Second to last weekend before School starts

It was a big weekend on the beach because it’s almost the start of the school year and families want to get to the beach while they can. We won’t mind the decrease in crowds on the weekend, but we will miss our neighbors who have less time to spend once their children are back in classes.

Fue un gran fin de semana en la playa porque estamos llegando al primer dia de clases para la mayoria (1 marzo) y familias quieren estar en la playa mientras pueden. No nos molestaria la disminucion de las multitudes en los fines de semana pero nos va a hace faltar los vecinos que tienen menos tiempo de venir una vez sus chicos inician clases.20170218_215719 I didn’t realize there would be so much going on.  Saturday there was an evening of cultural events that included spotlights shining up and down the street. Our friends the Marinera dancers were out again this weekend and invited us to be in a group photo. Next up was the Poet Laureate of Barranca declaiming an ode to the city (I think), a procession of the Virgin from the shrine down the beach that wasn’t part of last week’s Fiesta, and as usual a lot of disco music.


No me di cuenta de que habria tantas cosas pasando. Sabado fue una noche de cultura con luces iluminando la calle. Nuestros amigos las bailarines de Marinera estaban presente y nos invitaron tomar un foto juntos. Despues estaba el Poeta Laureado de Barranca declamando una oda a la ciudad (creo). Ademas fue una procesion de la Virgen de Puerto Chico que no fue en procesion la semana pasada, y como siempre, mucha musica de los discos.

20170218_220123The annual sand-sculpting contest produced much better work than I recall from last year and I managed to get a few photos before the prize-winners were trampled by kids who wanted to get up close.


La competencia anual de escultura en arena produjo obras mucha mas bonitas de los que recuerdo del ano pasado. Tome unas fotos antes de que los chicos los malogaron por querer estar lo cercano posible.

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I said there wasn’t much to do, but that doesn’t apply to the last weeks of summer vacation!


Dije que no hay mucha activadad en la playa pero obviamente no pertenece a las ultimas semanas de vacaciones!

Fiesta Virgen de Lourdes 2017

Friends, I am trying something new today, writing the blog in both Spanish and English. Please skip to the language of your choice. I may try blocks of each language or first one the the other. Bear with me.

Amigos, Hoy impieza algo nuevo, voy a escribir el blog en Castellano y Ingles. Por favor, busca el idioma que prefiere. Puedo escribir bloque de un idioma y despues el otro, o tal vez todo en un idioma y despues el otro. Su pacienca, por favor. Ademas, mi escritura en castellano refleja mi falta de estudio!

One of the reasons it seems a good day to go bilingual is that this weekend was the biggest summer event for the Barranca beach community, the Fiesta of the Virgin of Lourdes. There has been a shrine to the Virgin at the north end of the beach for many years, but a few years ago a tiny chapel was built so that older devotees could visit without having to climb the stairs to the older image. This year the festival began with a novena (nine nights of saying the rosary at the chapel at 6 pm) on Feb. 3. The ninth night was Friday Feb. 10. A canopy was erected in front of the shrine and on either side of the square in front of the chapel. The virgin was brought out of the chapel and at 9 pm presided over a “chocolatada”, distribution of hot chocolate and rolls. The hot chocolate was delicious, with cinnamon. (I’m going to get the recipe.) Ordinarily, that would be it for me but I wanted to hold out for the rest of the evening, because of the promised fireworks, called a “castillo”–these weren’t scheduled until 12:30. Fortunately, many of the neighbors came out and a lot of family members had come to visit for the weekend. 20170210_220722smAt 9:30, the “batucada” began, and the name describes the presentation, a battery of drummers, who performed a number of pieces and energized the crowd.20170210_222436sm Their last piece included a group member dancing and swinging flaming lanterns–it was impressive. The music slowed down at about 10 and continued with songs until midnight. I went inside for a while to sit down, but I went back to the canopy for the midnight mariachi. Mariachi? Yes, they are popular in Peru and often perform at special events. This group was quite good, the Joven Aventureros (Young Adventurers), from Supe Pueblo, not far at all. They sang and danced. It was also the first woman Mariachi band member I’ve seen.  At 12:30 am the band wrapped up and we crossed the street to see the castillo. These are another feature of celebrations that I’ve seen in Mexico and Peru. We joke about how prohibited they would be in the safety conscious US. A castillo looks precarious because it is a one use structure that may be several stories high, built of bamboo and festooned with fireworks that are ignited one after another via long, trailing fuses. The entire series of hisses and explosions and twirling, flaming shapes lasted about ten minutes. Take a look at the slides below.

