Thursday, May 27, 2010

What a Little Paint Can Do

Recently we had some interesting days watching a crew of painters paint our building by hand--no sprayers, just three men with paint brushes and long handled rollers. When they needed to paint the trim around the windows, they had to come into our apartment. One of the painters wrapped his arms around the one painting the trim while he hung precariously out the window, sometimes seemingly upside down, to paint the mango trim.

The building color is a khaki with "mango" trim.

This is the view from our bedroom window to the front gate in the upper left corner. The upper right corner is our study window.

The building looks so much better with the new colors and the newly painted metal fencing. We hope the owners will paint the inside halls eventually. The manager tells us it's a matter of money.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Favorite Fotos

There is no theme to this blog. The fun thing about a digital camera is that one can take pictures without the worry of wasting film. If the picture isn't good, it's deleted. So these are a few pictures of people, things, and places that caught our fancy.

President and Hna. Hacking, in Bogota, had this colorful container on their coffee table. Dad and I both wanted to know where we could find one. Their neighbor makes them--a kind of decopage and laquer art. Had we spent longer than 36 hours in Bogota, we would have gone to meet their neighbor. Hna. Hacking will bring us one like this one in October when we attend the Mission Presidents' Seminar.

This basura or garbage container was sitting by their couch. You can be sure it wasn't being used for garbage.

On the way to the airport, we passed this mattress and blanket seller not far from our apartment. Coule he pile anymore on his bike? Yes! It puts a new slant on wide load vehicles.

This man's load is so wide, he cannot see to pedal. We saw two of these crate couriers in one day last week.

In April we went to Piura for four days. When we returned, we learned we would be moving into new offices. Since late April the Area office has a new look--inside walls where there were none, walls removed, security doors moved a few feet--our old windowless but comfortable office is now the Area Secretary's office. The two executive secretaries have moved from the front door area to the newly created space to be closer to the Area Presidency. The CES secretaries have moved farther down the hall behind the moved security doors, and Dad and I have a new office with windows--a room with a view--on the second floor next to the office with the open window in the space occupied by CES (Church Education System). We are no longer in the Area Presidency offices but we have easy access with electronic keys. I also have an space in the office next to the Area Secretary's wife so, in a sense, I have two offices.

Dad and I share this office space. The day we came back from Bogota, Dad found the door locked and the keys were on the inside. A janitor had locked the door. Only a locksmith could unlock the door.
We use two computers to process the medical section of the missionary applications from the five countries, about 50 a week. I record the name and stake with its number on a legal-size white tablet. I look up the attachments--chest x-ray, labs, etc., on my laptop because his computer cannot see the attachments. If everything needed is there, the prospective missionary passes onto the Area Secretary's wife for translating into English, and then onto SLC. If something is missing, I indicate that on the white tablet and the prospective missionary's stake president is notified by the special service missionaries who come in a few hours every day.

How fun is this! London has its double decker bus. NYC has it's Sight-Seeing double decker bus.
Old Lima has a Mirabus, loosely translated look-bus. Dad and I have not taken advantage of this yet.

One afternoon we were returning from the coast with the North Americans who had three more weeks at the Lima CCM. The bus was on the narrow, Old Inca Road from the sea to San Isidro. The grass was being "hand watered" because it really doesn't rain in Lima. Lawns are hand watered, and instead of lawn mowers, lawns are cut with large scissors or a weed whackers.

And finally, lunch at Pizza Hut, with the North American missionaries--this was a favorite event for the misisonaries who still had three weeks left in the CCM. Before our trip by bus to Old Lima and the coast, we stopped at Pizza Hut for an all you can eat lunch. Because of the increasing numbers of North Americans, the Pizza Hut adventure has been dropped. I never thought I'd hear Dad say he missed the lunches at Pizza Hut, but just last week he admitted how much he enjoyed eating pizza and watching the NA put away many pizzas.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Next Best Thing to Attending the Cordon Bleu

In October 2009, not long after we arrived in Lima, we tasted our first churros Peruvian style at the CCM/MTC. We are used to the Mexican style--the long, thin, fried, slightly greasy, sugary kind. The churro Peruano is shorter, softer, not greasy, and filled with manjar (rich caramel filling made from sweetened condensed milk cooked down until it is golden in color)deep fried and rolled in coarse sugar. We were hooked. I asked the CCM pastry chef if he would teach me how to make churros. Two weeks ago, on a Sunday, he asked me when I wanted to visit the kitchen. We had just returned from Santa Cruz and were going to Bogota the following week. He said he would tell me the following Sunday when he would be making churros. On the following Sunday he said he would be baking churros on Tuesday and could I be there at 8:00a.m. Of course, I could be there. I invited Hermana Whetten, whose husband serves as the CCM president, to go with me. What an adventure we had!

