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!

An Afternoon at the Car Museum

One of Lima’s hidden treasures, one a bit off the beaten track is the Asociación Museo del Automóvil – Colección Nicolini in La Molina.  This classic car collection is just spectacular – Jay Leno would be jealous.

Diplomonkey found it by happens chance driving out to countryside one day, making a mental note to go back there with the little dudes.  Off to the museum head the dynamic trio one grey Lima afternoon.

Car Museum Tickets

Car museum tickets, kid and adult entrance fees.

As soon as we enter the first showroom we see an incredible collection of classic cars spanning automotive history.  Dreams of racing cars and deep desert rallies become tangible to Diplomonkey in an instant.  As evidenced by the cars’ showroom appearance, all are fully restored and drivable.  A whiff of gasoline here, a smudge of oil there, are evidence of recent use.

Car Museum 3c

The shop is itself worthy of a lengthy visit.  Cars drawn from the four corners of Peru – coastal deserts, mountain highlands, jungle lowlands – are lovingly restored here; with parts fabricated on site when originals can no longer be sourced.

Definitively Diplomonkey must return to get higher resolution, more diverse pictures with the Nikon.  Until then, here is another teaser.

Car Museum 2c

Cheers, Diplomonkey!

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.

Robotic T-Rex – Terror of Lima’s La Molina District!

Diplomonkey, in a moment of fatherly magnanimity, acquires for Sam-the-man-Sam a build-it-yourself solar-powered T-Rex robot while awaiting his Houston-to-Lima flight. The senior chimp could not pass up the opportunity to get the Samster a robot that we could build as father-and-son project, combining little big man’s fascination of dinosaurs with automatons.

Solar Robot T-Rex - Terror of Lima's La Molina

Solar Robot T-Rex – Terror of Lima’s La Molina District!

So with much fanfare out comes the robot kit, and of course the “toolbox,” itself a hodgepodge of bits-and-pieces that escaped going into storage in Virginia and tools purchased in Egypt and afterwards while on evacuation in Washington. All-in-all assembly progress quickly until the Diplomonkey father-and-son team encounters a technical setback. Oh no!

Robot4

Super Secret Robot Assembly Tools

Robot T-Rex Parts & Instructions

Robot T-Rex Parts & Instructions

In Virginia a missing screw and washer would mean a trip back to the store for an exchange or a refund. In our case, the store being a few thousand miles away kind of rules out that option. So the father-and-son team does the next best thing; improvising by channeling the skills of its tool building hominid forebears, fashioning a new washer out of cardboard and repurposing a second-hand screw from an old laptop. Heck, we didn’t need to cannibalize parts from other toys – certainly the Toy Story characters are proud of us.

With assembly complete, followed of course by a congratulatory high-five, the Diplomonkey team proceeds to charge up its robotic T-Rex on a sunny Lima Sunday afternoon. Although the robot is not as fast as we would have hoped for, it works and beats the bolts off another robot.

Robotic T-Rex Running

Robotic T-Rex Running – Plastic Forks Optional

With the sun driving the robot, the Samster discovers that his shadow will fossilize the terrifying robotic T-Rex dead in its tracks. Lessons in robotics and solar energy make for a great a father-and-son project. Not too bad for a lazy Sunday afternoon in Lima.

Cheers!

Exploring Lima’s Craft Market with the Dudes

Just back in time from stateside travel to enjoy the Columbus Day holiday, Diplomonkey is off with the family to Lima’s mercado artesanal (i.e., native crafts market) in Miraflores.  In the Foreign Service there is nothing better than a U.S. holiday overseas with the family; it feels…just like playing hooky from school, but in this case it’s federally sanctioned.  Yippee, Uncle Sam really must love me!

Lima Craft Market Sculpture

Lima Craft Market Sculpture – A Mounted Picador

So the Diplos pile into the Jeep.  Up over the mountain and across Lima’s concrete and asphalted coastal plain we are off towards the coast eight miles and an hour away on a good day.  The dudes of course fall asleep, which gives wifie and Diplomonkey a chance for some adult conversation time.  Should have stopped for Starbucks, darn it.

GPS-less, but with a Google map on the iPhone we arrive in the general vicinity and find covered, secure parking in a wonky department store lot for 5 Soles per hour – not a bad deal.

So the intrepid Diplo explorers begin their search for handicrafts and especially for Chullos, the classic Peruvian wool hat with ear flaps – Diplomonkey is getting flashbacks of Nirvana and the age of grunge.

Okay, I guess I’m once again digressing.  The handicrafts are Christmas presents for family stateside, the Chullos for the dudes’ Christmas photos.  Little cousin Sophie scores a Chullo and an Alpaca wool dress – very fashionable I dare say so for an eight month-old.

Peruvian Good Luck Bulls

Peruvian Good Luck Bulls

Okay so it’s not Cairo’s Khan el Khalili, but cool nonetheless.  Need to go back for chess sets, local rugs, silver, and maybe some mounted creepy crawlies for the guys.

Lima Craft Market

Lima Craft Market

Lima Craft Market - Creepy Crawlies

Craft Market – Creepy Crawlies

Peruvian Country Scene

Lima Craft Market – Peruvian Country Scene

Mission accomplished, partly, but now running on empty we search out local eateries for sustenance.  The Diplos by happens chance come across a hole in the wall café, a true “Rincón de los Famosos” that brings back teary eye memories of a somewhat similar one from a Miami now a lifetime away.  Get some spectacular mocha coffee, sorry Starbucks for my transgression, some alfajores, and exquisite little cheese sandwiches, crepes, and freshly made lemonade.

Craft Market Mocha Coffee

Craft Market Mocha Coffee

Ah life is good in Lima’s Miraflores, even the sun appears.

