Karencita de Perú

Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

This is a continuation of my recent post https://karencitadeperu.wordpress.com/2011/04/02/the-life-of-the-rich-and-not-famous/.   The first part explained why I had the good fortune to live the “life of the rich” for a weekend and focused on the Miraflores Park Hotel.  However, also included in my prize from Groupon were 2 dinners and a lunch in some of Lima’s finest restaurants.

The first night we went to La Rosa Nautica.   This restaurant is consistently ranked among the top choices for fine dining in Lima and I have wanted to go there since my first visit to Peru.  I have heard many differing opinions about the place from people who have been there, but I wanted to form my own opinion.

The evening started with getting picked up at the hotel and being driven to the restaurant, along with our personal photographer.  Before we even entered the restaurant there were a ton of great photo opportunities.  The location and architecture of La Rosa Nautica is one of the most charming things about it.  It is a Victorian-style building located at the end of a pier above the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean.   To get to the entrance of the restaurant you walk along a lovely pier, which is adorned with gazebos and shops.

When we arrived at the restaurant, to my surprise, we were ushered to a private room, with a single table just for us!  The room was nicely decorated with windows that open to the ocean below.  We had two waiters just to serve us.  If we even looked in their direction they asked us if there was something we needed.  Needless to say, the service was outstanding; however, my experience doesn’t really allow me to judge the service under normal circumstance, when we aren’t being treated like “VIPs”.

Of course, the most important thing about a restaurant is the food.   To start, we had a seafood platter that included parmesan scallops and ceviche – two of my favorite seafood dishes in Peru.  It was delicious.  For the main course, I had chicken in an ‘agridulce salsa de sauco‘ (sweet & sour elderberry sauce) served with puré (mashed potatoes).  Luis had a white fish (can’t remember the name) served with roasted baby potatoes and vegetables.  For dessert we tried the creme bruleé and lucuma-mousse filled crepe with chocolate sauce.  The food was nicely presented and pleasing, although I have to honestly say it was not the best meal I have had in my life.

What made La Rosa Nautica special for me was the ambiance and the service and that alone is enough to go back for.

The next day, after our private half-day city tour, we were taken to Brujas de Cachiche for lunch.  This was my second visit to this restaurant.  The restaurant is located in Miraflores on the Ovalo Bolognesi in an interesting, old wooden building.  What’s interesting about the architecture of the building is that it has a peaked roof, something that is very rare in Lima, where the majority of roof-tops are flat.  We didn’t have a private room this time and were seated in the main dining area, which is glassed-in patio that has been added to the main structure.  It is bright and airy, with an elegant yet casual feel.  Apart from the main dining area where we ate, there are other rooms for private parties and the AQUELARRE Bar.  Attached to Brujas de Cachiche is the popular Bar Huaringas.

The service in Brujas de Cachiche is very good, but it couldn’t compare to our personalized service the night before.   However, where Brujas stands out is in its food.  The menu is vast and offers an abundance of typical dishes from all regions of Peru.   I started with Tuna Causa and Luis had Anticuchos.  For the main course, I had one of my favorite Peruvian dishes, Ají de Gallina.  However, my favorite part of the meal was the dessert… Suspiro a la Limeña.   This is a traditional Peruvian dessert which is basically a base of manjar blanco (otherwise known as dulce de leche) topped with meringue.    Warning:  this dessert is extremely sweet and rich, so it may not be to ‘ taste, but I love it!!

Our last meal was a dinner show at Junius in the Double Tree Hotel in Miraflores.  The dinner consisted of a buffet of typical Peruvian dishes.   The food was good and there was a nice selection of cold dishes, hot dishes and desserts.  However, the real reason to go to Junius is for the live folklore dance show.  The show begins at 8pm, and features traditional dances from all regions of Peru, the Coast, the Sierra and the Selva.  The costumes are colorful, the music is excellent and the dancing is fantastic.  The show demonstrates the profound depth of Peruvian culture with its Incan, Spanish and African influences.

For me, the outstanding performance of the night was the Scissor Dance.    This dance comes from the South Andes region of Peru.  It features male dancers who hold two loose scissor shears in their hands which clash together in a hypnotic rhythm while they are dancing.  The dancers, accompanied by melodies of violin and harp, dance in turns in a sort of competition.  When it is the turn of the dancer, he tries to outdo the steps of the previous dancer.  As the dance progresses, the difficulty increases with each “round” as the dancers display their strength, acrobatics, flexibility and imagination.   It is definitely something that all visitors to Peru should see.

