Saturday, July 31, 2010

44 years and counting...

This past week Dad and I celebrated our 44th anniversary by "running away" for three days to the Mireflores Marriott on the coast only 30 minutes from our apartment and the Area offices. The Mission Presidents' Seminar was held at the Marriott last October. Since we were "locals," we were not invited to stay at the hotel, but we decided then we wanted to return someday for a change of scene. Our 29th of July anniversary marked exactly eleven months in the mission field.

We had a great anniversary dinner in the Marriott Hotel dining room. My poached-in-olive-oil salmon on cheesy risoto was just delicious and, according to the menu, very high in nutritious value--all the meals had the nutritional values listed on the menu. Dad had his favorite shrimp cocktail and a Ceasar salad. In Peru the large shrimp is called langostini. In the USA langostini is slipper lobster.

Our favorite drinks here are "frozen" fruit drinks like frozen limonada which is pucker sour but delicious and cincha morada, a purple corn drink. We drink a lot of agua con gas because the tap water isn't safe to drink even in the best restaurants.

After a late, leisurely breakfast buffet, we walked around Mireflores which is a beautiful, wealthy district in Lima. We are fascinated by the ornate doors, gates, and garage doors.

Mireflores is built over one of the largest Inca sites in Peru. Only one hauca or sacred site--the size of our ward area-- was preserved. Most of the sites have been plundered. The one in Mireflores dates to 400AD. Because it doesn't rain, the existing haucas and other Inca sites are well preserved. The hauca we drove around was much too large to capture on the camera.

Mireflores is a district of contrasts--Colonial Spanish haciendas, English Tudor mansions, elegant iron and wood work, and one story, dark dwellings which often have only one window in the front.

This home reminded us of something from the time of Shakespeare--turrets, Tudor half timbered balconies and bay windows, and heavy English doors. Many homes like this one have a small back courtyard.

Only a block from that home is the typical square on square Peruvian home of decorative stone or adobe, a "garage space" store run by the home owners. We quite liked this home.

I couldn't resist taking this picture of Dad on the phone, a common sight, no matter where we are. At least he could receive and make calls at the hotel. We have been in buildings where his phone wouldn't get reception.

While he was talking on the phone, I noticed this first-floor iron door just off a small tiled patio. It looked as if it had a story. I wondered how old it was. I was taking a picture when a 40-ish woman stuck her head out the upper story window, smiled at me, and waved. I asked her how old the home was. She didn't know but she yelled for her husband who was in the pastry shop next door. He told us it was about 100 years old and asked if we would like to see the house. Of course! He unlocked the iron gate and heavy wood door and led us into a dark hallway. The floors were old stone and the walls were blue French style decorative tiles. The windowless main room was filled with baroque style furniture--carved, high back chairs, old dusty but fine furniture, colorful but worn hand loomed rugs, and the walls were absolutely covered--overstuffed--with religious paintings like the ones in the cathedrals in Old Lima. We were in a private museum. The man said his father had died at 97 and, for the last two years of his life, he just sat in the high backed (papal style) chair, day after day, studying his art pieces. It was for him like reading the New Testament. He told us his father had left behind jewelry worth several thousand dollars, and he was expecting a buyer, a friend of his brother in the USA, from New Yersey (the Spanish cannot pronounce the J) to buy the collection of art, furniture and jewelry.

This mansion overlooking the ocean, once a private home, belongs to the Medical Society of Lima. It's their private club house, so to speak. The color is typically Peruvian--lucuma--for a local favorite fruit. Like so many of the beautiful homes in Mireflores, it is surrounded by highrise apartment buildings.

This picture is an example of square living spaces, one on top of another. The family-run store is smaller than a single car garage. The second story was added and closed in with windows. The third brick story is for storage and hanging clothes. Most Peruvians, we have learned, do not have clothes dryers because they draw too much electricity.
Even on the plainest of buildings there is decorative ironwork.

For 10 soles or the equivalent of $3.25 we could get at ten-minute massage at Larco Mar, the mall built into the stone cliff across from the Marriott Hotel. Believe me it was worth it! While I was waiting for my turn, I took this picture of a family getting massages. The little girl had just climbed on to the massage chair behind her mother. The grandmother, a smartly dressed woman, paid for her grandchildren and daughter to have massages.

On Wednesday night we attended a dinner show at Dama Juana, a fine restaurant in the mall at Larco Mar. Our driver Graciela recommended it. Notice the struts on the "guitar."

This marquee doesn't do justice to the colorful costumes. Every major city in Peru was represented with music and dance. It was interesting to us to learn that each city has its own Spanish or indigenous culture--arts, music, dance, etc.

