Monday, September 28, 2009

The Streets of Chiclayo II

Okay, there is time for one more post before getting on the big silver bird and winging our way first to Lima, then on to Atlanta and finally Milwaukee. Look out you Wisconsinites….here we come!

A photo on the previous post showed a typical restaurant and a woman cooking anticuchos, which in Chiclayo are pieces of beef heart on a spit cooked over wood or charcoal. I love those things and could probably live on them if I had to. Brochettes are nearly identical but the meat is chicken. On the streets you can buy two of each plus a potato for about $1.50. And whether eating on the street or in one of the smaller restaurants, everything is fresh. The people purchase the ingredients that morning, and sometimes after you order. It’s all home cooking. I’ve gained weight since I came here.

The bodega is a very small general store usually located in the front room of a private house. They sell a wide variety of minor items and are usually busy, especially in the morning when most of them sell fresh baked bread. I am amazed at how many of them there are. It is rare to walk more than two blocks without passing one or three of them. Competition among not only bodegas but all small businesses seems to feed rather than detract from each other.

As you near Chiclayo’s mercado modelo, which is a huge collection of businesses under one roof, the street vendors become more dominant and a point is reached where single-file walking is the rule due to lack of space. Tourists generally have a tough time at first with this situation because it is so chaotic, but there is a rhythm to it and after awhile you learn to feel and go with the flow.

It’s time for me to shut down and head for the airport. We’ll see you when we get back.

Tom & Maribel

The Streets of Chiclayo

The small business is the heart and soul of Chiclayo. Anything you need is available at one of these shops, and generally at a lower price than at the new shopping malls. They also provide conversation. Chiclayo claims the title of the friendship city and in my experience that label is well deserved. All you have to do is make the first move and these people will open up to you like a long-lost relative. It’s normal to spend 15 to 20 minutes talking while making a 30 cent or less purchase.

The dimensions of the average shop are less than your living room, and often the size of a bathroom. That holds true for some restaurants, furniture stores and service shops as well. I actually look forward to walking the streets and browsing. Yes, we get bumped into often and the roar of people talking and taxis blowing their horns is difficult to ignore, and Maribel will meet 50 friends we have to stop and talk to, but to me the experience is worth it.

These photos were taken yesterday. Because of limitations with blogspot we’re limited to the amount of photos per post. They don’t nearly include every type of business nor do they show the street vendors, but I hope they give you a feel for a walk on Chiclayo’s business streets.

We will be posting other photos for a more complete view of the city when we return from a brief visit to the States. Enjoy.

Tom & Maribel

Friday, September 25, 2009

A post I don't want to write

I don’t want to write this post, but if I’m going to tell you about Chiclayo I’ve got to tell you about the downside as well. Last night a friend was mugged and robbed.

Three of us expat gringos were enjoying a night out over a few drinks at Hebron, a restaurant in central Chiclayo. We closed the place at 12:30am. One of the guys needed to go in the opposite direction and the other decided to walk a bit with me before taking a cab to his apartment. We walked about 1 mile when I told him we were entering an area where cabs are scarce so he had better take one now. We flagged a taxi, negotiated the price, and I watched them drive off. The driver quickly made a brief cell phone call and then stopped 4 blocks further when 3 men entered the cab, wrestled my friend outside and took everything he had, including his glasses. The men re-entered the cab and drove off.

I have to accept some blame for this. My friend is newly arrived in Chiclayo so has not yet developed street smarts. I should have insisted he take a cab from the restaurant instead of walking with me into a less traveled area. And as Maribel does when seeing someone off in a cab, I should have first stared at the driver and then walked around to the front of the cab to let him see me looking at the license plate. Or, I could have gotten into the cab with my friend and escorted him to his apartment. The instant the driver made the phone call I would have casually let him see the big knife I carry. That doesn’t guarantee the robbery wouldn’t have happened but they may have been reluctant to take on two of us; one with a weapon. I got careless and my friend paid the price.

