Eating as an Epicurean

My recent visit to Lima, Peru to see my daughter was a delight to say the least.  She scheduled at least one meal a day at an incredible restaurant….some little holes in the wall, others where I was definitely under-dressed.  Out of the seven stops only one did not include the ceviche (raw fish marinated in citrus juices, chili and onions, served with a side of roasted corn and vibrant sweet potatoes ), along with causa (a potato side-dish beautifully presented in a tower usually with avocado and seafood),and well, of course, the Pisco Sour!  This trip I also tried both the lomo saltado ( a delicious stew) and aji de gallina (creamy chicken in tasty sauce). I highly recommend both!

      

CNN, Bloomberg’s, San Pellegrino as well as other travel magazines have all listed Lima as one of the greatest gourmet cities in the world! Due in part to their diverse food crops and seafood as well as the cultural infusion from many other countries,  the plethora of highly trained chefs have created a city with really really good food! P.S. Robert De Niro  was at one of these places the night before us…apparently I sat in the same chair!

   

 

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Bolivia or Bust?

Well, I’m not going to die trying but I feel like I gave it my all and it didn’t happen. It took two attempts to get the visa as I sent in a copy that wasn’t totally complete. That only cost me 10 days, $160 and the postage for 2 return trips for my passport.

As I had already booked a trip to Peru I had intended to fly from Lima to La Paz and then after a day fly to the Salt Flats in Uyuni. I booked and paid for two different flights on Amaszonas and reserved rooms and tours in both cities.

       
“Due to circumstances beyond my control” Peruvian airlines decided to halt all flights into the La Paz airport from Peru. Apparently there was an incident in November of last year when the landing gear collapsed.  Even though no one was injured that ended my quest to add Bolivia to my list of countries for 2019. I am still waiting to see if I get any of that money back.  I am having a great deal of trouble with the company that cancelled on me, partly because I’m having difficulty understanding the process and I don’t have any international phone access.

Lucky for me, my daughter is living in Peru this winter and I will have a place to stay and I’m sure I’ll discover parts of that city that I have not seen in my previous two visits years ago.

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2018 Additions to my Country Count

This year’s 5 “new” countries need a few asterisks because I counted two of them before as I had either spent time in the airport or somehow passed the border without getting a stamp in my passport.

It was 50 some years ago on my first overseas trip when my Icelandic Airlines stopped for refueling in Reykjavik…it was a prop plane!  This past January I did Iceland up properly, with good food and great adventures from snowshoeing to catching the Northern Lights.

    

And I discovered  that of the “two” Mongolias (outer and inner) I had been to the one before that wasn’t really a country, only part of China.

   

Congo was supposed to be one of the five but according to the GPS info on my photo I missed it by over 100 feet.  Although I was told later that in such rural areas the coordinates may not have been correct.

However, Rwanda, Uganda and Senegal were all legit first-timers!

   

 

Iceland*

Mongolia*  inner and outer

Uganda

 

Rwanda

Congo**

Senegal

 

 

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More Misadventures

Even though most of my travels are free from serious hassles I occasionally get caught in one of those quagmires that threaten to ruin one’s trip.  My return flight from Dakar was scheduled for 11PM and check out time from the hotel was noon….usually in this situation I leave my suitcase with the front desk and venture forth on foot for a few hours of exercise and last-minute site checks. Since I had decided to leave my sneakers and most of my clothes behind for the hotel maids, I settled into a comfortable lobby chair and read a book.  An hour before my ride to the airport I received a text from the airline saying my flight was cancelled.  I checked on-line and discovered that there was only one flight a day.  Whoa, panic started fluttering but I knew the tricks or so I thought.

Unfortunately I do not have an international plan on my phone and What’s App was not connecting to Delta or Air France.  I tried Twitter. I tried Messenger. Finally I texted my daughter and gave her my airline info and requested her to call and get me rescheduled.

She happily reported about 30 minutes later that she had secured flights starting 24 hours from now.  She added that she had requested middle seats way in back next to fellow adventurers who had not showered in days.  I smiled in spite of my angst.

         

The last of my clothes…to be worn for 2 days in a row and the view from my new room.

