Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Run, Mistura, and Registry Fun

Sunday was a jam packed day. It started with Marco leaving the house at 6:30 am and heading to the center of Lima for a run down the via expresa ending on Javier Prado. It was a run for Dia de las Fuerzas Armadas or Day of the Armed Forces. It was fun seeing different groups run together. There were other people invited to run as well so in between the blocks of military personnel there were random runners. Marco ran with his classmates from War School. 

Where's Marco?

After watching the run Marco and I headed to Mistura. Mistura is Lima's annual food festival started by Gaston Acurio. He is Peru's claim to fame when it comes to promoting Peruvian gourmet around the world. I think he might have just opened a new restaurant in Chicago. I should look that up. I liked eating at Chicha in Cusco and I am going to be trying out Tanta here in Lima next week.

Mistura was packed but what was more daunting than anything was the line to get in! Marco and I would probably have waited a good 45 minutes just to get into the festival if we hadn't decided to walk around to the other side. We were a part of a group of people who had the same idea. There was no way there was only one entrance. Sure enough, there was no line on the other side! Huzzah! We didn't want to spend too much time in lines so we steered clear of the cilindrada (barbeque section). Peruvians love their roasted everything. I found a recoto relleno stand. It is a stuffed pepper with meat and veggies inside. It was accompanied by a cheesy potato dish. Marco found arroz con pato (duck and rice) and we shared mazamorra (a syrup made of purple corn) with arroz con leche (milky rice). We weren't full so we headed over to the limeño section and shared a causa (mashed yellow potatoe stuffed with chicken and avocado). To finish off our gluttonous afternoon we ate picarones (sweet potato funnel cake/donut).
The line extended back at least a half kilometer.
We found the secret entrance on the other side!
This is the first time both Marco and myself went to Mistura and we were impressed with the layout. It wasn't well advertised that there were two entrances but once inside we had relatively little wait time in lines. We did choose things that were less popular but overall we were happy with the outcome. There was a ticket system and tickets were sold in 13, 7, 3, and 1 sol increments. Most portions were 13 soles and with any food festival the consumer tends to get a taste of what the vendor has to offer instead of a regular sized plate. Granted, regular sized plates in restaurants here tend to be quite large (mostly filled with white rice though). That is to be expected at a fair though. I think of Taste of Chicago and that really is a perfect name for a food festival. You get a taste of things. That's what makes it fun though. Also, there were restaurants represented that sell plates from 40 to 50 soles a plate so getting a sample for 13 is a steal. We weren't so interested in finding those restaurants as much as we were interested in finding the food that suited our desires in the moment. I have a feeling that Mistura will only continue to grow in the years to come. It is a relatively new event. It stared in 2008 under the name "Peru Mucho Gusto" and then the following year it was renamed Mistura. I am interested to see how many people went through over the course of the 15 day event. It has to be in the 300,000s.

After leaving Mistura and taking a quick nap in the grass outside (with sun! Hurray for spring! Let there be more sun in Lima!) we headed over to Saga Falabella where we got our hands on a scanner and registered all the things we would like for our place. It was really fun picking things out with Marco. The custom in Peru is that you drop off a wedding gift at the residence of the couple before or after the wedding. People don't bring their gifts to the reception like they do in the States. I think that is kind of nice. It means that people have to take time out of their day to make a trip to personally deliver a gift. We also have to personally deliver our wedding invitations. That, on the other hand, is not so much fun. Fortunately, Marco is the one doing most of the delivering since many of the guests are in the military so he has more contact with them. I am sure that this is the custom because the mail system is not completely reliable here.

I hope everyone has a great week!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cañete: Cuna y Capital del Arte Negro

This is a statue of a girl dancing Festejo, a traditional Afro-Peruvian dance.

