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Monthly Archives: February 2013

One night and two days, it’s all I had in Lima after some stomach sickness in Huanchaco.  It is not a lot of time at all for such a large city.  It reminds me of Los Angeles in a lot of ways, it’s a city made up of sprawling district mini-cities that have their own character.  I would spend a lot of time just moving around.  As with most cities, I spent most of my time eating and visiting museums, something Lima had wonderful things of in spades.

I stayed in the Barranco district on the beach, which was described as Bohemian.  I neglected to see the part where it was like that 100 years ago and is now a romantic regentrified spot.  Too sterile for me.

I stayed in the Barranco district on the beach, which was described as Bohemian. I neglected to see the part where it was like that 100 years ago and is now a romantic regentrified spot. Too sterile for me.

I was often confused in the historical core whether I was back in Europe.  Lima was treated as a hub for Spain to rule by and had a museum of the inquisition.

I was often confused in the historical core whether I was back in Europe. Lima was treated as a hub for Spain to rule by and had a museum of the inquisition.

I went to the free central bank museum in the historical center. It had a great mix of ceramics, paintings, and other mediums spread out across the entire history of Peru.  I stopped in the central market and Chinatown but found both just to not be that different from many others I’d been to.  It was lively and bustling, I was just tired and holding out for better eats.

Disappointed by the expensive well known Chifa (Peruvian-Chinese) restaurants, I headed to Chinen out in a working class hood highlighted in a video by Gaston Acurio.  This lomo saltado was pretty darned good but I was too full to really enjoy the rice-bean tacu tacu brick.

Disappointed by the expensive well known Chifa (Peruvian-Chinese) restaurants, I headed to Chinen out in a working class hood highlighted in a video by Gaston Acurio. This lomo saltado was pretty darned good but I was too full to really enjoy the rice-bean tacu tacu brick.  The aji hot sauce had a good kick here.

The museum of the nation is a huge complex within the ministry of culture.  I had shown up here because the sixth floor has a permanent photography exhibit on the terrorism that gripped Peru in the 80s and 90s.  Although I love ancient history, I have an equal love for the more modern stuff that shapes their current culture that I was unaware of, even if I was alive.  The exhibit showed the idealism that drove all the various groups involved, the racial tensions that erupted, and the slow healing and ongoing pain that resulted from it all.

I went to the free central bank museum in the historical center.  It had a great mix of ceramics, paintings, and other mediums spread out across the entire history of Peru.

I really enjoy the closer relation with nature in their animal worship and cult of death to balance the duality of life and death.

The festivals here look fun.

The festivals here look fun.

That evening I tried to go to the Museo Larco, a privately owned collection on the northwest part of town.  I got some poor information from my hostel and the taxi was, as usual, useless dropping me off in the wrong part of town.  So instead I took a coastal walk that evening and returned the next morning.  It’s priced more like an international museum but I really enjoyed the beautiful gardens, well planned layout and descriptions in multiple languages, and depth of the collection.

Sure there were beautiful flowers all over the well manicured grounds, but I only took pictures of the creepy looking cactii.

Sure there were beautiful flowers all over the well manicured grounds, but I only took pictures of the creepy looking cactii.

Flava Flav is totally jealous of their royalty.

Flava Flav is totally jealous of their royalty.  How they moved around with all that stuff on, I just do not know.

There were all sorts of pottery describing how sacrifices worked.  This one is on a boat!

There were all sorts of pottery describing how sacrifices worked. This one is on a boat!

Peru had the world's first space invaders and pixel art.

Peru had the world’s first space invaders and pixel art.

One of my favorite parts of this museum was that they opened up their storehouses.  Although all museums only display a fraction of their collection, you could really see what that looked like here.  It gives you faith that it wasn't all destroyed by Conquistadores and grave robbers, or at least some were taken by grave robbers who opened museums.

One of my favorite parts of this museum was that they opened up their storehouses. Although all museums only display a fraction of their collection, you could really see what that looked like here. It gives you faith that it wasn’t all destroyed by Conquistadores and grave robbers, or at least some were taken by grave robbers who opened museums.