I wish I could tell you the robbery was an isolated incident, but it was not. If you live here for any length of time and let your guard slip for one moment, it will happen to you. I think maybe I’ve grown too confident and cocky for my own good. Maribel thinks I have. She’s been robbed. Her son Brian has been robbed. Most of the people we know have been robbed. Sooner or later an attempt will be made to rob me. If they’ve got weapons I won’t resist. If not, we’ll see what happens. It’s not a great situation but it is part of everyday life. If you can’t deal with it you don’t belong here.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Chiclayo Overview

Chiclayo is the fourth largest city in Peru with a population of 567,675. It is the capital of the Lambayeque department and is the only major city in the region. By major I mean it doesn’t close up at sun down. It has many hotels including three 4 stars, dozens of casinos, two shopping complexes, a ton of restaurants, and lots of disco/ karaoke establishments. In contrast, the 50,000 residents of nearby Lambayeque have zero options after dark and generally get many hours of sleep. Located 20 minutes west is the Pacific Ocean with several beaches to choose from, though they’re not the groomed and manicured beaches you may be accustomed to. Go 30 minutes east and you’re in the mountains. There are many other attractions in the immediate area but let’s stay focused on Chiclayo for now.

The principal park is located in the center of the city. It’s a large park with a wide variety of flowering trees and shrubs. It is surrounded by the business district as well as the city hall (municipalidad) and the mammoth Santa Maria Cathedral. During the Christmas season each shrub and tree is sponsored and decorated with colored foil and lights by a business or some other institution. Walking through the park at night (in a T-shirt and shorts by the way) borders on breath taking. We’ve got many photos of the decorated park but none of them do it justice.

Chiclayo’s other park of note is Las Muses, which was funded primarily with gifts of money from France and Germany. Tour busses from all of Peru regularly visit this park, as do couples holding hands. It is a beautiful and romantic setting.

Chiclayo is in a growth period. In 2005 the Real Plaza shopping complex was completed. In 2007 the Tottus & Sodimac complex opened. Tottus is similar to a Walmart Super Center while Sodimac resembles Menards or Home Depot. Both complexes house many small shops and a food court. The mom-and-pop shops selling everything from food to clothing have not been affected at all by the new malls and continue to be the back bone of commerce. The Boulevard Mall opened last year and another mini-mall will be opening soon. Two new hotels are nearing completion.

The distinctive public library never fails to get my attention when I walk past. It gets a lot of use and is often utilized as a meeting site for various functions. There is a live theater facility named Dos de Mayo but it sees limited use mostly by traveling entertainment from Lima.

By the way, if you click on any of these photos, and we hope you do, pay attention to the people. You’ll see they're dressed exactly as you are, and many of them are holding cell phones to their ears. Some things are universal.

Chiclayo has its warts and blemishes but it also has a lot to be proud of. It’s a good place to live. We’re comfortable here.

Tom & Maribel

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Look of Peru

I’ve been trying to find a way to convey what this country is really like to anyone who hasn’t been to Peru. The stock images of Machu Picchu, jungle paradise, llamas and smiling natives dressed in gaily colored folk costumes offered by guide books and travel logs are real, but to the majority of Peruvians those places and things are as remote to them as they are to you. They don’t represent daily life. I know it sounds pretentious of me to want to show you the “real” Peru, at least as I see it, but that’s the task I’ve set for myself. I also know that words can’t substitute for experience, so hopefully I’ll have stirred your interest enough to prompt a visit to this beautiful country. Let’s start on a general level and work our way down to the detail of life in Chiclayo.

I explained in another post that geographically Peru is traditionally divided into three areas: coastal desert (12%), highlands including the Andes Mountains (25%), and jungle (63%). The coastal desert runs the entire length of the country and varies in width from 12 to 20 miles before transitioning to highlands. It’s a small percentage of the total land mass but 45% of Peru’s 29,180,900 people live here. Of the 15 most populous cities, 10 are located on the coast, including Lima with its 8,866,160 inhabitants. The coastal cities are essentially carbon copies of each other. Lima differs only in its size and wealthy suburbs.

Seen from the air the color of the coastal cities is brown, as you might expect of a desert region. From the ground they also appear mostly brown. This is because the buildings are primarily constructed of brick, although the larger buildings are more frequently being constructed of poured concrete. In the downtown area (centro) all four sides of a building are usually plastered and painted. In residential areas close to centro typically only the front of a building is finished.

On the fringes of the cities is where the poorer people live. Here four adobe walls with a thatch or galvanized metal roof are the norm. I will not use the word slum because that would be an insult to the pride, character and hard working nature of these people. I think it’s accurate to say that anywhere from 25 to 40% of a coastal city's population resides in these areas. I believe that’s true even of Lima. Peru is a poor country that does not offer a lot of opportunity.