Cheers from a Chullo wearing, mocha coffee drinking Diplomonkey.

Diplomonkey, Naughty Monkey

Having received special dispensation from the powers that be to travel to Washington at the last moment for negotiations, Diplomonkey hit the road running on a fine Lima Saturday evening.

After a plus two-hour drive to Jorge Chavez International Airport, Diplomonkey finally arrives and proceeds to check in for his United Airlines flight to Washington via Newark. Thanks to his foresight he had checked in earlier that day, opting to use some of his hard-earned dollars to buy an Economy Plus upgrade.  Unfortunately, United does not currently accept bananas as form of payment.

Running short on time thanks to Lima’s ridiculously heavy traffic, Diplomonkey forewent his usual pre-flight Starbucks coffee mocha with whipped cream and alfajor fix – Diplomonkey sad, so sad.  However with security quickly cleared, on board United’s really nice Boeing 757-200, and settled into his plush Economy plus seat, Diplomonkey is enjoying life.

But it gets better. United’s in flight on demand video is great (got to watch 300: Rise of an Empire, Ancient Aliens, and even a Tom Cruise movie – which is always fun to ding) and had a spectacular meal.  The food, even in economy, was not just palatable but really awesome this time.  The wine was not too shabby either.

So Diplomonkey stays up late, watches movies, gets some work reading done, and gets to see the sun rise over the USA and is so happy.  Diplomonkey had until then not seen the sun in nearly two months.  Bright blue skies even make Newark look spectacular.

Turkish Folk Festival Dancers 1

Turkish Folk Festival Dancers

Okay, Diplomonkey clears immigration and customs, collects his bag and catches his connecting flight to Washington.

Upon arrival in our nation’s capital, Diplomonkey drops off his bag at the hotel and proceeds to go exploring.  Happens across the Turkish folk festival and gets great pictures with the now well-travelled Nikon D70.

Turkish Folk Festival Dancers 2

Turkish Folk Festival Ladies

Turkish Festival Dude

Turkish Festival Dude

Food Dude at Festival

Food Dude

Turkish Folk Festival Dancer

Turkish Folk Festival Dancer

After an afternoon of photographinating, Diplomonkey in urgent need of sustenance hops on the subway and makes his way to his old haunt of Georgetown – yeah, go Hoyas – and hits Pizza Paradisso, mecca of great pizza and home to a spectacular collection of craft beers.

My other love, a Duchesse de Bourgogne

My other love, a Duchesse de Bourgogne

Diplomonkey, being the naughty monkey that he is, decides to get immediately re-acquainted with an old Belgian girlfriend of his, and none other than a Duchesse of Bourgogne that is.

With his Duchesse in hand, Diplomonkey compounds his naughtiness and orders wifie’s favorite pizza, an Atomica.

Pizza Atomica

Pizza Paradisso’s Atomica

Trappistes Rochefort #10

Trappistes Rochefort #10

Guilt ridden by his peccadillos, Diplomonkey tries to repent by hooking up with a Trappistes monk, ale that is, and orders himself a Trappistes Rochefort #10 (a quadruple ale).

Ah, life is good.

Lima, rockets, and a pig on a stick – sounds like fun!

Today is another one of those spectacularly, beautiful sunny days in Lima; that is above 2,000 feet – the FOG is again thick today, aarrgh…  So I was pondering this fine afternoon which of our latest dude adventures to write about.

Above the Lima's fog bank.

Above Lima’s fog bank.

Do I write about our visit to downtown Lima to see the changing of the presidential guard (at Pizarro’s palace), or the Transformer street performer in Miraflores, or put together something on candid street photography?  All great subjects; maybe I could even throw in something on Peruvian ceviche for good measure.

Presidential Guard.

Peruvian Presidential Guard.

Lima Transformer street performer.

Lima Transformer.

Lima banana street vendor.

Lima banana street vendor.

Okay, in the meantime Samster (Little Big Man) the budding NASA rocket scientist/astronaut comes by and asks: “Daddy, can we build a rocket when we go to Grandma’s house?”  This get’s me thinking.  Yes, there is hope; grey matter remains in the old noggin even after a week of writing briefing memorandum for not just one but two front offices and for good measure for headquarters back in Washington.

So Little Big Man and I break out that trusty reliquary of St. Jobs of Apple, yes the MacBook and start searching the Internet for the Estes V2 semi-scale model rocket (black and yellow paint pattern) that we decided on last week to build with Pop-Pop (i.e., Grandpa) during our upcoming R&R in Florida (going home for Christmas for the first time in four years – yippie).

YouTube comes to the rescue and we download a couple of the videos – really cool stuff you have to check out.  At the same time we come across also some videos of Steve Eves’s Saturn V 1:10 scale model rocket launch and of a homemade Blackbird SR-71 scale model with real working jet turbines.  These got a couple of “this is so awesome daddy” from my four year-old.

Although we have a big field in the back of U.S. Embassy Lima, not sure if they will let us shoot rockets off or attempt to fly jet turbine model airplanes despite the coolness factor.  I can just imagine what the neighbors would say of our pursuit to find blue skies.  Guess it would not meet the front page of Washington Post test either, so let’s pass and wait for a Florida launch.

So tomorrow we are off to Cieneguilla, in pursuit of some feet on the ground sort of altitude that will let us see blue skies.  Maybe we will stop at the itty bitty piggy restaurant along the way for a bite of spectacular spit roast suckling pig.  Let’s breakout the Nikon and go exploring!

Mountain pass outside of Cieneguilla.

Mountain pass outside of Cieneguilla.

 

Piggy on a stick!

Itty bitty piggy on a stick!