Kuzoozangpo La

Hello from the “Land of the Thunder Dragon!” 

I am currently writing from the Kingdom of Bhutan, which is also known as “The Land of the Thunder Dragon.” This landlocked country nestled between the mountains and conveniently located near the Himalayas is definitely a piece of heaven on earth, especially after having spent some time in Delhi!

Getting ready to board the plane 🙂

🙂 Amazing view of the Mt. Everest from my window seat 🙂 

“Because I’m happy…. Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth… Because I’m happy!”

Known for its “Gross National Happiness,” the Kingdom of Bhutan definitely blew me away as soon as my Druk Air airplane at the airport landed in Paro! Indeed, for the past few week, I have discovered a series of landscapes of extraordinary beauty from Bhutan’s majestic mountains and thick forests, to the country’s grand architecture and traditional culture. Since “a picture is worth a thousand words,” I invite you to please take a look at the photos below!

  • Paro

Can you tell how excited I am to finally be in Bhutan? 

IMG_2750Picture time after a deepening my knowledge of Bhutan’s history and culture at The National Museum of Bhutan

  • Thimphu

Being in Bhutan for a week definitely brought me happiness.. and a much-needed peace!

 Scenic views of Thimphu’s high peaks

A rainbow in the sky ❤

IMG_2766Bhutan’s national animal (the Takin) at the Motithang Takin Preserve 

IMG_2784The National Memorial Chorten which was built by Her Majesty Queen Phuntsho Choden Wangchuck in memory of her son, the Third King of Bhutan

Thimphu Valley in the background

Buddha Point

DSC_0207View of the Thimphu Valley

DSC_0317Tashichho Dzong also known as the “fortress of the glorious religion”

IMG_2794❤ Bhutanese Kira ❤

  • Punakha

Punhaka Valley from a Dzong

DSC_0374Incredibly beautiful scenery in the background ❤

Paddy fields in the Punakha Valley

DSC_0417Rice paddy field!

DSC_0420Getting there was not a piece of rice cake 😉

IMG_2799Rice farmers in the Punhaka Valley

IMG_2800Rice farmers at work 😉 

IMG_2817Buddhist monks ❤

IMG_2844Buddhist nuns ❤

IMG_2856Bhutanese monks playing traditional musical instruments

IMG_2846Small circle 

IMG_2864What happiness looks like ❤

No caption needed 😉

I picked a name for my future baby (no, I am not pregnant 😉 ) at the Chime Lhakhang Monastery 

Kaadinchhey La

I would like to thank my Bhutanese hosts (you know who you are 😉 )from the bottom of my ❤ for your kindness and warm hospitality! My stay in Bhutan was beyond incredible and  will remain engraved forever in my memory! THANK YOU ❤

NAMASTE!

IMG_2097Kashmere Gate

It’s been one week since I landed at New Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport and a lot has been happened since.

No Money, More Problems

Unfortunately for me, my debit card suddenly stopped working while I was in Brazil. Although I brought an extra credit card as to ensure that I could get cash anytime and anywhere, I sadly encountered a major issue with this card ….. my payments would not go through! As a result, I called the Visa Hotline (following the advice of my Bank of America’s banker) and a representative assured me that I would receive a replacement card in the next 48 hours. A week later, I called back the Visa’s hotline to inquire why I still have not received my replacement card. To my biggest disappointment, the representative told me that Bank of America refused to authorize the issuance of my replacement card, arguing that I was “unreachable,” when in reality, I provided the first Visa representative with my contact information. While I was able to use some of the cash I had left in both Italy and Tanzania, I did not think that my money woes could turn my biggest dream of traveling to India into my biggest nightmare!

