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.
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.
This year I see the rise of artisanal bread. Last year, I predicted the popularity of poke. I predict next year is the bubbling of kombucha and homebrews: from kombucha, beer, wine, and other concoctions.
In one year, the trend went from zero-carbohydrate to full-on gluten party. For many years, San Francisco has been famous for its sourdough bread. But sourdough or “masa madre” (mother yeast dough) is one of the most natural ancient forms of raising agent. It occurs naturally if you leave some flour out in the free air. The sourdough made in Lima is less sour than the bread in San Francisco.
There are several artisanal bakers in Lima who give lessons on making bread and sourdough starter. They even give classes in English. Amelia of Buda Bakes (uses sourdough for pizza bases, pretzels, and babka to name a few) and Francisco of Masas Salvaje (they have nine varieties including Andean grains, kiwichi — don’t know what it is either!, parmesan, chocolate, and turmeric) are two that I can think of off hand. The extremely stretchy artisanal bread at El Pan de la Chola is one of the reasons that El Pan de la Chola continues to maintain its place at the top of my list of best restaurants in Lima.
Lima’s bread artisans make good use of Instagram and Facebook to share visuals of their bread as smello-vision and toucho-vision has not been invented yet. One of the delights of bread is that warm bready aroma and squidgy stretchy texture.
Five years ago, I visited Lima for a weekend. My friend and her family, are my experts on Peruvian food and culture. She turned the weekend into a Peruvian food tour. Now that I have lived in Lima for a few years, here are my recommendations for a three-day food tour of Lima. Of course, if you plan your travel here around reservations at Central or Maido, then do that or go to one of the other places on my list of 100 places to try. This list is focused on showing your visitors some of the variety and best of “nueva andina” cuisine.
El Cacaotal, Jr. Colina 128A, Barranco: Closed on Sundays. Grab a coffee or hot chocolate at this premiere chocolate “library” of Peruvian fine chocolates.
Need to get something framed? I seem to everywhere I go. My place in Lima is right in the heart of Miraflores tourist zone, on Calle Jose Galvez, one block from the Balta shopping mall (next to Aromia coffee shop and a nursery school). The owner doesn’t speak English (as far as I know), but he usually can have work done in a week, and at a reasonable price (my medium sized items have cost around $12-20). From the outside, his shop doesn’t look like much. Well, nor does it from the inside… but his work is good (and that might be him in the photo). His hours are 10:30 am to? I think he is closed on Sundays.
The photo is from an art show (Noche de Arte) that I went to.
The Straw Market in downtown Nassau, The Bahamas, is famous. I found it to be too mass produced. If you want to support some of the independent artists and shop owners, then you will have to get in a car and go slightly (ten minutes) away from the main street. The reason for the spread out shops is that, apparently, the rent on the main strip is quite high. The list of independent shops is super short:
Bahama Hand Prints, Ernest Street: Super expensive fabric products from clothes to bags to curtains. The best part is watching the printing of the actual cloth in their attached workshop. The website is a little slow to load, but the shop is quite nice. (also, a secret tip is that they have a bathroom, if you need one).
Kim Smith The Place for Art, #20 Village Road: He offers classes, has a frame shop, and sells prints and original artwork.
Farmers Market, on the porch of the building in the same complex as the Kim Smith gallery. Basically, it’s two vendors. One who sells some vegetables, a baked good, and lobster tail tacos. The other person makes the tacos.
Bahama Art and Handicraft, East Shirley Street: Two sisters have this shop with lots of nick knacks. They don’t allow you to take photos of the things inside but you can find them on their Facebook page if you want to see what they have.
That’s it. But, if you stop at the parking lot where the fresh conch is being shucked , you can make a fun day outing of shopping local.
Sometimes communication requires a different form of “technology” language… when I was getting a custom paint job on my bicycle in Bogota, it wasn’t just that I had to learn more Spanish, but I found that it was easiest to communicate with the store manager via Whatsapp. Acquiring a product like a painted bike requires ceaseless vigilance and dogged constant contact… hence Whatsapp messages, and then magically, two months later, a reality in my possession.
Yup, I did find it sort of strange but eventually, I gave in… what’s that? Yes, I got my bike painted in a graffiti style as a homage to Bogota. Not in time to use it on Ciclovia, and just in time to pack with my belongings when I moved from Colombia. So, my advice is that if you plan to get anything custom made in Bogota, work on 12 months before you depart.
With frame shops, it’s just like real estate — location, location, location. I know that many expats recommended the framer on the corner of Carrera 11 and Calle 85. It’s convenient. I went to the frame shops on Carrera 17 somewhere near Calle 70. (The photo is from the national gallery of art in Bogota.)
After the prodigious amount of items that I got framed in Dhaka, I didn’t have much wall space left in my apartment. So I took my time getting my two items framed in Bogota. On one of my epic six-hour walks, I decided to check out the prices and options for framing. I found the prices reasonable. About $24 to frame a certificate in plain black. I also got a fancy frame for my tiny certificate from the equator in Ecuador. One of the activities at the equator was the egg balancing act. More about that in another blog posting.
When I got here and began shopping for local products like leather, glass, and the like, everyone kept telling me the same thing. “Wait till you see Corferias!” They told me I’d be in a shopping tizzy when I got to Corferias. I imagined a rough-around-the-edges Christmas market. I was wrong. Corferias is like an expo showing with artisans from all over the world. It seemed like everything was hand made. Better still, each piece was made with care.
There were at least nine hangar sized buildings with an entire floor selling only jewelry. On the international floor, they had stalls from Turkey, Iran, India, Bolivia, Peru, Pakistan, and so many others (though not Bangladesh). It was truly a world bazaar.
The local crafts were high quality and some were a good price while others were very pricey. The place is organized and there are many signs, a mobile bar, food courts, cash machines, rest areas, and a packing and delivery service.
I enjoyed the local flavors hall where they gave free samples of all sorts of foods. Roast pork at ten in the morning. Why yes! When I went back later to buy some pork, the vendor gave a friendly wave as I waited in the longest line in the hall.
It’s a good thing that this fair is over many days because I got tuckered out and did not see all the stalls. I’ll be back! Corferias is from December 6-18 (I think). Bring money for the entrance fee and shopping!