Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Cultural Bit: Top 5 Awesome Things About the US

After being abroad for the last 15 months, I have a new-found appreciation for the US. Of course, seeing friends and family is the best thing about re-arriving but the following are close behind...

Top 5 Awesome Things About the US
1. water pressure - it's a little thing, but makes such a difference.
2. hot water - not only in the shower, but there is actually a handle for warm water when washing hands.
3. toilets - they're clean AND they flush!
4. cheese - pepperjack, cheddar, parmesan, oh my!
5. helpful people and customer service - this my be the thing for which I am most grateful. I really appreciate that people care to help, or at least they pretend to.

DIY: Rock Wrapping for beginners

Hey all! I'm thrilled to have created my first legit jewelry video with the help of my boyfriend, Rafa. A big thanks to him for his video expertise (Cinergia Cusco).

If you want to wire-wrap rocks, sea glass, or any other object I hope this DIY helps. Please leave a comment, thanks for watching :)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Como el sol y la lluvia ...

Timothy M. Marston

Como el sol y la lluvia …
como el fuerte sol cusqueño
(que brilla y quema)
se convierte a la lluvia intensa
(que llora, que refresca)
viene y va otro año.

Como el sol y la lluvia,
al final del año representa
la extensión de todos sentimientos
que hemos experimentado y sufrido.
De los intensos momentos de tristeza y conflictos,
los lindos recuerdos de sonrisas y palabras felices,
un gran lección que aprendemos es que todo se cambia.

Un año acaba, recordándome que ya es tiempo
de reflexionar y agradecer…
a todas las hermosas almas que conozco,
las que me enseñan,
las que me inspiran.
Gracias a las compañeras de trabajo,
a mis alumnos,
a mi familia (no tan lejos de corazón),
a los amigos y viajeros irreemplazables
que han cruzado en mi camino con tanta elegancia.

Y en un minuto, aun segundos se transforma en algo nuevo.
Como un viento furioso se apaga una vela y se enciende una nueva.
Un nuevo año de sol y lluvia ...

Feliz año nuevo, que todo se transforma 
en algo nuevo y aun más bonito.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Cultural Bit: American Thanksgiving in Peru

Celebrating American holidays in another country is always fun. Here´s what this really entails:

1 - Explaining the bizarre story of the holiday based on American history. So the history is pretty much that the new colonists claimed the land of the natives and then everyone celebrated a giant feast together and lived happily ever after. I believe the modern tradition of Thanksgiving is not to celebrate this destructive history, but rather to be thankful for the many things we have.

2 - Stereotypes shine through. If you think Americans eat a lot, this holiday is the testament. On Thanksgiving we slave away many hours making all types of delicious and fatty foods. Then we stuff our faces until we can´t anymore, and then squeeze in some extra dessert (because what is Thanksgiving without the pumpkin pie?). Proceeding face-stuffing commences couch-laying food coma.

3 - Making cultural substitutes. If Peru were to have a Thanksgiving, the dishes would be quite different because of the foods here. We had to make some creative replacements for the classic Thanksgiving dishes this year. For example, squash pie make an acceptable adaptation for pumpkin pie. Diane made a sweet strawberry sauce instead of cranberry sauce, which was a mega-hit according to a certain guest. Perhaps the most monumental adaptation was the main course. In November, one can hardly find turkey so chicken breasts were the replacement. The gravy made it just as good.

We decided instead of on real Thanksgiving we would wait until Saturday so we could really cook and have a party. During the work-week would have been quite the feat to pull off. So we had our American feast with a great group of friends and had a fun evening together. I´m so thankful for those who celebrated with us and Diane for allowing us to blow up her kitchen.

The menu:
-chicken breasts and veggies
-ginger carrots
-garlic green beans
-apple stuffing #1
-apple stuffing #2
-mashed potatoes (or puré as it´s known here)
-sweet potatoes
-an Indian dish of lentils, rice, and yogurt
-strawberry sauce
-mulled wine
A sample plate of our feast.

Strawberry sauce and mulled wine :)

Cheers, chicas!

Friday, November 23, 2012

A New Oldie

A newly old-found favorite, acoustic latin folk singer Silvio Rodriguez steals my heart with his heart felt guitarra and profound lyrics. As part of the Nueva Trova moment, he was a prominent musical folk figure in the Cuban Revolution in the 70s-80s. He has been referred to as ´´Cuba´s John Lennon´´.

I found this song to be one of my favorites. The first time I´d heard some of the songs was when I made a friend in Chile who was playing his wonderful music on the streets of Arica. It warmed my heart and put a smile on my face, as I hope it does for you. Well, if it doesn´t...at least it´s past Thanksgiving so  Christmas music is technically acceptable. Here´s the song and a few favorite lines, enjoy :)

´´Canción de Navidad´´ Silvio Rodriguez

Por eso canto a quien no escucha,
a quien no dejan escucharme,
a quien ya nunca me escuchó:
al que su cotidiana lucha
me da razones para amarle:
a aquel que nadie le cantó.