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It was followed by a couple of minutes of beautiful fireworks shot overhead that were as wonderful as any Fourth of July. In Peru, it’s legal to buy and shoot off all this stuff, too, though there are usually people in the neighborhood who specialize in setting up and shooting off the fireworks. Castillo building is a small business found in many towns. You can have towers or shapes built to order. It’s probably safer that way. That was the end, and people drifted home.


Para mi, es buen momento empezar el blog bilingue porque este fin de semana es el evento mas importante del verano en la playa de Barranca, la Fiesta de la Virgen de Lourdes. Un santuario a la Virgen esta en la colina del playa pero hace pocos anos les construyeron una capilla abajo cerca la playa para que las devotos que tienen dificultad en caminar podrian visitar la virgen sin subir tantas gradas. Este ano la fiesta empezo con una novena el 3 de febrero. El nocho noveno fue el viernes 10. El mismo viernes erigieron unos toldos cerca la capilla y trasladaron la virgen frente la capilla. A las 9 pm fue una chocolatada, con chocolate caliente y pancitos. Fue delicioso, voy a pedir la receta. Cuando termino todavia quise quedar, porque la chema del castillo estaba programada para las 12:30 am. 20170210_223104smAfortunadamente, muchos vecinos fueron presentes con sus familiares que visitaron para la fiesta y estabamos buen acompanados. A las 9:30 empezo la batucada con una bateria de tmbores. Hicieron una buen presentacion con mucha energia. Terminaron con un miembro del grupo bailando con lamparas de fuego. Fue impresionante. La musica tomo un ritmo mas lento pero continuo hasta medianoche cuando llego las mariachi. Mariachi? Si, son populares en Peru y se encuentra en todo tipo de fiesta. El grupo fue muy bueno, los Joven Aventureros de Supe Pueblo, muy cercana de Barranca.20170211_000651sm Bailaban, cantaron y para mi fue la primera vez que he visto un mujer como miembro de un mariachi. A las 12:30 terminaron su show y cruzamos la calle a ver el castillo, algo que he visto antes en Peru y en Mexico. Bromeamos sobre como estos estaria prohibidos en los EEUU por razones de seguridad, pero los castillos estan construidos por grupos especializados. Parecen precarias porque son de un solo uso, una estructura que puede ser de varios pisos hecho de bamboo, con ruedas de fuegos artificiales y sus fusibles largos que se encienden uno por uno. Produce una seria de ruidos, explosiones y llamas que dura varias minutos. Vea los fotos arriba. Enseguida fue los fuegos artificiales en el cielo, lindo y tan bonito que cualquier celebracion del 4 de julio. En Peru es legal comprar y encender estos objetos, aunque hacer castillos es un trabajo artesanal en muchos lugares. Puede encargar torres o cualquier forma que desea. Es mas seguro que alguien que sepa los construyen y encienden. Despues de los bellos fuegos todos lentmente se despidieron.


Saturday started with a few loud rockets20170211_130555 at 6 am followed at a more reasonable hour by free surf and body board classes and some music, but the big event was the marinera dancers and caballos de paso in the square in front of the Virgin at well–maybe noon, maybe one pm, maybe a little later.

Fortunately, our front porch overlooks the end of the square so we could sit in the shade. We offer our patio to the dancers as they arrive because we have a shady patio and the day of the festival last year and this has been very hot at 1 pm. Next door, festivity gained momentum during the wait.

20170211_130811smEl sabado empezó con unos cohetes a las seis y mas tarde con clases gratis de surf y body ademas de musica pero el gran evento fue la baile del marinera y los caballos de paso en la plazuela frente la capilla de la Virgen a mediodia—tal vez a la una, o mas tardito….. Afortunadamente nuestra patio frente la casa esta muy cerca y pudimos quedar en la sombra. Ofrecemos nuestro patio a los bailarines cuando llegan porque tenemos sombra y hico mucho calor el dia de fiesta el ano pasado y este ano. El nivel de alegria subio con la espera.