The twenty-six-year-old pastry chef is rolling the finished churro in the coarse sugar from the sugar cane grown in Peru. We were surprised to learn he doesn't use cinnamon

sugar because we thought we tasted cinnamon.

I didn't take pictures during the dough making process. He uses a gigantic Kitchen Aid to mix all the dry ingredients for ninety churros. The butter, eggs, vanilla are added after the mixer has combined the dry ingredients. I wish I had taken a picture of the roll cutting machine. After the dough is combined and thrown onto the floured, stainless steel table, he weighs the dough to the ounce. Then he oils the roll cutter and places the dough on it. The heavy metal lid is then pressed onto the dough which distributes the dough into 30 rolls. Another heavy handle raises the dough cutter and cuts the rolls. Then each roll is flattened with a metal tube in the shape of a large light bulb. Next, he cuts a corner out of of the bag of manjar and sqeezes manjar crosswise at wide end of the rolled dough. It's tricky. He brings the dough from the top to enclose the manjar and seals it, folding the dough in from the sides, and at the same time rolling up the dough and stretching it into the cigar shape as he rolls. I could hardly wait to get my hands on the dough. I asked him if Hna. Whetten and I could make the last two. We did it. Mine turned out perfectly even though I thought I would never get the hang of stretching the churro as I rolled.

The churros have almost doubled in size. If they rise too much, they will burst in the hot oil.

This shows the golden color of the churros. He could do about a dozen at a time. In the meantime, he was running about preparing the sugar, setting the individual plates, and preparing the serving table. He seemed to return to the churros just at the perfect time. Every batch was golden and perfectly done. I asked him if he had attended the Peru Cordon Bleu. He looked quite surprised that I would ask and said the cost was "caro" or prohibitively expensive. He attended a culinary school in Lima.

This was the first batch of churros to go in. After this batch, he put fewer in. He had to continually adjust the temperature of the oil because the oil heated up too much.

This picture shows about half of the churros which he sugared and placed on individual serving plates.

Ah! Hna. Whetten and I ate our churros warm. You can see the warm, melted manjar which fills the churro from end to end. Every bite is sweet and delicious.

And here we are--two proud pastry chefs showing our prizes which the young chef ceremoniously offered us at the end of the baking lesson.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Power of a Rose

Speaking as the mom of seven and grandmother of nine, it is hard to be away from home on Mother's Day. However, angels watch over moms...

What a surprise! After Reunion Sacramental, Presidente Whetten asked the Hermanas to stand because the Elders had a gift for us. Several Elders went out into the hall behind the stand for several minutes. Then nine Elders came in, each bearing a rose. The Elder who gave me the rose had the sweetest expression on his face--as if he were giving a rose to his own mom. He said, "Feliz Dia de Madre, Hermana. If I could have hugged him, I would have. He needed the hug more than I did. Another Elder brought me a second rose. I showed him my rose, and he said the second was a "regalo" or gift from him. Later we gave that rose to a dear sister who came to speak to the missionaries last night.

President Cardenes, the CCM branch president and counselor to President Whetten, took a picture of us. I asked Dad to get our camera as well. When this picture was taken, I still had tears of gratitude in my eyes.

There are three North American Hnas. and one Hermana from the Phillipines. She speaks excellent English with a heavy accent. I teach Relief Society to her and the North Americans. Her native language is Tagalog. She is learning Spanish in the CCM. The Hna. to her right, in the purple blouse, is from Nicaragua. The other Spanish speaking Hnas. are from Peru, Argentina, and Colombia. We come to know these sisters and many of the Elders well during their three to six weeks in the CCM.

This cute Mother's Day decoration was just inside the comedor. The flowers are dyed wood. The card reads, Feliz Dia de Madre.
The Mother's Day lunch dessert was homemade ice cream. Fun!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A small plane adventure

Dad and I flew to Santa Cruz Bolivia on Monday, May 3rd, at the invitation of the mission president and his wife. Santa Cruz is a city of rings: the inside rings are the down town, prosperous families, high end stores, high rise apartment and office buildings, flowering trees and landscaped parks. The outside rings are poorer areas. In the 8th ring is a sugar factory which was burning while we were there because squatters had taken it over and burned the office building. Fortunately, for the sugar company, the squatters were forced out before they burned the factory. The night we arrived, we could see flames. For the four days we were there, we could see smoke. Only the offices were burned. In the meantime, sugar could not be found in stores for a few days.

