Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Elusive Peruvian Armadillo

I suppose I can blame it on being on the coast, far away from the Amazonian selva. The only armadillo I spotted in Lima was the subject of a children's book published in Spain but with an Andean flavor called La capa del tatú. Since I have a couple of other books about the armadillo, adult and juvenile levels, this one will be joining that part of the collection.

Wed. was a lovely day though it started with a fruitless visit to the Instituto Nacional de Cultura where they're not equipped for credit card purchases. They supplied me with a catalog that's annotated with what is and isn't available so that will turn into a purchase order. I met up with Roberto and the Iturriaga staff for lunch at a seafood restaurant called Embarcadero 41. I'd mentioned that shrimp is one of my favorite foods and Roberto wanted to be sure I got some Peruvian style. We all ordered and I had a lovely risotto with shrimp nestled in a Parmesan cheese basket. Rómulo insisted that I try his octopus (pulpo). At first I was reluctant but my philosophy is if you don't like it, you never have to eat it again. While the tentacles give it a chewy texture, the flavor is akin, pardon the cliche, to chicken! It was nicely seasoned with a spicy kick.

After lunch Sonia and Rómulo had to return to the office but Roberto and Ernesto offered a drive out to Callao to visit the Felipe Real fort. It's a long enough drive that I got to see a good bit of the coast on the way. It's fascinating to be able to compare the great forts that the Spanish built in San Juan, Cartagena, and now Peru. I need to make my way up to St. Augustine for a visit to their fort. I only glimpsed it in a brief visit in 1991.

Thursday I went to the Pontificia Universidad Católica campus which has a fantastic bookstore. I primarily purchased PUCP titles but since they carry others from around Peru, those went into the pile as well. The staff were very friendly in packaging my purchases for the Iturriaga crew to pick up later. They also took my business card and have already started sending updates of their new publications!

I hadn't realized that PUCP was also a good stretch away from the hotel so I was late getting back there where Roberto and Alicia were waiting to once again take me to lunch to a place that other salalmistas have visited, the Rana canta restaurant. We had a great ceviche to start. I was first introduced to ceviche in 1983 during the SALALM meeting in Costa Rica. I didn't know until arriving in Lima that Peruvians only eat it at lunch, never in the evening. Since it's a cold dish, they would consider it unhealthy to eat after dark when the temperature falls, and it would chill you. More chincha morada to drink, a nice steak and beans dish (which I've had at Peruvian restaurants in Miami), no room for dessert.

I returned to the Larcomar Mall for gifts, took daytime photos, and lingered at one of the restaurants with a balcony overlooking the sea for a snack. It was definitely chillier and I was happy I'd brought my jacket with me! That evening I went to the Italian restaurant around the corner from the hotel, and then from there a walk down the street to the Supermercado Wong. I enjoy visiting supermarkets and other local stores in Latin America to get a sense of what things cost, what products they carry, and so on. I found chicha morada candies to bring back to the Reference Department, and stocked up on some more water for the room.

I didn't have a set budget for how much I'd be spending on books during this trip. I still have some pending orders at work to wrap up and get paid out and I still have to figure in the shipping costs for the week's purchases. Any thoughts of a few final purchases got nixed when I woke up Friday morning. Something in my pizza from the night before didn't agree with me. I took it slow in the morning, nibbled some toast and water. By the time Rómulo stopped by for my receipts to photocopy and then go pick up the purchases, I was recovered and ready for lunch. I went over to the Parque Kennedy and enjoyed the Haiti Cafe that Paula Covington recommended from her time in March. It was fun to sit at an outside table and watch people walking by.

In the midst of all of this, it was a shock to get news of Marian Goslinga's passing. Marian befriended me from my first SALALM meeting in 1979 and we remained good friends. She was a warm, generous person who shared her formidable knowledge. We also shared an interest in the Caribbean (somewhat of a minority representation in SALALM) and the fact that we'd both lived in the Caribbean. She was thrilled to learn I'd gotten my FIU position and we kept in touch by phone. I will miss her so much.

Rómulo and his wife Paty took me on Friday evening to see a folk music exhibition at a place in Barranco. The M.C. announced we would see 12 dances from the start at 11:30pm until 3am! My hosts were very understanding when I mentioned that I had a very early flight and would be happy to take a cab if they planned on staying for the whole event. They insisted they would leave to take me back to the hotel when I was ready. I got to bed at a reasonable hour so I could head for the airport at 4:30am for a 7am flight. Last night was a very early bedtime (6pm) with a brief midnight snack and then back to dreamland until this morning. I'll be ready to give the libraries 2 days of me before I head out again on Wedneday!

OK, the burning question that Peruvians kept asking, and perhaps has some of you curious, "Why didn't you go to Cusco?." I really needed to concentrate on my bookbuying so I intended to stick strictly in Lima. Plus, I'd been monitoring the protests going on in the other parts of the country. Interestingly, Peruvians who bemoaned my omission of Cusco followed up that the recent troubles there really didn't make this a good time for a visit there. All the better reason to return to Peru!

So, time to turn in, remind my FIU colleagues of my face tomorrow and Tuesday and then head to Berlin! See you soon!

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