The other part of this museum that I quite enjoyed was the erotic gallery.  The Peruvian cultures were not afraid to create artwork of death or of sex, perhaps in stark contrast to our modern views on both subjects.  It was half the fun to watch squeamish looking Americans and Europeans trying to look either academic or just outright horrified at this well curated gallery.

It's only taboo because of our Puritanical society, they obviously thought all of this was great.

It’s only taboo because of our Puritanical society, they obviously thought all of this was great.

After the Larco museum, I had to unfortunately bolt and skip the nearby archaeological museum and head straight to lunch.  I decided against any of Gaston Acurio’s restaurants as La Mar has outlets in both San Francisco and New York City and went to the punnily named Pescado Capitales (pescado is fish, pecado is sins, or capital/seven deadly sins/fish).

Passing on the seven deadly sin named ceviches, I got the special of the day.  This is a strawberry and pineapple based fish and shrimp ceviche.

Passing on the seven deadly sin named ceviches, I got the special of the day. This is a strawberry and pineapple based fish and shrimp ceviche.

Grilled baby octopus and asparagus.  I guess I had to eat fancy to find some vegetables around here.

Grilled baby octopus and asparagus. I guess I had to eat fancy to find some vegetables around here.

After lunch I took an informative chocolate class at the not very cheap Choco Museo.  I am amused to learn Peru wasn’t historically a chocolate ingesting country, only using it for medicinal purposes.  It was a whirlwind tour to fit all that in two days but it was quite the blowout for my last stop abroad.  Next stop, through customs and back to the United States to visit friends in New York.  Let the domestic adventures begin!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While traveling I really enjoy perusing street art.  While in Asia, there wasn’t much graffiti to be had at all.  My first arrival in Budapest was a welcome to grime and dirt again, along with the joys of spray paint.  Alas most of that was single color poor renditions of names that no one could read.  I am then rather excited that Huanchaco, Peru had some interesting pieces.

If you're going to write your name, at least make it interesting.

If you’re going to write your name, at least make it interesting.

Ai Apaec, the Moche god, is depicted along with other local things.

Ai Apaec, the Moche god, is depicted along with other local legends.  It’s even covering up some lazy name graffiti.

Huanchaco is a seaside town known for using reed boats to fish for crabs.  Hopefully they aren't eating these crabs.

Huanchaco is a seaside town known for using reed boats to fish for crabs. Hopefully they aren’t meeting these crabs.

Here a local fisherman, known as a caballitos de totora (knight of the reed boat), fishing in front of things seen on local ancient temple walls.

Here a local fisherman, known as a caballitos de totora (knight of the reed boat), fishing in front of things seen on local ancient temple walls.  The pelicans can be seen on the beach hanging out near the boats waiting for fishy snacks.

This is some sort of Moche god/dragon creature that has a head on his tail holding up a head offering to the gods.  Certainly a modern depiction complete with reed boat.

This is some sort of Moche god/dragon creature that has a head on his tail holding up a head offering to the gods. Certainly a modern depiction complete with reed boat.

This has less to do with local lore as far as I'm aware but I liked the shapes and colors.

This has less to do with local lore as far as I’m aware but I liked the shapes and colors.

Nowadays, Huanchaco is popular for their surf culture but I'm happy to see the ancient cult of death sneaking in.

Nowadays, Huanchaco is popular for their surf culture but I’m happy to see the ancient cult of death sneaking in to the art.

Great beachside towns must also attract artists on top of the tourists and surfers.

The northern coast of Peru is known for its eats and as I stopped in my last area before I head to the big city of Lima, I intended to shove in all the seafood I could.  There was a lot of ceviche had as well as other scremingly fresh seafood.  The beachside town of Huanchaco meant prices were inflated for tourists, so a stop into Trujillo was a cheaper alternative.

A throwback from the last city, I finally saw fresh manta rays being sold along the beach.  Chiclayo is famous for their manta ray omelettes (tortilla de raya).

A throwback from the last city, I finally saw fresh manta rays being sold along the beach. Chiclayo is famous for their manta ray omelettes (tortilla de raya).