The Unfolding of My Worst Nightmare

After a two-hour connection in the Sultanate of Oman, I finally arrived in New Delhi. While I was greeted by the warmth (and the humidity) of the city, I could not help but think about the fact that I only had $10 in my pocket. Nonetheless, knowing that my mom wired me some funds via Western Union tamed my fear of remaining stranded at the airport. I decided to look for a taxi driver who would drive me to the closest Western Union agency before driving me to my hotel in Jangpura. I found two taxi drivers who appeared to show some understanding and offered me to drive me to the closest Western Union location. They offered to carry my luggage to the car while I kept asking them how much they were going to charge me for the ride. After putting forth the argument that the Western Union was “right by the airport,” they ensured me that my ride would be extremely cheap.

After finally getting in the car (after both of the drivers showed me their taxi driver ID cards), I soon realized that I had just embarked on a crazy journey. As I kept asking them to give me a definite price, they finally told me how much they were going to charge me for their services: $80 for the ride to the “nearby” Western Union and $200 for the ride to my hotel in Jangpura. As I kept calling into question their lack of honesty and integrity, the driver sped off as the other taxi driver attempted to calm me down. As things were getting out of control, I told them to drive me back to the airport, where I planned to seek the help of a police officer—something I should have done as soon as I arrived in Delhi. They then proceed to accost a man who was riding a motorcycle and tried to make me believe that he was a police officer and that I could talk to him. I adamantly refused to do so and in an act of utter despair, I decided to stuck my head out of the window and screamed for help. Panicked, they finally turned around and drove me back to the Delhi international airport.

There, I walked to the police station and a nice police officer who walked me to the prepaid taxi booth located where I met an Indian man who kindly offered to exchange my American dollars for the local currency. Having received 500 rupees, I finally was able to secure a cheap and most importantly a safe taxi to go pick up my much-needed money at the closest Western Union location before heading off for my hotel in Jangpura. In total, I ended up paying 500 rupees (approximately $10) for the whole ordeal, which as you can see was undoubtedly cheaper than the $280 I would have had to pay if I would have listened to the first two taxi drivers.

*Moral of the story* Do not be fooled by the artificial kindness of fake taxi drivers! Instead, seek the help of a police officer and/or find a taxi at the closest prepaid taxi station!

Overwhelming Traffic

As I was on my way to the Western Union, I quickly became overwhelmed by Delhi’s massive traffic jam. Cars, pedestrians, stray animals, bicycles, motorcycles, tuk tuk bikes and rickshaws were everywhere and I soon came to the realization that most actors showed a blatant disregard for traffic rules. As a matter of fact, I was quite impressed by my driver’s ability to hit the brakes in an abrupt manner whenever it was necessary. After siting in the taxi for four hours, I finally made it to my hotel in Jangpura and was relieved by the quietness of the place. Having experienced Delhi’s traffic put me in a state of shock and as a result, I took some time off from the Delhi’s scene and remained in my hotel room the following day as to recharge my batteries.

IMG_2104Delhi’s traffic congestion 

IMG_6319A bull caught in traffic!

Getting Around in Delhi (the Good and the Bad)

Despite being in Delhi for well over a week, I have yet to adjust to this fast-paced city. In truth, Delhi’s overcrowded streets, motorcycles, cars, rickshaws (and their unabated honk), coupled with its overbearing smell of incense, spices, urine, food and garbage have been THE culture shock of my circumnavigation thus far! Nonetheless, I still managed to get around the city to visit its incredible historical sites, and of course to deepen my understanding of women’s land rights and food security in the country.

IMG_6363 Food stands on the streets of Delhi

To move through the streets of Delhi, I heavily relied on the city’s rickshaws and on the bicycle taxis (both pictured below), which are available on every single street corner and are not very expensive if you are lucky enough to find an honest driver. Indeed, 99.9% of the rickshaw drivers (according to my own experience)  overcharge tourists (sometimes up to 50% of the real cost) and often refuse to turn on the meter when you ask them to. As a result, my short stay in Delhi helped me to hone my negotiation skills since I had to bargain every single ride with the drivers. In one particular instance for example, a rickshaw driver wanted to charge me 150 rupees to go from my hostel which is located in Greater Kailash 1 to Nizamuddin East. After negotiating a fare with the driver (who by the way was not willing to yield, I went back inside the hostel and asked an employee (a Delhi’s native) to hail a rickshaw and negotiate the fare with another rickshaw driver while I hid inside. As expected, the rickshaw driver offered him a much lower fare (he asked him to pay 60 rupees) and was fairly disappointed when he realized that the ride was for me…. a tourist.