The Marinera is a traditional dance from the north coast of Peru. It has become so popular that there is an annual Marinera competition held in Trujillo, Peru that has a limit of three hundred couples, so there are preliminary competitions all over Peru and around the world. The Trujillo event is always covered in the paper with photos of the wonderful women’s dresses and graceful dancing. I also like the Marinera because there is equal emphasis on dancing by the men and the women. Next was the Marinera with Caballos de paso.

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La marinera es un baile tradicional del norte de Peru. Es ahora tan popular que hay una competencia anual en Trujillo que hay un limite de 300 parejas de bailarines. Entonces son competencias preliminares por todo Peru y en el mundo. El evento en Trujillo recibe mucha atencion en la prensa con los fotos de las trajes lindas y los pasos elegantes. Me gusta la marinera porque hay enfasis igual en los hombres y los mujeres.

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20170211_133853smNext was the Marinera with Caballos de paso. Caballos de paso are a breed developed after horses arrived with the Spanish in the early 1500s. They were developed primarily as long-distance transportation, emphasizing strength and a smooth ride. Caballos de paso have a distinctive gait and though they were used for centuries as transportation on large agricultural properties, today they are largely recreational and show horses. The dance of the Marinera between a woman on foot and a male rider on a Caballo de paso shows careful control of the horse combined with the grace of the dancer. In the best Marineras of this type the woman is able to dance close to the rider because she is confident that the horse will stay fully controlled and will not spook or step on her.20170211_135740sm

Ahora fue la marinera con caballos de paso. Los Caballos de Paso son una raza que desarollo en Peru despues de la llegada de los espanoles en el siglo XVI. Originalemente fueren criadas para transporte sobre largas distancias en las grandes haciendas, enfatizano fuerza y paso llano, ahora el nombre de su paso distinctivo. Aunque fueron el transporte principal de la costa para 400 anos, hoy son criada mayormente para recreacion y demostraciones de destreza. En el baile de marinera la mujer esta a pied y el jinete en su caballo de paso que demuestra el control sobre el caballo y la gracia y elegancia de la bailarina. En las mejores marineras de este tipo la mujer baile cerca al jinete porque tiene confianza que el controla el caballo que no pisara en ella ni asusta o saltar.

20170211_185622It was hot by the time the dancing ended, we all retreated for lunch. Our friends Mario and Carmela and their two wonderful daughters came up for the weekend, so we were able to go for a swim, walk the dog along the beach and make luminarias for the procession of the Virgin. We were busy.

Hizo mucho calor despues de los bailes y regresemos a casa para almorzar. Nuestros amigos Mario y Carmela y sus dos hijas maravillosas nos visito para el fin de semana. Fuimos a la playa, salimos con la perra y hicios luminariaas para la procesion del Virgen.  Estabamos bien occupados.    

20170211_191147At sunset, we lit the luminarias and waited for mass to end and the procession to begin. Naturally, we were just sitting down to dinner when they started to move so we abandoned the table briefly. The procession went down the beach and back, and the Virgin returned to her chapel.                                                             20170211_204607sm

A la puesta del sol, nosotros encendimos las velas y esperamos que la misa terminara. Por supuesto, fue cuando por fin decidimos cenar que la procesion empezo. Pasaron las casa en su vuelta de la playa despues de cual la Virgen regreso a su capilla.

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As if this were not enough entertainment for one day, there was a “yunza” for adults in the evening. This is a custom that came from the highlands with families. A tree is cut and decorated with balloons and prizes, then put up in a central location. Neighbors gather, music plays, drinks circulate and the noise level escalates. Once a critical mass is gathered, a machete is brought out. As the music plays, people circle the tree–ideally everyone dances around the tree–and take turns having a whack at the trunk. When the tree falls, people rush to grab a prize. It was very funny watching people try to balance a beer in one hand and a machete in the other, but everyone managed. This year’s tree had two trunks and I was watching the first half closely, turned to chat with a neighbor and “boom” I missed it, the branch was down, peeled of everything and being dragged away.The process continued with the second half, but the first trunk had taken a while and I left the merry-makers to continue. The person who takes the last chop before the tree falls is the patron for the next year and provides the tree and gifts. Fortunately, the first branch was cut down by Claudia and the second by her brother, so they’ll share the honors next year.

