Postcards from Peru, Lurin: Have muddy boots, will travel

On the road again, Diplomonkey drops by this really cool dairy farm in Lurin, a fair-sized town some 45 kilometers south of Lima.  The place is also known for the massive pre-Colombian Pachacamac ruins on its outskirts – note to self, I need to go their with the little dudes before our tour is up next year.

Lurin Dairy Cow 1

Lurin Dairy Cow #1

Tail End of the Business - Lurin Dairy Cow #2

Tail End of the Business – Lurin Dairy Cow #2

Anyhow, there is nothing like a quick farm visit to cheer up Diplomonkey’s spirits.  The smell of hundreds of animals, feed, and damp earth are a welcome, reinvigorating shock to the system, as much as an escape from the confines of the office and its unceasing pile of reports and briefing memoranda.

Fresh Milk - Lurin Dairy Cow #3

Fresh Milk  Straight from the Cow – Lurin Dairy Cow #3

One of the great aspects of foreign service life, I think is getting away from the desk work to actually do field work.  I guess that the bonus here is the possibility to see new things, as well as to interact with people.  Most people I meet are more than willing to tell you something about themselves,  what they do, what they think, and how things could better.

Milk Me, I dare You - Lurin Dairy Cow #5

Milk Me, I dare You – Lurin Dairy Cow #4

In any case, enjoy the pictures and consider a farm visit sooner than later to learn where our food actually comes from.

Hello There - Lurin Dairy Cow

Hi There – Lurin Dairy Cow

Cheers!

Postcard from Peru: Quilmana, Canete 140 Kilometers and a World Away from Lima

Okay so the fog season has started, albeit with a slight delay.  Time to get out of Lima even if for a day.  Hop into the office car to seek sunshine afar. LOL

Quilmana, Canete Donkey Powered Cart

Quilmana, Canete Donkey Powered Cart

The cool thing about being posted to U.S. Embassy Lima, inspite of the opportunity to engage in some really poor rhyme making, is the possibility to go out and experience the countryside.  So last week, with the interns in tow, Diplomonkey headed out to Quilmana, Canete about 140 kilometers from Lima on the Pan American South highway (i.e., the Panamericana Sur).

Quilmana Moto Taxi

Quilmana Moto Taxi

Canete Corn Field

Canete Corn Field

Weather clears up a bit, but the fog does linger; which makes for some moody pictures.  Sorry no rhyme there.

Canete, Peru #2

Canete, Peru #2

Garbage Collectors in Canete

Garbage Collectors in Canete

Anyhow enjoy this new series of postcards from Peru.  Get out of Lima and see something different.

Cheers!

Peru and Paprika: About Sixty Kilometers South of Paracas and Just Outside of Ica

It has been far too long since I have thrown something out there about Peru; bad, bad Diplomonkey for focusing so, so much on Ecuador of late  Okay, so here goes what I think I will start to call postcards from Peru.  These are the snippets of the life experiences that I am enjoying during my Lima assignment.

Woman sorting paprika by color and size.

Woman Sorting Paprika by Color and Size.

Life in the Foreign Service has its ups and downs of course, but one of the greatest benefit of this career and the lifestyle that we choose, is the possibility to go out and see new and wonderful things. We also get to meet  people around the world that we would likely never have any interaction with otherwise.

Women sorting paprika in the desert.

Women Sorting Paprika in the Desert #1.

Culture shock: yes little Dorothy, it abounds when we go overseas on a new assignment.  We also get to face it, ironically enough, when we also return home to the States.  But still it is worthwhile to do this gig, the pictures speak for themselves.

Woman Sorting Paprika #2

Woman Sorting Paprika Outside of Ica.

Enjoy the photos; and next time you pick up some paprika, you will have hopefully a better notion from where it comes.

Producing Paprika in the Desert.

Women Sorting Paprika in the Desert #2.

Cheers from Lima!

Okay, I Have Been a Bit of a Slacker #1

April has been a busy month.  I guess that two back-to-back trips stateside will take it out of you.  First trip was all about cattle in Texas and Florida, while the follow-up trip was just about meetings in Washington, DC.

Texas Cattle 1

Selecting Texas Brahman Cattle 

Texas Brahman

George the Texas Brahman Bull

Texas Brahman 2

Texas Brahman Bull

Texas and Florida are always great.  Saw some impressive animals and was able to get some decent photos with the Nikon D70.  It’s always fun to play cowboy; grandpa would be proud.

Florida Black Angus 3

Florida Black Angus Up Close #1

Florida Black Angus 2

Florida Black Angus and Stormy Clouds

Florida Black Angus

Florida Black Angus Up Close #2

Anyhow, I hope folks enjoy the southern cowboy-style pictures.  The Washington DC will go up separately, hopefully with some witty commentary.

Hatuey Beer at Versailles Cafe

Hatuey Beer from Miami’s Little Havana’s Cafe Versailles.

In the meantime, go out and enjoy a cold Miami Cuban Hatuey!

Cheers!

Purple Corn, Inca Potatoes, and Fresh Chicken Washed Down with an Inca Royale

Diplomonkey finally took a day off, at least partially, and went with wifie to the Musa market just outside of La Molina.  This sort of outing is what makes foreign service life so fascinating.

Musa Market Shoppers.

