Saturday, June 25, 2011

Tourist in Lima

I'm woefully behind on my chronicle of the Peru tour. I did several touristy things before I left Lima. On an afternoon when the performances were over early, Gustavo and I went first to a restaurant for his favorite lomo saltado, beef stir-fry. French fries are one of the ingredients. It was delicious. Then we went to the Museo Larco. This was an incredible museum of Pre-Columbian art, well worth the high admission fee. Unfortunately, this was on a day when I forgot the memory card in my camera. Here is somebody else's video of it:

On a different afternoon, after four performances, Gustavo and I went to downtown Lima to see the Museum of the Convent of San Francisco de Asis.

Though there is much more to the convent and museum than the catacombs, this is what it is best known for. Who doesn't want to see skulls and bones?! Here's what the website says:
Discovered in 1943, they countain thousand of skulls and bones, serving as a burial-place until 1808, when the city cemetery was opened outside Lima. It is estimated that 25,000 bodies were laid to rest there; the crypts, build of bricks and mortar are very solid and have stood up well the earthquakes, it is also believe that existed secret passageways connected to the Cathedral and the Tribunal of the Holy Inquisition.
This is not far from the Presidential Palace:

Do you recognize this picture? I put up a picture of a small-scale replica on Av. Arequipa earlier, though I didn't realize it until one of the students told me it belonged to her family (thanks, Maria Jose!).

Another tourist attraction in Lima is the Parque de la Reserva. The water fountain park is lit up at night. Here I am with my friend (and tour manager) Gustavo:
This next fountain is a maze. People run to the middle when the water is turned off. The jets come on intermittently, so the trick is to get out without getting wet. I'd love to try that in warmer weather. It wasn't that cold the evening we went, but I had no dry clothes with me. They even have a changing room for visitors who plan ahead.

I barely got any drops of water on me in the tunnel of water.

We watched the sound and laser light show. Very impressive!

On the same evening, we went to Las Brisas del Titicaca, a wonderful folkdance show with music and dances from around Peru.

Next, I'll show pictures of Los Lobos de Callao. Guess what that is? Here's a hint, it's not wolves.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Peru posts, to be continued

I did make it home! I'll write more posts about the trip, I promise. I haven't even told you about the sea lions and the penguins, or about the BEST ceviche, or about aji de gallina and causas. I will.

Monday, June 13, 2011

School performances in Peru, continued

You might think, from reading this blog, that I'm walking around Lima, eating and taking in the sights. In truth, I'm working hard. Having a great time, but working hard. Last week I told stories at four schools, in fifteen performances. That was a relatively light week.

First I went to Colegio Franklin Roosevelt, the American school.This is the first school where the librarians organized the storytelling, the way they often do in the US. I had a great time talking libraries (and everything else) with the librarians, John and Karen. It was clear that this friendly, busy library is a hub for the school.

Some of my performances were in the library itself, some in the small theater. The last group was fairly small, so the students grabbed big pillows and relaxed on the mats in the library. It's nice when that's possible.

After that I went to Colegio Santa Rita de Casia. Hmm, I must have left my camera back at the apartment, because I have no pictures of this pretty parochial school. The older kids especially seemed to like the story "Razzles," a new personal story I've been telling a lot on this tour.

On Thursday and then on Friday morning, I visited Villa Alarife. The first performance was outdoors under a canopy, in the space where the students have lunch. In between the shows, I noticed some unusual school pets:

Pet rocks (or maybe this was something else--either way, they were delightful).

Turtles! While I was having lunch, I saw one trying to join a basketball game. It was about the size of a large frying pan, moving step by step onto the court until a student gently picked it up and moved it out of the way.

Geese, safely behind a net. Or are these ducks? I always get those mixed up.

The kids here were very fun. Some of the little ones came to ask for autographs, and to try out their English. The older kids clearly understood everything and were enjoying themselves.

We had to rush out of the school on Friday to go to the next school, Newton College, in another part of Lima. Thank goodness it wasn't rush hour!

At Newton, I had just one session. These 11- and 12-year olds had been studying writing, including the use of the senses and narrative structure, so I skewed the stories in that direction. I told Laundry Soap to demonstrate one story structure, and Gramps' Appendix as an example of an anecdote. When I left, the kids stayed where they were, for a bit of writing.

Today is Monday, and after a busy weekend (I'll write more about that soon), I was up bright and early to go to Colegio Reina de los Angeles. This was the only all-girls school I've been to so far. I told stories to everybody, from age 6 to age 17. In a brilliant move, the teacher asked the oldest girls to help out with the youngest, so those helpers got to hear stories twice. This teacher, Molly, loves stories and has been working on storytelling with the girls. At the end of the last set, I gave them some advice, because they'll all be telling stories this school year. I wish I had more time (and energy) to answer more questions there.

