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Friday, January 1, 2010

Chilling at Chan Chan, Trujillo

Peru can boast several intriguing pre-Columbian civilizations and the Chimu were just one of the powerful groups to dominate the north Peruvian coast. One of the the landmarks that was constructed by the mighty Chimu people was the citadel of Chan Chan.

Chan Chan was originally constructed around 850 A.D and served as the imperial capital for the Chimu people. It remained so until the Inca conquered the Chimu around 1470 A.D. The Chimu were expansionists just like the Inca and their empire stretched over much of the coastal region of northern Peru at the height of their success. The Inca tried to take over Chan Chan in 1462, but had great difficulty defeating them eventually triumphing by inhibiting the irrigation channels that supplied water to the citadel.

Chan Chan is the largest adobe city in the world covering roughly 7.7 square miles and has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site. It is located about 5km outside of Trujillo on the road out to the beach side resort of Huanchaco. In fact the road to Huanchaco drives right through the middle of the remains.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Word of the Day 1/1/10

The word of the day that will probably apply to many poor souls today is

resaca - hangover as in "I have a hangover"  "tengo una resaca"

Safety Tips While Hotfooting it Around Peru

Peru is one the most exciting travel destinations in South America blending incredible historical and archeological sites with out of this world cuisine, verdant jungle, exotic flora and fauna, deserted beaches and an energetic cultural element.

Some people have an image of Peru as being a dangerous place and may avoid traveling there or to other South American destinations for fear of falling victim to crime. Peru has become much safer in recent years and is now a leading Latin American travel destination. Peruvians are usually very friendly and helpful towards visitors and you will often be asked lots of questions about your home country because they are genuinely interested in you. However, whenever you travel overseas there is always the chance that things can go wrong and put you in danger so here are some tips on staying safe and secure while traveling through Peru.

Peru is filled with little yellow death traps known as Ticos. They are little cars that are used as taxis quite often. If you value your life never step inside one. They collapse like a house of cards upon impact with another vehicle or object. Always stick to larger taxis when traveling about.

When you are traveling with your luggage make sure you get into a registered taxi booked through your hotel. In Peru just about anybody with a car can decide to become a tax driver. Most of the taxi drivers are just hard working average Joes, but there is the odd one who is out on the prowl to menace people and rob them.

Keep your jewelry and flashy objects to a minimum. It is not a super smart move to make yourself stick out as a gringo with money as you are likely to make yourself a target for possible robberies or even kidnapping.

Lima is surrounded by a number of shanty towns and slums, which should be avoided. Apart from a morbid curiosity about how the very poor live their lives, there is no reason to visit them.

If you are going to withdraw money from a bank you should do it during the day. It is also best to choose ATMs inside a bank where there are security guards. As soon as you have taken your money place it inside a money belt and do not let others see how much cash you have.

Avoid walking in unknown or dark places at night. And even if you don't know where you are going always try to look confident as this makes you look less vulnerable to possible thieves and thugs.

On buses traveling between cities make sure that you keep your valuables on your person. Definitely not under the bus and not even on the floor or above you. Keep important items right with you all the time. Occasionally buses are held up while en route. This normally happens on buses that stop in different and remote spots to pick up passengers. A good way to minimize the chance of highway hijacking is to travel on direct buses.

Never ever have anything to do with drugs in Peru. There are too many foreigners in jail in Peru who have been caught with drugs either in the country or trying to smuggle them out. If you are offered them in a bar or club politely and firmly decline the offer.

Finally use your common sense and gut instincts while traveling. If you have a bad feeling about something act upon it, as it is generally correct. Having said that thousands of people travel through Peru each year without incident, so do not become paranoid to the point of not experiencing some of the wonderful things that Peru has to offer the visitor.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Word of the Day 12/31/09

This is an ppropriate word for around Christmas time when we have all stuffed ourselves to breaking point -

Barriga - Belly

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Word of the Day 12/29/09

In an attempt to share my wonderful Spanish skills (?) with the rest of you, I will be dropping in a word, phrase, idiom etc of the day.

First off the bat is da da da da - drumrooooollllll.........

Jerga - which means "slang". Pronounced "herga" with a soft r sound.

Stay tuned for more.

Cows On Parade - Lima

If you see some large fiberglass bovines taking over the public spaces of Lima, then do not be too startled. These highly decorative moo cows are part of the Cow Parade 2009 and are part of one of the world's largest public art displays.

Since beginning in Switzerland in 1998, there have been more than 2500 cows paraded as part of the fundraising campaign worldwide.

You will find cows scattered around Larcomar, Plaza de Armas, Parque de Amor, Parque Kennedy, Barranco and Jockey Plaza with around 80 cows in total comprising the parade. Cows are decorated by locals artists in all manner of weird and wonderful ways. Many of the cows represent Peruvian elements in ingenious ways.

Following the parade the cows will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Peruvian NGOs Ann Sullivan Center of Peru, Socios en Salud and the Lima Foundation.  Let's hope they all go to good home, I'd be udderly disappointed if they were mistreated (sorry, I couldn't resist). The fancy cows will be on display around town until February 2010.

I have included a photo of the one in Larcomar that is my absolute favorite.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Little Peruvian Slang

Peruvian Spanish is some of the clearest that you will hear in Latin America. For this reason many travelers choose Peru as the location to learn Spanish. Having said that, there are also bazillions of slang words that are used by locals. Here is a list of some of the slang that you might hear bandied about on the street.

Lucas - A slang word for soles. For example: "Necesito 20 lucas para mi entrada" "I need 20 soles for my ticket."

Cocos - Slang word for dollars. Use as above.

Mostro -Awesome