Monday, April 19

*The* Matadero: The Prince

[[Preface: So for the three people that read this thing, sorry for being MIA these past two weeks. Life was calling me.]]

Finally, I have friends here--about five in total, but still!  A few of them have seen my blog and, as native Arequipeños, had a few important corrections to make. 

They immediately noted that my previous post--"Mataderos=Back of a Chevy?"--lacked mention of the most notorious sleezy hotels for young couples: El Principe or The Prince. 

Obviously, we had to go there immediately and take a few discreet photos:

Why everyone knows about this little one that's a bit out of the way still puzzles me, but I sure liked the name, and the matadero coat of arms. 

Thanks Bryam and Eder :)

Sunday, April 18

Miguel Angel's Emoliente

Usually after closing the downtown bakery stores for the night, on our way back up the hill to Miraflores, we stop for a bit of Miguel Angel's emoliente (herbal tea).

Miguel Angel is 14 years old; he works most nights from 8-11, or until his emoliente runs out. He sells each glass for about $0.20 and comes with a yapa (an extra glass full). When we came with the camera, he was a really good sport.

Someday, when I understand my computer, I'll put subtitles on it, but in sum, Sergio is explaining what different herbs Miguel Angel puts into his emoliente

I thought I would try and find a recipe, but someone much more qualified beat me to it. This Oregonian culinary artist visited South America and thoroughly researched emoliente recipes. Here is his take:
I have asked various vendors about the ingredients and I have squeezed the secrets out of a few guys about what they use:

  • The main ingredient is linasa (flax seed) which is well known for being a source of Omega-3’s and lignans (heart-healthy, anti-cancer, blood sugar stabilizer)
  • Aloe vera, scraped right off the stem.
  • Cola de cabello/Horse tail (it grown near streams and wetlands in the US too) (a diuretic good for the kidneys and bladder and may help with senility due to the high silica content that balances the aluminum in the body)
  • Chanca piedra (helps with the kidneys (especially stones), the liver and is an anti-viral that fights intestinal parasites)
  • Barley (good source of selenium, phosphorus, copper and manganese and can help combat diabetes, high cholesterol and colon cancer)
  • Boldo (cleanses the liver, aids digestion and fights intestinal parasites, among other things)
  • Una de gato/Cat’s claw (the inner bark of a jungle vine that helps boost the immune system as well as colds, arthritis, tumors and digestive problems)
  • Alfalfa juice (a superfood high in phytonutrients that also can aid in digestion, diabetes and anemia)
  • Lime juice (um, Vit C)
The drink itself has a surprisingly viscous consistency, but always seems to settle my stomach after too many chicharrones and I sleep like a baby. 

Tuesday, April 6

Near Arequipa: Police/Miners Clash Leaves 6 Dead

Six dead. 29 injured. Dozens detained. Thousands more stranded on the highway for two nights.

Halfway between Lima and Arequipa on the Panamerican highway, more than 5,000 informal miners blocked the highway on Sunday, impeding the thousands of passengers heading home for work on Monday after Holy Week. 

Protesters reject the government's new laws protecting the environment against damage caused by informal mining. But the clash had a violent outburst. First on Sunday, Peru's RPP radio was reporting rumors of thirteen deaths. Six deaths have now been confirmed by authorities and witnesses. 

Thousands of Peruvian wildcat miners were locked in a tense standoff with police on Monday after six people were killed during a protest against stricter environmental controls imposed by the government.

The violence broke out near the town of Chala, 372 miles south of the capital Lima, on Sunday when police tried to clear a roadblock set by the miners on the Panamerican Highway leading to Chile.

Two of the dead were bystanders, including a taxi driver struck by a stray bullet and a woman who suffered a heart attack. Police said 20 protesters and nine officers were injured in the country's latest conflict over natural resources.

Congressional delegation met with strike leaders today, but didn't arrive at any agreement. Peru's President Alan Garcia also responded to the protests, saying that his policy toward informal mining would not be changing. He pointed to the polluted rivers of the jungle province Madre de Dios as his defense. 