IMG_6315A driver patiently waiting for a customer in his ricksaw

IMG_6323A taxi bicycle on the streets of Delhi

IMG_6310Another driver patiently waiting for a customer in his taxi bicycle 

In other instances, I also utilized Delhi’s brand new Metro subway system because of it gave me the opportunity to move around Delhi easily, fairly cheaply, and most importantly, stress-free. The first time I took the Metro, I was not aware of its “Women Only” car so I made due with a crowded mixed car, and it was not a pleasant experience. Thankfully, I was beyond elated when I heard about the “Women Only” first coach car and I had since been able to escape the intruding male-gaze. 🙂

IMG_2089“Women Only” section of Delhi’s Metro

Metting Dr. Bina Agarwal

Despite these few uncomfortable incidents, my stay in Delhi has been a blessing for my research! Indeed, besides meeting with important knowledgable key stakeholders at the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the Food Security Institute, the Human Development Institute and Landesa, I had the immense pleasure of meeting THE most knowledgable person in the world on the issue of development economics with a specific focus on women’s livelihoods. Before coming to India, I sent an email to Dr. Bina Agarwal (the author of the ground-breaking book called A Field of One’s Own) in which I asked her whether we could have a face-to-face conversation on the linkages between women’s land tenure and property rights (or lack thereof)  and food security in India and in the developing world. I was not expecting a response from her since she’s extremely busy traveling around the world and teaching in the U.K. but she did! She apologized for the delayed response and offered me to come to her apartment for a sit-down later in the afternoon. I took a rickshaw to her apartment and after going through Delhi’s notorious traffic jam, I finally met Dr. Agarwal! At first, I was bit intimidated by her presence but she was extremely nice and offered me some tea with some delicious biscuits! Having Dr. Agarwal’s perspective on my research truly was a blessing from above since she gave me a lot of pieces of advice on how I could approach my research and structure my paper. Namaste!

imageDr. Bina Agarwal and I 🙂 

Beware of the Pickpockets!

Yesterday, I finally decided to venture around Delhi in order to visit its rich historical and cultural heritage. Another woman traveler at my hostel decided to join the party and we first took a rickshaw to the closest Metro stop: Kalaish Colony. From there, we went on to visit the Kashmere Gate, the Red Fort, the Jain Red Temple & Bird Hospital, the Chandini Chowk market, the Rajghat: Tomb of Mahatma Gandhi, India Gate, the Lodi Garden, Humayun’s Tomb and the Lotus Temple. While we got quite accustomed to men openly staring at us (and following us in some instances), things went from bad to worse when we first were surrounded by 30 men who were obsessively taking pictures of us before three ladies attempted to steal my wallet. The ladies who were in the 40s approach us we were talking to the rickshaw driver and pretended to be interested in his services. Then all of us sudden, I noticed that the lady to my right was giving my wallet to the lady who was to her right and and then all hell broke loose. I grabbed both of the ladies by their arms and shook them up (just a little bit) until they finally dropped it to the ground. I shook them up one more time (just a little bit 😉 ) and looked for a police officer but unfortunately there was no police officer in sight so they managed to escaped without be brought to justice! I any case, I was beyond thankful to the Man above for helping recover my passport, which was in the wallet.

IMG_2107The Red Fort 

IMG_2094Kashmere Gate

IMG_2092Kashmere Gate

IMG_2100Kashmere Gate – the bench was extremely hot! Haha

IMG_2102Kashmere Gate- here is a better picture where I tried to smile to the best of my abilities ;

IMG_2123Rajghat – the late Mahatma Gandhi’s resting place

IMG_2129Rajghat

IMG_2142Rajghat

IMG_2132Rajghat

IMG_6624India Gate

IMG_6625India Gate

IMG_2156Tower near India Gate

IMG_2160Tower near India Gate

IMG_6439The Beautiful Lotus Temple

IMG_6453The Lotus Temple

IMG_6386The Lotus Temple

IMG_6670Qitub Minar

IMG_6335Qitub Minar

IMG_6714 Qitub Minar

Braaaaaaaaaaasil!