The economy of these cities is mostly fish and agriculture. There is little manufacturing outside of Lima. In the north the major crops are sugar cane and rice, along with a wide variety of vegetables. Chickens are raised on both a large and small scale nearly everywhere.

One other commonality is the principal park with adjoining church. From the largest city to the smallest village each has its “Plaza de Armas” and principal church. The accompanying photo shows Lima’s main park. Many of the parks are superior to the botanical gardens I’ve seen in the States. They seem to be a source of community pride. We’ll visit many of these towns and parks in the near future.

I think that covers the general overview of the coastal region. I hope you haven’t been bored to death. In the next post we’ll start looking at Chiclayo in detail including its people.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

"Lo siento, no entiendo"

“I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” How I have grown to dislike those words. I’ve been living in Chiclayo since July of 2008. I had hoped to be speaking conversational Spanish by this time. I am not even close. Not speaking the language doesn’t prevent me from enjoying life in this wonderful country. There is much to see and do that doesn’t require language, and when there is the need for verbal communication in most cases my wife Maribel or her son Brian are there to translate for me. The problem is I am not independent. I am limited in what I can do, where I can go, and am prevented from taking part in casual conversation with these incredibly friendly people. There is a beautiful park in Lambayeque where the older men gather in the morning to discuss probably what older men all over the world discuss. Someday I would like to join them, but I really wonder if it’s ever going to happen.

Let me back up a bit. When I came to Peru I had what I thought was a working vocabulary of 400 Spanish words. I had also memorized some basic phrases recommended by Maribel and several guide books. I didn’t expect to hit the ground running, but didn’t expect to be at square one either. To clarify, I can speak some Spanish. At a basic level I can generally get across what I want to say. I can ask what something costs; how to get somewhere, and can order food at a restaurant. The problem is I don’t understand the response. They have to be using at least some words I’m familiar with but I never recognize them. Part of the problem is they speak rapidly but that’s not the major issue. Even if they’re speaking slowly, to me it sounds like the words are being chewed and swallowed, as if they were never intended to be heard.

Ordering food at KFC should be a snap. I have memorized in Spanish “combo No.3, original recipe, with Pepsi, no upgrade.” The price is posted so no problem there, but there is always a question or comment. She may be telling me about a special they’re offering, or saying the chicken isn’t ready or telling me my zipper is open. I keep repeating “nothing more” and if she persists I try to end it by saying “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.” By the time she calls out my name indicating the order is ready – they don’t use a number system here, and they pronounce my name Tum – I don’t want the damn chicken anymore.

I admit I haven’t worked hard enough to learn the language. My defense is, what good does it do to speak the language if I can’t understand it? I am convinced it is possible to learn and even teach Spanish grammar without being able to converse in the language. I’ve learned how to conjugate verbs. When I’m talking and feel a verb coming on I’m ready to conjugate that sucker in past, present or future tense. I may be one of the greatest Spanish verb conjugaters of all time. I wonder if the cashier at KFC knows that?


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crime in Peru

We’re frequently contacted by people who are considering a visit or perhaps even moving to Peru. Early on the questions revolve around what to see, where to stay, what clothing to bring, etc., but sometime during the communication the questions will be asked…”What about all the crime in Peru? Is it safe?” All of the travel guide books and websites respond to these questions with vague statements about “some areas are safer than others,” and advising “taking normal precautions.” In my opinion these comments don’t say anything. After living in the Lambayeque region for some 14 months let me share my perceptions and experience with you, but be aware there are many expats and Peruvians who would disagree with what I am about to write.

When you talk crime in Peru you’re talking about theft. Murder, assault, rape, child molestation, spousal abuse and any other form of violent crime are virtually non-existent. The occasional homicide that does happen is normally drug or corruption related. Break-in robberies occur much less often than they do in Milwaukee.

Theft is a big problem. It is normally of the pickpocket or purse snatching variety, though there is some occasional strong arm stuff. I could take you to Avenue Balta North right now and point out thieves working the crowded streets. After awhile you’d be able to recognize them yourselves. They’ll be young guys working either singly or in pairs; walking with the traffic but slightly faster and diagonally. They’ll be wearing baseball caps and bright colored T-shirts. If they have to run, the cap and T-shirt will be tossed to reveal a neutral colored shirt underneath. While walking through the crowd they are looking for jewelry that can be easily removed; a purse that is partially open or can be grabbed quickly, and any bulges in pockets indicating a wallet or cell phone. The solution is not to provide them with these conditions. Women generally carry money in their bras. Men carry money in the front pants pocket. I don’t carry a wallet. I have my credit card, identification and minimum amount of money in my front pocket.

