Karencita de Perú

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The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is on fire!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 4,700 times in 2010. That’s about 11 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 56 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 402 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 454mb. That’s about 1 pictures per day.

The busiest day of the year was October 4th with 104 views. The most popular post that day was Elections in Peru – Elecciones en el Perú.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, mail.live.com, healthfitnesstherapy.com, digg.com, and karencitadeperu.tumblr.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for machu picchu, inca kola, navidad en peru, we run lima 10k, and sangucherias.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Elections in Peru – Elecciones en el Perú October 2010


Sandwich Shops – Sangucherías September 2010
1 comment


Gamarra Shopping Center – Gamarra Centro Comercial June 2010


Machu Picchu – Part 1 August 2010


About Karen April 2010
1 comment


Rímac is one of the oldest districts in Lima and is part of the historical city center.   It is located north of the Cercado de Lima, across the River Rímac.  The district is accessed by a series of bridges, one of which is the oldest bridge in Lima, the Puente de Pierda, constructed in 1608. The Puente de Pierda joins the Jirón de le Unión pedestrian walkway located in the Cercado de Lima with the Jirón Trujillo, a similar pedestrian walkway in the Rímac district.

Today the Rímac district is one of the poorest areas of Lima.  It is run down and it can be dangerous.  However, due to its long-standing history there are many interesting and important historical sites to see in Rímac.

Along the Jíron de Trujillo, you will find the smallest church in Lima called San Jose del Puente.  In the 17th century it was an Inn, it later became a chapel and was finally converted into its present status of a church.  The church is bright pink on the outside and continues its brightly colored, ornate decor inside.

At the end of Jirón you will find the Iglesia de San Lázaro. It was originally constructed as a hospital and leper colony in 1562.  Throughout the years the small building was expanded and eventually became a church.

Rímac also used to be the home of the Backus company’s main brewery, which produces Cristal, one of Perú’s top two beers.  However, the operation was moved to Ate in 1990.

After winding your way through a number of not so pleasant streets, you will arrive at the Alameda de Los Descalzos (The Boulevard of the Barefooted).  The Alameda is well-known for its mention in the song “La Flor de La Canela” by famous Peruvian singer Chabuca Granda.  The Alameda de Los Descalzos is a World Heritage Site which has be reconstructed to its original design of 1856.

As you walk north along the Alameda you have a good view of the Cerro San Cristobal on your right.  The walkway is lined by a number of marble statues, many of which, unfortunately, have suffered from time, neglect and vandalism.

Two more historic churches flank the Alameda.  The Iglesia de Santa Liberata and the Convento Del Patrocinio.

At the end of the Alameda de Los Descalzos you end up at the Convent de Los Descalzos, after which the walkway was named.  The convent was constructed between 1595-1596 as a retirement home the Franciscan Order of monks.   The convent is now a museum which houses some 300 precious paintings of the Lima, Cusco and Quito Schools.    Guided tours are offered in Spanish & English and give you the opportunity to see, among other things, the cells of the monks, the dining room, the infirmary, the pharmacy, the bodega, and two old chapels.

Two other prominent structures in the Rímac district are the Paseo de Aguas and the Plaza de Acho.

The Paseo de Aguas was built by the Spanish viceroy Manuel de Amat between 1770 and 1776, in honor of his beloved Perricholi, famous Peruvian entertainer Micaela Villegas.  Today the structure actually doesn’t contain any water due to the shortage of water in Lima.

The Plaza de Torros de Acho is the bull fighting ring in Lima.  It is the oldest in the Americas  and the second-oldest in the world after La Maestranza in Spain.  The structure is composed of wood and adobe and has a seating capacity of 17,000.  Bull fighting season is in October and November in Lima during which time some of the world’s best bull fighters come to compete in the annual festival.

If you have never lived in a humid climate you can’t really understand it until you experience it firsthand.  Coming from Vancouver, where it rains a lot, one would think we have a lot of humidity but it isn’t the same as Lima at all.  It doesn’t rain much here, but the air is constantly moist and damp.  This causes all sorts of problems.

Of course there is the obvious problem of frizzy hair.  I have naturally wavy hair and straightening it in a dry climate is a challenge but here it is utterly pointless.  I have tried it on two occasions and within a few hours my sleek, smooth hair starts turning into a puffy, frizzy mess.  In addition to  looking bad, when Luis was getting his hair cut the other day, the hairdresser said that the humidity can actually damage your hair.  That was news to me.  I will have to find out what I can use to prevent damage from humidity.

