Word(s) of the day

escarbadiente (toothpick) - My parents are in town for a few weeks to take Spanish lessons. They had their trip all planned out before we even selected Peru as our first destination, so it's fortuitous we're getting to spend some time together down here. My mother began learning Spanish about 15 years ago and ended up launching an eco-tourism travel business in Uruguay which she recently retired from. On our family trips in Latin America the toothpick was always a frequent visitor to the table at the end of the meal. Tonight was no different. Quiere un escarbadiente? she would say, savoring the word as she offered you the little vessel that was much appreciated after all that grilled meat. Don't mind if I do. 

Word(s) of the Day

selva (jungle) - We just saw RIO in Spanish. Twas incredibly well done. It's always fun to see hyperbolic animation that in live action would be ridiculous/offensive. If you can, see it in Spanish - or better yet, Portuguese. Just sayin'. Makes us want to see Rio, visit the jungle and, well… volar

bien hecho (well done) - A good one to remember. 

Word(s) of the Day

embarazada (pregnant) - Star Wars I-VI was on in Spanish in the last few days. Being good Spanish pupils, we decided to watch a few episodes. I had learned embarazada recently and was amused to see how close it is to embarazoso (awkward, embarrassing). So when Padmé announced she was embarazada and looked quite embarazoso saying it, I concluded that maybe the Spanish word for pregnant is a bit more apt than the English one. 

Word(s) of the day

sin fines de lucro (non-profit organization) - We spent the better part of the afternoon poring over the mountain of volunteer opportunities and volunteer trip reports at the SAE (South American Explorers) Lima clubhouse in Miraflores. They have a great collection of offers by local non-profits and private organizations that need help with wildlife, tourism or social causes. They include everything from being a cook at an eco-tourism company, to guiding visitors through the Peruvian rainforests, to helping orphans and abused women and children, to providing medical treatment, and yes, to teaching English. More on this topic later!

desarrollo (development) - Most volunteer opportunities involve some kind of social, economic or tourism development.

medio ambiente (environment) - ... View Post »

Set aside some time and go here. Then go here and here and here and here and here. You can thank me later.

Word(s) of the Day

Acero (steel) - We searched high and low for a sartén de acero (a stainless steel frying pan). The majority of people here use aluminum, but it's both a poor conductor of heat and tends to break down and get into your food, so we were trying to avoid it. We were looking at s/ 80-100 for a 10" wok or pan until we finally found a 10" sartén with a lid for s/ 50. Score. 

Some other words we used in the last few days:

rueda (wheel)  - Useful when ordering cheese.

cocodrilo (crocodile) - Heard every 2 or 3 seconds on an episode of Swamp People on the History Channel that focused on croc hunting families in the Louisiana bayou. We're glad to see Americans so well-represented abroad. The show, which was dubbed with amusing Spanish voices, periodically included English subtitles ... View Post »

Machu Picchu: Yes or no?

From a cursory look it seems we won't be hiking the Inca Trail or riding to Machu Picchu. It looks like it would cost about $150pp to go by train and bus (from Cusco alone) and around $500 to hike the trail with guides, porters, cooks, etc. Since 2001 you can't hike the trail alone and even just the assistance of a guide is around $50 per day. 

To be honest, so far we don't really feel lured in. We absolutely want to hike in the Andes and the surrounding hills and will do so with the assistance of a trained expert, but hiking to Machu Picchu seems such the tourist option. If we hiked the trail we would only really be able to afford that one experience for a few months. Would it be worth it?

Has anyone gone? What did you think about the experience?

"Matthew, it's Joanne from a pond. I'm a professionals want me to call you."

— Google Voice’s amusing interpretation of a legit voicemail from my dentist’s assistant. I’m surprised it didn’t also mark it spam.
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Irene: Pants and shirts are in the second. Jus...just throw them all into cardboard boxes. Forget the suitcases. (To Mouth) Clarke, can you translate that?

Mouth: Why certainly, Mrs. Walsh.

Irene: (Whispering to herself, smiling and proud of Clarke) Oh, that's wonderful, simply wonderful.

Mouth: (To Rosalita) La mota vienen en el primer cajon. La coca y la rapidez vienen en el segundo. La heroina en el debajo. Siempre hay que separa las drogas.

— Goonies
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Sounds of Peru, Vol. 1 - Lima, like many cities, is a cacophony of sounds. After living in NYC for over eight years we thought we would be permanently immune to the din of ambulances, trucks and buses, construction and the like. It turns out we are not. Perhaps it is because we spent the last four months in the serenity and quietude of Connecticut, but we can't seem block out this particular phenomenon of the urban landscape, which appears in every street, around every corner, every day, at all times of day, everywhere we go. It is unbelievable. It has even happened twice while writing this post. We are past the phase of being annoyed and have entered the phase of being amazed at both how absolutely useless it is, and how this exact recording could be so consistent ... View Post »