Marco and I had a great time this weekend. We made a trip out to Cañete, Marco's birth place and home to his Dad's side of the family. We decided to take a bus instead of risking the car breaking down on us and it took us three hours to get there. It is typically a two hour ride. Granted we had to go to the center of Lima to pick up our bus and it is a company that stops and picks people up along the way. There are three types of omnibus options. The nicest ones don't stop anywhere except the final destination. The second rate ones are like the one we took called Soyus. They have a terminal where you can buy your ticket and get the seats you want but it stops every once in a while to pick people up at certain bus stops. There is a person who comes around and asks for ID and charges you for your seat if you get picked up later on. The final type of bus is the one that stops at every bus stop and will pack people on until there is no more room. They are the worst and the slowest of course.
Anyway, we got to Cañete and immediately hopped in a taxi that took us out to Marco's aunt and uncles' house. We chatted for a bit. Marco's aunt was very emotional about seeing Marco. He hadn't been back to visit in almost 15 years! That's nuts. I am happy that he is getting back into touch with his family. We dropped off wedding invites and then headed over to Marco's dad's place. His sister and brother in law are in the process of constructing a house on the same lot as his father's. It is a bit of a squeeze but slowly and surely they will have their house completely constructed. Lizett, Marco's sister, is a doll and her two daughters are so adorable. One of them reminds me so much of myself. She is super outgoing and sings and dances around. She was curious and she was constantly showing us things. When we got home last night she said while half asleep "buenas noches tia amy." It was so cute! She didn't want us to leave the following day. I didn't really want to leave either. I would have loved to stay a few more days to hang out with the fam!

I really enjoyed getting to know Lizett better and it was great seeing how she and Marco interacted. It reminded me a lot of me and my brother. I am excited to have a relationship with a new sister and I am pretty sure she is too!
Marco and I had a blast. After drinking a chela (Peruvianism for beer) Peruvian style with his brother and dad (meaning you pass around one cup and one beer bottle and each person pours what they want and then passes it to the next person when he or she is done. Neither Marco nor I are huge fans of the custom.) we headed out and stopped by the birthday party the girls went to. Oriana dragged me inside to dance and I was happy to oblige. All the kids were fascinated and happy to have an adult dancing with them. They gave me a bag full of sweets when we left. I ate so much food and sugar Saturday night. It was worth it though.
Marco and I went to the feria. Cañete was celebrating it's 457th birthday. Something I love about carnivals and fairs in Peru is that it isn't just fair rides and games. You will find people selling random stuff, lots of food stands, and live music. We tried our hand at a few games. My gun skills are not as great with a cork rifle as opposed to a real pistol but Marco informed me that they are meant to shoot the cork as a bad angle no matter what. I won a rubik's cube and I gave it to a kid who was standing beside me the entire time. He asked me where I was from and I told him to guess. He said the United States and I nodded. His response in English was "Oh my God!" It was super cute. I knew he would get more out of a rubik's cube than I would. He was super happy to receive it. Did I perpetuate the idea that foreigners will give you things if you hang around them long enough? Maybe. I might also have brightened the kids day. I like to think it was the second.

Meat on a stick. We didn't eat this but we did eat a lot of anticucho (cow heart) at the dance contest.

We went to the stadium to buy our tickets only to find out that the festejo contest wasn't going to start until 10:30pm even though it said 8pm on the sign. That's typical. We headed to the main plaza and found ourselves a cute little place called La Esquina de Pisco and had ourselves 5 sole pisco sours. They were strong and decently sized. Next time we go back we will definitely be hitting up La Esquina. 30 soles and you have yourself a night! I saw that there was a karaoke bar so we went inside. It wasn't too full so I got my fair share of singing in. Meanwhile, Lizett met up with us at the bar before we headed over to the stadium. Marco and I could not stop raving about how cheap going out there was. It's nice to get away from the city every once and a while not only for a change of scenery but also for a change in the price of things!
The festejo conest was awesome. Cañete is known in Peru as the birthplace and capital of arte negro. Festejo is a type of dance and music that is a mixture of Peruvian and African dance and music. It is super fun and really catchy. The groups that danced were great and then individual ladies got out and danced. All the while Lizett, Marco and I had a ball drinking chelas and eating anticucho and papa rellena. We ended the night by heading to a discoteca called Anubis. It was really packed but still fun. We got home around 4am! It's been a while since we have been out that late.
I wrote about festejo after going to Rompe y Raja here in Lima if you are interested in seeing some videos. You can also plug in festejo to youtube and see what comes up.
It was a great weekend and I am really glad that we were able to get out of Lima for a bit. It was relaxing and fun. I am happy to say that I had a great two days at work as well. This week I have lots of wedding things to do and we have the first of two meetings at the church for couples counseling. It is a requirement to get married in the Catholic church. Both Marco and I are very intrigued by what we are going to learn about marriage from a priest. I will definitely be blogging about it. 
That's it for now! Have a great week everyone!