Vets: For international transportation, I’ve heard good things about Petwings.
Vets: For international transportation, I’ve heard good things about Petwings.
As I mentioned in a previous blog posting, we are all content creators now. I started the M’s Adventures blog/website when I moved to Bangladesh in 2011 (you can read one of my early blog postings here), and since then, I’ve created a book for each country I’ve lived in. As I will soon depart Peru, I was looking through photos to put together my book. The previous books have been published on Lulu.
But, this time, as I’m learning how to make movies on iMovie, I thought I’d make a “videobook” or moving picture book, a love letter to Peru. I may also make a paper book, but I’ll see how I feel when I’ve edited 8,000 photos and taught myself more iMovie. For now, here’s a film trailer so you can see what how it’s going. Don’t worry, the content of the body of the show will be less dramatic (film production really teaches one how much music changes the mood of a piece).
Here is the video trailer for “M’s Adventures in Peru: A Love Letter”
Or if you prefer to watch it on my YouTube channel, here is the link.
I have become my own film crew, my own makeup artist, director, script writer, sound crew, caterer, gaffer (okay, not yet), lighting director, film editor… you get the idea. Recently, I needed some new headshots. What, I have to put on real clothes?! So I took out my makeup and put on “outdoor” clothes, set up my studio, and did a photo shoot. I even did two wardrobe changes.
The photo is from an art exhibition at the Ministry of Culture in Lima called, “Peruvian Beauty” by Yayo Lopez, and it included people from Peru of all ages and types, but the beauty on the poster shows a good example of a headshot.
What I learned from doing the photo shoot was that I’m glad that I bought a remote control for my phone, use good lighting (nothing beats sunlight), use plain backgrounds, have the camera at eye level, and take many photos. A trick I used to get a smile to reach my eyes was to do some silly photos as these would make me laugh thus causing some of the jollity to reach my eyes for the more normal headshots.
Staying indoors is giving me time to look through old photos and try to organize them. But mostly, I’ve been teaching myself how to use iMovie, GarageBand, and other tech tools for my blog.
A friend suggested that I name my studio space (my dining room table). Clearly it has to be Madventures Studios.
Face masks are are mandatory in Peru (please see vendors on my list of delivery places from my last blog posting). Peru’s internationally renowned fashion designer, Meche Correa, is finally making masks (long after many small unknown entrepreneurs). Sadly, her design is in fashionista black and not in her normal Peruvian design.
But, others are using native Peruvian designs. I see all over social media that people are celebrating their own cultural designs, like the ones from Ayachucho in the Twitter photo.
It is delightful to see that art is flourishing during the quarantine.
Fashion is fashioning itself as it does. I would add that I predict that gloves will come back in fashion. And handkerchiefs.
I know someone whose hobby is photographing markets. In Lima, there are essentially four types of markets: wholesale food markets, local grocery markets, eco- or bio- markets (farmers), and previous “informal” markets (black market).
Santa Anita wholesale market in Ate is the source of all produce sold at the other markets in Lima. I was sure I had blogged about it but it was only in my mind. Santa Anita is about 25 minutes out side of Miraflores on a weekend. I describe it as 24 airplane hangars of produce. The prices are great if you need bulk (50 kilos of limes), but it’s not worth it if you are just shopping for personal use. Nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed visiting several times.
The fish market, Pescado Terminal, is the source of all fish and seafood sold in other markets and stores in Lima.
Gamarra is the textile market. Fabric at stores in San Borja can cost around 30-90 soles per meter whereas in Gamarra that same fabric will cost 6-16 soles per meter. Gamarra is also know for it’s “informal” part (they just got raided recently).
Informal Markets (but now with legal items as well like custom made cell phone covers)
Polvos Azules is the formerly known are for knock off goods and other “informal” goods. Halfway to downtown.
Polvos Rosados is the electronics and other goods market also formerly “informal” located out in Surco.
The central market in downtown is a “local” market for Lima’s nine million inhabitants. It is near the old chinatown so convenient for tourist tours of downtown.
Surquillo 1 is a local market but also a central market. I still shop here as there are specialty stalls like the spice stall that other local markets do not have. The prices are better than at Wong. This is the market where the gastro tour go so there are lots of foreigners and tourists in this market. It’s gotten sort of dirty and it’s a mishmosh instead of neatly organized (meat in one area, etc.). On Sunday mornings, there is a farmers’ market outside. Lots of places to eat local food as well (and Venezuelan). The famous La Picanteria is just a few blocks behind hence why this market is part of the food tours.
Surquillo 2 is a collection of areas and not as safe as Surquillo 1.
Lince, Labotan, market is a local market for Lince. I like this market because it has zero tourists (well, me), it’s clean, organized, and covered. Plus, the area around it has many pastry industry shops.
Santa Cruz is one of the local markets for Miraflores. Exceptionally clean.
Productores in San Isidro (on the Miraflores border) is a local market for the wealthy San Isidro-Miraflores types along the malecon. There is a fish market there. One goes in to the parking lot at the San Isidro sports complex and the market is inside.
Magdalena also has a local market. As does every district/barrio.
… and then there is Minka.