America TV's Cuarto Poder filmed the following from Chala, including eyewitness accounts of the shootings:

Today, traffic in Arequipa's downtown was shut down all day by widespread protests denouncing the violence against the miners. 

And as for our side of the story, Sergio's brother just arrived back in Arequipa after 48 hours stuck on the Panamericana. Protesters had blocked the national highway from here to Lima. They'll have to fly to Lima and then take an overnight bus to Huaraz tomorrow morning, arriving to work two days late. 

Sunday, April 4

The Pope's Easter Words on Latin America


In his Easter mass today, Pope Benedict XVI's words on Latin America made headlines across the continent, or at least in Peru.

He expressed solidarity for earthquake victims in Haiti and Chile. To those Latin American and Caribbean countries that face increased danger from drug trafficking-related crime, the Pope hoped Jesus would bring renewed peace and respect for the common good. While he didn't specifically say Mexico, his Americas audience knew what he was talking about. 

But Pope Benedict didn't address the recent scandals, as was the headline on most U.S. news websites this morning.

Saturday, April 3

Good Friday: Mazamorra and Processions

"Tuca" with his mazamorra y arroz con leche

The tradition in Arequipa for Good Friday is to watch religious movies (which are on every channel) and eat a delicious purple corn-based desert called mazamorra morada

Sergio's dad (alias "Tuca" for his toucan-like nose) taught us how to cook it. We also made arroz con leche to go with our mazamorra, the "classic" combination. 

In searching online for a recipe, I found an AMAZING blog dedicated to Peru recipes that I will surely be referring to more. Anyway, here is the mazamorra recipe it provides, as well as one for arroz con leche.

As we were eating, this small, neighborhood procession passed by the house. I grabbed a 10-second video of it.  

Juliana, who is Catholic, explained it to me. Carried overhead first is an apostle (we couldn't make out which one), followed by Jesus' body and the virgin Mary dressed in black. All of the participants walk in silence and hold candles, mourning the death of the savior.

On Sunday, all the apostles from the various processions will be carried downtown and finally meet. The virgin Mary will take off her black dress and return to her regular clothes. While Juliana didn't tell me, I can assume Jesus won't be in the glass coffin anymore. 

Friday, April 2

Holy Thursday in Arequipa

David, Juliana, Mario, Me, Sergio
Sergio's brothers arrived to Arequipa just in time for Semana Santa (Holy Week), the commemoration of the last week of Jesus' life and his resurrection on Easter Sunday. 

While Sergio's family is protestant, they took advantage of the national holiday on Thursday to cook a delicious lamb leg, potatoes and sweet potatoes in the bakery's traditional oven (see earlier post):
To digest the surfeit amount of meat we consumed, and experience an Arequipa tradition, we joined in on a pilgrimage on foot from church to church within the city. 

It's called "las estaciones." The most dedicated Catholics walk to fourteen different churches located across a city of one million people, paralleling the fourteen stations of Jesus' crucifixion. At each church, believers beg forgiveness for their sins, the walk further cleansing them.

We followed the crowd from Miraflores to downtown, visiting the five churches along the way, including the famous cathedral located on the main plaza. Check out all the people:
All the streets were closed to vehicles. Vendors took their place, selling delicious treats including chocolate-covered strawberries, candied fruits, sandwiches, chocolate eggs, etc... 

On a street flanking the Cathedral, vendors had set up tables. There we stopped and drank two popular teas: ponche (various fruits) and diana (milk, coconut and almond). 

Here is Sergio, happily drinking his yapa (free second serving) of ponche as the crowds heading to the plaza pass by:

Sergio and his brothers assure me this Holy Thursday pilgrimage can only be found in Arequipa. If so, what a beautiful community tradition.

Thursday, April 1

Health Care in Latin America

I've been following health care reform in the U.S., and  it just occurred to me that it might be interesting to write about what health care in Latin America is like.

I plan to find out more about Peru, but this general video is a good start: