It’s been more or less a quiet weekend around here, folks.
Woke up Friday to find my sore throat (that I presumed was simply from talking so much so late at night on Wednesday and Thursday) had only worsened. I also woke up a hair later than planned, probably as a result of being up so late Wednesday, and decided to put off my Friday morning workout until Saturday. So, I pretty much spent the morning sitting on my bed, doing a little homework here and a little bit of life-organizing there. (In the process of applying for another Arabic study abroad program for the summer, you see.) After a while I realized my productivity was slacking though, so I decided to get myself out of the apartment to re-focus in a new environment. Headed off to what is probably my favorite Starbucks in Miraflores–it’s a small one attached to the JW Mariott hotel, and because there is a much more popular one RIGHT ACROSS THE STREET in the Larcomar mall, it’s often much less crowded and the baristas there are particularly friendly.
(Oh, also I should probably mention, I’ve sold my soul to the Starbucks devil in exchange for a peaceful place to concentrate. Judge away if you must.)
Anyway. Whilst walking over I noticed a group of 4 or so young men wearing sailor-esque uniforms. How odd, I thought, especially as from the glance I got across the street they looked Asian. I was going to let it go, but was hit with a full blast of it once again upon entering Starbucks.
You see, a training group from the Korean Navy came to Lima for a long weekend on Friday. So there were Korean Navy members running around in crisp white or blue uniforms ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE but most especially by Larcomar. Firstly, this is because their boat is apparently parked in Callao, a port/district at the northernmost tip of Lima, and so they have to take tour buses to get around. One takes them to the center of Lima/Plaza de las Armas…the other drops them off at Larcomar.
Secondly, this is because NONE (or almost none, I didn’t exactly meet them all I guess) of those poor Koreans speaks more than two words of Spanish. English, they have down pact. Spanish, no. So when immediately confronted on their first day with hunger and a strong need for wifi to contact home after a week or two at sea, naturally they went to familiar places like Starbucks and KFC where they know what they like to order and also where the employees frequently (in Starbucks, always) speak English. So in my small little Studybucks suddenly there was a SWARM of Koreans.
For those of you who don’t know, there are a LOT of Korean students at my university in the states–many of whom are my friends, and therefore I have taken a great interest in Korean culture over the past few years and even studied the language for a year at IU. Tragically I have forgotten most of it because I just can’t really keep it all in my head while studying abroad/absolutely-never-using-it, but the interest is still alive and kicking. So, even though the Koreans weren’t being particularly noisy, I just really couldn’t concentrate–I was listening in for the few phrases I know, smiling at their obvious fascination with Peruvian money/the area/desperation to find wifi, and just enjoying being around a culture I haven’t gotten to experience in a while.
After a bit, as I was occupying at table for 4 (others were taken) a middle-aged man with the name FLAVIO written on his cup asked to share a table with me while I studied. About 20 minutes later we had JUST breached a conversation when one of the Koreans came over and did the same, needing a place to sit. He spoke English decently well, and so with my new friends Flavio the Italian and Dohyun the Korean Navy student, I proceeded to pass the next hour in a rather pleasant discussion about all kinds of things.
FYI, it was from Dohyun that I learned about the status of all of the Koreans hoppin’ around town. Eventually both of the other two had to leave for various reasons, and I gave Dohyun my facebook information so he could keep in touch (although they’re headed off to Chile next and don’t have internet while at sea, so…) and share a photo he took with the both of us. Honestly the point of this rambling story is just that I meet THE most interesting people in Lima, especially in cafes in Miraflores. You never know who is going to walk into your life, and I. Love. It. (Also, about a half an hour later another Korean straight up just asked to take a picture with me, which had me blushing like a fool because I was so surprised…he was in plain clothes, which made it even more hilarious to find out that this baggy sweatshirt-wearing, headphones-around-neck-sporting Korean was one of the OFFICERS on board. Lolz.)