This is in the words of a friend, “reason to never leave Lima.” (my photos do not do it justice. Go see for yourself).
Minka has an excellent fish market, produce market, etc., in the old style INSIDE a giant open-air California style mall. Everything under one “roof.” There are restaurants, tailors, play areas, a Metro (grocery store), cell phone stores, banks… okay, I take it back… maybe there isn’t a movie theater… nor a high end grocery store selling my imported cheese…
The single word, “Gamarra” elicits a volatile reaction when uttered here in Lima.
Gamarra is an area of Lima located in the district of La Victoria, just a few miles from Miraflores and other posh neighborhoods of Lima. Gamarra is known as the textile or fabric district of Lima. Essentially it’s a giant open air pedestrian-friendly fabric and clothing shopping area. The main areas are several streets that are closed off by metal fencing and gates creating a pedestrian zone (I predict that in ten years, this area will be gentrified and quite chic). Gamarra is named after Jiron Gamarra (named after a Peruvian president) and La Victoria was incorporated as a district in 1920. There is a metro stop in Gamarra, plus, a witch’s market (famous for frog smoothies and other talismans). Read more on Gamarra here if you wish.
When reading about Gamarra, the warnings are to watch your wallet. It is true that like any crowded place in Peru, you need to watch for pickpockets. Never put anything in a backpack that you can’t afford to lose. All this said, the young mayor of La Victoria, George Forsyth, of a renowned family, cleaned up Gamarra in 2019. He has taken some heat (even threats) for what he did. Some might say that he made Gamarra not as good a deal as it once was, but it’s still good for your wallet (if you can keep anything in it). Speaking of deals, fabric can be bought for as low as three soles per meter (maybe less?). Most fabric is 1.60 meters wide. That’s a lot of fabric. You can find any type of fabric but each type has an area so I’m not sure if they sell silk (having never been to the silk area). The names of the fabric are perhaps different from what you might call them (I like “chalise” — a cotton blend — for shirts), but go ahead and touch the fabric. There are many forms of fleece which is fun as it needs no edging. During the summer, the mind turns to linen (mine does), and that can be found in Gamarra as well (in Dhaka, linen and spandex were hard to find by the meter — even though Bangladesh is famous for sewing much of the world’s clothes).
There are shopping centers within Gamarra’s pedestrian streets as well stores that sell ready-to-wear clothes, toys, bags, and there are places that will custom print your bags or clothes. The area also sells plus-size clothing (as Peruvians are generally shorter and smaller than most gringos) and some of the signage will even say “ropa para gorditas” (I don’t know where the “gorditos” shop). Some of these stores sell up to XXXL size clothes, which is about a 20-22 in U.S. sizes plus sizes, but the selection is limited so it’s better to get your own clothes made.
Gamarra is also a place where one can buy thread, tailor’s equipment, sewing machines, and yarn. It’s also possible to buy alpaca and llama yarn in Gamarra but again, I have never made it to that area.
Gamarra also has restaurants and many restrooms, as well as lots of security. Like any shopping area in Peru, there are also street stalls. Gamarra was famous for the street stalls until the mayor pushed them out. The street stalls are now a few blocks outside the gated area. The busiest day in Gamarra is Saturday and most shops open around 10 a.m.
The best fabric prices are to be had in Gamarra but the prices will vary depending on how foreign you appear. What can cost 12 soles ($3.75) per meter for one gringo, can cost six soles per meter for another, less gringo-looking, foreigner. Learning to haggle helps get the price down but also shopping in the less crowded areas as well.
I once saw a meme about “Han Solo season” in which some equine looking ladies dress in boots, dark jeans, and puffy down jackets.
This season also happens in Lima every winter. As I may have mentioned before, the Peruvians follow dress code carefully for formal events, and this seems to carry over to casual fashion too. As soon as winter comes around (in June when the temperature plummets below 60 F (16 C), the down jackets come out.
I know that I haven’t gone native yet because there is no down jacket in my wardrobe. But, now that I think 16 C is “freezing,” the pull of a down jacket is getting stronger… buy down jacket, I will.
I recently cleaned out my closet and donated eleven large sacks of clothes and shoes to an NGO that assists Venezuelans in Peru, Union for Venezuelans in Peru. If you want to donate, call the executive director, Martha, 992-824-991, and she will meet you at the Union for Venezuelans in Peru at Avenida Benavides 3082, which is actually located on the Ovalo Higuereta, in Surco. The building is not marked as the Union has not spent money on signage (the employees wore white work shirts with the name of the organization on them). The office is on the third floor but it was not open yet when I made my delivery. The Union for Venezuelans in Peru will also pick up.
When I chatted with Martha, she explained that the refugees are in need of everything as they arrive only with what they can carry in their hands. She said that many are young families. She told us about a family that were happy as they picked up an inflatable mattress. Makes one think.
