Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mi Santo

We took advantage of the weekend before my birthday to celebrate with a party at our place. It was attended by military couples and my girlfriends from Arpegio. I had a great time even though I had to go back and forth between two groups the entire time. People don't mix and mingle at parties like I am used to but it was all good. I really liked the fact that some of the choir girls made themselves right at home and started making drinks and picking away at the food on the table. It is custom at gatherings in Peru that you go around and serve food and drinks to everyone instead of them getting up and doing it themselves. I don't mind getting people their first drinks and offering to fill them up if they are low but I want people to feel like they can do things for themselves too. I am working at finding a good balance between being the overly attentive host like most people are here and relaxing and letting eat and drink at their pace. I find that with a various cultural differences I am figuring out what works best for me but also doesn't completely offend others. Everyone had drinks and there was karaoke so in the end I think everyone was satisfied. I was surprised with trick candles that Marco put on the cake. He was surprised as well and we ended up in a cloud of smoke. Good thing we didn't burn down the apartment. Our neighbors would not have been happy. It was really really awesome having so many people show up to the party. I wasn't expecting more than 15 or so but there ended up being around 30. It meant a lot to me that everyone came out to celebrate for a bit. 

I had a wonderful day on my birthday. I had work at the school but my classes went really well and the rehearsal we had for 1st grade went pretty well too! I was greeted with a rendition of happy birthday by the woman who is the head of human resources at the school. It was a great way to start the day off. I didn't let me students know it was my birthday because I didn't really want them to have an excuse to ask to watch videos instead of practice for the show cultural.

When I got home I opened the apartment door and found rose petals leading to the table where Marco had spelled out Te Amo with more rose petals. There was a huge flower arrangement behind it and an adidas hat and shirt on the chair. What a sweetheart! It was super romantic and so thoughtful. I hope that never changes!

In the evening Marco took me out to a restaurant called KuoWha. It looks like a casino from the outside but it has a beautiful japanese garden on the inside and a delicious buffet dinner. I ate so much food. It was wonderful! There was this yummy dessert that was like a funnel cake ball with poppy seeds on the outside. I could have eaten 10 of them. I also loved the egg rolls. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who is in Lima looking for asian food. It was delicious!

After eating we headed to a casino around the corner and gambled 10 soles. I won 10 soles on my third try and lost the rest of the original 10 so I ended up breaking even! It was fun but definitely not something I could imagine myself doing on a regular basis. It was my birthday though so why not?

Something fun about the name of this entry is that Peruvians call your birthday your santo. You might hear someone say "Cuando es tu santo? - When is your birthday?" and they refer to the birthday girl or guy as "la santa" o "el santo". That is because every day has a saint assigned to it and in the olden days people were named after the saint of whose date their birthday fell on. My saint is Saint Avelino so I could have been Avelina if I had been born in the 60s or before. My handy daily planner told me that because it has the name of the saint that corresponds to each date on each page.

The two gringas at the party!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Date Night, The Spanish Inquisition and Donating Blood