Si esto no fue diversion suficiente habia una yunza de adultos en la noche. Es un tradicion serrano en que se corte un arbol, decoralo con cintas, globos y premios y esta puesto en una plaza. Los vecinos reunen, hay musica, bebidas, conversacion. Cuando hay gente y alegrai suficiente alguien produce el machete afilado. Mientras la musica toca, todos van alrededor del arbol–bailando, en mundo perfecto–y toman turnos en golpear el arbol. Cuando el tronco cae, todos buscan un premio. Fue divertido ver todos manejando un vaso de cerveza en un mano y el machete en el otro, pero todos lo hicieron. Este ano el arbol estaba con dos troncos y lo observe de cerca para tomar un foto. Volvi la cara a hablar con un amigo y “boom”, bajo el primer tronco, fue pelado de todo y estaba tirado a un lado. Repitieron con el otro tronco pero el primer habia tomado bastante tiempo y deje los celebrantes a disfrutar el proceso. La persona que da el ultimo golpe a la yunza es el patron del ano siguiente. Afortunadamente, Claudia bajo el primer tronco y su hermano el segundo. Ellos compartiran el honor el proximo ano.

On Sunday, there was a yunza for children, and I went with our guests. Silvia was a bit small for this, but Alicia took some brave chops and in the end she scored a couple of prizes. It was a great day. The sharp machete in the hands of those young people was a little scary for the parents.

El domingo hicieron una yunza de ninos y fui con nuestras invitados. Silvia fue pequena para el evento, pero Alicia tomo su turno con unos golpes fuertes y al final gano unos premios. Fue un gran dia para nosotros. El machete afilado en manos de los jovenes dio un poco de miedo a las papas.

What a weekend! What a festival! Keep in mind that the entire event was coordinated by this year’s mayordomo, who was responsible for all the fundraising, planning, timing and execution of the events, all the participants, food and beverages served. A big part of her success was in recruiting the participation of as many of us in the neighborhood as possible. Our tiny part included a donation, making some luminarias to put along the porch the evening of the procession, and hosting the dancers on our patio for a couple of hours, which we enjoyed very much. Most of our neighbors participated. The result was excellent and everyone talked about what a great family and neighborhood event it was.

Que fin de semana! Que fiesta! Toma en cuenta que todo fue organizada por la presidenta de la comision para este ano. Ella estaba responsible por todo, fondos, planificacion, horario, bailarines, caballos, bebidas y comidas. Gran parte de su exito fue en juntar muchos para ayoudar. Por ejemplo, nosotros pusimos un poco de plata, hicimos unos luminaria para la procesion y recibimos los bailarines en nuestro patio durante un par horas que disfrutamos mucho. La mayoria de los vecinos hicieron su parte tambien. Resulto un exito total y todos hablaban de como fue fiesta realmente familiar y del vecindario.

Expat Life: Food is great but you’re on your own for local entertainment

Twice a week around 9 am, we go to the local market complete with hanging raw meat, squelching liquid underfoot in the aisle of fish, and the scent of recently killed chickens.20161207_092520 That may be the cost of fresh food, and it doesn’t bother me too much. When we buy fish, Jonathan lifts the gills to check for the slime that indicates a lack of freshness. My neighbor says that if you are going to buy corvina you need only poke it in the side because the flesh depresses very readily if it is at all stale. 20161217_092214Sometimes, the fish are still alive, many are still in rigor, so you know that the fish is fresh. You can make sushi of anything we buy. Mahi-mahi appears occasionally and is not very well known, so it is inexpensive. We snap it up. The down side of this wonderful fresh fish is the large poster that hangs in the fish aisle listing the legal size of different fish species. You can see how much smaller most of the fish are than they are supposed to be. 20170103_100533 In the meat aisle, sides of beef and pork hang in the open, as do smaller cuts. There is a communal refrigerator that lets butchers keep their extra carcasses cold, so it’s not as scary as it might sound (raw meat in hot weather). Often the animals still have a bit of tail attached, to show that you are buying the real thing and that no one is selling you goat for lamb.

