Wednesday, March 31, 2010

San Pedro de Atacama

We spent a couple of nights in the quaint desert town of San Pedro de Atacama.  The center of town is packed with restaurants and shops.  In the central square, giant trees protect a scattering of benches from the harsh desert sun.

...but literally a two minutes walk from the center is complete nothingness; desert for as far as the eye can see.  This is the view out the front door of our hostel, on the top left you can see the Licancabur volcano.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mannequins of Arica

I can easily say that the mannequins of Arica are much creepier than any we've come across in our travels so far--they're dated, broken, dramatic, depressed, angry, bald, name it:

Yes, these mannequins are chained together by their necks... perhaps it takes a bit more to catch the attention of South American shoppers?

Octopus Ceviche

On our last night in Arica, our hostel owner's friend Eddie (owner of a popular empanada stand), taught us how to make octopus ceviche. Now, we'll teach you!

First, boil the whole octopus for 45 minutes-1 hour in salted water. You'll know when it'd tender because you'll be able to cut it with a fork. (A lot of recipes reccomend putting a cork in the water to help tenderize the octo. Eddie didn't, but it can't hurt, right? You can also freeze the octopus to tenderize it, or beat it with a rolling pin...)

For the marinade:
- 5 tblsp lime juice
- 1/4 c finely chopped red onion
- 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
- 2 tsp finely chopped scallions
- finely chopped hot pepper, serrano or red chilies to taste (we
  used one hot pepper)
- salt and pepper to taste

Cut the octopus into bite-sized pieces, toss with the marinade, and voila!

Friday, March 26, 2010

On-site with Costa Norte Surf Magazine (Arica)

Yesterday we had the good fortune of tagging along on a Costa Norte Surf Magazine video-shoot for 16-year old surfing prodigy, Guillermo Satt. He was interviewed against the backdrop of some awesome coastal caves just south of Arica.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Arica Surf House

Arica Surf House has edged out Pariwana as our favorite hostel in South America. The space itself is so terrific that one hardly notices the complete lack of amenties (breakfast, hot water, organized activities, etc.). We´ve spent four nights here, and are continuing south tonight with heavy hearts and excellent suntans. Next stop: San Pedro de Atacama.

Partially open-air common room/kitchen with unreal view of the stars at night.

Our airy, bunk-bed-free dorm room.

The hostel´s owner, Kurt, is always down to dole out surfing tips or lead a workshop in sushi-making.


We have been having a wonderful time in Arica, a beach town in Northern Chile.  It truly feels like vacation...we've been reading on the beach, cooking great meals,  swimming in the ocean, and watching friends from the hostel surf what are supposedly some of the best breaks in South America.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Peru Recap

best hostel: Pariwana, Cusco

best free breakfast: crepes at Bothy Hostel, Arequipa

best restaurant: Granja Heidi, Cusco

hottest commodity: clean drinking water (close second: toilet paper)

best outdoor activity: trekking in Colca Canyon

coolest cultural landmark: Santa Catalina Convent, Arequipa (close second: Coricancha, Cusco)

favorite new band: Velandia y la Tigra, Colombia

best food: ceviche, Punto Azul, Lima (close second: ham, banana, and egg pizza at Chez Maggie, Cusco)

worst food: anticuchos (cow heart)

best guilty pleasure: wafers. we were up to a pack a day for a while...

best hosts: Gustvao and Miguel, Lima

biggest disappointment: Machu Picchu was closed (though we knew that when we booked our trip)

scariest moment: being positive during every taxi ride in Cusco that we were being kidnapped...

biggest lesson learned: bargain for EVERYTHING. Even hostel prices are negotiable. (close second: splurge on the luxury busses)

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Public Markets in Peru

Most of the cities and towns we´ve visited in Peru have had large public markets near the center of town. In them you can buy anything from colorful textiles to cow snouts to live animals for no more then a couple of dollars. Here are some pictures from the public market in Arequipa. Vegetarians and anyone squeamish beware, these photos are not for the faint of heart!!

these markets generally span several city blocks

frog juice, no joke

We´ve heard quite a few Peruvians boast of having thousands of types of potatoes in their country. At the central market in Arequipa, we finally got a visual.

llama heads, I´m really sorry for making you look at this, but CRAZY, right???

skinned frogs

you can buy all sorts of live animals...guinea pigs, bunnies, turkeys, parakeets, etc

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Andean Apparel

Boy´s uniform on the island of Taquile
Lake Titicaca, Peru

We have found ourselves constantly admiring the beautiful colors and patterns of traditional Peruvian attire
Chivay, Peru

Exploring Lake Titicaca and Taquile Island

Yesterday afternoon we returned to Puno after an incredibly well photo-documented overnight on the island of Taquile in Lake Titicaca.

En route to the island, our boat stopped off at one of the amazing, floating Uros Islands, all of which are man-made from tortora reed. Inhabitants lay down a new layer of reeds every 15 days.

The women of the island, clad in a rainbow of textiles, cheerfully greet visitors.

Rives and Molly, (our friend from Colombia who we met trekking in the Colca Canyon), chowing down on some tortora reed.

After a 3 hours boat ride, we arrived at Taquile Island.

Our delish first meal on the island: fried trout.

The vegetarian option was less appealing... omelette with french fries. Peruvians manage to work fries in to every single meal!

We spent the night at the mud-walled home of a local family with four adorable little girls.

We spent the whole afternoon and evening hanging out in the town's main square with a bunch of awesome kids.

Sebastian, our friend from Berlin, showing one of our new little friends how to work a digital camera.

All of the boys and men on the island wear these funny hats. If a man is married, his hat is all red. The red and white caps worn by these lads signify that they are swingin' single.

The kids schooled us in soccer...

...though we blame the altitude (12,507 feet).


Molly and Rives swimming in the frigid Lake Titicaca.

Best seats in the house for the boat ride back to Puno. What a trip!

Colca Canyon

Just got back from a three day trek through southern Peru's beautiful Colca Canyon. We met great people, saw the condors, tried alpaca for the first time (twice in one day), and the views were absolutely breathtaking. I could go on and on, but I think the pictures describe it best. Enjoy!

Colca Canyon, 4160 meters deep (more than twice the Grand Canyon)


Juan de Chu Chu, where we spent our first night in the canyon

our first taste of alpaca. not bad. I think it tastes a lot like pork.

us with our trek-mates at our first night´s lodging

view from our hut

Liz eating pacay, a delicious fruit that grows on trees throughout the canyon. Our friend Dionne from Lima taught us about them and we burned through loads of them!