You will be automatically looked at as a potential target if you’re a gringo, and especially if you’ve just come out of a store, or used an ATM, or changed money on the street with a cambista (money changer). In these cases simply follow the precautions I’ve outlined above and travel to wherever you’re going by a well traveled route. They won’t attempt the strong arm stuff in a crowd. If you take a taxi, walk several blocks from the cambista or ATM to insure the taxi driver was not watching you.

After living here awhile it becomes second nature to scan your surroundings as you travel. It’s no big deal, and the fact is I feel much safer here than I did in Milwaukee or Chicago. I have been targeted twice that I know of, and both times it was just a matter of me stopping and staring at them. They quickly changed direction and melted into the crowd.

And finally, it also helps if you can avoid the confused tourist look. In that case both thieves and scammers will be all over you. If you walk confidently and have an ‘I can take care of myself’ look in your eyes, they are less likely to try anything. On the other hand, if you have an exceptionally long neck; bounce on your toes when you walk, and tend to say ‘golly gee’ a lot, there is no hope for you. Kiss your money goodbye.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Bits and pieces

When I’m asked what tangible things I miss from the States, my immediate response is always English language books. We’re very active during the day and many evenings, but there are those nights when I’d like to curl up on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn and a good book. The problem is English language books are hard to come by in rural Peru. I’m told even in Lima there isn’t a great selection. There are book stores in Chiclayo, but they’re the small mom and pop shops dealing mostly in used books. When I can find them they are usually of three types – the standard spy novels, religious themes, and conspiracy theory. There are lots of missionaries in Peru so I understand the availability of used religious books but don’t understand the conspiracy books. Anyway, at the moment I am reduced to reading “The True Story of the Bilderberg Group”, to be followed by “The Secret Founding of America”, unless something else shows up. The good part is that I can buy six to eight used books for less than five dollars. In one of those shops I recently found the novel “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen in mint condition hardcover; an excellent read that I paid two dollars for.

One of the other tangibles I miss is Wisconsin cheese. There is plenty of Peruvian cheese available all over the country. The city of Cajamarca located high in the Andes produces many good cheeses which are widely distributed but they are not what I am accustomed to. For example, the Swiss and mozzarella does not even remotely resemble their counterparts in Wisconsin in appearance, taste or texture. Cheddar is only just recently available as an import from New Zealand, but it is not the equal of Wisconsin cheddar.

Wine is another pleasure I miss. There are many wines in Peru from local and other South American countries but none of them exactly suit my taste. Peruvians like sweet or semi-sweet reds….I don’t. The Kendall-Jackson brand is one of my favorites in the States and is sold here but at twice the cost in the US. Now, the cost of living in Chiclayo is dramatically lower than in the States so it isn’t that I can’t afford to buy Kendall-Jackson, it’s just that I can’t make myself pay twice what it costs in the States. This is probably some of my dear penny-pinching wife’s influence.

I said the cost of living in Chiclayo is less. Here are some of the reasons why. I don’t need a car so I have none of the car related expenses – insurance, license and registration fees, gasoline and parking fees. Food is at least half the cost in the States, and locally grown food such as rice, sugar, most vegetables and fruits and some meats are incredibly cheap. Clothing including shoes cost much less, though the quality may not be as good. I have no heating or air conditioning costs. Medical and dental care in my experience is 1/5 what I would have paid in the States, and I have no complaints about the quality of care I’ve received. A good meal at a fine restaurant will average about ten dollars complete. Several nights ago we took some of Maribel’s family out for dinner at one of the better restaurants. There were twelve of us and no one was bashful about what they ordered. The total tab was $104; less than $9 average. Try that in the States! On the other side of the coin, pharmaceuticals and electronics are generally more expensive, but these are not everyday purchases. For someone looking to retire on a limited budget, you could do a lot worse than northern Peru.