So I sing to those who do not listen,
to those who no longer listen,
to those who will never hear me:
their daily struggle
gives me reasons to love them:
to those that no one sings to.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

CouchSurfing "Get Inspired": SMILE

Because I love people and travel and Couchsurfing is a great way to connect the two. Check out this inpsiring and sweet short video my friend created for a CS video contest. Please ´´like´´ on Youtube to help him win a trip around the world! I´m also in there, if you can spot me :) 

DIY: Recycled Crafty Wallet

I first saw this recycled project in Peru, where it seems to be a common thing. I´ve been making a bunch because I love the idea - fun, recycled, and easy! Here´s a little DIY so you can make your own. I hope it helps and you enjoy.

-1 litre milk/juice/wine carton
-paper/collage items (paint, brushes, markers, magazines, leaves, etc)
-large, clear tape
-thin elastic (between 0.5-1cm)
-pin (or something to make hole)

Ok....now you´re ready to go!

Step 1: Paint, collage, or decorate your paper. Or my friends like to use the original box if it has a neat pattern (like Gato wine). You can measure 26.5cm to cover one side of the box and both sides. Remember, if you have a design it should be planned out, as the folding will affect how it shows up. 

Step 2:
Cut the top and bottom off of the box.

Step 3:
Fold the sides in and crease.

Step 4
Cover box with designed paper and tape, sealing all corners. 

Step 5
Fold the carton off center by about 3-4cm. 
Then fold the longer side over again to create a flap. 

Step 6
Cut off the inner folded layers of the 
flap so that only the designed outside if left.

Step 7: Make a hole in the middle of the flap crease.

Step 8: Insert both endsof elastic and adjust to fit around the wallet.

Step 9: Double knot the ends together and cut extra elastic.

Step 10: Tape inside creases together on both sides.

Ta-daaa, that´s it!
Now you have your own unique, practical, and recycled wallet. 
There are lots of ways and techniques to use when making these. 
For example, you can also play with other methods of holding 
the wallet together (maybe a button or bead). 

Stay tuned for more DIY crafts.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

A Cultural Bit: Customer Service Rant

Never so much have I appreciated the exceptional customer service in the US. Usually, customer satisfaction is a high priority whether the service may be a store, restuarant, etc. For goodness sakes, customer service is so important that there are even phone numbers to call to get the help and information you need (besides the point that it may take a few hours to get through). Here´s my little rant on it´s non-existence in Peru. First, I will share one of many instances that takes place very frequently.

Last week Rafa and I went to a little home-style restaurant (referred to as a Menú) just to get a quick and cheap lunch. The menú of the day usually consists of soup, a main dish, and a tea or drink for a low price. In this case, the menú was 3 soles. A girl came to our table to take the order. We both ordered Milaneza de pollo, a plate of chicken and rice. Rafa wanted a fried egg with it and asked the girl. First, she said no they couldn´t do it. Then Rafa and I looked at each other in disbelief - eggs are a common ingredient that every restaurant has. We asked again, ´´please just a fried egg to go with it´´. She was reluctant and went to ask the chef, probably her father. She came back and said it would be 5 soles. We said forget it because a fried egg should only be worth an extra 50 cents.

So you can imagine a frustrating situation as this. Firstly, we are giving business to this place and they aren´t willing to accomodate what we want, although it was readily available. Even if they were to charge for the extra egg, it shouln´t be 1/3 of the price more.I accredit this lack of customer service to several factors: 1. People hardly ever tip, except in nice/touristy places 2. It´s usually big stores/corporations that influence policy about customer service and this is not as frequent here 3. Generally, there´s not an interest in offering help to potential clients.

What I don´t understand: If vendors and owners showed a bit more interest in trying to please customers, they would have more happy clients. More happy clients = more business.

On rare occasions, someone will offer advice or explain something. On a rare occasion, the woman in line next to me will explain what carnicera meant when she asks ´económico o especiál´ and I had a puzzled look on my face. When little instances such as this occur, it makes a huge impact and gives a little bit more hope that people really care.

Returning to the US I will even appreciate the salesperson, chasing me down and making sure everything is to my liking. 

Aventuras de Mariposas

Hello, welcome to my new blogsite! Butterflies have been popping into my mind lately. I remember that several weeks ago, I was traveling back from the jungle. There were hundreds of butterflies decorating the road with beautiful colors. Aventuras de Mariposas. 

As of now these are where you´ll find my postings. If you´d like to see previous posts from the past few years, you can access it here: http://lmnavarra.livejournal.com/