This is the last week of the tour. I'll write about the final sessions, but not until I've written about last weekend. Right now, though, I'm going to bed.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Out for a walk in Lima

What a week! I'll get to the school performances, but first here are a few pictures from a walk I took last Sunday.

I walked up Av Arequipa on the bike path in the middle of the avenue. On Sunday mornings, according to this sign, no vehicles are allowed, so there are no exhaust fumes. I was walking on Sunday afternoon, so that wasn't the case.
This beauty on Av. Arequipa is for sale.

It's almost midwinter and the temperatures in Lima are a steady 72 degrees fahrenheit (22.2 celsius) most days. The plants love this! Here's a blast of color I walked past, enhanced by the white wall:
And a closeup:
Does anybody else think of Dr Seuss when looking at this tree? What is it?

I'm struck by the mix of architecture in Lima. Small Spanish colonial style houses are right next to, or smushed between, highrise apartment buildings.

I was looking for a particular park, but had forgotten the map so I had a pleasant time wandering around for a couple of hours, looking at houses and gardens. This part of Lima is fairly quiet. By the time I was ready to go back to my apartment, I was far away, so I took a bus back. I'm getting adept at bus travel in the city.

I'll write about the school performances next. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

More Peruvian specialties

I like going to the grocery store (at home, too). Here in Peru, it's an adventure. What will I try this time? Today I ate my first cherimoya, an oddly shaped green fruit native to Peru. I scooped the inside out with a spoon, avoiding the large seeds. It's sweet, with a taste like pineapple and banana. Delicious!

Here are a few other treats I've tasted. The Inka Corn is what we call "corn nuts" in the US. They're giant kernels of corn. These were spicy. Next to the Inka Corn is a bottle of the national soda, Inca Kola. This bright yellow soda tastes to me like bubblegum. I'm not sure I'll need to have more than that one bottle.

Next to the Inca Kola is a bottle of locuma drinking yoghurt. Locuma (stress on the first syllable) is a fruit that tastes a like maple syrup. Mmm.

I'm eating well, in case you wondered. Today I had two turkey sandwiches. The first was at lunch, at a place where Gustavo promised me they had the world's best sandwich. I admit, it was pretty great. Turkey with onion, lettuce, tomato, mustard, mayonaise. He told me that the world's second best sandwich was at Parque Kennedy, a short walk from my apartment. I needed a walk this evening, so first I went in the opposite direction, to Larcomar, the swishy mall that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. I went to the upper deck for a bit of sea breeze, then walked among the tourists in the open-air mall.

From there, I walked to Parque Kennedy. On the way I ran into a couple I'd met at the hostel where I stayed in the first week here in Lima. I'd also run into them on the street in Cusco. Funny to see familiar faces on the street!

In Parque Kennedy, I easily found the stand where they sold the turkey sandwiches. There were a few people in front of me. Gustavo was right, this was an excellent sandwich. It had the welcome addition of a bit of spicy aji sauce. Yum.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Transportation in Lima

On school days, I go downstairs around 7:10 to meet Gustavo (my tour manager) in the taxi, driven by Senor Luis or his wife. They take us to the schools and usually pick us up. I feel completely safe when Senor Luis is driving, even in Lima traffic.

Taxis are everywhere in Lima (and isn't this house a lovely color?).
This is a fancier taxi than most. Senor Luis drives a green Toyota.

To take one, you look for an official taxi and you eyeball the driver. Looks shady? Take a different one. Negotiate the price to your destination before getting in. Last Saturday, when I went to hear the other storytellers, I took a cab. The first driver I approached told me it would be 20 soles, about $7. I laughed at him and moved on. Sure, I was in a touristy place, but that was exorbitant. The next one said he'd take me for 18 soles. No, thank you. Another drove up and asked if I wanted a ride. How much? 12 soles? Sold! That was a fair fare, Gustavo told me on Monday.

I came back by bus. Gustavo and I had gone by bus to the Barranco neighborhood the day before, so I understood the system more or less. There are designated bus stops, and lots of private buses with the destinations written on the side. There's also a ticket seller chanting the stops, trying to get passengers. "Miraflores, Larcomar, todo Arequipa, Miraflores, Larcomar, todo Arequipa..." On Saturday, I found a bus stop and spotted one going to Miraflores, where I'm staying. I got on and paid my 1.20 soles (about 40 cents).

To the bemusement of the other passengers, I took pictures out the window when we stopped. At the time, I wanted to capture the Colonial architecture, so these pictures mostly show that.

I don't know why this says "Forever". I believe that's a condor flying above it. The condor is a symbol of Peru.