Policia! Policia!

My experience in Brazil is certainly a bit different from my experience in Peru although getting there was a bit more complicated than I expected. Indeed, after taking a plane from Cusco to Lima, I was pulled over by four Peruvian police officers (and their German Shepherd) at the Lima airport and brought to a backroom in order to inspect my luggages.

In truth, I was the only person of color waiting to do my check-in with TAM Airlines and happened to be the only person to be pulled over for the alleged random routine check. After telling me that I was being inspected because I was traveling alone to Brazil and held a EU passport (and could be bringing cocaine into Brazil), the police proceeded with their inspection and removed every single item from my backpack. Despite my anger, I remained calm and patient during this ordeal, which unfortunately resulted in me missing my connection flight to São Paulo. After paying $100 to book another flight, and waiting 11 hours at the Lima airport, I finally was on my way for Brazil.

IMG_0865The infamous passport that I got me into an undesirable predicament 🙂

Bem-vindo ao Brasil

I arrived in Brasilia at 3:00pm and rushed to my first interview, which thankfully was rescheduled to 5:00pm since missing my flight also resulted in me missing my interview at 9:00am. I met with three representatives of the Movimiento de Mulheres Camponesas, which is commonly referred to as MMC Brasil. The interview truly was informative because speaking with these women who advocate for Brazilian women farmers helped me deepened my understanding of women’s rights to land (or lack thereof) in the country.

IMG_0870Welcome sign at Brasilia International Airport 😉

After the interview, the three ladies offered me to spend the night at their apartment because of its convenient location near Brasilia’s Esplanada dos Ministérios (Ministries Esplanade), where I had an appointment in the morning. After having dinner at a local restaurant where I ate some rice and beans, we headed back home where I finally was able to get some rest.

In the morning, we headed to the headquarters of the Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária (commonly referred to as INCRA) where learned about Brazil’s agrarian reform and how it has impacted the lives of millions of Brazilian women farmers. Besides, going to INCRA not only deepened my understanding of the contrast between family farming and corporate agribusiness, but also had a positive impact on my stay in Brazil. Indeed, at lunchtime, Tânia (from MMC Brasil) took me to INCRA’s cafeteria where I had the opportunity to eat some feijão com arroz (rice and black beans) accompanied with some meat for 6 reals (approximately $2.70)! The reason why eating having lunch at INCRA affected my stay is because eating out in Brasilia in extremely expensive! Thereafter, I started having lunch at INCRA in order to save money and eat well!

IMG_0871 Meeting at INCRA with Karen (left) and Tânia (right)

IMG_0899 My deliciiiious and cheap meal at INCRA

Brasília, A Planned City

IMG_0897View of the Esplanada dos Ministérios and of the Brasília Cathedral 

IMG_0896Front view of the Esplanada dos Ministérios

Safety First

In comparison to Peru, the winter weather in Brasilia was fairly warm and in general, Brazilians seemed “happier” than the vast majority of the Peruvians I met in Lima and Cusco. Nonetheless, being in Brazil during a much-disputed football World Cup certainly deepened my awareness of the country’s growing inequalities between the different social classes in the country. Thanks to the email alerts that I received from the International SOS Security Advisories, I was able to adapt my travels (and safety precautions) around the city as to avoid the sporadic protests that have been organized in Brasilia. Nonetheless, I felt fairly safe while I was in the city although I have to admit that I was often quite hesitant to pull out my camera and take pictures around the city. Here are a few shots a the city:

IMG_0900Brasília Cathedral

IMG_0902Inside Brasília Cathedral

IMG_0912Brasiília Cathedral

IMG_0898The Museu Nacional da República (National Museum of the Republic)