Not knowing if the airline would reimburse me my expenses I tried being frugal.  I inquired at the hotel if they had a room and they happily reported that they had an ocean view with the buffet breakfast for $475.  I almost choked. I replied that the view and food were not necessary and the price dropped to $350.  Unsatisfied, I  inquired if a near-by hotel might be less expensive, explaining in detail my predicament.  The kind manager offered me one at $185.

     

Breakfast on a budget: a roll left over from dinner. It’s tough to feel too badly when you’ve happened upon one of the largest birds ever!!!

Finished another book and survived a trip where all 3 legs were late leaving, late arriving but somehow managed to get me home….just 24 hours late.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Scene in Senegal

What drew me to Senegal was its reputation as the colorful and musical soul of Western Africa. First, a disclaimer, apparently the music and dancing begin around midnight, an hour I rarely experience outside of dreamland. So I cannot speak to that. But the clothing colors, fabrics and design are evident  everywhere scattered among those who choose to dress in Western garb. The Boubou is a long, light and wide garment worn by both men and women although the female cloth is much more vibrant and often accompanied by a head scarf called a moussar that is tied in many fabulous forms. Because I was being respectful I did not sneak any photos of the many beautiful people I encountered. These pictures are attributed to Afroculture.net.

    

Dakar is a city like many in that it has mosques, churches, big buildings both new and old, and of course more than a few futball stadiums.  I was surprised to discover that the national sport is actually wrestling!

   

     

While the roads seem to be in fairly good shape the sidewalks are either non-existent or cracked and dirty. I would not consider it a walkable city.  The corniche has a long boulevard that stretches along the Atlantic on the West side.  Here you will find many hotels, restaurants and the huge African Renaissance monument, symbolizing Africa’s rebirth and commemorating Senegalese independence.

     

The airport is new and at least 30 miles from downtown. As of yet, the only transportation offered are taxis which supposedly are metered (not) but adhere to the posted tariffs (again, not really).  I made sure that the driver agreed to a price before I got in and I paid the extra money for the good toll road which he took upfront; however, I never saw that road.

   

The tour of Goree island was a haunting  expose of the largest slave-trading center from the 15th to the 19th centuries. It has been called the “memory island” as it has preserved the stories and buildings of this horrific time in the joint European, American and African history.

         

This trip I used miles to stay in a fancy hotel, a promise I made to myself after staying in hostels and tents on my last African trip.  The Pullman was in the city proper, abutting the Atlantic ocean and a couple of blocks from the President’s house!

    

 

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It’s All About the Flight!

Delta advertises its service on their new Airbus 350 as “like flying on a cloud.” Really? This I needed to try. Their service from Los Angeles to Shanghai started a few months ago and they offered 3 different classes, all supposed to be superior to the old 747 that they have retired. Often times one can find a great deal on a new route or new service.  I did just that.

    

The 306 seats include two newer additions to Delta.  The first cabin is actually 32 suites where you can close a door for more privacy and a premium economy section offering a leg rest as well as an amenity kit for those 48 seats.  While this plane has at least 100 fewer seats than the 747, it has been calculated that because the plane is lighter and more fuel efficient it will be more profitable.

    

I thought it was difficult to get in and out of that pod and I’m relatively small. With the door closed it was almost claustrophobic.  However, it’s pretty tough to complain when you can stretch out, actually sleep and watch current movies on a much larger screen!

 

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Flashpacking or Not

It’s not like I’ve never been camping.  As a kid my folks would load all of us in a refurbished school bus with a huge tent in the luggage compartment underneath and we’d be off usually for the entire month of June.  I could pitch or strike that tent in 30 minutes by myself!  I’m talking about real camping too, not a KOA or other site that offers showers and indoor toilets.

       

I’ve used squatter toilets, out-houses, loos with a view as well as a few make-shift devices throughout a few continents.  I’ve carried my belongings on my back many times as well. When I was 20 years old I took my first transatlantic flight with the book, Europe on $5 a Day, as my only guide-book.  When necessary due to no other accommodations on treks in the Himalayas or Kilimanjaro it is still worth it, BUT I really do prefer a little more flash and style in my tent, hotel and bathrooms!

    

 

 

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