The crabs famous in this area.  The most well known dish is cangrejo reventado.  The crabs are smashed then cooked with eggs, chile and seaweed.  They remind me of Malaysian chili crabs in the best way.

The crabs famous in this area. The most well known dish is cangrejo reventado. The crabs are smashed then cooked with eggs, chile and seaweed. They remind me of Malaysian chili crabs in the best way.

Before I start with the seafood, there was good street food.  My first meal was a papa relleno, a fried mashed potato football full of eggs, olives and other bits.  This is an anticucho of beef heart.  It's a meaty skewer that is served with spicy seasoning and a creamy sauce.

Before I start with the seafood, there was good street food. My first meal was a papa relleno, a fried mashed potato football full of eggs, olives and other bits. This is an anticucho of beef heart. It’s a meaty skewer that is served with spicy seasoning and a creamy sauce.

The first ceviche I had in Huanchaco was actually a tiradito.  Raw fish mixed with lime and chiles topped with a chile based sauce.

The first ceviche I had in Huanchaco was actually a tiradito. Raw fish mixed with lime and chiles topped with a chile based sauce.

There was advice online to try the cream ceviches.  I think the yellow sauce is a tiradito like set up again and I found the left too overly creamy and overwhelming.

There was advice online to try the cream ceviches. I think the yellow sauce is a tiradito like set up again and I found the left too overly creamy and overwhelming.

Restaurants along the beach strand can be found selling deals for an acceptable small meal, ceviche and tiny soda.  Not a bad deal for one as most places served for two or more.

Restaurants along the beach strand can be found selling deals for an acceptable small meal, ceviche and tiny soda. Not a bad deal for one as most places served for two or more.

The most popular cola in Peru is not Coca Cola, it is Inca Kola.  So Coca Cola bought them.  I find it overly sweet but it's supposed to be a hierba luisa flavored drink.

The most popular cola in Peru is not Coca Cola, it is Inca Kola. So Coca Cola bought them. I find it overly sweet but it’s supposed to be a hierba luisa flavored drink.

Escaping to Trujillo I went to Mar Picante to have an even more reasonably priced parihuela, something like a Peruvian bouillabaisse.  That would be beans cooked in leche de tigre (ceviche juice) and a chicha morada (purple corn drink) above.

Escaping to Trujillo I went to Mar Picante to have an even more reasonably priced parihuela, something like a Peruvian bouillabaisse. That would be beans cooked in leche de tigre (ceviche juice) and a chicha morada (purple corn drink) above.

Huanchaco did indeed have many tasty eats but many disappointments too.  The oft recommended El Caribe that I went to for cangrejo reventado (the crab) was more expensive than it should’ve been and did not have seaweed in its crab.  It was also creepily entirely empty, but perhaps I was there too early.  I also attempted to go to former legend Mococho multiple times.  It was closed on all the weekdays I went and I finally found it open on a Sunday.  Instead of the two questions “how hungry are you” and “spicy or not spicy?” leading to an amazing omakase like experience, I got an exasperated older woman who didn’t know what to do with single, alone me in an empty restaurant.  “We usually serve whole fish, but you… you are… alone!”  She ended up serving me a fish fillet with a greasy nut based sauce and a half assed garnish.  The lone good thing was her friendly son playing The Cure and other 80s rock .  I also attempted to go to El Mochica, a famous criollo food restaurant to try Monday-only shambar or pigeon stew pasta but found the Huanchaco location only served the same old fried seafood and ceviche every other place had at nicer restaurant prices.  Disappointing.  The over twenty year old Don Pepe had been replaced by some surfer pizza place.  It may not have been a culinary knock out but it was solidly good ceviche in many places.

Perhaps the best and most surprising meal may have been the one I stumbled onto at the place I was staying, the McCallum Lodging House.  The place is run by a lovely family that will cook the standard things one expects from a restaurant when they have enough people.  However I sniffed a family meal and nosed in to watch how they were doing it, and they invited me to join them for their clam, pepper & bread based stew. Ah, finally, the home style food that I couldn’t locate in a restaurant if I tried.  This is on top of the good handful of marcianos (think fruit puree otter pops) that I also enjoyed here.  So long Huanchaco, and thanks for all the fish.