Tuesday, September 8, 2009

A Contrast in Lifestyles

I’ve begun this post about five times over the last four days but have given up each time. I think it’s because lifestyles are intangible and hard to describe, at least for me. I mean, with a few exceptions I do everything in Chiclayo that I did in Wisconsin and vice versa, but I do them differently, if that makes sense.

Let me start with the weather. Whatever we’re planning to do today, tomorrow or next week will not be affected by the weather. It doesn’t rain here, and the temperature difference between summer and winter (both essentially meaningless terms) doesn’t vary that much. In the winter the sun may shine a little less and you may want to wear long sleeves at night, but that’s about it.

We shop differently here than in Wisconsin, especially where food is concerned. With Peruvians “fresh of the moment” is the guiding principle, so grocery shopping is done daily in the morning, typically buying only what you will eat that day. Bread is purchased at one favorite location, vegetables at another and meat/poultry at a third. Freezers are used for ice cubes. Refrigerators hold ketchup, mustard, mayo and butter. And beer.

Shopping for medicinal items at the pharmacy (Botica) is similar. If a Peruvian has a headache, they buy one aspirin. The logic is they only have one headache so they don’t need five hundred aspirins, and why tie up what little money they have in aspirin? The same holds true for anything from cough drops to prescription pills. The process to purchase is also different. To purchase that one aspirin you need to see the pharmacist, who will fill out a form containing your needs. You take that form to the cashier (caja) who will take your money and stamp the form. You then take the form to a third person who will give you your items. This procedure holds true in many small businesses of all types. Of course it’s a completely different story if you’re shopping at the modern Real Plaza Mall, with its upscale shops, Plaza Vea supermarket, multiplex cinema, and food court containing among others KFC, Pizza Hut and Starbucks.

The time you shop is also governed by local culture. Many businesses open at 10:00am; close at 2:00pm; reopen at 4:00 and close at 9:00pm. Others will have a completely different schedule, and none of them are consistent. With restaurants it’s always a crap shoot as to whether they’ll be open or not.

As mentioned in a previous post, the method of transportation during your travels is also different, as are the sights you will see and the sounds you will hear while conducting your business.

The most apparent difference concerning social activities is the time they begin and end. Parties for most occasions don’t get going until after 10:00pm. Food is typically served shortly before midnight when the dancing begins. Parties normally finish at 3:00 – 4:00am.

These are just a few of the small differences that, taken in total constitute for me a different lifestyle. There are dozens if not hundreds more I haven’t mentioned but will probably discuss somewhere along the line.


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Never wear a desert coral snake as a necklace.

Mountain climbing is fast becoming one of our favorite activities, and our favorite mountain is Cerro Patapo which is a 40 minute combi ride from Chiclayo. It’s a rock mountain peaking at 1325 feet. It’s not too difficult to climb but it’s not a cake-walk either. There have been several times when we’ve had to retrace our route because of the sheer rock walls, and at times a missed step could result in a 20 foot fall. A 500 foot fall is also possible for anyone inclined to take that route. In ancient times during the Moche culture prisoners were pushed off that cliff. Bones are still found today at the bottom. We saw them.

During our last visit Maribel was climbing in front of me when she suddenly stopped and whispered “snake!” She had reached down to pick it up thinking it was a necklace someone had dropped, when she saw it move. Like most women Maribel does not like snakes so it took awhile before she wanted to move on….in a different direction of course. An internet search that night showed the snake to be a desert coral snake, which is highly venomous and capable of killing a human adult.

The mountain is covered with ruins from three different cultures dating back at least 2100 years. Amongst the ruins are thousands of pieces of broken pottery. Normally we pick up a few with unusual patterns, and 2 days ago for the first time found ornamental pieces. Looters have long ago excavated these ruins, digging holes to depths of 5 feet over wide areas.

It’s possible they may have missed something and we may stumble upon a complete piece but I really hope we don’t. I don’t know if I have the will power to turn it over to the authorities, especially when it’s likely the authority will turn around and sell it. Such is life in Peru.

It’s hard for me to describe the feeling of sitting on the top of that mountain in the middle of all the beauty and history. Maribel feels it also, in addition to an intense pride for her country. It takes over 2 hours of steady climbing to reach the top…more if we poke around. Some days we never reach the top. The descent is 1 ½ hours depending on which route we take and my legs are wobbly when we reach bottom. I wish you could be up there with us. You may not feel what we do, but I’ll bet you wouldn’t come down untouched.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Traveling In Peru

Traveling in Peru is always an adventure. Where you’re going and how you’ve decided to get there determines how much of an adventure it will be. Let’s look at travel from a long, medium and local perspective. Over long distances you have two options; air travel or bus.