12-5-15-004smFrom fish to meat to vegetables and fruits, we take our grocery list and finish up the shopping. Fruit is last because we have to lug the four or five kilos of juice oranges back to the car. We drink a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice every morning–I think it’s worth the haul. Sometimes we stop at a stand that sells black and green olives, dried fruit, nuts, cheese and bacon. There are several stands of this type, but we have gotten to know the woman who runs it, Elena, and her daughter (the husband was thrown out for cheating). Elena is fascinated by what it would be like to visit the US. She asks about traveling to the US and was enchanted to meet our daughters when they visited.20170204_100801

 

 

 

This woman’s hat (right) shows that she is originally from the highlands and still identifies herself as a highlander. Her dress is local, no multiple colored petticoats. Just the hat.

 

 

 

 

 

The man on the left (below) is selling hard boiled quail eggs. You can get them peeled or in the shell. The clown is a professional beggar. The guy on the right in Amazonian garb and python is selling–what else? Snake Oil!

Six years ago, we would have gone on to a dry goods store for the rest of our shopping, but a Metro supermarket has opened in Barranca. Now we go to the Metro and finish up our list. The advantage of a supermarket is being able to select your own items. The selection is not tremendous, but we are accustomed to this kind of shopping. In the dry goods store you stand at the front desk and tell them what you want. It is produced from somewhere in the depths of a very long, narrow storefront. Metro also has a liquor section, and takes our credit card. Outside Lima, only the supermarkets, a few gas stations and some restaurants accept credit cards.

Any other errands on the list come after the market, like stopping at the post office or getting paper goods at the Libreria Universo. This is why we limit shopping to twice a week. You could spend hours every day navigating the same route to get a container of milk or a roll of tape. 2-4-16-dinner                                                                       There are only a few products that we buy in Lima, like Uruguayan parmesan–delicious! available!, a few other exotic cheeses (blue, brie), peanut butter (not Skippy, real peanut butter). We eat very well.

On to a less terrific element of our life, local culture. The beach is the focus of activity, but what else goes on? The short answer is not very much. You have to make your own entertainment. There’s a movie theater now, but all the films are dubbed in Spanish. That makes perfect sense but not for me. There are archaeological sites to visit, many of which we’ve worked at, so there’s not much new there. There are some local festivals. Last weekend I saw part of the parade at the end of Barranca Tourism Week.

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I saw Miss Regional Tourism, and Miss Argos, and Miss Pre Barranca, along with a big banner and some local dance groups. It was fun that it was right on our street. For our periodic shot of “culture”, we go to Lima to see the Met Opera in HD at one of the big movie theaters. It’s great, it’s the Met. The four+ hour drive is a pretty big disincentive to any cultural offering in Lima though there are a lot of goings-on. I keep clippings about exhibitions or events we might go to, but we try not to visit Lima more than once a month. In the summer (now) it is very hot and very humid. Between that and the traffic, staying home and trolling Netflix wins out most of the time. There are things like archaeology lecture series that might be a way for us to connect with colleagues, but these take place during the academic year, mid-March to December, when we are away.

20170207_162105Last but not least are discos. This is a beach community and lots of businesses operate December-March, including several dance places that I will lump together as discos. 20170207_162152They pump music across the neighborhood until midnight or so on weekends. The thumping beat is not very interesting and the volume is loud. On Sundays, discos are allowed to throw parties from 2-10 pm. I give them credit for closing on time, but it’s a constant Boomba-Boomba Boomba. 20170207_163312In fact, the most annoying party of the year was not at a disco but at a hotel up on the hillside where the reception went on until 5 am. THAT was bad, but what happened? Everyone shrugged. The neighbors band together and petition the city to limit and/or close the discos about every other year. The city fathers agree to study the matter…..

Entertainment is definitely what you make it.

A Semi-Expat?

What is it like? Expat Life in Peru? First I didn’t want to use the word expat, but I do spend four or five months a year in Peru and most of the rest of the time traveling. My situation may be a bit different than others because I am more mobile than fixed, but if an expat is someone who lives mostly outside the US, for now that includes me. I started to write about what life is like and ended up with a long laundry list of what is good about it and what isn’t. Instead I’m going to post a positive story and a less positive story every day or two for a while.