Meeting my Amazing Host Family

On a relatively bright note, I was blessed to have a wonderful host family in Brasilia. As a matter of fact, I was introduced to Gustavo, Ana Paula and their British Bulldog Boris by Alicia, a fellow Hoya who studied abroad in Rio last summer. Ana Paula and Gustavo not only offered me food and shelter during my time in Brasilia, but also were very patient during our countless conversations in which we all used “Portuñol” and English to get our messages across. Gustavo and Ana Paula not only made me feel home but also helped me explore Brazil’s tasty dishes and soothing Bossa Nova music.

IMG_1108Gustavo (left), Boris (center) and Ana Paula (right)

IMG_1102Boris would give Jack the Bulldog a run for his money! 🙂

 

Visiting San Pedro Market & Saqsaywaman Inca Ruins

Yesterday morning, I took a taxi to Avenida Argentina (I paid S/.5.00) where I met with Sra. Gloria Velasco Jauregui and Sr. Max Cahuata Pilaves of Centro para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos (CEDEP) Ayllu. My interview went pretty well as I learned a bit more about the land tenure systems and the food security not only in Cusco but also in its neighboring areas.

Visiting Mercado Central de San Pedro

After my interview, I paid S/. 5.00 for a taxi to the San Pedro Market and walked around the market for two hours.

2014-05-30 14.43.13-1Entrance to the Mercado Central de San Pedro

I was mesmerized by the pulchritude of the market where one can find traditional Quechua clothing, cute souvenirs and delicious Peruvian food. I ventured through the market in the quest of a “montera,” a colorful traditional Quechua hat worn by women in the Andes—and found one in a tiny shop near the entrance of the market. The owner of the shop gladly let me try a highly sophisticated montera along with a traditional Quechua k’eperina—a rectangular ornamented piece of cothing used by Quechan women to carry goods and children. Need I mention that my colorful attire drew the attention of dozens of shoppers in the market who instantly stared at me in surprise disbelief! Nonetheless, after two weeks in Peru, I have gotten used to the attention as many people have come to me and expressed their “surprise” to see a person of my complexion roaming around the streets of Peru.

2014-05-30 15.05.44What do you guys think of my montera?

After walking for two hours around the market, I decided to try of San Pedro’s famous jugos (fruits juice). Martha, the owner of a fruit juice stall fixed me a fruits juice made of fresh pineapples, bananas, apples and passion fruits. The concoction was delicious and only cost me S/. 3.00 ($1).

2014-05-30 15.23.27-1The juice was delicious!

After staring at my hands, Martha gave me a fresh leave of aloe vera as a remedy for my dry skin. In truth, since I landed in Cusco, my skin has been peeling off the palm of my hands because of the cold and the dry air caused by the altitude and as a result, no matter how much Aveeno lotion I put on my hands, my hands remain extremely dry! Martha’s generosity exemplifies the kindness of the vast majority of Peruvians whether in Lima or in Cusco!

2014-05-30 15.31.49-1This aloe vera leaf truly was a gift from above for my hands as it not only alleviated the itching, but also the extreme dryness! 

Visiting Saqsaywaman

Since I had plenty of time on my hands, I decided to visit the Inca ruins of Saqsaywaman, which are located 2 km from Cusco’s historic center. I took a taxi to Saqsaywaman and paid S./ 10.00for the short trip. I was beyond excited to see the ruins and I had my ISIC card in hand in order to qualify for the student fee of S/. 70.00 ($23) instead of the regular foreigners fee of S./ 130.00 ($43). The taxi driver walked me to the ticket counter where a lady refused to give me a student discount because I did not have my Georgetown University student ID. This encounter definitely left me perplexed owing to the ground that I produced the same document at the Museo Larco in Lima and was awarded a student discount! After noticing my huge disappointment, the taxi driver offered to drive me around the ruins for free as he reinsured me that the scenery in Machu Pichu will have me forget about this encounter.