Storytelling Festival in Lima week before last

Before I forget, I want to write about the II Encuentro Internacional de Narradores Orales, "Bendita sea la Palabra" (Blessed be the word).

While still in the US, I found information about this international storytelling festival online. Did I bookmark it? Nah, I figured I could find it later. Then when I got here, I had the hardest time tracking it down, because it doesn't say "festival" or "cuentacuentos" in the title. Sometimes storytellers are cuentacuentos, sometimes they are narradores orales. Sigh.

Anyway, I did find it. The festival was May 23-28. In the daytime, there were workshops and roundtables. There was no way I could go to those, as I was busy practicing the art of storytelling in the schools. I thought I could go to the performances during the week, but each evening I was too tired. I made up my mind to go to the culminating concert last Saturday morning in downtown Lima.

The festival was at El Instituto Cultural Peruano Norteamericano (ICPNA) in various locations in Lima. I arrived early and then waited the typical 15-25 minutes after the starting time. There was a good-sized crowd, maybe 100 people, including lots of kids who had heard the storytellers at school that week, I think.

There were five storytellers, Jose Antonio Nunez Negron (Peru), Alicia Barberis (Argentina), Carolina Rueda (Colombia), Jose Luis Mellado (Chile) and Angela Arboleda (Ecuador). I understood most of the stories, though one was fairly mysterious to me. I think all of them were animal tales.

It's great to watch storytellers in a language I don't completely understand. At this performance, I was aware of how their body language and facial expressions enhanced the story--or didn't. I observed how the kids joined in and how the storytellers managed the energy in the space. There were technical problems with the microphone, so I paid attention to how the performers did or didn't work with that.

Afterwards I went up to introduce myself. I felt shy, so mostly I just told them that I enjoyed the performance and that I'm a storyteller from the US. I gave my card to a couple of folks and went on my way.

I'm very glad I went. That's the second storytelling festival I've happened upon while traveling this year!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

School performances, third week storytelling in Peru

This was a present from Trener School, where I was today

Did I mention what a good time I've been having at the schools? It's a combination of the teachers and administration being so welcoming and the kids loving the stories.

This week has been packed. Monday and Tuesday I was at Markham College for eight performances. I met with students from kindergarten to fifth grade, including going out on the playing field with the fourth graders for the earthquake drill. The first grade teachers had asked me to tell stories from specific countries, so in anticipation, I worked on a couple of new stories that I think will be a permanent part of my repertoire. One is Tiddalik, from Australia (told by lots of other storytellers) and the other is Aniz the Shepherd, from the Uygur people of Western China. I love it when I get new stories!

On Wednesday I had a change of pace, shifting up to high school at Colegio Santa Margarita. At home, I rarely get to tell stories to high school or even middle school kids (for those of you outside the US, middle school usually is age 12-14, high school is age 14-18). It's a treat to tell stories to these kids. Today I was at Trener College, with the 12- and 13-year-olds.

I like to sneak in a good jump tale with these kids. Those are the stories with a startling jump somewhere in the middle. Kids usually are so shocked they have to laugh and talk to their friends for a few seconds after the jump, sort of a release of adrenaline. Then we move back to the story.

Even the older kids have enjoyed the puppets, too. Trixie continues to sit on the baby's head. When will she learn how to babysit?!

I've also been telling my new personal story, "Razzles." Remember that kind of candy that turns into gum? It's sort of the opposite of Mentos. I never realized that telling a story about gum would be so fun. Lots of chewing.

Tomorrow I go to Colegio Altair where I'll have older kids, from age 9 on up, for four performances. I expect those students will be as fabulous as the kids have been at the other schools.

El Dia Nacional de la Papa

Taters, spuds, pommes de terres, kartofi, papas, patates...potatoes! May 30 is the National Day of the Potato here in Peru. I learned this that morning at Markham College, where the kindergarten teachers made a presentation to their kids about potatoes. That afternoon, I went to the grocery store and found this sale flyer, commemorating the tuber. As it says in the headline on this flyer, the potato is the symbol of Peruvian identity.

There are around 5,000 varieties of potato, which originated in the Andes. They only made it to other countries about four centuries ago. The Vivanda flyer advertises a sale on papa amarilla, papa blanca canchan, papa amarilla peruanita, papa blanca yungay, papa huamantanga, papa huayro and papa cocktail.

Some are for frying, some are for boiling, some are tiny to dip in a sauce, some are for mashing. I have had potato served at almost every meal I've eaten out, usually along with rice. I've had yellow and purple sweet potatoes. I've had yellow potato formed into a shell around a filling and I've had deep fried mashed potato. Week before last I bought potato chips made from native potatoes that were yellow streaked with purple.

This definitely is the land of the potato. No complaints here--they're delicious!