Medalid in front of S.American Explorer's Club
Wednesday dawned gray again and I was apprensive about July 4th being in Lima
, so far from home. It's a holiday I feel strongly about and I felt a little lonely after two weeks of travel and getting up to rather depressing weather, something like a Cleveland November morning. My first objective was to check out the South American Explorer's Club which I had read about in the guidebooks before arriving here. It seemed to be a good place to make a start since it was a clubhouse for travelers and ex-pats in Peru. It was located in a nice house on a quieter sidestreet in Miraflores
, not far from Barranco
where I am staying.
I was welcomed and given a tour by the nice Finnish girl who is a volunteer there. Well, it was overwhelming the amount of resources available. Book exchange, library, books for sale (especially guidebooks and maps for all of Peru and South America), binders filled with contacts and reviews of volunteer organizations, bus and airline companies, touring outfits, accomodations, places to eat, contacts for anything a foreigner could want in a big city. They have wireless internet access, free coffee and cookies, a kitchen and comfortable tables and couches. There are clubhouses in Cusco
(near Machu Pichu in Southern Peru), Quito, Ecuador and a new one in Buenos Aires. I knew that if I were to be traveling and working for a year or so, I would need to join and get the full benefits.
$50 a year also gets you a quarterly members magazine published in Ithaca, New York, their headquarters. So I settled down for a couple hours to take advantage of the contacts and browse through some of the information. I could see coming back there often to research and to hang out with other travelers. They said they were having an impromptu party that evening for the 4th of July and invited me to come, as long as I brought some food. There were going to have beer for sale.
So I stopped back that evening after picking up some ribs, corn (choclo..much different than American sweet corn. The kernels are much bigger and it's blander and not as sweet, and it has a mealy consistancy. Not very good on the whole I'd say), and a half of a watermelon. I didn't know what to expect so I bought enough for several people.
When I got there I was the first one and there was no rhyme or reason to the preparations. Miles, a British fellow, was in the kitchen and was cutting up carrots, eggplant and onions to grill as shish-kebobs. I got to work making a barbeque sauce and scrounged through the kitchen for the ingredients. Miles could see I was serious and he appointed me head chef for the evening. Some other Americans started to trickle in with packages of sausages and chorizo, hamburger meat, even some bread that could be fashioned into buns. Miles lit the grill and before long the party was in full swing. I ended up modifying the kebabs by leaving out the carrot(!) and spearing the barbequed pork pieces and they came out quite well. One of the girls brought plantains which we grilled, and Miles had backed a Pavlova, a sort of meringue with strawberries and whipped cream.
Barranco Electricity Museum
Appetites were satisfied and the beer was flowing and conversation going strong when an older Peruvian guy showed up out of nowhere. No one thought to ask what he was doing there because he just crashed the party and started talking to everyone. Before we knew it he was inciting us to sing American songs. Let's see, Andrew + July 4th + Far From Home + Beer = Choir director for America the Beautiful, The Star-Spangled Banner, This Land Is Our Land, and more unlikely, but just as much fun, Bye Bye Miss American Pie, Guantanamera, La Bamba and assorted others with lyrics half-remembered. We laughed and sang and sang some more until it was clearly time to call it quits. I had invited a girl I had met through the internet, Grisel, and she was a good sport and joined in the conversation and took videos of the singing marathon.
I hadn't had much chance to talk with her so we went not too far away to a nice restaurant cum multi-level bar called Bruja de Cachiche (Witches of Cachiche) named after folktales of witches in that part of Peru. It was a thoroughly modern and hopping place, even for a Wednesday, and there was nary a seat to be had on 4 levels except at the main bar at the entrance, where they whipped up their famous Pisco
Sour. It's the Peruvian national cocktail and it's made with white brandy from Pisco, south of Lima, sour mix, simple sugar and frothed egg white, garnished with a dash of bitters. Delicious cannot even describe it. I can see myself doing my share to contribute to Pisco's economy during my stay here! They also make it with different fruit juices, somewhat like variations on the classic margarita.
Off Pedro D'Osma
Grisel had a Pisco Sour with an orangish-reddish juice and I actually liked it even better than the classic version. But they were both delicious. I got the bartender to write me the recipe and I gave him my card from the wine bar with the classic Martini recipe on the back.