It’s Saturday, and as usual we spent the day running errands and doing the things we don’t have time to do during the week.  We got home about 7:30pm and were cooking dinner when we heard what sounded like a car outside in the street blasting its stereo at full volume, with the bass thumping.    The car seemed to be parked as the music never stopped.  “How weird!” we said.  Why would someone park in the street and have their music so loud, for so long without someone complaining.   A little while later we hard a lot of bulla (commotion) in the street.  Cars where honking and the traffic was backed-up on our street, which usually isn’t that busy.  When we looked out the window we saw that all the traffic was stopped and people were getting out of their cars and walking around in the street.  The traffic was at a standstill and nothing was moving.  Again we said “How weird! Something must be going on”.  So, we decided to go out and investigate.

We walked down Bolívar, the street we live on, toward Larco and soon realized that the music wasn’t coming from a car at all.  There was a live DJ on Larco with a large crowd gathered around.  It was then that we realized what all the commotion was… it was We Run Lima, a 10km run something like The Sun Run in Vancouver.   We had seen them assembling stages and big screens in Parque Kennedy earlier in the day, but didn’t realize that the run was today.  The strange thing was that it was at night, in the dark!

We stood on Larco for about half an hour and watched all the runners pass-by in their bright, florescent green t-shirts.  We were situated just past the 9th kilometer mark and the runners were on the home stretch, heading toward the finish line.  The house music being played by the very cool, geisha-like DJ blared in the street.   The atmosphere was energetic and the whole scene was quite spectacular.

The stream of runner seemed endless.  We later found out that there were about 10,000 participants in the run.  Not quite the 50,000 runners that participate in The Vancouver Sun Run, but pretty good for a country which doesn’t have the same focus on fitness and exercise.

The runners finally thinned out as the last few stragglers made their way toward the finish line.  All the streets had been closed to cars, hence the traffic jam on our street.  Oddly, before the last runners finished, they began to open up the streets to cars again.  I guess the bottlenecks were so bad they couldn’t keep the streets closed any longer.

We made our way toward the finish line, which was located near Parque Kennedy.   At that moment, when we saw the thousands of people milling around the finish line, we realized how lucky we were.  The finish line was located right outside the Municipalidad de Miraflores, where we got married the previous Saturday.  If we had chosen November 6th instead of October 30th to get married, it would have been a disaster!!!

A little further along, in the Ovalo de Miraflores, there was a huge stage and screen set up.  They were announcing the men and women who finished in the top 3 places.  Not surprisingly, the man who won (finishing in just over 30 minutes) was a 23-year old from Kenya.  The top placing woman, however, was a 35-year old from Huancayo, Peru.  Huancayo is a town located in the Sierra.  The high altitude forces the people to have strong lungs so they are able to breath the thin air.  I guess that makes them good runners because the 2nd place man was also from Huancayo.

One of the things I like about Lima is that there is always something going on in the city.  Even when there are large crowds gathered, the atmosphere always seem very fun and friendly.  Unlike in Canada, people here can drink open alcohol in the streets; however, this doesn’t seem to cause any problems.   This event was sponsored by Nike, which was very obvious by the check mark logos everywhere.  The run appears to have been very well-organized and managed, even if it was delayed by 2 weeks from the originally planned date.  Congratulations Lima for a successful event!

In the 5 months I have lived in Lima one of the things I have been very bad at is socializing.  Actually, other than through Luis, I hadn’t met any new people until this weekend.   However, I finally got the opportunity and took the initiative to make some acquaintances, which will hopefully grow into new friendships.

Friday night I went to a Women with Wine event.   As the website says, it is an informal group of women, mostly foreigners, that get together once a month at someone’s house to talk and drink wine.  I had found out about this group prior to leaving Vancouver and signed up on the website to receive information but didn’t hear anything until August.   They had an event in August but I couldn’t go as we already had plans for that night.  So, when I received the notice of the next event on September 24th, I made sure I was able to go.

The event was at a house not too far from where I live. Luis walked me there and picked me up afterward.   Each person brings a snack and a bottle of wine to the event, so there is lots of drinking and eating.  I made peanut butter cookies which where a great success.  Peanut butter is expensive and not very good here so there aren’t a whole lot of peanut butter cookies being baked in the kitchens of Peru.

In total there were about 25 women at the event from the U.S., Canada, England, Australia and even one girl from Taiwan.  The age range was from mid-20’s to mid-50’s with the average age being 30-something.  The length of time people have lived in Peru varied from as recent as 2 weeks up to 5 years.

