Thursday, September 2, 2010

Larcomar and La Punta

I just looked at my blog and realized it's been almost 2 weeks since I last posted. Normally I'd chalk that up to being busy. But I actually had no idea that it was that long. Time has been going so quickly here that I thought it had only been a week or less than I wrote.

Since I last posted, I've been on two volunteer excursions. For the first one (August 25), we went to Larcomar at Miraflores. Miraflores is built on cliffs overlooking the ocean, and Larcomar is a shopping center built into those cliffs.

The restaurant itself

Sushi boat for four. You can't see it, but the pieces of fish were massive.

After cutting our trip from 3 hours to 1.5 hours (we got a taxi partway for only 10 soles and avoided all the traffic), we went to a sushi place at Larcomar. I've spent time finding the best sushi in Phoenix, but this place blew it out of the water. It's not that the sushi was different in some way. All of the rolls were normal, but the fish was amazingly fresh. Normally I don't like eating pieces of fish that aren't part of a roll, but I found myself downing big chunks of fish (no rice, no nothing) as if they were candy.

After the sushi, we went for ice cream. There are two types of ice cream in Peru - normal and gelato. While the normal ice cream is just okay, the gelato is absolutely out of this world. One scoop is 6 soles, while 2 scoops are only 7 soles. So I found myself with two giant scoops of gelato - manjar blanco and pecan. (Manjar blanco is sort of like a Peruvian caramel, but is creamier and blended with some sort of milk. I don't know what it is, but it's amazingly good.) Then we followed that up with seeing Inception at the theater, since the other 3 volunteers had never seen it. Then as the combi sat in traffic for three hours, I napped all the way home.

The other volunteer excursion happened yesterday (September 1). There's a part of Lima (technically it's in Callao, which isn't actually a part of Lima) that sticks out into the ocean into a point. Hence its name - La Punta.

Link to a map showing La Punta. The other points on the map are Miraflores (left) and Huaycan (right).

The main town was painted in beautiful colors like this

Our purpose was again food. La Punta has the best ceviche at a reasonable price, and the town is both beautiful and not touristy.

It was a gray, windy, freezing day, so we were probably the only tourists in town. That meant that we got even more attention than normal. Every time we walked past a restaurant, the hostess would do everything she could to get us into the restaurant - waving the menu in our faces, talking about the food, offering deals, and so on. But Sara already knew of the best place to go. It was a tiny little restaurant with no one else there, but it was so yummy. We each ordered a massive plate of ceviche mixto (in the picture above) that came with a huge pile of different types of fish, shrimp, octopus, and who knows what else. Besides that, our plate had regular and sweet potato, a big pile of choclo, banana chips, and an oyster. Then there was also an unlimited supply of this roasted, salted corn and a personal fish appetizer. I also bought an Inca Cola, which the most popular soda in Peru. It's bright yellow and tastes like bubble gum, but it doesn't leave that awful sweet aftertaste and is surprisingly addicting.

After La Punta, we went to Plaza San Miguel for a little shopping. We're going to a LLI friend's party in Lima on Friday, and some of us didn't bring a lot of nice clothing. After all, we're living in Huaycan. So we spent a little bit of time looking around to find something cheap, then got gelato (I sense a trend here). After that, we browsed nearby Inca markets. They were really cool, and I'm definitely going to return closer to the end of my trip to buy some things.

Other than the two volunteer excursions, we've been hanging out with our friends in Horacio a lot, which is a lot of fun. Horacio is a smaller, quieter version of Huaycan. Each night, people gather to play volleyball on the main street. (Horacio is so quiet that they can string a volleyball net across the road every night and not have to worry about traffic.) Sarah is really good at volleyball and played in college, so we go over at night to play. They're really awesome and competitive, so I just sit on a stoop to watch the game and talk to everyone for a couple of hours. They're all really nice, so it's great to hang out with them.

When we went on Tuesday, we brought the card game Uno to play after the volleyball game. Everyone had never seen the game, but they thought it was so much fun that we ended up playing about 10 games. The group of people we gathered was the weirdest collection of people - there were Tara, Sara, Marta, and me; Walter and Bladi, our first friends in Horacio; their friend Victor; Walter's brother Miki; and three flamboyantly gay teenagers. And we had met a hippie named Eberson earlier, and he came back to talk during the game.

Besides that, I've been spending a lot of time reading and making all of my lesson plans, which is probably what I should be doing instead of writing a blog post right now. So far, I've read a biography of Teddy Kennedy (only decent book available at the Miami airport), Walden Pond, Civil Disobedience, and Eat Pray Love (which I finished in 3 or 4 hours). To slow myself down, I picked up two books in Spanish on Quince for only 5 soles. They're short, but it should take me a while to finish them.

All in all, I'm having a great time. I've only been here 3 weeks, but I already can't imagine leaving. 3 weeks is almost a month, which means I'm already done with a quarter of my time here... I actually contemplated taking a gap year from school and coming back here after Christmas. I won't, since I ought to finish college eventually. But I found myself seriously thinking about it.

I think I'm becoming completely addicted to traveling. I wanted to take this time off to slow down and think about my future before I rush headlong into a major and career (which all seems to be coming so quickly). While I haven't had any revelations, I do know that my job will have to take me abroad. In my mind, there's no option about it. And having a solid starting point to work with feels really good.


  1. Ok - the pictures of the dishes look professional and absolutely delicious. Now I am certainly hoping you are not only enjoying taking pictures and eating these wonderful meals, but also learning how to prepare them so we can ALL ENJOY them when you get back. Is this the case?

  2. Usually I'm too busy stuffing my face to ask how the dish was made. But I'll work on it!