Anyway, so, saw tons of Koreans all over the place this weekend. However, I just gave up on studying at Starbucks after that and returned home, where I proceeded to begin feeling rather sick indeed with a flip-floppy tummy. By Saturday I had also developed one of those nasty, deep chest-heaving coughs which, while abated, continues to persist this evening. Saturday’s exercise plans, therefore, also no longer happened. I spent another morning hanging out in bed and then, once again, decided to go to a Starbucks due to non-productivity and also hating that feeling of being in the same nasty spot all day while ill. Need fresh air, y’know? Studied for a while, and then…
I got hungry.
Which makes sense. But I wasn’t just feed-me hungry. I was feed-me-this-specific-food hungry. And the craving? Why, it was for empanadas. I had my first empanada on campus earlier this week and, even though I could tell it wasn’t overly fresh, it was love at first bite. Thick doughy crust +flavorful meat and onion semi-greasy filling? DON’T MIND IF I DO, PERU. Empanadas are kind of a general food found in just about every South American country with various local twists, although I’d say Argentina has a pretty strong reputation for their history with these little packages of pastry-love, and I decided I wanted to try the best that Lima had to offer.
So, obviously, I googled that jazz.
Which told me that, merely a few blocks away (but in a part of Miraflores I rarely have business in) was one of the best empanaderías in the city–La Casa de las Empanadas. Calle Angamos Oeste, 201, Miraflores. So…I made up my mind at that moment to go. Grabbed my bags, shuffled a few cuadras (blocks) up Arequipa, turned left onto Angamos Oeste, and began to look for signs and smell the air for evidence.
And then, suddenly, I was at the address of 300 something Angamos Oeste, without having passed this legendary house of Empanadas. Turns out, they seem to have relocated. But, as if Heaven itself was encouraging me to go onwards in my quest for stuffed pastries, I looked up and just one more block away was a colorful building with a sign out front that I could not entirely read, but from which could discern the word “Empanadería“.
Turns out this place is newly opened. It’s called El Buen Recado (Empanadería) and it is pretty stinkin’ awesome. It’s actually really more like a fast-food joint for emapanadas, but I’d put it more on the level of an “Applebee’s” than, say, a “McDonald’s”. In any case, look for a review of this wickedly tasty restaurant in my next post.
Although the game plan after that was to go home for the night, after about an hour in my room my Norwegian friend invited me to go with her, one of her roommates, and some other friends to go see Busqueda 2, which I had never heard of but apparently was an action movie.
Turns out “Busqueda” is the Spanish title for “Taken”. So that was a good time–I never even saw the first one, but I had a good laugh at how cheesy it all was, despite my ever persistent respect for Liam Neeson. I returned home after that despite loose plans by the others to continue on in the evening, as homework was calling and I knew I wouldn’t get better by staying out all night.
What I did NOT foresee was staying up all night, invigorated by plans I have to do some travel to the beautiful Andes district of Huaraz this week as well as literally just spending a few hours answering facebook messages/emails. Whoops. In any case, eventually slept, but only for a few hours, and since my cough is still present skipped a workout today as well…oops. I did manage to do some homework, however, and am continuing to work on that as we speak.
I met up with my Norwegian friend, the same roommate (I would call him my German friend but I already have one of those titled as such here…although come to think of it I have more than one Norwegian friend now as well who was also with me both nights! Eep, perhaps I should just use names.) and Norwegian friend #2 to go to dinner at Pardo’s Chicken, where I FINALLY got to try pollo a la brasa, a CLASSIC and much beloved Peruvian food that makes up probably 70% of the fast-food empire in this country. You can read about that and the empanada heaven in my next post–I actually wrote them both out here but it got WAY too long for a “weekend wrap-up” post, so I’m playing split-zies.
Anyway, time to progress a little further on the homework, because lord knows I can’t predict how much I’ll get done this week while traveling, and I have some tests coming up soon!