Musa Market 1

Musa Market Shoppers.

Going to Musa, or another similar local wet market, is always a worthwhile experience for gringos to experience while in Peru.  It puts you in touch with what food looks like outside of the sanitized confines of modern supermarkets.  Sorry little Dorothy, chicken does not naturally come quartered and wrapped in cellophane on a Styrofoam tray.

Musa Market, La Molina Chickens.

Musa Market, La Molina Chickens. Sorry Little Dorothy!

So if you get a chance while visiting Lima, head out to La Molina’s Musa market.  It’s relatively safe, especially if you go in a group and way less expensive than any supermarket.  We paid less than 30 Soles ($10) for a pineapple, a pomegranate, four maracuyas, a cocoa pod, a bunch of baby bananas, a papaya, and a two-pound bag of cocktail potatoes.

Musa Market Fruit Seller.

Musa Market Fruit Seller. 

Musa Market Purple Corn and Inca Potatoes.

Musa Market Purple Corn and Inca Potatoes.

Such a fun outing on hot, late summer day is to be followed by what I call an Inca Royale – it’s really a mimosa made with Peruvian chicha in lieu of orange juice!

Musa Market Flower Lady and Daughter.

Musa Market Flower Lady and Daughter.

Cheers!

The Road to Antioquia, Peru

Okay it’s late and I’m tired, but I need to mention the hidden little gem of Antioquia which is just outside of Lima; bug bites and all.  Or better still, let me tell you about the road you take to get up there.  Foreign Service life is about exploring new places anyhow.

Curving Roadway

Curving Roadway

Antioquia is a quaint little village located 64 kilometers east of Lima in the Lurin river valley.  Like most little towns in Peru it counts with a tiny church, a plaza de armas (i.e., a main square), bodegas, and the occasional B&B.  Unlike other towns Diplomonkey has so far visited, Antioquia’s buildings are decorated with whimsical painted motifs and biblical passages.  The town is set along the Lurin river, where there is enough water to permit agriculture despite the desiccated surroundings – ah so many quinces, apples, peppers, and a plethora of mangos that just make the month water.

Putin River Valley

Upper Lurin River Valley

But for today let’s not focus on the destination but on the road to Antioquia.  I guess this post is really about a case of the means to an end sort of scenario.  Diplomonkey, true to form, again is losing focus; bad monkey, focus!

Church at Sisicaya

Church at Sisicaya, Halfway Mark

Right!  So the drive up into the Andes takes a leisurely two hours each way, which reminds me that I need to get new tires for the Jeep.  Focus Diplomonkey, focus!

Antioquia Road 2

Truck parked on the Cliff

Okay so we leave La Molina and head east towards Cieneguilla and beyond. The kilometers slowly click by as we traverse badly eroded roads along cliff sides.  Huge boulders, precariously balanced on smaller slabs of rock give way eventually to a series rickety bridges and packs of wild dogs.  Begone ye beasties, away from my Nikon D2.  From my FCS buddy, I know that most of these bridges might be American made ones; the Chinese ones on the other hand tend to fall into the crevasses. Oh what fun!

Bridge on the road to Antioquia

Bridge on the road to Antioquia

Anyhow, tonight I will let the pictures speak for themselves.  Once the weather improves, I will head out again and get some pictures of the town.  And surely next time  I will take some industrial strength bug spray; off to the MED Unit tomorrow for antihistamines.

Thanksgiving in Lima, Gringo-style

Diplomonkey’s first Thanksgiving Day in Lima sees the return of Pandora’s box. No foolish mortals, we are not discussing mythology today but rather talking about grilling Gringo-style.

Old Diplomonkey is giddy as a schoolboy; having received for his birthday, and just in time for Thanksgiving, a brand new, shiny black Weber kettle grill. You can almost see him jumping up and down for joy.

Weber Grill: Bits and Pieces

Weber Black Kettle Grill: The Parts

Inspired by the grill’s arrival, Diplomonkey volunteers to cook a full turkey just like in Virginia. The arrival of the Weber spares Diplomonkey however the need to jury-rig his Hibachi for the festive task. Wifie is, let’s say, so very happy.

The Samster, the helpful little dude that he is, gets into the spirit of the holiday, assisting Diplomonkey assemble the instrument of American culinary might. Weber proudly made in Palatine, Illinois without a doubt produces one of the best charcoal grills out there. Diplomonkey has used one to make whole leg of lamb and lamb kabobs, steak, beef ribs, and even beer-can chicken. Heck, even paella in a cast iron pan was cooked to the wonder and delight of friends and neighbors.

Weber Grill Technitian

Weber Grill Assembly Technician

Turkey 5

The Weber Kettle Grill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But let’s cut to the chase. Into the Weber go two bags of Kingsford’s finest mesquite charcoal. Once fully lit, Diplomonkey arranges coals his coals in a circle of fire. Tomasito (i.e., Tommy), our Peruvian gobbler makes his appearance and on the grill he goes – sorry, no presidential pardon for our 20-pounder Tomasito.

Tomasito, before...

Tomasito, before…

Tomasito, after!

…and Tomasito after!

After three hours of crackling and sizzling, the Weber’s lid comes off followed by the sweet smell of grilled, succulent turkey. Enjoying a turkey drumstick on your behalf,

Cheers from Peru.