I’ve landed in the beachside town of Huanchaco to relax for a bit as I near the end of my international explorations.  However that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot to see.  There were ruins as always in north Peru and plenty of beach shenanigans.

The vendors in town mostly wore white vests I assume given by the city to specify their official status.  Except these guys, they wore some rump shakers every day.

The vendors in town mostly wore white vests I assume given by the city to specify their official status. Except these guys, they wore some rump shakers every day.

The caballitos de totora are fishers who use the reed boats (totoras) to catch delicious crabs.  I paid 2 bucks for a ride and was expecting to surf a wave.  I was sorely disappointed.  Thor Heyerdahl I am not

The caballitos de totora are fishers who use the reed boats (totoras) to catch delicious crabs. I paid 2 bucks for a ride and was expecting to surf a wave. I was sorely disappointed. Thor Heyerdahl I am not

The beach was beautiful if rather cold (which brings the delicious fish!)  For some reason they charged 50 cents to go on the pier.  Decidedly, only Peruvians went on it.

The beach was beautiful if rather cold (which brings the delicious fish!) For some reason they charged 50 cents to go on the pier. Decidedly, only Peruvians went on it.

The pelicans might be caballitos (little knights) as well, hanging out patiently waiting for fishermen to share.

The pelicans might be caballitos (little knights) as well, hanging out patiently waiting for fishermen to share.

Huanchaco is a surf town.  I'd like to learn more, but I don't think another one off lesson will help.  First, swim lessons, than really learning to surf!

Huanchaco is a surf town. I’d like to learn more, but I don’t think another one off lesson will help. First, swim lessons, than really learning to surf!

I visited the beautiful Huaca de Sol y Luna, two temples with a town they’re excavating in  between.  They suspect the Moche culture fell from El Nino.  Here I just thought that was a little extra rain.

That's the town currently being excavated as I stand on the Huaca Luna.  It's the only open part.  They don't even have the money to excavate Huaca Sol yet.

That’s the town currently being excavated as I stand on the Huaca Luna. It’s the only open part. They don’t even have the money to excavate Huaca Sol yet.

The famous hairless dog of Peru hang out where you want for your free English tour guide around the site.  Hooray for beer sponsored ruins.

The famous hairless dog of Peru hang out where you want for your free English tour guide around the site. Hooray for beer sponsored ruins.

The female looks a little warthoggy to me.  They are kept around terminal patients as they have really high body temperatures.

The female looks a little warthoggy to me. They are kept around terminal patients as they have really high body temperatures.

Each family had to tithe blocks and the more the better.  They marked the blocks with their family emblem to be counted.  I like happy face family.

Each family had to tithe blocks and the more the better. They marked the blocks with their family emblem to be counted. I like happy face family.

The front of huaca sol y luna  Huaca Sol y Luna is five temples, each built on top of the other at the end of each of their eras.  The top layer of mud bricks has been destroyed by rain but the front was ironically saved when conquistador robbers pilled rubble from the graves over the front.

The front of huaca sol y luna Huaca Sol y Luna is five temples, each built on top of the other at the end of each of their eras. The top layer of mud bricks has been destroyed by rain but the front was ironically saved when conquistador robbers pilled rubble from the graves over the front.

In stark contrast to the drag ladies of earlier, I was around for two virgin festivals.  They sure love their virgins here.  Like many festivals I've been to abroad, this involved the band in black face as "negritos" for reasons my hostel family couldn't explain to me.

In stark contrast to the drag ladies of earlier, I was around for two virgin festivals. They sure love their virgins and baby Jesuses here. Like many festivals I’ve been to abroad, this involved the band in black face as “negritos” for reasons my hostel family couldn’t explain to me.

Ok I giggle at Californian beach signs that say beware of groins, but this one straight up says no defecating.  Amazing.

Ok, I giggle at Californian beach signs that say beware of groins.  This one straight up says no defecating. Amazing.

Last, I leave you with the beautiful sunset I gazed at every day.  What a stunning and relaxing place.

Last, I leave you with the beautiful sunset I gazed at every day. What a stunning and relaxing place.