I didn’t specifically choose to live outside the US. I am now spending four to six months each year in Peru because it is pleasant and we have a wonderful house here, not because Peru has an especially strong pull on my affections. I have neighbors I am fond of and who I look forward to chatting with. At the same time, I have no plans to apply for residency here, and in the long run, whether in two years or ten, I plan to relocate to the US.

Accepting that I am in my present location in a kind of coincidence, what makes it worth staying for?20170106_172427 Location, location, location. I live across the street from the Pacific Ocean, and we are in Peru during the Austral Summer, November-April, when the temperatures reach just over 80º F and the breeze keeps us cool. It’s not always cool, the humidity is often high and you can feel sticky. That’s usually just enough of a push to get me to go in the ocean.

The Pacific is cold here, with the Peru/Humboldt current just offshore coming from Antarctica. In December, my first dip of the season lasted about a minute, most of it spent slowly, slowly wading into the frigid water and feeling my legs go to sleep. I ducked under and rushed out. By mid-January, the temperature has moderated enough that everyone agrees that the water is “refreshing”. I usually wear a cap sleeve, legless wet suit and that makes it just comfortable enough to stay in for a little while. 1-11-16-018I always take my bodyboard (We don’t call them boogie boards anymore) and I ride waves in to shore. I probably don’t every go even as far as 100 yards on my longest ride, but you get the same rush from riding on a body board that you get from pushing off at the top of a ski slope, and it’s easier on the knees. I am the oldest person with a board by about 50 years, looked at as an amusing quirky figure on the beach. Sometimes being a foreigner lets you do things that others don’t. I keep waiting for others to join me.

1-25-17-beach-dayBetween Christmas and the first of March, a number of neighbors spend part of every day on the beach. With or without umbrellas, people emerge around 11 am and leave when it is time to have lunch, somewhere between 2 and 4 pm. I can sit down and chat with whoever is out for as long as I want before or after my swim. My pattern diverges from the general one because I often work on an archaeological report in the morning and go out to swim at midday. I don’t spend as much time on the beach as some people do. I get pretty tan, but I don’t want to get any more sun than I already do.

Totally unrelated to the wonderful beach but crucial to living in a developing country like Peru is access to the internet, which we obtain through the phone company, Telefonica. This is my not-so-wonderful story. Telefonica is a big Spanish company and has provided our fixed phone and our wifi since we arrived. Wifi has been available for more than ten years and was a BIG help during the research project because everyone wanted to read their mail in the evening and we only had two desktops with cable internet. Further, people used to download all sorts of files with viruses attached. We had to have a technician come in once a month to clean off the unwanted programs. Good thing ransom-ware hadn’t been invented back then. Our service is generally good, but when we have problems, it is a struggle to get someone to come and fix it. Occasionally, the problems we have with internet, like getting dumped off the connection every five minutes, seem like a technique of Telefonica to reduce the number of simultaneous users. Now that everyone has a cell phone and access to the internet the system is easily overloaded. By shaking everyone off every few minutes, people are discouraged from whatever they are doing and free up some space. Thus, all users have the sense that they have service, though it may be for just a few minutes. Some days when we make a skype call to family members, we say goodbye first so that when we’re cut off we don’t have to call back to say goodbye because that can take another 15 minutes.

Weird local observation of the day: The garbage truck slowly moves down the street honking its horn to remind people to bring out their trash. Jonathan points to the back and says, “Look at that!”. I look at the back and see…..a full grown dead sea lion lying in the back of the garbage truck. I don’t even know how they got it in, it must weigh 500 lbs and there are only two skinny guys who collect the bags. Hmmm.24052668-seals-islas-ballestas-peru

 

Summer

Not much new this week, but some memorable images.

20170122_112447Camping on the beach is a part of summer here. Having spent several summers camping on archaeological research projects I say it looks a lot more fun than it is.20170115_112012

A number of beachfront restaurants open for the four-month summer season.

20170122_111939Here’s a color-coordinated vehicular blast from the past.20170122_144939The balloon vendor has just sold balloons to three little girls: a pink cartoon pig, a Pikachu, and a Spiderman. To each her own.

 

January, and a few more visitors

Summer is going full tilt. The air is warm and humid most of the time, and the ocean is not as cold as it was a few weeks ago.