The stage is center in the restaurant. Off to the left is the serving area. I forgot my camera the night of our dinner so I returned the next day to take the pictures. I wish I could have captured the big clay pots filled with the different Peruvian foods. Peru prides itself on its tasty dishes. There is even a Cordon Bleu in Lima.

This is a view of Larco Mar from our 11th floor window. You can see the sea below. To reach the mall we walked down a flight of stairs and then took the escalator to the main plaza of the mall.

The Mariott Hotel towers over the mall. There are three levels of restaurants, stores, beauty salons, a bowling alley and movie theatres--all carved into the cliff.

Talk about a window on the world. Dad and I enjoyed watching the air show. Actually, I would love to do that. It's a tandem experience with the pilot sitting behind the novice.

You can see three kites in this picture. I missed getting the 4th flyer by seconds. He is off to the left somewhere.
We are standing across the street from the medical society mansion. The camera didn't pick up the ocean behind us. We enjoyed our scenic morning walk. We met dog walkers and dogs--a Yorkie with attitude and a fancy outfit to show off, two Schnauzers also dressed to the nines, and a hound, not dressed well, but a handsome dog, nevertheless.

This scenic view shows the mall to the right of a scenic water feature. There is a park for children to the right of the water feature. The coast highway wraps around and along the the cliffs. Farther to the south, the highway runs along the shore. The beach is rocky but the (year round) surfers and summer sunbathers don't seem to mind it.

The mall is just about center. You can see the tall vents of the park about center right. It was interesting to note that the mall creates a bay where the waves are calm. Farther up the shore the waves are perfect for serious surfers. We enjoyed watching the surfers from the mall.

Another view of the coast shows how steep the cliff is. There are stairs to the beach but they are precarious at best. The hotel provides rides to the ocean. One staircase was destroyed in an earthquake a couple of years ago. The coast is called Costa Verde for the green but, for quite a distance, the cliff is brown rock because the earthquake also disturbed the springs that fed the greenery.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Pick a Lane and Stay in It!

Why is Suzanne smiling, you ask...Well, she lived to tell the tale of another day on Lima's Evitamiento, the straight route to the North and West Missions' clinics. Read on.

Yes, that' a street vendor, one of many, who walked between the cars on the highway/parking lot. What better way to make a sole than taking advantage of a traffic snarl.

Our driver, Graciela, tells us it's better to keep our windows rolled up and doors locked in a situation like this. Many a purse has been snatched by quick street robbers who jump the concrete walls and seek cars with open windows.

So, here is Dad on his 74th birthday, smiling, because he, too, has lived to celebrate another day after taking care of the missionaries in the north of Lima.

Oh, speaking of birthday, this is his only present from me. He wanted a soft hairbrush for his "thinning" hair. I don't notice the thinning. I do notice his new hair style. Hmmmm

Wish you could see the zebra decal on the hairbrush. The only place to find a soft bristled hairbrush was in the baby supplies.

These are our views of the traffic pattern from inside the car. The traffic moved along
s-l-o-w-l-y only because anyone of those buses and vans cut each other off by nosing in front of each other, changing lanes without any signal, and slamming on their brakes. Nosing is probably an apt word--in order to get ahead, the bus or van pulled the front of the vehicle in front of another just enough to keep the car to the side or behind from being able to move forward.

The two buses seeming to be pointed into the middle lane is not an illusion.

Notice that no one is in a lane or directly behind another vehicle. Also notice that we are somewhere in the middle of the cars in front of, close enough to reach out and shake hands with the drivers or passengers.

Graciela is patient and cautious, but not overly or dangerously cautious. That's why we like to ride with her. If we were with any one of the drivers we had at the beginning of our mission, we would have been squeezing our way between the black and white cars. We have seen street vendors and cyclists thread their way through such a tangle.

This really is the mess it looks like. I am not even sure how I got this picture--maybe from the side. At one time I stuck my camera out the back seat window.

This was a moment when we felt as if the two 18-wheelers could topple onto us. It reminded us of being on a canyon road with granite walls on either side of the car.

OK! Mr. Blue Bus. You can get in front of us...sometime. He made it but not until the van in front of had moved forward several minutes later. All this traffic was forced off the highway at a two-lane exchange--think of a freeway exit--which was under construction and had been for a very long time. Graciela said freeway construction, even exits and entrances, take a year or longer to complete because the work is done by hand, not with great earth movers. The two-lane exchange was clogged with five or more cars, side by side, which not only slowed the traffic getting off, but stopped the traffic on the highway. We were 30 minutes late for our clinic. We left the office for a 45 minute ride which took probably 1 1/2 hours.