The city itself is quite picturesque with its red tiled roofs, flowering trees, clean streets, and blue skies. The temperature and air reminded us very much of Hawaii during the winter months--absolutely delightful.

Like the view above, this view is from the mission home balcony which extended from the living room area to the bedrooms. We could watch planes land at the municipal airport just five minutes from the mission home which is on the eleventh floor of a high rise apartment building. The international airport is about a 45 minutes drive. We flew in and out of that airport, but our biggest adventure was the flight to Jacuiba, Bolivia, on an 18-seat plane which flew in and out of the municipal airport. We could look down onto the runway and see our little plane parked at the airport.

Wherever there will be a captive crowd such as the airport, there will be an ice cream man...

and the fruit stand and salesperson. We saw several wheelbarrow fruit stands in Bolivia.

This picture is a fun study in black and white, totally unintentional (for us Hermanas), for sure. We had just landed back in Santa Cruz and were walking back into the terminal of the municipal airport. Even I was wearing a version of black and white--a charcoal grey skirt and cream sweater.

So much is done by manual labor in South America. There are no tractor-driven baggage carts here, just a man with a strong back.

This picture shows how small the plane is--one seat on each side, seats very close together, and little headroom. Even I couldn't stand up straight.

The plane was so noisy we put cotton provided by the airlines in our ears. One fun thing about flying in a small plane is that the plane flies at a low enough altitude we could see the country clearly. We flew over the lush green mountains from Jacuiba into Argentina and on to Santa Cruz, Bolivia. We were amazed how quickly the tropical landscape of Bolivia changed to the brown pampa of Argentina.

This map shows the Santa Cruz mission area. If you can see Santa Cruz in the middle right of the map, follow the map to the right corner or the southwestern border of Bolivia and Argentina. Jacuiba is on the border, a 15-minute walk into Argentina. We were told it was very dangerous to cross into Argentina because of the drug trade.

These are the office Elders and APs who were with us for the five days. The Elder next to me is from Santiago de Chile and speaks very good English. Two Elders are North Americans. The taller one is from Argentina and the Elder on the left is from Peru.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A Day trip to Cieneguilla

Saturday, May 1st, Jack and Kay Beals and Dad and I took the opportunity to visit a mountain village about thirty minutes east of La Molina. The Beals have attended church here a few times and knew the bishop well. They wanted to take him and his wife out to lunch in Cieneguilla. The bishop knew of a restaurant/resort with folk dancers, a live band, and musica de Peru. The name of the restaurant is Mesas de Piedra, tables of stone.

Nothing grows on the cerros or even the "country side" if one can call it that. Anything green is hand watered or watered with water trucks. This stand of eucalyptus trees is one of several stands along the road. In the West we think the foothills are dry and barren, but they are green by comparison to the brown rock and dirt cerros of Peru. It rarely rains. It does not rain in Lima; it mists.

This is one of many settlements along the road to Cieneguilla. We were told that neighborhoods or settlements like this one sprang up quite quickly when the terrorists were active in Lima in the 80s. Notice some are made of cardboard and tin. Others are made of a reed-like material also used for fencing. Most houses are made of hand made adobe and painted bright colors.

This fellow was one of the dancers who entertained us throughout our dinner. His hat is made of pieces of leather sewn together with leather laces. We were surprised how heavy the hat was.

Look at the size of the trout. It was perfectly seasoned. The yellow potato is a common side dish served without butter or salt and pepper. On every table is a selection of sauces, some mild, some wickedly hot. The sauces take the place of butter, salt and pepper.

The costumes are so colorful. The young women are really beautiful. The young men are guapo. There were probably twenty dancers who danced throughout the four pavillions of serving tables.

We were greeted by an Inca king and his maidens bearing smoking clay pots. One of the pots had a small piece of fragrant burning wood.

One of the dancers is a member of the bishop's ward. We really enjoyed meeting them. They loved posing for a picture.

In this case a picture is worth a thousand words. A professional photographer was also taking pictures. We were surprised he let us in on the action and let us take pictures at the same time. The costumed greeters invited us to join them for photo. Now we wonder where our picture will turn up. Maybe in a magazine or on a brochure?

This is just one of many brown dirt and rock cerros we passed driving to Cienegilla. The same scenery is here in La Molina and houses are built right into the rock.

On the way out of town, I saw this sign. Cienegilla is the name of a mosquito of which there are many because of the river. The blue sky is such a change from the gray, cloudy skies we have most of the time. It's a rare day we have full sun here because of the proximity of the coast and the fact that Lima is in a bowl, much like the Wasatch Front. However, the Wasatch Front has more sunshine. The Lima fall has been sunnier than the summer was.