In the last few years, nearly a million Venezuelan refugees have arrived in Peru. Thirty years ago, Peruvians were fleeing to Venezuela and not the situation is reverse. Peru is currently in the honeymoon phase of this reverse situation and the Peruvians are welcoming the Venezuelans with resident permits and work permits. Many work as taxi drivers, in restaurants, and some sell candy to make a bit of income (I know one shop owner who gives the candy for free the first time around so that the refugee can build a bit of capital — like the Grameen system — although this shop owner will probably not get a Nobel prize. He does it for the humanity of the situation). I have seen Peruvians buy these candies out of an act of charity, much in the vein of “there but for the grace of God, go I.”
In many of the shops and restaurants, the workers are Venezuelans. They have the advantage that they speak the local language. When I was in Port of Spain, many of the workers were Venezuelans (Trinidad is only a few miles off the coast of Venezuela). This proximity means that many Trinis speak Spanish as well. I actually understood the Spanish better than the Trini form of English when in Trinidad.
Here in Lima, due to the influx of Venezuelans, there are more and more Venezuelan eateries. When I lived in Caracas, I developed a taste for arepas and now I can find good ones here as well. I did not get some after the trip to donate clothes. I had enough food for thought.
Carla Leon and her brand, Kaleydo, is in her second year as a shoe designer. For now she’s got a shop in San Borja, here in Lima, Peru. She makes fashionable handmade shoes made-to-measure for $112.
Oddly, I got added to a fashionista group… and when Kaleydo was recommended to me, I immediately nixed the idea saying that I’d given up on bespoke shoes because after having them made in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Colombia, I no longer believed that anyone could make me a shoe that I could use. Apparently, Carla takes this as a challenge and will not stop until the customer is satisfied. So, I gave her a try.
Carla’s showroom/shop is on a third floor walkup beside a pharmacy at Avenida San Luis 2033, apartment 204, San Borja. There is no indication that it’s a shop so you have to know where you are going. Carla doesn’t really speak English so it’s best to have some Spanish skills or take a friend with some Spanish skills when you go. Buy by appointment only.
While Carla’s designer shoes are all made with heels, she does also do really plain flat boring shoes! That’s what I’m getting. She can do any combination of her heels, toes, width, height, color, etc. completely completely completely custom made. And lots of sneakers. She has many brides who get pink heels made and matching sneakers for after the ceremony. Carla also makes boots and those cost 550 soles or $163. The shoes take about two weeks to be made but it depends on how customized they are. One can also buy the shoes off the shelf if they fit. Yes, she takes credit cards.
Carla likes to meet her clients the first time they come for custom made shoes. When I told Carla that when she was famous and had shops all over the world, she wouldn’t be able to measure every foot… she insisted, sweetly, that she would never want to give up tailoring the shoes to the person. She is an artist who loves her craft. With her logo of a peacock shaped like a shoe and her Tiffany colored bags, I predict that she will soon be a “I knew her when…”
Halloween, in the U.S. style, with pumpkins and costumes, is becoming more popular here in Lima. In contrast, November 1, Day of the Dead, is an old tradition, and a holiday. Unlike in Mexico, Day of the Dead is not a massive face-painted celebration, but rather, a more reflective time to visit family in the cemetery (although, still with food, drink, and music, I’m told). The idea of trick or treating is also a new idea and is beginning to happen in some places. Certainly, the stores would like it to take hold. They have already started selling Christmas items.
A few years, I was in El Pan de la Chola on Halloween, and the staff were painted in Day of the Dead makeup, adding a festive touch?
Another extremely short list. There are vegetable markets in most of the towns in Trinidad, but it’s not a “thing” to do here. I like exploring markets and I managed to express my interest to the driver.
The yuppie market is the Green Market in Santa Cruz. This market is on the way to Maracas Bay. The market has vegetables, meats, food stalls, musicians, massage booth, and artisan stalls (soap maker). Apparently, this market was the brainchild of a Trini who had lived in the U.S. and decided to bring back the idea of the farmer’s market to Trinidad.
The biggest market is Central Market. Most of the stalls sell vegetables and fruits. There is a food “court” down in the corner of a large hall. Most of the vendors prefer to set up their stalls outside where the cars can drive past and use them as a drive thru, leaving most the dark interior stalls empty and boarded up. Many of the items for sale were breadfruit and coconuts. Some of the vendors made me some blatant offers which were not on the regular vegetable selection.
The one I liked the most is Tunapuna in the town of Tunapuna. It was lively and busy. The locals were busy shopping and ignored me except when they treated me like any other customer. This market also included some ferocious clothes shopping.
Having been to many tourist destinations, I often think about the theater that goes on for my benefit. Nowhere is it more apparent than in places where the “natives” dress up in tradition costume for tourists. I don’t have any deep thoughts about this but it’s just something I notice. And makes me think of words like “experiential” and “interactive” — nothing deeper than that.
These thoughts occur to me quite a bit when I look through my photos. One place where it was evident was in the Amazon when we were transported for a “visit to an indigenous village” I felt this most acutely. No one lived in the village as the “natives” all lived in Iquitos and commuted to work every day in the village. They looked suitably poker faced and bored. I suppose they didn’t dream of being actors. Or maybe they want to show that their culture was one of seriousness… This makes me wonder about humor in native societies. I never see anything about humor in museums. I would imagine that most societies have a sense of humor.Wot wot?