On the left is the rocky point at the south end of our bay. On the right is a recent sunset. We have many, many sunset photos, but sometimes I still want a new picture.

Our friends Mark and Marcy were here for a few days and we visited the archaeological site of Caballete. It was hot and almost clear, but there was some breeze, so we didn’t roast. The summer can be really hot out in the desert.1-12-17-caballete-004The upright stones near us used to form a circle, but so many people have dug under them to look for gold that they’ve all fallen over. No gold has been found…..

 

Holiday visitors

Last Christmas, our youngest daughter Lillian and her boyfriend Neil visited us in Peru. This year they went to see his family but our two older daughters visited us. We enjoyed every minute.  I didn’t take nearly enough photos. Amanda and Jimmy arrived on Dec. 20 and Lyra arrived on Dec. 22. We spent Dec. 23 cooking and decorating. Christmas Eve dinner we shared with our next door neighbors the Byrne’s, who had all the family including Rodolfo, Sarah and Scott from Hawaii and Pino from Florida. Everyone brought wonderful food. Jonathan was in heaven cooking. Lyra made wonderfully decorated cupcakes and Jonathan roasted a turkey. Toto roasted a leg of pork in his wood fired oven. What a night!12-24-16-christmas-eve-dinnerThe table had an empty place set for Gaim Byrne, Jonathan’s good friend and oldest brother of the family, who died in 2016. We all miss him. He would have enjoyed the toast in his honor.20161224_202128On Christmas Day we had some family fun around our “tree” that will be planted in the garden later.20161224_235211My fondest wishes were fulfilled by boxes of chocolate.

The rest of the girls and Jimmy’s stay was all too brief. We loafed, walked the dog up and down the beach and Jimmy reconnected with his inner surfer–acquitting himself very well and impressing the Peruvians, all of whom have been surfing since childhood. He did us proud.12-26-16-playa-chorrillos

 

 

 

This is us watching surfing.This is Jimmy surfing in the middle of the photo. (Scott in foreground.)12-26-16-playa-chorrillos-cir-014

Since we are a family of archaeologists, there had to be at least one field trip, so we went to Caral, to see the reconstructed pyramids. Despite how it looks, the day was slightly overcast with some breeze so we did not roast as I did when I went last year at this time. The girls reminisced about being able to roll down the sand dunes as little kids. We believe they are off limits now. There were no footprints….20161230_121056 After almost two weeks, it was time for the return trip. We drove into Lima on Jan 1 early in the day (10 am) and avoided the traffic. The young people finished up their shopping at the stores that were open—-there were enough to get the job done. We ended their trip in style with dinner at “La Huaca Pucllana” restaurant, one of the best in Lima in my opinion (see Jonathan’s report on TripAdvisor). The restaurant overlooks a large archaeological site that is illuminated at night, creating a spectacular setting.  It was a relatively early night. We dropped all three at the airport at 6 am for their flights back to the US. They were on the same plane as far as Miami and then headed for opposite coasts. It was a memorable holiday and I miss them already.

 

 

There’s something happening but you don’t know what it is…

When we want to go beach combing in Peru we have always gone to a beach about an hour’s drive from here. This year, things seem to be changing. The beach is normally empty except for a row of seabirds wading along the edge. There are mole crabs (muy-muy) under the sand where the surf crashes and people have been collecting them for bait for as long as we’ve been here.

Now there are a lot of mole crab carapaces on the shore. Are they molting? If so, why are there also a lot of mole crab legs out there, too. There are also regular crabs. There have always been lots of crab burrows and little crabs scurrying in and out. This year there are a lot of dead crabs and some still dying, lying upside down waving their legs just a bit.

We also have sea stars and sea urchins washing up, something that I don’t recall happening before, especially the starfish. We saw some tiny mole crabs eating a dead sea star.