It was so interesting to hear everyone’s story about why they are living in Peru, what kind of work they do here and their experiences living in what is considered a Developing Country.  The two main reason why most of the women are living in Peru are for work or for a relationship.   A lot of the girls have Peruvian boyfriends or husbands and the most common occupation is teaching English.  However, most people supplement their income doing other jobs.

Everyone was extremely friendly and willing to share their experience, knowledge and advise on any topic.  One lady, who has been here two months, told me about two very interesting organizations that she joined to help meet new people in Lima.

The first is called Lima Walks.  It is run by a man from Holland who has been in Lima for 2 years.  He gives guided walking tour of various districts around Lima.  The walks are on Saturday and/or Sunday and usually last 2 to 3 hours.  Each walk costs $10 USD.

I joined two of the ladies from Women with Wine to do the Saturday morning walk in the Rimac district.   I really enjoyed the walk and learned about a place I would have never ventured into on my own.  I also met some other foreigners who are living here in Lima.  Lima Walks is a great way to meet new people and learn about the city at the same time.  I plan to attend more walks in the future!

The other organization that my new friend told me about is called South American Explorers Club.  They have a clubhouse in Lima which, apart from providing travel information and advice, has weekly social activities.  I plan to attend an English/Spanish language exchange on Wednesday evening.

I don’t think I realized how much I missed socializing with people until I got a taste of it again.   If anyone ever moves to a new country, my first piece of advice would be to not wait so long to find groups and organization to join to meet new people.  Do it right away because it is important to be able to talk with people who are also foreigners in the same country and can understand what you are going through.

It must be a sign that Spring will soon arrive in Lima!  There is a flower and plant festival on this week in Parque Kennedy.  It is called la Tercera Feria Internacional “Perú Flora 2010: Flores y Plantas”. I went to check it out this afternoon.

The festival is a display of everything to do with flowers and plants.  You can buy plants and fresh-cut flowers, there are accessories and tools for gardening, home decor related to flowers and even books on plants and gardening.   In addition to the displays from the participating vendors there are a number of other beautiful floral arrangements on display.

On the main concourse in front of the Municipalidad (where we are going to get married) , there is an artistic display made of colorful flower petals.

Further along, in front of  La Iglesia de la Virgen Milagrosa, there are a number of interesting floral displays mounted on the lamp posts.

Next, you arrive at the main pavilion which has a mirrored front that provides an interesting reflection of la Municipalidad and la Iglesia.

Inside the pavilion you will find booths of floral displays, flowers and plants for sale,  patio furniture and gardening equipment, along with more floral artwork.

The remainder of the participants are located in booths spread throughout the park.  Like with most events in Lima there is a strong security presence in the park and as always they are working to ensure that the park is kept clean.

You can find a wide variety of plants and flowers on display including species from the desert, orchids and colorful hydrangeas.  Here are some of my favorite images from the feria.

Of course, not everyone is enjoying the flower festival in the park.  The cats have been quite disrupted, but they seem to be taking it in stride, especially when they get fed!

Mistura is an International Food Festival that took place in Lima from September 7 to 12.   This was the 3rd year of the festival, which began in 2008.   The festival features Perú’s top chefs and cuisine along with international guests.  This year’s guest country was Spain.

There was a lot of publicity and hype about Mistura here in Lima and, never having experienced it before, I thought it would be a good idea to go.  The tickets to enter cost S/.15 if you bought them ahead of time or S/.20 on the day of the event.  About a week and a half in advance we checked on-line but all the pre-sale tickets were sold out.  So, that meant we would have to buy tickets the day we went, which was last Saturday.

The festival was held in Parque de la Exposición, a large park in the center of Lima.  Tickets could be purchased starting at 10am on the day of the event at Centro Civico, a large mall near the park .  Luis works Saturday mornings so we didn’t arrive until 1:00pm.  When we got there I couldn’t believe it, the line to buy tickets was enormous.  It spanned about three blocks.    Had I known how long it was going to take I probably wouldn’t have waited, but after waiting for 2 hours I wasn’t about to give up and leave empty-handed.  In the end, we waited for 4 hours just to buy tickets to enter.  There were a lot of people selling reventas (scalped tickets) for S/.35 but Luis said they were not very nice people and that  we couldn’t be sure if the tickets were real… so we waited.

There were a few incidents in the line as the people became restless and the scalpers tried to enter multiple times to buy more tickets.  Finally they instituted a system of giving everyone in line a piece of pink paper that you had to show in order to enter to buy the tickets.  The crazy part was that they only had two cashiers selling the tickets.  This is one of the area where Peru really needs to improve… organization.  They are not very good at implementing systems and handling logistics.  There is no way that people should have had to wait in line for 4 hours to buy tickets for this event.  Hopefully next year they will make improvements to the system.

