in Fort Lauderdale. It was fun to see them all and see southern Florida. There were lightening storms our whole bus ride down to see them, but luckily our first day with them was sunny and beautiful so we spent it at the beach, bobbing the waves and walking on the beach. I haven’t spent much time at the beach since I moved to Seattle, where it’s a couple hours away and not as warm or swim able. So it was fun to have a Florida lazy beach day where you can spend all day in the ocean. We had quite the exciting experience at Jaxson’s ice cream parlor, all old school homemade ice cream in a building filled with tons of antiques and monster sundaes. They have a sundae called the kitchen sink. When someone orders it they turn on a siren, light sparklers and it’s a party. We didn’t get to see one, but heard the siren. Minimum of 4 people to share this monstrosity. Matt and I shared the Chocolate Peanut Gargantuan, which we finished with a bit of a stomache-ache…but it was yummy. We visited the Calvary Chapel and a home-church with them, shared a lot of meals, good stories and walked around Miami and the beaches together. Matt and I visited Natural Vibes on our last day, a vegan Jamaican take-out style restaurant and that was lots of fun. Everyone that worked and ate there was Jamaican except us. We shared some soy chicken stew, yams, green bananas and dumplings, collala? (a collards dish with okra and peppers) and a bean dish with beans I’ve never had before. It was all hearty and full of flavor. We had some home made soursop juice, which was quite thick and refreshing. We also had irish moss smoothie, with irish moss, pumpkin seeds, hirish walnuts and so many ingredients I can’t remember. It tasted like a thick pumpkin shake. The owner said the sour sop was good for the nerves and the irish moss was good for the irishand he pointed at Matt with a knowing smile). I’m not 100% sure how it will help Matt, I’ll keep you posted.


Off to Peru!

East Coast: New houses and Ithaca

I guess we’re at that age now where everyone’s getting engaged, buying houses and having pets and/or babies. I’m not ready for all of that right now, so it’s good that we’ll be escaping/exploring/volunteering to South America and I won’t feel any of that pressure since our lifestyle will totally change. I enjoyed having a house and obviously having my own kitchen, garden, space but it’s time for a change. We can go always go back to it (I’m already missing not having a home or my kitchen..I hope someone is enjoying my spice rack!) There’s nothing like turning your life upside down to get some perspective on it. But it was so nice to visit my friends on the east coast and see how they are carving their lives out for themselves.

We got a lot of grandma time in this week. It’s hard to believe she’ll be 92 in a month. She’s still got plenty of spunk and is aiming for 100. We spent a day visiting her sisters and seeing the homestead they grew up on.

Two friends bought houses in the past year and two friends bought houses the year before, so there was much to see. One of the new houses included moving with two cats, a dog and a baby. I don’t know how people can move, let alone do major construction projects with an infant. They moved the basement stairs from one end of the house to the other…amazing. Miss Bedilia is now a year old. She’s so beautiful, calm, happy and balanced. So much development happens in a year-I remember spending a week with them when she was three weeks old and slept in my arms. I hope I can be as good as a mommy as she is; she’s so patient and relaxed and HAPPY. Another friend got a puppy with her new fiancé (congratulations my bouquet toss diver, it was not in vain J). Not just any puppy, a Rhodesian Ridgeback, my dream dog. After a day with Miss Savanna, I still want to have my own ridgeback. They are amazing dogs. Loyal, independent, laid back and a bit stubborn. Their hair is short, so the shedding is not insane and somehow they don’t smell like dogs, they smell like seaweed. That’s not unpleasant, considering my backpack stinks like skunks.

We went to Ithaca for a day with friends to see the gorge-ous #1 Most Enlightened Town in the US. It is also one of the most culturally liberal, lesbian-friendly and vegetarian friendly small towns in the US. We brought the thunderstorms there with us as well. It rained while we were driving in but stopped before dinner so we were able to squeeze in a little swimming and rock scrambling in an unnamed gorge and a stroll along Treman State Park. We ate dinner at Moosewood (my review is on the food blog), ran in the rain to snag yummy desserts at the ABC café and hear live music (J-San, dancy reggae dub tunes) at the Chapter House bar, where there were lots of yummy beer on tap, especially the Cascazilla! We did randomly come upon the farmer’s market, which was huge and was open-air with roofs (thank goodness because it was pouring rain while we were there as well). I was surprised at how much ethnic food was available at the farmer’s market…especially since it’s upstate New York, but there was Japanese, Cuban, Thai, Caribbean and a lot of other foods I can’t remember. It was a fun visit, but a bit short so I think I may have to return to get a better feel for this highly rated small town.