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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Dances of Peru: A Perupedia Entry.

     With the start of this week came the realization that my stay volunteering for the Karikuy program was coming to an end. I decided to spend it hanging out in Lima to focus all my attention on Perupedia. Traveling through Peru has been a great experience but I have really grown to love Lima and all it has to offer. From walking around in Miraflores to shopping at the Jirón de la Unión in Cercado de Lima it has really been a whirlwind of experiences. Spending my final weeks locally in Lima enjoying the spender of the city just seemed right.
     Last week Lani, Julio and myself visited the Asociación Cultural Brisas del Titicaca so I decided to devote time to writing a Perupedia entry on the venue. Brisas del Titicaca is a interactive dinner show devoted to showing traditional peruvian dances to Peruvians and travelers alike. The Marinera Norteña is the final dance of the show and also the national dance of Peru. The Marinera Norteña is a beautiful dance where the women dances barefoot and does elegant hand movements with scarfs waving her dress around. Check out the Perupedia article on Brisas del Titicaca and vistit: Asociación Cultural Brisas del Titicaca, Jr. Wakulski 168 Lima 1(Alt.cdra.1 Av.Brasil), 715-6960
     This week has also been focused on completing the Perupedia entry on dance styles found in Peru. In this I am including traditional and contemporary dances found in all dance venues whether informal dances found at clubs or traditional dance at festivals and venues such as Brisas del Titicaca. Our Karikuy team has done “extensive” research on dance in all the places we have visited. And by “extensive” I mean all types of clubs and festivals. Check out the Perupedia entry on Peruvian Dance which is still in working progress.

     Apart from spending my day time hours writing about dance we have been watching World Cup soccer games and just enjoying each others company. The other Karikuy volunteers are a pleasure to spent time with and we often enjoy a movie night where we sit and watch Horror films or Game time playing Super Mario Wii.

Anastacia is a volunteer for the Karikuy program.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood; Planeta.

Living in Lima, Peru has been interesting and eventful. Taking cabs and combis are an adventure within itself, feeling like your life is going to come to an abrupt and sudden stop because of oncoming traffic or a truck barely missing your door. And the food, food venders available near our humble abode have really made it easy to call Planeta home. The area in Lima which you can find the Karikuy team is located near Cercado de Lima in a local barrio called Planeta. Although the local peruvians might think of this area as ‘movido’, I have come to really enjoy living here and taking advantage of everything it has to offer.

This past sunday I went to local soccer tournament with Julio and the other volunteers. We hung out watching different teams from the surrounding barrios and drinking Crystal, the local peruvian beer. People were welcoming as always and tried to speak the bits of english they knew offering us tamales and beer while simultaneously rooting for the underdog and cracking jokes about the beer bottle thrown at the referee for the bad calls made. The time spent watching the tournament was a great experience with good people, great food and of course cold cervezas.
Apart from the people, the food in the local area make the prospect of leaving a sad one. Juliana is Julio’s aunt and the one who cooks most of our meals. Everyday we look forward to amazing meals that excite the taste-buds and you can’t help but wonder what Juliana has in store for the next meal. Every meal includes a flavorful soup, an entrée and a tasty homemade juice to wash it down. My favorite would have to be lentils and rice, yum.
If Juliana’s cooking isn’t satisfying enough, street food in Planeta gives no reason why you should want to leave the neighborhood for a meal. The first person I need to speak about is referred to as ‘Señor’ but we in the Karikuy house know him as ‘Hamburger Man’. There is no wonder Julio compares the cost of things by how many peruvian hamburgers you can buy. These burgers pack a punch filled with salad, large french fries and your choice of chorizo, chicken or beef with whatever sauce you want drizzled on top. You can get a loaded burger for a little more then 2 soles.

The Churro man can be found near the local school at 5pm during the week ready to feed the hungry children filing out. These are the most delicious and delectable treats made of pastry with manjar blanco, which is a local peruvian spreadable sweet reminiscent to caramel, fried and rolled in sugar. After a long days work comes 5 pm the other volunteers and myself file out the house to be greeted by an older man who gives us a warm fried churros for a mere 60 centavos.
Although an article about the local food in the area could go on for pages I’m going to have to conclude my list with the personal favorite of Christina, our cake connoisseur. ‘The Cake Lady’, as we know her by, is located up the street from the Karikuy house. Outside her front door she has a glass pained display case which is used to house all the cakes and sweets she makes completely from scratch. From traditional peruvian deserts Tres Leche, Mazamorra and Alfajores to more common deserts like Strawberry Short Cake and Chocolate Cake her cakes are perfect for desert. With a price less then 2 soles it’s hard to find an excuse not to take an after dinner walk to her.

Planeta might be considered as being less then safe by locals but my experiences living here disproves it. The people have truly been friendly and helpful, the wild dogs are always looking for a nice head rub and the food makes you want to stay. Volunteering in such a culturally rich area of Lima has made the experience all the more meaningful and memorable.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Huaraz and the Andes

     Huaraz and the surrounding area is full of rich culture and the sad past of a massive and destructive avalanche causing earthquake which destroyed the town of Yungay. The second day trip taken while staying at the Monte Blanco Hotel (80 soles a night for a double) was to see the Pastoruri Glacier which has an altitude of over 15 thousand feet above sea level. Although the deteriorating glacier is the pièce de résistance, my interest lied in the ride filled with the view of the Andes approaching and interesting plants with stories and medicinal uses. Conversation about the plants was sparked when a local Peruvian women sat near me in our tour bus with an interesting white furry plant in her bag. When asked what they were she gave the answer that it was used for stomach aches then I listened while she spoke about other plants found in the Huascaran National Park that can be used for other medical reasons.
Puya Raimondii

     Although the Puya Raimondii does not have any medicinal uses it is known as the Queen of the Andes because of its long life and the fact that it takes about 100 years to bloom. This plant is said to have a lifespan relative to peruvians which has lengthened as the Peruvians have started to live longer. The Puya Raimondii is only found in the Andes in Bolivia and Peru in altitudes 15 thousand feet and higher. The Puya Raimondii plant grows to about 30 feet high when fully in bloom with thousands of little white flowers on its spike above the green leaf base. Interestingly this plant dies soon after it blooms. Locals once thought the Puya Raimondii to be carniverious because their lifestock would get cut but the thorny leaves when trying to eat it. Sadly for me I did not see this exotic plant in bloom although the other Puya Raimondii still held a powerful presence. If your in Peru in August you’ll be in luck because there are a few getting ready to bloom.
     Ajinco, Artemisia Absinthium, is commonly known in English as Wormwood and used in the potent alcohol Absinth. Although its use in Absinth is more hazardous then helpful, when the leaves and flowers are used to make a tea it will combat liver disease, colds and stomachaches. Ajinco is a silvery-white color with small little fruit covered in the same fur and can be found in the Andes.
     I find it awesome how one does not have to go to a botica for panadol or advil to cure a headache. Instead putting a raw potato on your temples can sooth it. There is also a local flowering bush found in Peru which is also good for the kidneys. The trip to the Pastoruri Glacier was beautiful. The scenery was filled with blue skies and lush green shrubbery. Everywhere I looked was filled with breathtaking scenes you only see in postcards.
Anastacia is a volunteer for Karikuy in Lima, Peru.