Below are a few snapshots of my “visit” of Saqsaywaman:

2014-05-30 16.11.44-1Inca ruins

2014-05-30 16.03.59-1Inca ruins

2014-05-30 16.21.05-1El Cristo Blanco

2014-05-30 16.22.01-1Aren’t we lovely?

The view was amazing and the taxi driver was kind enough to make a few stops as to allow me to take a few pictures of the landscape. Thanks to his kindness, I completely forgot about my earlier dismissal and I thoroughly enjoyed my private tour! As we made our way back to the hostel, I offered him S./ 20.00 because I did not want to abuse his generosity but he declined my offer and only charged me S./10.00! While this anecdote, which could have easily left a bitter taste in my mouth, it definitely put an emphasis on how kind people are in Peru.

!Que Lindo es Cusco!

Welcome to Cusco

After an hour-long flight from Lima, I finally arrived in Cusco yesterday morning at 8:40am. Although I have to admit that I was a bit tired, I held my ground against a taxi driver who wanted to charge me S/. 55.00 ($20) for a ride to my hostel while I was advised to pay no more than S/. 15.00 ($5) for the ride. After a three-minute long argument, the driver finally agreed to drive me to my hostel for S/. 12.00!

2014-05-28_09.05.38-1View of Cusco from Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport

I am currently staying at the Pariwana hostel on Avenidad Meson Estrella, which is only two blocks away from the Plaza San Francisco. This hostel is a tad bigger than the Pariwana hostel in Lima but the staff is equally nice! After dropping off my backpack to my hostel, I paid S/. 5.00 ($2) for a taxi to Quispicanchis, where I met with Sra. Liw, the Program Director of the Programa de Adaptacion al Cambio Calimarico (PACC). After joking about my alleged invincibility to the altitude, I found myself feeling dizzy an hour into the interview! Thankfully, Sra. Liw gave me some mate de coca, a tea infusion made from leaves of coca to alleviate my altitude sickness. I felt so much better and headed back to my hostel for a much-needed nap! Although I could not wait to visit the historical center of Cusco, I made the decision to stay at the hostel and sip on some more mate de coca.

After a good night of sleep in my all-girl room — for which I pay S/. 35.00 a night ($12.65) — I woke up early to make it to the two interviews I had scheduled for the day. Both of my interviews went well and I decided to stroll around the streets of Cusco in order to get acquainted with its unique culture and history.

I decided to walk around the Plaza de Armas, where tourists and locals were enjoying the sun. As I strolled around what used to the center of the Inca Empire, I was stunned by the beauty of its Spanish colonial style as well as by the statue of an Inca at the center of the Plaza.

2014-05-29 18.20.56-1Plazas de Armas

2014-05-29 16.14.20-1Iglesia de San Francisco (located right across the street from the Plaza de Armas)

!Hola Llama!

After walking for a few hours around the city, I finally ran into several women who were accompanied with baby llamas! I was extremely happy because I was really looking forward to holding one when I arrived in Cusco! After paying S/. 4.00 ($1.45) for 4 pictures, my dream finally came through – as you can see in the pictures below!

2014-05-29 18.07.32This picture would make a nice postcard!

2014-05-29 18.10.30-1The llama’s fur was so soft!

2014-05-29 17.52.29Cheese!

2014-05-29 17.53.29-1My favorite picture! He looks so innocent!

Having fulfilled one of my utmost wishes, I walked back to my hostel where I drank some coca tea to alleviate my altitude sickness and called it a day.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

In my free time (yes, I had some), I was fortunate enough to visit some Peru’s marvelous treasures. My visits of the Museo de Sitio Huaca Pucllana and of the Rafael Larco Museo truly were unforgettable and enabled me to deepen my meager knowledge of the Peru’s rich history.

Visiting Museo de Sitio Huaca Pucllana

Huaca Pucllana is located in Miraflores, just a few blocks from my hostel. After having seen what Lima had to offer, going there was a breath of fresh air! This key archaeological site was revealed 30 years ago and has been built about 1,600 years ago by the inhabitants of Lima who primarily used the site as a religious locus. The site consists of the remains of a main pyramid and a few other small buildings around, which I got to visit after paying S/. 5.00 to join a guided tour.