That isn't the end of the tale, however. Coming back, Graciela decided to avoid the Evitamiento biy taking back roads. It would be like taking back roads from Provo to Salt Lake City. The down side was that it took us two hours to get back to La Molina, normally a 45-minute ride. The up side was that we saw distruitos or districts of Lima we would never see from that vantage. Some of the districts were so poor there was little electricity, poor roads, dimly lit stores and littered and broken cement sidewalks. Others were picturesque--London-like gas lamps, Colonial or Victorian homes and hotels, beautiful parks, wide streets with grassy medians, and fine stores.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Random Shots

These four, unrelated pictures are some fun shots I took this past week just because I carry my camera every day. On Saturday Dad and I ate breakfast at the restaurant San Antonio because their hot cocoa is so good. We bought some English novels and magazines at a bookstore next to the restaurant, and shopped for groceries we couldn't find at our local WONG.

The grocery chain WONG recently planted a sign to advertise the location of one of the stores. It's so much more attractive than a tall electric sign. Lima's grassy knolls are filled with ads like this one. Today I counted five really attractive grass ads--a bank ad, one for bottled water, one for milk, one for a brand of petrol, and another for a tile business-- on Javier Prado, the main highway to the Central and South Missions' clinic.

Our waiter must have thought our gathering was worth a picture because he asked if he could take one of us. The ice cream creations were really worth the picture and a pleasant rest stop after shopping last week. Mine was a creamy vanilla ice cream with large chocolate chips sandwiched between two dark chocolate cookies and swimming in hot fudge sauce. Theirs were rich concoctions of vanilla ice cream, manjar and fudge sauce. Hna. Seegmiller and her husband arrived just last week to work with the Perpetual Education Fund. Kay and I accompanied her to the mall to find a v-neck sweater for her husband to wear in the office building which isn't heated.

Pedro is the vigilante jefi. He collects our payment to have 24-hour vigilante service. When I went home from the CCM to SCYPE with the family on Sunday, he was on the corner with his children. Aren't they beautiful?! He asked Dad to arrange for the missionaries to teach his family. Before we even met Pedro, his eleven-year-old son had started reading the Book of Mormon.

His wife joined him for the second picture and the little girl ran down to the corner to "watch" which is what vigilantes do. They were standing on the corner where our apartment building is. As I approached them, the little girl walked up to me, put her arms around me and kissed me on the left cheek. Then the little boy wrapped his arms around me. I was quite touched by their manners. The baby is eight months old.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Girl Should Never Be without Her Camera

The South America Northwest Area president's daughter, a BYU sophomore, has been here in Lima since April with her folks. She has been a great help in the office, translating the missionary applications into English before they are sent on to Salt Lake City. The secretaries presented her with this elegant, decadent black forest cake on her last day. The cake was even better than it looks--pure chocolate ganache icing, non-waxy chocolate roses, marachino cherry centers, and Peruvian chocolate layered with chocolate ganache and manjar (caramel) and sprinkled with marachino cherries.

This picture of the inside of a bus we rode home from the office is hardly a good picture to sandwich in between two food fotos, but I deleted one picture.

This bus is not unusually ragged. Most of the buses look ragged inside and out. The ride is as ragged, jerky, bumpy, and speedy. Sometimes we laugh because the ride is so wild--think The Wild Mouse ride at Lagoon. Other times we are grateful to get off with our lives and in one piece. There are a few newer buses, but we aren't about to wait for one to come along.

This dessert is just heavenly, a typical Peruvian layered torta--chocolate cake, strawberry yogurt mousse, white cake, and dense gelatin. The despedida, with wonderful foods like this torta, was given by a US Embassy couple for the Area comptroller and his family (North Americans) who have spent the last fifteen years in South America. We knew them in Santiago and were excited to hear they were in Lima. They are headed to Moscow, Russia, for a few years. We will miss them.

Juana, the Area president's secretary, came into our office last week and asked me if I would take pictures (She knows I always carry a camera.) of the Area presidency, the 10 new mission presidents and their wives, the Area secretary, the DTA (director of temporal affairs for the Area) and Dad who is standing in the right corner. I wish someone had taken a picture of me with twelve cameras hanging from both arms. It would have made for a fun foto to include on this Blog.

Dad missed this picture because he was on the phone. The event was the despedida or going away party for Elder Nash's daughter who is in the center standing next to her father. On my right is Liliana Silva the Area president's professional secretary. Behind her is a special service missionary. Our friends Jack and Kay Beals, Area secretary and his wife, are next to him and behind me. They were in our BYU student branch in the 70s. He was one of Dad's counselors. On the other side of Elder Nash are Juana, Elder Nash's personal secretary and Katty who is a special service missionary in her spare time. She also works in the Area offices and the CCM, a traveling secretary, so to speak. She is also my tutor! She speaks excellent English. To her right is another special service missionary. He and his wife come in twice a week to help with phone calls.