SAE Clubhouses

I wanted to pause for a moment and give thanks to SAE, the South American Explorers Clubhouses. We're in Cusco today doing some errands and taking some downtime - and of course breathing heavy going up and down the stairs at 11,200 ft. Right now we're sitting in the upper level of the Cusco clubhouse so I can post and we can research the markets, etc, where we're going to go today. 

So I wanted to take the opportunity to tell you just how wonderful this service is. For $50 a year pp ($90 for a couple), we have access to the four clubhouses (in Peru, Argentina and Brazil). There are (albeit popular) rooms here on the cheap, a library of books relevant to the area, there's free wifi, free storage, free phone calls to the US and Canada and a few computers. Every week they have ... View Post »

Four Sís

1 - Sí, I am confirming that I did in fact understand everything you just said.

2 - Sí, I understood most of what you said, missed a few words but nothing crucial, so it doesn't matter.

3 - Sí, I'm not quite sure what you just said but I think I got the gist of it. Will talk to Anjuli about it later.

4 - Sí, I have absolutely no idea what just happened, but it looks like you expect me to be nodding, so I am.

5 - Sí sí sí… Oh wait, what? Shit, that was a question.

The White City

We're just finished eating crepes (thanks Renzo!) at 7,380 ft elevation in Arequipa. We spent the 15 hour ride from Lima on a cushy double decker. The music was loud and the movies terrible, but the seats were cozy and reclined. Arequipa is dubbed "The White City" because many of the buildings are made with a white volcanic rock. It's quite beautiful with those lumbering white peaks in the background. The breeze is fresh, there are quite a few tourists about and we are off to Santa Catalina Monastery.

Each time we get ready to leave a place, our first packing ritual involves meticulously rolling or folding up our clothing. I always think of this scene from Mystery Train as I'm putting my bag together. Enjoy the clip.

Sorry we've been MIA this week. We were trying to cram as many Spanish lessons as we could possibly hold in our brains as well as spending as much time getting to know Lima. Our month in Lima came to a close so fast. We're heading out this evening on a bus - yes, a BUS - for 14 hours to Arequipa then another 10 hours to Cusco.

By Wednesday, we'll be in a tiny little town in the mountains one hours east of Cusco where we'll stay for the next month helping a project for a local NGO. It's call the Q'ewar Project. Check it out. More to come!

Lost in Translation

Hoy Mateo, muy cansado, describio un fuente "san-serif" como un fuente "sin piel y sin manos". El quería decir "sin pies y sin manos." Pero, todavía, como se lo describiría un fuente "san-serif"?  

Today Mateo, very tired from too much chocolate de Pasqua, explained a san-serif font as "a font without skin or hands." He wanted to say "without feet or hands," but even so, how would you describe a san-serif font?

Word(s) of the Day - 2011-04-23

… hasta las patas - A superlative phrase indicating the limit or extreme end of a particular state or situation has been reached. It means literally up to the legs, and roughly translates to either "up to my/one's head" or "to the extreme", though it seems to be used more generally than those phrases. One might say "Él estaba borracho hasta las patas"  - "He was totally plastered" or "Ella esta enamorado hasta las patas" - "She is head over heels in love" or "Jose es un Americano hasta las patas" - "Joe is the ultimate American". Patas are the legs of an animal (as opposed to the legs of a human or table).

Ahorita - It is the diminutive of ahora, literally "little now" and translates to either "right this second/minute" or "in a second/moment". It is used when referencing the current ... View Post »

We have been thoroughly enjoying cancha de maíz in Lima. It is served with various dishes like a bar snack, so of course after enjoying them in a few restaurants we decided we had to make some at home. We found the right kind of corn (maíz chullpi) en el mercado de surquillo and took some home promptly to prepare. At first, we tried dry roasting them like you would roast nuts, but this failed miserably as we didn't realize that they must be popped in the same way you would pop popcorn: in a bath of hot oil. Though the preparation is similar, maíz chullpi is a totally different type of corn. Where the traditional American popcorn kernel is a hard little pebble whose innards explode into a crisp, pillowy puff, maíz de chullpi looks like a deflated balloon - a dried corn kernel from a ... View Post »

Libros son muy caros en Peru

We're astonished at how expensive books are in Peru. We understand the Spain import problem, but small paperbacks cost upwards of $25. We've learned that the way locals buy books is to buy bambas (pirated photocopies) supplied sometimes by bookstores and also by specialty stores (a la pirated DVD shops). A book going for s/ 80 soles new could be s/ 20 pirated. From what we can tell, reading is not a big pastime of Peruvians, which is really sad. 

We were curious why things are so expensive so we posted to a useful forum for expats called Expat Peru. Here was one well-versed response (and here's the full forum thread):

Why are books so expensive? I have worked in the publishing and book manufacturing business for more years than I like to remember. Up until the mid-1960's ... View Post »

Word(s) of the Day

Tarea (homework) - I started Spanish classes today. It was a relief to have some structure to studying. I've had two years of Spanish - in 7th to 8th grade - and Matt studied through high school and two years in college. But my Mom spoke to me a bunch after starting her business in Uruguay, and I've traveled as well, so I tend to be able to understand almost all of everyday conversation. Speaking, however, is something else altogether. My classes are twice a day and will last until the end of April. We're still looking for a tutor for Matt - if you know of any, send us an email :)

Boleto (ticket) - This word has wronged us in so many scenarios since we got to Peru. It's a word used in place of receipt in Peru in grocery stores and… so it seems, any other stores where your pedido ... View Post »

Word(s) of the Day

Una bolsa para agua caliente (Hot water bottle) - Sorry for the lapse in posts. I'm currently running a fever with headache, chills and the works from a bout of food poisoning. So we've been laying low. But we just took a visit to our local grocery store and, through help from Mum, we hand signaled and described that we needed a hot water bottle and voila, una bolsa para agua caliente appeared! So it's saltines, flat coke and rest for me. Seriously, if I lived in a tribe I would absolutely be the food tester who nibbles on bits to see if they're poisonous. I have the most sensitive - Matt says smaaaat - constitution of anyone I know. Hasta mañana