2014-05-25 14.39.50Incredible view of the “old Lima” v. the “new” Lima

2014-05-25 14.52.52Reconstitution of a ritual

2014-05-25 14.51.24Remains of the main pyramid (side view)

2014-05-25 14.38.31 HDRRemains of the main pyramid (front view)

During the tour, I learned that every single adobe was made of earth mixed with water which was supplied by irrigation channels. Each piece was handmade and took from 2-3 days or to 2-3 weeks to dry according to the season. All adobes are vertical (as you can see below), with a small space between the pieces to prevent collapse in case of earthquake.

2014-05-25 14.59.15 HDRLayout of adobes

At the Plaza de los Ancestros, I had the opportunity to visit the remains of a Wari tomb in which a man, a woman and three sacrificed babies have been buried. According to the Waris, death came from another world and infants, who were considered pure (and therefore close to the divinities) were used as guide to the after-world. Hence, whenever a member of a wealthy family died, a baby coming from a poor family was chosen, executed in a pretty gruesome manner (I’ll spare you the details) before being buried in the grave with the dead. Similarly, women and girls between 12 and 25 years were also sacrificed either with their children, or on the grounds that they were “pure” virgins. Nonetheless, as mentioned by the guide, being chosen to guide the dead was an honor not only for the ones being sacrificed, but also for their families.

2014-05-25 14.48.29Inside one of the tombs

Visiting the Rafael Larco Museo

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A Taste of Lima

Peru is a country of indescribable beauty and I took advantage of this opportunity to discover Peru’s culinary specialties. While many restaurants across Lima offer cuisine from around the world, I decided to focus on the gastronomy that best represents the identity of Peruvians.

Since I was meeting Sra. Milagros Castro for lunch, she took me to a restaurant called Altamar, a seafood restaurant located on Av. Jose Pardo in Miraflores. There, I ordered a menu for S/. 25.00 ($9) and ordered a ceviche and a dish made of beans, rice and beef with a chicha morada—a traditional Peruvian water-based punch made of boiled purple corn, pineapple peel and cinnamon. The punch was amazingly refreshing and very low in calories!

2014-05-23 13.08.19

Ceviche con chicha morada!

The ceviche, which is a must try was amazing! The dish is made of fish or raw seafood cut into small pieces before being marinated in leche de tigre (lime juice) with peppers.

2014-05-23 13.09.39

Ceviche

2014-05-23 13.30.26

Arroz con frijoles

This other dish made of beans, rice and beef was equally delicious although I was not able to finish it because I was llena (full)!

During my stay in Lima, I also decided to try some pollo a la brasa (roast chicken), which is one of Peru’s specialties! I walked to Norky’s, which is located in Miraflores and a dish of pollo a la brasa for S/. 16.90 ($6). Because Peruvian cuisine often uses a lot of potatoes (after all, Peru’s International Potato Center hosts more than 4,000 varieties of potatoes), the roast chicken served in a quarter was accompanied with plenty of French fries! The roast chicken was amazingly good, tender and well-seasoned!

2014-05-22 13.35.37

Pollo a la brasa con papas (French fries)

Last but not least, I also ate some arroz con pollo (chicken over rice) in a nice restaurant called Restaurante Javier in Barranco. The restaurant was located just one block away from the Pacific Ocean and as a result, the view was amazing! The arrow con pollo was decently priced as I just paid S/. 13.00 ($6). When I saw my plate, I have to admit that I was a bit surprised because the piece of chicken was huge! The chicken was cooked with different herbs and served with both a serving of rice AND a serving of fries!

2014-05-25 16.20.30

Arroz con pollo

I also ordered a bottle of Inca Kola, which is Peru’s national soda. The yellow soda had a flavor of bubble gum and was extremely high in calories, which is the reason why I only had a cup!