Flying in Peru means LanPeru, and that means you will fly through Lima no matter where you are or where you are going. It also means a minimum of several hours lay-over in Lima and possibly 3:00am flights on the return trip to Lima. Not a good situation but it may be preferable to a 20+ hour bus trip. Which brings us to the other long-haul option, the omnibus.

An omnibus is a big cushy bus that cruises the highways day and night. The more reputable and established bus lines have well maintained and comfortable busses that include attendants, meals, movies and bingo to pass the time. Not surprisingly they also have the better safety records. Other bus lines offer bare-bones service including a maddening amount of unscheduled stops to pick up and drop off anyone anywhere on the highway. They also have terrible safety records but because they are so inexpensive the majority of Peruvians choose to ride them.

Spectacular bus crashes are a fact of life in Peru. The majority of them occur in the mountains and involve tumbling down several hundred feet until crashing to a halt against some large boulder. The cause is usually operator error. The narrow roads are often unpaved or in poor repair. Shoulders and guard rails are largely non-existent. In fairness to the bus industry I should point out that at any given moment there are thousands of these big busses on the road. I would guess that the ratio of accidents to hours or miles driven is low.

That pretty much covers long distance travel. For medium range travel we’ve got three options, beginning with the Custer (pronounced cooster). This is a small bus holding about30 people that travels between towns to a maximum of approximately 50 miles. Though they tend to be ancient, they are relatively comfortable and inexpensive to ride.

A combi is a van that’s been retrofitted or built new to hold 15 people but always packs in 20. In Peru there is a special law of physics that says two bodies CAN and indeed SHOULD occupy the same space at the same time. That law is never more apparent than on a combi. Sometimes I’m not sure if I’m sharing a seat or having sex. If it’s a cute Latina chica sitting next to me that may not be a bad thing, but if it’s Luis the goat farmer it’s a somewhat different experience. Like the custer the combi operates between towns but also within a town.

Next is the colectivo, which is a private car operating within and between towns. Most of them are of the 1960 vintage Dodge, Fords and Chevys. The window handles and arm rests have long ago disappeared. The driver will not begin his trip until there are 3 passengers in back and 2 up front.

For local travel the workhorse taxi is the diminutive Daewoo Tico or Matiz. They are usually painted yellow and there are never less than 25 in sight, all blowing their horns to get your attention. Riding in one of them in the central city during rush hour is not for the faint hearted. I vividly remember thinking my first day in Peru was going to be my last.

Lastly we come to the lowly moto; a three-wheeled motorcycle. They operate within the city and in an attempt to limit vehicle congestion are prohibited from the city center. They are the least expensive form of transportation, averaging between one and two soles to anywhere in town. In the city my wife and I usually walk, both because we enjoy walking and for the exercise. If I do take transportation I ride a moto because it is easier for me to get in and out of.

There you have it. Now that you know all about traveling in Peru, in the next post we’ll take a trip somewhere. Fasten your seat belts (even though they probably don’t work).


Tuesday, September 1, 2009

So what and where is “my slice of Peru”?

Geographically Peru is traditionally divided into three areas: coastal desert, which is where the majority of the larger cities including Chiclayo are located, highlands including the Andes Mountains, and jungle. Chiclayo is approximately 500 miles north of Lima and marks the southern boundary of the Sechura Dessert – one of the driest in the world.

Politically Peru is divided into regions, also referred to as departments, with Chiclayo being the capital of the Lambayeque region. There are two more levels of sub-division but we don’t need to get into that now. Culturally in my opinion there are really only two groups – Lima and the rest of Peru. Lima is a city the size of Chicago and to a large degree has been westernized. LimeƱos may disagree with this analysis but that’s only because they have not lived in a rural area where crowing chickens and braying burros announce the new day (I am being serenaded by a number of roosters as I type this).

My postings will normally be of the non-Lima culture and coastal desert area, though I have occasionally strayed into the highlands and visited Lima on several occasions. As of this writing I have not yet visited the jungle. Okay, enough background for now. The next posts will focus on life in my slice of Peru.