More serious than hair, though, is the issue of mold.  Because it is always humid things here never fully dry out or take a very long time to dry.  We live in Miraflores which is close to the ocean and more humid than some other areas of Lima.  Luis has definitely noticed the difference between here and where he used to live in Independencia, which is only about an hour away.  Anyway, after living her for about a month we started to notice spots on some of our clothes and realized that it was mold.  It seemed to affect Luis’ clothes worse than mine.  I only had one pair of shorts and one t-shirt that had spots on them.  The worst item was a suit which Luis hadn’t worn for a while that was stored in the closet in a garment bag.  When we opened it up it was covered in fuzzy mold!  It was disgusting!!  We had to take it to the dry cleaner immediately.

After that we started asking around about how to combat this problem.  We were given a number of suggestions like putting containers of baking soda or black peppercorns in our drawers but in the end we decided to buy a dehumidifier for the bedroom.  It is really great and is helping a lot.  The amount of water that comes out of the air is incredible.  In about 4 hours it collects about a liter of water.

Just imagine that we are constantly breathing all that moist air into our lungs.  Which brings me to the last point I want to make about humidity… it can be bad for your health.  It is winter here in the southern hemisphere and Lima is not a hot, sunny place.  Humidity and cold air are a bad combination.  The people here are always talking about making sure you dress warmly and especially keeping your chest and neck warm and drinking warm beverages.  Continually breathing in cold, damp air makes illnesses like bronchitis and pneumonia more prevalent.

The damp air is a perfect breeding ground for mold, mildew and fungus, which can cause health problems like skin rash, running nose, eye irritation, cough, nasal congestion, aggravation of asthma or difficulty breathing.   In addition, if the humidity level is consistently high you are likely to experience a rapidly increasing dust mite population, which will affect allergy sufferers.   Apart from the clothes, the other place where the mold is a problem is in the bathroom.  After cleaning the bathtub, it quickly starts turning black again from the mold.   The worst thing was when I noticed that there was black mold on my toothbrush!  I had to buy a new one and I am now very careful to make sure I dry it every time after I use it.  We might have to buy a small dehumidifier for the bathroom eventually to help alleviate the dampness.

Well, I hope I haven’t scared those of you who were planning to visit.  If you are only here for a week or two you won’t notice any of these problems, except maybe the frizzy hair!

This is just going to be a short post as I am not feeling very well.  I think I ate something bad. Yesterday morning I started having bad stomach cramps and the other unpleasant things that come along with that.  I spent most of the day in bed which wasn’t very fun.

Luis is looking after me.  Last night he made me chicken soup from scratch.  It was very tasty and much better than what comes from a can.  He also got me some pills from the pharmacy that are supposed to help my stomach.  I took two pills last night and two more this morning.  They don’t seem to have really helped, but they haven’t made me worse either.  I guess I’ll wait and see what happens.

The pharmacy is actually what I want to talk about today.  From what I have experienced it appears as thought you can walk into the pharmacy, tell the pharmacist what is wrong with you and they will give you some medication.  You don’t have to see a doctor to get a prescription.  This is both convenient and a bit frightening.  I don’t really know what qualifications these pharmacists have to be dispensing drugs.  Luis said it is better now as they have put some regulations in place but it still seems a little dangerous.  I guess people just go for minor problems and if there is something seriously wrong they would go to the doctor.

The other things is that prescription medication is much cheaper here.   Maybe because the big American pharmaceutical companies aren’t controlling everything and inflating the prices.  In any event, before I return to Canada I want to see if they have my migraine medication here.  It is $16 per pill in Canada.  If I can get it cheaper here, I won’t bother getting a prescription when I am there.

Well, that’s it for now.  I hope to be feeling better soon and have something more interesting for you all the next time.

The other great place to visit in Barranco is the main square.   From The Bridge of Sighs, you walk up a few sets of steps to arrive at the main square.  The two most prominent buildings here are the Biblioteca Municipal (Municipal Library) and La Iglesia Santísima Cruz (The Holy Cross Church) 

The central square has lovely gardens and a fountain.  There area always lots of people strolling through the park or sitting on the benches enjoying the atmosphere.

The best part, however, is the food.  Like is the market in Surquillo, there is a food festival here on the weekends.  They serve a variety of typical dishes from the various regions of Peru like la selva (the jungle), la sierra (the mountains) and la costa (the coast).  The food varies in the different regions of Peru based on local ingredients and customs.  The food fair in Barranco is very popular and packed with people.