I had a jam-packed weekend and it started with a model class to show that I could teach 6th grade English. I am super excited to be on the path to getting a full time teaching job in a subject area that I feel I have a lot more dominance in. There are a number of factors as to why I have decided to look towards teaching at the secondary level instead of pursuing music at this point. I think that in order to get the most out of life and find what works for me I have to ride the waves and go with the flow of where I am. Things are different in a big city and what I really want is to have a place where I work and feel like I am part of a team/community. I love teaching and I am still figuring out exactly where I fit into the teaching world but I have a great opportunity to possibly teach full time at a school that uses the International Baccalaureate program which is super cool and fascinating. (If you want to know more about it go to
On Thursday night I decided to take my husband out on a date to the restaurant Charlotte in Barranco. It was delicious. I had a lomo saltado lasagna with hauncaina sauce on top. What a great mix of italian and Peruvian food in one tasty dish! Marco went with pollo saltado, a chicken, tomato, onion dish with fries and rice. We headed over to Posada del Angel and I tried an angel sour which was a pisco sour with fresh peach juice. Yum! We listened to a bit of live music before hopping on a bus right outside which dropped us at the villa. I love that we live so close to Barranco. It takes 10 minutes to walk to the Barranco plaza from our place. While we were walking to our dinner spot we stopped in a homeopathy store that had all sorts of chocolates, cereals, grains, and plants as well as tea and oils. Marco said that Barranco is kind of like Cusco with its fun shops and cafes and the artsy vibe. I totally agree and it makes me beyond happy. Lima is starting to feel more like home. I can't complain.
On Friday I had a piano lesson with my friend and then called up another girlfriend and invited her over for dinner and wine. I tried my hand at making estofado de res, a red meat dish with a red sauce. I added too much water to the dressing so I improvised and added spaghetti to keep the flavor in and soak up some of the water so as not to have estofado soup. It worked pretty well and both my friend and Marco were satisfied. I am slowly but surely building up my Peruvian cooking skills and adding a little flavor of my own. I am so glad that I invited my amiga over. She is also from the States and had been going through a lot of difficulty with her significant other. I am more than happy to be that friend who is there to listen and help others get through tough times. The worst thing in the world is to feel like you have no one to run to when things get bad. True friends will stick through the good and bad. I only give what I would like to get in return and sometimes it is a hug, an ear, or even a bed to stay in depending on the circumstance. I am a strong believer that relationships are what make life so wonderful.
On Saturday Marco and I headed to the Inquisition Museum located in the center of Lima across from the Congressional building. It was all about the Spanish Inquisition in Peru. They had all the torture items on display with mannequins in place. It wasn't as creepy as the Medieval Times torture chamber that I went to for a birthday party one year in the States when I was a kid. The museum was well lit and the guide was pretty indifferent. I took some pictures for you to enjoy. Apparently only 33 people were actually killed by the inquisition but I find that hard to believe. I am sure there were more and I am convinced the catacombs of San Francisco are where a lot of their bones ended up.
Marco loves the colonial style balconies in the center of Lima.
This ceiling in the Inquisition Museum has been restored but the original was kept in place by nothing more than pressure. No glue, nails or mortar.
We ate lunch at an American style saloon/bar around the corner from the presidential palace. The food was OK but nothing to rave about. The ambience was pretty cool though with the high ceilings and shutter style doors.
I have to say that I am huge fan of the turron candy bar. It is a traditional Peruvian treat with cookie, honey, and sprinkles on top. I treated myself to a tasty bite on the way back home from our lunch in the center. Good thing they don't have the Doña Pepa shops near where I live. 
Saturday night ended with a Matt Damon movie called Hereafter. It was all right but nothing too exciting. I watched the last bit of a show that one of my fellow choir members sang in that was airing on TV Peru as well. It was a rock concert with opera vocals mixed in. It was super cool. That choir member ended up being a part of our weekend the following day.
I got a call from M who told me that another choir member's mother had been sick and they needed two more units of blood to give back to the blood bank for her time at the clinic in San Miguel. I asked Marco if he was available to give blood with me and he agreed. It turns out that he has never given blood even though he will often call on soldiers to go give blood. They way it works here is that when you give blood you give it to a specific clinic or hospital. 
There is no centralized blood bank like the American Red Cross. Also, for however much blood that is used during your stay, you have to replace it by getting others to donate or you have to pay 200 soles per unit. We asked about the possibility of being able to donate every 6 months and creating a personal blood bank in case anything happens. Apparently, that is a possibility. I am super thankful that Marco is in the military because we won't have to worry about blood shortages and it helps that I am o+ which is the most common blood type among soldiers here. It was an interesting and unexpected way to end our weekend but it felt good to be helping a friend out, while leaving us a little light headed and super hungry. We were told not to eat for four hours before giving blood so both of us were ravenous at the end. 
We were treated to some food afterward by the choir member whom we were helping out. I always like it when Marco has the opportunity to meet more of my friends. What a better way to bond with my hubby and have him meet people than donate blood? 
The judges of your blasphemous crimes.
If you were lucky you would only have to walk around the square with this outfit.

If you were unlucky you would receive this kind of torture.

Hmmm....I am pretty sure that this type of torture is still used today. Guantanamo anyone?