Anyway, after we finally bought our entrance tickets, we hopped on a shuttle bus that took us to the entrance.  We entered at about 5:30pm.  When we entered we could hardly move as there were so many people.  We had a map of the grounds and were trying to figure out where to go.  Food could be purchased in stalls, kind of like at the PNE, or in “restaurants”.  The food in stalls included Tradiciones (traditional food) and Cocinas Rústicas (Rustic Cuisine).   Rustic cuisine is cooked using a variety of methods such as Barril Cooking,  Caja China, Pachmanca and Pork on the Stake, as shown in the photo.

The restaurants weren’t really like sit-down restaurants but rather food provided by some of the top restaurants from around Peru, but still from a stall.  All the restaurants were located in two rows some distance away from the entrance so we decided to check it out in the hopes that it would be less crowded.

Now we waited in more lines.  First, we had to buy tickets to use to purchase food.  Tickets could be bought for S/.3, S/.6 and S/.12 and the price of food varied at each restaurant.  A full meal was S/.12, a half order, appetizer or dessert was S/.6 and drinks were S/.3.   This method of selling tickets in one place was probably a good idea so that each vendor didn’t have to deal with cash.  The line-up top buy the tickets actually wasn’t that bad.

The line-ups for the restaurants varied.  Luis was very hungry so we started out by going to the place that seemed to have the shortest line.  It was called El Tarwi and served food from the Andes region.  We ordered chicharrón (fried pork) which was served with camote (sweet potato), mote (large, whitish-colored corn), humita (a type of sweet tamale), canchita (crunchy Peruvian ‘unpopped’ popcorn) and cebolla con ají (onions with ají)  It was pretty good, but we were still hungry.

Next, we went to the place with the longest line-up.  It was called El Grifo and the people said that it was one of the best restaurants there.  We ordered Fettuccinis a la Huancaina con Lomo and Cheesecake de Toblerone.  We had to wait for about an hour but it was worth the wait.  The food was really good.  A very unique Peruvian style fettuccine and one of the best desserts I have had here in Peru.   While we were waiting in line we took the opportunity to try a Pisco Sour from Huaringas Bar.  They are supposedly famous for their drinks, each of which cost S/.12, a little expensive, but we got souvenir cups to take home.  The drink was really good and helped us relax after a long day of standing in lines.

By this point we were getting a little full but we still had a few tickets left to use up.  So, we ordered a Causa from La Preferida and Suspiro de Chocolate from La Huaca Pucllana (the restaurant where we got engaged).  We also tried a few more pisco sours in the Rincón de Pisco.

Apart from the Rincón de Pisco, there was the Rincón de Cafe and the Rincón de Chocolate.  These were pavilions that you entered and could try free tasters and buy various products.  In addition to selling all types of food and food products at the festival there were also demonstrations and shows at various times throughout the day.  We didn’t get to see any of those as we arrived late and spent the entire time either in a line to get food, drinking or eating!

Mistura is an interesting experience and a good way to try a variety of cuisines at a price this is less expensive than you would normally pay in a lot of the participating restaurants.  However, I definitely recommend you plan ahead, buy tickets in advance and be prepared to wait for your food and drinks!

A few weeks ago I wrote about my visit to a place called Chosica.  We went for the day to visit Luis’ aunt and uncle.  This weekend we returned to Chosica for a bit of R&R.  We went to a Centro de Esparcimiento (Recreation Center) called Los Arrayanes (http://www.losarrayanesperu.com/).  There are a lot of places like this in Chosica where people go for the weekend to camp, relax and have some fun.

We went to Chosica with Luis’ cousin Angel and his friend from Germany, Nancy.  Both Luis & Angel had to work Saturday morning, but the plan was to leave at 12:00 pm en punto (on the dot).  Of course, in typical Peruvian fashion, it was almost 1pm by the time we finally left.  We took a taxi from our apartment in Miraflores directly to Los Arrayanes.  Normally, this would have taken about 1.5 hours, however. we encountered some road work and got stuck in traffic for what seemed like forever!  Strangely, the sun decided to shine in Lima on Saturday afternoon and, although I have been complaining about freezing to death, we were roasting in the taxi as we sat in traffic and only moved a short distance about every 10 minutes.  We finally arrived at our destination at about 3:15pm.