Last Sunday when Luis and I went to Barracno we had lunch there.  I had Milanesa rellena con jamón y queso, yuca frita and arroz (chicken stuffed with ham and cheese, fried yucca and rice).  Luis had Arroz con pollo y champinoñes and  ensalada de papas (rice with chicken and mushrooms and potato salad).  It was very good.

Even better than the main dishes are the desserts.  As you walk by the ladies entice you with sample of their baked goods, elaborate cakes and elegant pies.  It was a hard choice, but I decided to try something different and had Pye de Higo (fig pie).  It was very tasty.

After all that food I was stuffed, however there is always room for a traditional Pisco Sour to finish off a perfect meal!

Apart from the language, I would have to say that one of the biggest differences between Vancouver and Lima is the traffic.  Traffic here is crazy!!  Pedestrians DO NOT have the right-of-way.   Generally, the biggest object takes precedence and humans are the smallest compared to vehicles.  There are pedestrian lights at all the major intersections with a timer that counts down how long until you can walk or how long you have to walk.  However, people just walk whenever there is a break in the traffic, regardless of the color of the light and cars don’t stop if they are turning left or right and the pedestrians have the green light.  Crossing in the middle of the block is also commonly done and can be a bit like playing the old video game “Frogger”.

There are many modes of public transit here.  I will start with the smallest and work my way up.

In many districts, they have mototaxis that take people from the bus stop into the residential areas where the buses don’t go, or at least don’t go as frequently.  It is basically a 3-wheeled motorcycle with a seat for passengers attached to the back.  You can squeeze three people into one of these things.  When we visit Luis’s family in Independencia, we always take a mototaxi from where the bus drops us off along the main street up the hill to his family’s house.  The cost to take a mototaxi up the hill is more than to take a mototaxi down the hill!

Next there are taxis… and there are A LOT of them.  I would estimate that 2 out of every 3 cars on the road is a taxi here in Lima.  There is a particular type of taxi here that is called a Tico.  It is very small and I have been told not to take them as they can be dangerous.    The two people below are talking to the driver of the yellow Tico to negotiate the fare.  Taxis here are not metered and the fares can vary greatly.  Since I am a foreigner and I don’t really know what the fare should be, I imagine that if I were to take a taxi by myself, I would likely end up paying more than necessary.  Thankfully, I haven’t had to do this yet.

Apart from Ticos, there are also regular taxis.  It is common to see them lined up outside the supermarket and Larcomar, waiting for people who need a lift.  During la hora punta (rush hour) the streets are jammed with cabs.

Next are the multi-person methods of transportation.  There are three distinct types… combis (sometimes called colectivos), cousters and buses.

In this photo, the big red, green and white vehicle in the front is a bus, the smaller blue one and the white one with red, orange and yellow stripes are combis and the medium-sized white one with blue stripes at the back is a couster.

Each route is run and operated privately.  There is no centralized system.  The names of the major streets where the vehicle goes are written on the side.  With the combis and cousters there is always a person hanging out the door yelling the names of the street where the bus goes at every stop.  I can’t quite figure out why this is necessary as I would assume people know where they are going and which combi or couster they need to take, but it’s what they do.  When you are at a major paradero (bus stop) where lots of combis and cousters pass-by the yelling is really something to behold.

The method of transportation I have taken most frequently here is the bus.  To get to Luis’s family’s house we have to take the Etupsa No. 73.  It takes about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes to travel from Miraflores to Independencia by bus, depending on the traffic.  There is a 73A and a 73B, both of which are green.   There is also a red bus route, but I am not sure where it goes.  Some of the buses are really quite old like the red one in the picture below.  The older ones go slow and aren’t very comfortable.  If the bus is crowded and you can’t get a seat, you have to hang on for dear life as it isn’t the smoothest ride in the world.