In addition to the new sea life, dead or alive, there are more shells washing up. We didn’t used to find many shells and now we find limpets, big barnacles, slipper shells, some clams, turban shells and the occasional loco (Chilean abalone, Concholepas). Not fancy species, but a lot more than the broken mussel shells that used to be most of the beach material. We also find live limpets and locos. What makes them let go of their hold on the rocks and wash in to the beach? The other day a couple were poking at this sea slug that washed up. It was still alive. Why did it wash up? 20161209_112137Can it be natural fluctuation of ocean conditions? Peru is a place where there can be unusual variability in the temperature of the water. The warm phase is the El Nino phenomenon (last winter). Could these changes come from increased water pollution? Only a portion of Peru’s waste water is processed before being dumped in the ocean. Could that be making a difference? What kind of by-catch comes from anchovy fishing? The fishing fleet is out full tilt, trying to close in on 100 million tons before Christmas. Most evenings the stench of the fishmeal processing plant in the nearby town of Supe floats over to us for a few hours. Fortunately, there will be a hiatus for the holidays, and the season closes before summer ends. So to quote the immortal bard (one of them), “There’s something happening here, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones?” Neither do I.

Getting ready for the season

“Let’s not rush into things,” is a phrase that people on the beach can really get behind. Today is Dec. 15, ten days until Christmas, one of the biggest holidays of the year and source of a lot of annual income along the shore. There’s been a surge of efforts to fix the beach up for the season, but just in the past few days.

DISCOS are the most resistant to improvement. The Rumba (above left) has added a ramada, while at Zunka, the facade was torn off just this morning. We’ll see what they put up. 20161215_104815The restaurant bar owned by the Ordonez family got a facelift a year ago and it looks like they are re-opening this year as a nightclub. They have been closed since we arrived in early November, and the banner announces the Rupac Beach Club opening Dec. 17 with Rubia Conga Salsafest (from New York). In preparation, the windows have been cleaned. I guess they’re ready.

Hotels often receive a paint job during the year, but (below right) the hotel-formerly-known-as-the Daso Inn has sanded off the old logo. We’re holding our breath to see the new name. On the left, Barranca Suites, completed last spring, is already adding another section. Will it be ready for Christmas?–Maybe Valentine’s Day.

There is some new construction. We are not sure of the purpose for either site, and the guys working construction are cagey. The structure on the left may be a restaurant.

The men working in front of this abandoned house (below) are putting up an ice cream stand–cremoladas, actually, a chilly fruit drink.

On the house below, the third floor is being sanded before tile is added to the facade. I think they got tired of doing the annual paint job. I guess it’s easier to wash the facade each year instead.20161216_114340The bus shelters (there is no bus system) are getting a new coat of paint. The new paint job on the right is for Guaraná, a brand of soda. It’s the first time the sponsor of the paint along the boardwalk hasn’t been for a beer company. Unless there’s a corporate sponsor, the seafront installations don’t get repainted.

At our end of the beach there was no sponsor this year, so the neighbors got together and bought paint. The city agreed to provide a painter for three days. It may not look like much, but it is a lot nicer than scaly beer ads.

20161214_110850Hardest working part of the beach community are the trash cans:trashcans-2Trash is collected every day. I keep threatening to put up a sign on the wall outside our house:

“The ocean is not soup. Do not put food in it!” The remains of limes, onions, the orange chili peppers called aji amarillo, and tangerine peels are among the most common of beach trash, right after ice cream papers.

Last but not least, the city touted the way our tax dollars were used this year to improve the beach environment. I am not happy with the choices.20161216_110903 First, we have a new “security center” that is manned occasionally by one civilian who cannot see out the window because it is so hot inside they have to paper the glass over. Anyone on the beach could have told them that at the start of construction. 20161219_120040

Second, the city has put up scaffolding to repair and restore the giant mis-proportioned statue of Christ the Redeemer that was put up by a former mayor in about 1999, just before we arrived. Work to create the base of the statue utterly destroyed an archaeological site. The mayor’s comment, “There are lots of sites.” Supposedly, people visit Barranca and its beach as part of a visit to the statue. Maybe they do.

Happy Holidays!

 

Cuba Follow-up: Food

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Here is a good follow-up to our visit to Cuba (See the link to a recent article below.). While we found the food in Cuba to be only moderately interesting, apparently we are ingrates. Tourists are eating up all the fresh fruits and vegetables in Cuba, along with the best cuts of meat and leaving nothing for people who have to live on a salary of Cuban pesos. Is tourism good or bad in this situation?

Tourists are eating up all of Cuba’s produce

This is one of the more expensive, co-op markets.