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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.

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