Finally, there is a new and exciting mode of public transportation coming to Lima called the Metropolitano.  This is a big infrastructure project that has been going on in the municipality of Lima for years.  It is way behind schedule and way over budget so there is a lot of talk and controversy about it.  The Metropolitano is a dedicated bus lane that runs along a main thoroughfare called the Via Expresa.  There are new, modern buses and stations somewhat like sky train stations.  The stations have turnstiles to enter and you pay for the system using a re-fillable fare card that you swipe each time.  Right now they are running tests of the Metropolitano and it is free to ride it on the weekends.  I haven’t tried it yet, but Luis took it last weekend and said it was good.   The fare is supposedly going to be between 1.20 and 1.50 soles, which is about 40 – 50 cents.  Very cheap by our standards, but the regular buses here are actually cheaper than that.  The big question on everyone’s mind is when it is going to start running for real.  At the beginning, only the stations between Matellini (in the district of Chorrillos) and Estación Central (in the City Center) will be running.  The station closest to our house is called Benavides and it is only 3 blocks away – very close.  Luis could also take the Metropoliltano to his office in San Isidro but it is only 5 stops from our place to where he works and he is not sure if it will be worth it.   We’ll see!   The part of the Metropolitano north of the City Center is still nowhere near being completed.   The good thing is that eventually we can take the Metropolitano to Independencia and we won’t have to take the No. 73 bus anymore.  It will be much faster and more comfortable.  I can’t wait!

Beside the different types of transportation, the biggest difference is the way in which people drive.   People LOVE to use their horns here.  If the traffic is stopped for whatever reason, people find it necessary to honk.  This just contributes to the overall noise level in the city – this along with the car alarms that are incessantly going off!!  There are, however, some legitimate reasons I can see for why people use their horns.  For instance, when they are going through an uncontrolled intersection and cars are coming in the other direction or when pedestrians are crossing in the middle of the block.  There are a lot of smaller intersections here that have neither traffic lights nor stop signs.  I haven’t been able to figure out how it is determined who has the right away.  I think it is just the person who is more aggressive.  Also, the lines on the road don’t really mean much.  When there is lots of traffic and congestion at an intersection, people just kind of make lanes where ever they can fit.   To me it is a bit like chaos, but there seems to be some sort of random order that the drivers of Lima understand.  Maybe one day I will understand it as well!

Wednesday night was my first experience cooking an actual Peruvian dish.  It is called Causa. There are many different types of causa but the type we made was Causa Rellena Con Camarones (filled with shrimp).

Generally, causa is not eaten as a main dish.  It is normally served as a starter or “entrada” at lunch.  Something interesting that I have learned since being here is that certain dishes are eaten at certain times of the day and not at others.  For example, Ceviche is only eaten at lunch and not at dinner.   Apparently it is common that all the food for both lunch and dinner is prepared during the day and therefore things that spoil quickly are not eaten in the evening.

So, what exactly is causa anyway!   Basically, it is a type of potato dough which is layered with a filling in between.  The dough or “masa” is made of yellow potatoes, olive oil, ají amarillo (ají is a hot, yellow pepper which is pureed to make a thick, yellow, paste-like substance called ají amarillo.  It is somewhat spicy), lime juice and salt.   The fillings can vary and generally include a protein like chicken, shrimp, tuna or even lobster plus diced vegetables along with “palta” (avocado) and mayonnaise.  It is then garnished with parsley, sliced hard-boiled egg and black olives and lettuce.

The dough… well first of all there are a lot of types of potatoes here.  You must use yellow potatoes for causa which, thankfully, I bought.  However, the part I didn’t know is that you are supposed to boil them with the skin on and remove it after they are cooked.  This is to keep them from getting too moist.  First mistake… I peeled the potatoes before boiling them.  Second mistake… I didn’t add quite enough ají and salt to the dough so it was a little bland, or at least that is what my two Peruvian dinner companions, Luis & Angel, politely told me.  At least it was edible and as far as I am concerned it tasted fine.  Here is the dough in the bottom of the dish before we added the filling.

The filling… as I mentioned our causa was filled with shrimp.  In addition to shrimp, the filling contained diced onion, red pepper and of course avocado and mayonnaise.   Here is the filling prior to mixing everything together.

The filling was pretty good, but there were a few too many onions!

Finally… the garnish… Well, we kind of fell down on this one.  We bought black olives but forgot to use them and didn’t cook the hard boil the eggs in time.   So, our only garnish consisted of parsley, which was strategically placed compliments of Luis.

And here is the final product… Causa Rellena Con Camerones

For our first attempt our causa didn’t turn out too bad, although we can do better next time.  With a few improvements and a bit of practice we will be cooking causa like the pros in no time.  If any of you ever come to visit me, I will cook causa for you!  How’s that for incentive.

Keeping my friends, family and co-workers up to date on my life and adventures in Perú!

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Miraflores in Lima Perú