There are places to camp in tents at Los Arrayanes, but since we have neither a tent nor sleeping bags nor any other camping equipment for that matter, we decided to rent a “bungalow”.  It was basic but clean and functional.  It was equipped with dishes & utensils for cooking, a 2-burner table-top gas stove and a small fridge.   We just had to bring our own sheets and towels.   Here is one of the 2 bedrooms, the kitchen and the dining room/living room.

This is the view from our bungalow of the picnic table and parrilla (BBQ).   The other picture is Nancy with our bungalow in the background.

It was beautiful and sunny while we were there and the grounds were very nicely maintained.  There were also lots of places for day use to have picnics and BBQs, as well as places for the kids to play.

At the base of the mountain, just beyond the trees, is the Río Rímac (Rimac River).  It’s quite small, but clean and tranquil.

Apart from camping, there are a number of activities that you can do at Los Arrayanes such as horseback riding, cuatrimotos (ATVs), camas elásticas (trampoline), pedal boats and games like fulbito (fussball).  We were all excited to go horseback riding, but when we arrived and learned what “horseback” riding really meant, we all felt a bit engañado (deceived).  There was one lonely, old  horse and the ride consisted of them leading you around a ring two times.  Not exactly worth it!  Needless to say, we didn’t do any horseback riding.  The ATVs were almost just as bad.  Again, it included two times around a small, round track.  The good thing was that it was very cheap – just 2 soles – so Angel & Luis both tried it.

Los Arrayanes also has a very nice swimming pool.   Although the sun was shining, right when we decided to go swimming the wind picked up so it was a little chilly.  Also, Luis doesn’t know how to swim.  I have never met anyone that doesn’t know how to swim before so this was a little strange for me.  The idea was that I was going to try to teach him.  Let’s just say I didn’t have much success.  Try to explain to someone, in a foreign language, how to float.  Plus he refused to put his head in the water because he didn’t want to get water in his ears!  I have my work cut out for me, but I am determined that one day he will learn how to swim.   In any event, I enjoyed the pool!

Finally, the weekend wouldn’t be complete without a bit of vodka on Saturday night.  This is the four of us after played a drinking game  for about an hour.  We are a little tired and drunk, but having fun!  Chosica is a great place to go for the weekend to relax and have some fun.  I hope we get to go back again soon!

Being a Latin American country, The World Cup is a big deal here in Peru.  All the games are broadcast on both TV and radio.  RPP, the radio station I usually listen to, is broadcasting the games live from South Africa 3 times per day which is messing up the regular program schedule.  I am not a big fan of listening to fútbol on the radio and have switched to listening to CKNW when the games are on.  It has actually been kind of nice to catch up on Canadian news, although I am getting sick of hearing about the HST!!!

Anyway, on Saturday we went to Lima”s historic city center.  In the Plaza Mayor they have set up a huge stage and video screen to broadcast the World Cup games live.  We watched the last few minutes of the Cameroon versus Denmark match, along with hundreds of other spectators.

It was interesting to see how seriously everyone takes the game, even when their own team isn’t playing.  Peru, like Canada, did not qualify for the World Cup.  Unfortunately, Peru is in the CONMEBOL (South America) qualifying group which has a lot of stiff competition.  Normally Brazil, Argentina and Chile dominate this group.

As you can see, Coca Cola is a huge sponsor of The World Cup.  There is World Cup merchandise in all the stores, contests to win World Cup prizes and promotions every where.  Yesterday we got some mail from Vivanda, out local supermarket.  It contained some coupons for snacks to enjoy while watching the partidos (matches) and a “Fixture”.  Luis had been talking about this thing called a “Fixture”, however being somewhat uneducated about fútbol I really wasn’t sure what  it was.   When it arrived in the mail he was so excited.  It turns out that a “Fixture” is a list of all the groups in The World Cup which shows who is playing who and you can write in the results of each match.  On the back, you can write in who makes the group of 16, the quarter finals, semi-finals and finally the ultimate final match. It’s not really something I would get excited about but I guess for fútbol fans its important to know the results.

After each match, there is a live broadcast from the Plaza Mayor on one of the local TV channels.  We always see it on TV after the games and on Saturday we got to experience it in person.  There was a  group, which is apparently quite popular here, playing music and an announcer trying to excite the crowd for the broadcast .  What I found interesting was the band’s traditional costumes juxtaposed with the “booty” dancer’s skimpy outfits and provocative dance moves.  They totally reminded me of the dancers at a Sir Mix-A Lot rap concert I went to in Seattle during Bumbershoot in the ’90’s. Very strange!


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