Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Easter at the Embassy

The Embassy hosted a massive Easter Egg Hunt for all children under 11. They divided the children into 3 groups (0-3, 4-7 & 8-11) and let them loose on over 1300 plastic, candy-filled eggs. In the 0-3 division the "Hunt" was more of a "sit down in the middle of several brightly colored objects my parents keep calling eggs and very carefully NOT put them in the thing they keep thrusting in my face and referring to as an easter basket." As you'll see from the pictures, Caleb was very much committed to the second definition. The Easter Bunny came as well and there was face painting and a trampoline and other diversions for all ages (including a huge delivery of Dunkin Donuts). Caleb seemed to enjoy himself and we certainly enjoyed the candy he collected. We had an Easter celebration of our own as well, but our camera, after being coaxed along for the last 4 months, finally died and so there are no pictures from that occasion. Not to worry, our new camera is en route and all will soon be right with our universe. Please note, we tried to get a picture of Caleb hunting for eggs and looking at the camera, but he was so overcome by all the egg-citement we simply could not break his focus.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


We recently celebrated the birthday of one of the women with whom I play Mahjong. Pictures were taken (not by me of course since I rarely take pictures of anything that isn't Caleb themed) and sent around and upon receipt it occurred to me that I have not yet blogged about Mahjong. The actual origin of Mahjong (which means "sparrow" in Chinese) is unknown, though most accounts agree that it first appeared in China sometime in the mid 19th century. There is also a fair amount of evidence to suggest that Mahjong is based on a card game called Madiao created early in the Ming Dynasty. Mahjong became popular in the West in the 1920s and over the years has waxed and waned in its appeal. In the East, Japan and Hong Kong especially, there are grand tournaments with huge cash prizes and bragging rights. Today there are several versions of the game with scores of books written about the origins and rules of the game. The Western version of Mahjong is played with 144 tiles representing the four winds, three suits (bamboo, circles and characters) and three dragons (red, green and white). Broadly speaking, Mahjong is sort of an expanded form of gin rummy, but it is very fast-paced and generally involves betting.

I play Mahjong nearly every Friday with a group of women from all over the world (Austria, Bosnia, Belgium, Trinidad and Tobago, Paraguay, Sweden, Peru and the US). It's a nice opportunity to speak English, chat about whatever and have fun -- we do not play for money. I first learned to play while growing up in Hawaii and at some point my parents even acquired a Mahjong set for the family. It has been years since anyone has removed this set from the games closet in my parents' home, but with my renewed interest in the game it will shortly be winging its way to me in Peru. The women I play with have lived all over the world and have always been able to find other Mahjong lovers. I'm sure this is a new hobby that will travel with me as well.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Caleb, Caleb, Caleb

The subject of this post is...Caleb! Below are some photos we have not previously shared and, based on the following, clearly should have. We are a little biased, but we think this little one is just cute, cute, cute!

Siesta time!

With Ambassador Struble

Proof that every so often Caleb does get mad...

...but it is always short-lived

Starbucks Hot Chocolate - YUM!!

Who doesn't love to read?

The Sherpani Meets Lima Take Two

Our second outing in Lima with the Sherpani took us to the famed Plaza San Martin named for Jose San Martin who, in 1821, entered Lima and formally declared independence. After being educated in Spain, San Martin rose to prominence in his home country of Argentina when he returned to lend his efforts to South America's fight for independence from Spain. He helped liberate both Argentina and Chile before seizing power in Peru. Eventually he was appointed Protector of Peru and ultimately became the country's first President. Early in his presidency, San Martin met with the great liberator of the North, Simon Bolivar. As a result of this meeting, San Martin mysteriously resigned his positions in the government and the army and sailed for France where he died in 1850. Bolivar finished the complete liberation of Peru and eventually the Congress voted to name part of Peru in his honor (i.e. Bolivia).

There are numerous monuments to Bolivar throughout Peru, but the Plaza San Martin is rightfully dedicated to the man who first fought to wrest Peru from Spain. In the center of the plaza is a large bronze statue of San Martin erected on the hundredth anniversary of Martin's arrival in Peru. On the base of the monument is a statue of Madre Patria, the symbolic mother of Peru. Notice on her head sits a llama. The original commission called for her to have a crown of flames. The Spanish word for flame is llama and clearly something was lost in the translation. The plaza is surrounded on 3 sides by large french-style buildings. One of the more famous of these is the Gran Hotel Bolivar -- famous mostly not for its beautiful architecture but for its luxurious bar and pisco sours (a uniquely Peruvian drink). Before leaving the plaza, we ate lunch at El Estadio Futbol Club -- a delightfully cool (it was a very hot day), soccer-themed restaurant. The food was also good and reasonably priced even though the restaurant was clearly a tourist trap. From the plaza we walked down the pedestrian street Jiron de la Union that connects the Plaza San Martin with the better known Plaza de Armas.

Along the way we passed Iglesia de la Merced, the first house of worship built in Lima. It was built by Hernando Pizarro (brother of Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish explorer who conquered the Incas and founded Lima in 1535) on the site where religious services were first held. The current structure was finished in 1704 and the facade was built in the baroque style. The interior of the church is equally intricate but too dark for our camera to do it justice. After the church, we visited the Correo Central (the post office). The exterior is surprisingly intricate and reminded us of the Old Post Office in Washington, DC which I have always thought looked more like a Gothic cathedral than a place to buy stamps. There is a small museum in the building, but it was underwhelming at best.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

And...we're back!

When we last left our heroes they were tramping around Lima, Peru, teaching their child the joys of riding high in the Sherpina. Since then they have at last visited the famed and truly spectacular Machu Picchu, hit some more of the lovely, yet limited, highlights of Lima, fished for Piranhas, played with monkeys, and sailed the mighty Amazon. On the horizon is a trip to Lake Titicaca, the highest (12,500 ft.+), navigable Lake in the world. Clearly we have much about which to blog. Suffice it to say we have officially and finally come up for air and are apparently now drowning in cliches. More to come...both cliches and posts...

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