Saturday, April 30, 2011

Eating in Peru...thus far

Tanta, day 1 in Peru, downtown:

Before arriving in Peru I had no idea how I would be eating and what kind of food my volunteer program would provide. Thus I packed several Lara bars to prepare for the worse. It turns out they weren't really necessary. I'm staying in a 3 star hotel, rather than a home stay like I was originally brought to believe, which has a full spread for breakfast which includes: rolls, cheese, ham, eggs, bacon, yogurt, fruit, nuts, dried fruit, olives, alfajores (peruvian cookie), juice, and coffee.


As for lunch, things get a little grim here. We're strongly encouraged to eat what the children at the school eat, and while it's not necessarily bad, it's very humble also makes me sick. Not sure if the stomach issues are a result of plates still being slightly wet or the food being to greasy, but the last 3 stays I kept to rice only, and even then my stomach doesn't feel perfect. I had my program director by bananas as well so I can have fruit along with the rice, but I'm thinking I'm not going to want to see a banana or rice for a very long time when I return to New York. I'm also already dreaming about eating lots of salad upon my return.

Dinner is good, however, if I eat directly from the options my program gives I end up having lots of American/Italian food. The food is decent, but I'm in Peru, I want to eat Peruvian dishes. The program allows us to chose from 3 different restaurants (2 are Italian, 1 is a chicken place, "Peruvian" Chicken-but it's really only roasted chicken) and the rest of the week we eat at the hotel. Hotel options are more of the same with pasta and chicken dishes.

Since there is only 1 other volunteer aside from myself our team leader has been pretty flexible regarding where we can eat. Sunday I ate at the hotel, Monday we selected one of the optional restaurants-Donatella, Tuesday also from the hotel-

Spagehitti Pesto:

Donatello, had spinach ravioli this night:

Pepper Chicken:

and by Wednesday we wanted Peruvian so we went out to Tanta and our leader agreed to pay! Same restaurant from the first day I was in Lima, but different location. I tried the Pisco sour and Causa with avocado and crabs.

Causa, layered potato dish:

Thursday was a night out with our team leader at Larcomar, a mall built into the cliffs in the Miraflores area of Lima (again not one of the original restaurants on our list).

Larcomar at ground level:

We went to Cafe Cafe, which was decent but over priced for the quality. I had the seasfood tuca tuca. Lots of seafood ontop of grilled black beans and rice.

Last night we went to Astrid and Gaston, one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. It was an amazing experience and so reasonably priced for the service and spatular food. Details will come in a later post.

Saturday and Sunday are free days which I've spent exploring Lima by foot and bike and trying to get in some physical activity which I've missed over the last week.

Organic Market:

Lots of parks and lots of group activities:

I went from an intense week of hiking to carb overload and a quick pilates session in my room each morning. It's been a great experience but between stomach issues this week, an itch to return to lab, a desire to see loved ones, a breakfast of greek yogurt or oatmeal with peanut butter, and a large cup of american coffee, I'm ready to come home.

I was so excited to see these today, I know, I'm such an American, but I miss it and this was just what I needed today!

Plus Pink Berry is so much cheaper here than in the US, expensive by Peruvian standards probably but for the US dollar, it was pocket change!

I had half coco (coconut) and half granada (pomegranate) with waffle cone, mango, strawberries, and almonds:

As I was living and passed by starbucks they were giving out free samples, ah, again, just what I needed!! Gulped it down before I took the picture.

Much more to come!


In case you didn't know

My favorite color is purple.

I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, but have now lived in New York for 7 years!!

I love to take baths but don't like to clean the tube.

I played tennis in high school but have pretty much stopped playing since moving to New York because my knee and the sport did not get along.

I studied in London during my 2nd year of college and changed my life from my everyday outlook to my taste in music and I think it also increased my sense of fashion.

8 days until my return!
9 days until my birthday!!


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Best Dance Videos

Every time I watch Ciara I'm not only in awe of her toned and muscular physique but also in her incredible dance skills!

And I think few would argue that Usher is one of the hottest dancers of the last decade.

This Jennifer Lopez original-"If you had my love" might not be her best dance video, but it will always be close to my heart :). I remember dancing around in my living room to this song and music video when I was in middle school, and every time the song pops up on my itunes, particularly the lyric "If you want to live, with all I have to give" I want to do the little turn and dip she does at min 2:09.

The final video of this post was an easy choice-Michael and Janet Jackson's "Scream"

What's your favorite dance video?


Monday, April 25, 2011

Food of Salkantay

I never expected to eat so well while hiking! I knew we had a chef and there was also an assistant to the chef, but still, I thought we would be eating rice and beans for each meal.

Instead we were given quite the spread for each meal. Lunch and dinner always included soup.

Followed by salads, vegetables, rice or quinoa (quinoa is endogenous to Peru-why did it take the US so long to figure out the benefits of this amazing grain?), various kinds of potatoes (there are over 300 kinds of potatoes in Peru) sauces or curries sometimes with vegetables sometimes with chicken.

Another example of a soup, I think this was asparagus based with garlic bread on the side.

Lunch was always the largest meal of the day and included an appetizer. One day it was guamole, another day mushroom ceviche, and below causa rellena, a layered potato dish.

Before dinner each night we sat, chatted, sipped on tea to stay warm, and munched on either crackers or popcorn.

The last day there was even a cake! I highly recommend this group, Wayki Trek, if you ever want to hike to Matchu Pitchu.

While hiking on day 3 we came across a few avocado trees and I got into a conversation about the cost of avocados in Peru compared to the US. It turns out that avocados are about $0.30-$0.40 in Peru. Later when we stopped at our campsite the leader showed me the size of some of the avocados a village person was selling. Look at the size of this thing, easily 3x the size of an avocado sold in the states and for a fraction of the cost! I might never leave this country!!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Salkantay Trek

Hey Bloggies-

Part one of my journey is over and it's been an incredible experience to say the least. Can't imagine what the next 2 weeks of volunteer work in Lima will bring.

The last week has felt like a lifetime, which I'm so thankful for because I don't know how excited I am to be turning 25 in just a couple of weeks. I'll try to share bits and pieces with you through the week but for now I'll give a glimpse of my 5 day 4 night trek to Matchu Pitchu via the Salkantay trail. At this point of the trip I said good bye to my roommate and hello to my tour guide and two fellow travelers (a couple from Oregon) who became such a great support through this difficult journey.

First site of mountain Salkantay:

And then we got started...I think the first 20 minutes were okay...

...and then it was up and up. I might be smiling in this photo, but just moments before I'm pretty sure I was out of breath. Hiking up steep hills at this altitude for the first time, is far from easy.

After 3.5 hours we reached camp. After taking a moment to take in the view I ran into my tent to add a few more layers of clothing!

After cold night and little sleep it was back to it...

And finally the top of the pass! 4600 meters high.

I was literally in the clouds at this point!

The rest of day 2 was spent going down, down, and down! We went from snowy mountain views to the cloud forest which was very jungle like with lots of flowers, fruit and exotic birds.

Passion fruit flower:

Huge spider:

Millipede and his own trail:

Day 2-4 also involved lots of difficult crossings, some over water, some passings close to the edge of the mountain as a result of mudslides and wipeout of the trail.

Horsemen crossing over water:

Most of our campsites coincided with tiny villages (as in 2-3 families lived there). The areas are great because they are near running water and the families benefit by selling drinks, snacks, etc. to hikers.

I made friends with some of the village children. How cute is this little girl? She loved to see her picture after I took it, but I couldn't get her to smile.

These two girls were ready to pose.

Time for dinner, will post trail food, Matchu Pitchu and more from Cusco in the coming days.