Saturday, February 6, 2010

7 Quick Takes (Vol 56)


Zippity Do Da, Zippity Eh, I got a fairly good night’s sleep so here are my Quick Takes one day late.

When you are traveling in another country, especially one that might be classified as a developing country (Peru, in some ways), you must be prepared to see certain things as you drive around. In Africa it was naked babies. Who doesn’t love seeing little naked babies. So cute.

This trip however, in wasn’t cute little naked babies that I kept seeing. This time it seemed that the thing that I saw more than I wanted to was men…..hmmmmm, how shall I say this….using the side of the road or the sidewalk as their own personal bathroom.

HELLO!!! Do you think that as we are driving by we aren’t going to know what you are doing as you stand there, gazing out on to the dry and barren landscape with your hands clasped in front of you like you are holding a bridesmaid’s bouquet….only lower. And well, I guess the landscape is a little less dry in your general area. And for the love of Pete it wasn’t just out in the countryside. I saw that little display of urinary affection on more than one street in Lima.


When traveling in the above mentioned country it is sometimes hard to remember that you shouldn’t run your toothbrush under the running water in the sink. That water is bad, bad, bad and you do not want to drink it or brush your teeth with it. Even if the condo that you are staying in is bigger than your house and looks out over the Pacific Ocean….do not drink the water.

When you are traveling you should always try to eat new things, things that you might not try at home. Just live a little and say, “OK, that sounds…….interesting.” And that is why I had octopus with olive sauce this week.

And it was really good.

Stop that gagging! Stop it right now. I know the concept is rather, um, nausea producing. And I will admit that when my step-FiL ordered it at the little taverna we were eating lunch at I was hesitant, I was unsure, I wanted to shout, “Are you crazy! Octopus with a sauce made from Kalamata olves!!!” But I am a brave girl and one little taste won’t kill me….maybe. So I tasted. And it was good.

So let it be written. So let it be done.

The other thing that you should do when traveling is try the local beer. You will find some great choices. Of course, once you get home then you can’t get the beer that you have grown fond of here in the USA. But you have the memory. One of the better beers of Peru is Cuzquena, which is produced in Cusco. I can’t find Cusco on the map but I know that they make great beer there. Oh and there is that Inca ruin going on too. Both the light and the dark beers are stellar (my Grandpa Amsler’s favorite word). But I bet that I won’t be able to find it in greater Cleveland


It just seems strange to have a “house man” who does all the work for you. I know that is the way things are done in many countries. Certainly when we have traveled to places like Mexico, Peru, India and Africa it is expected that you will have a maid or live in help to do all of the work that we would normally do ourselves in the States, unless of course you are Ivana Trump or something. But it is still odd to have someone, like Ruperto the houseman, who cuts up my fruit in the morning and pours my coffee. Who does my laundry if I need it and does all the cleaning and all the dishes and most of the cooking. Who walks the dogs and goes out to get my sandwich for lunch and washes the car and drives us to the grocery store or other shopping and goes to pick up the Chinese food and puts all the groceries away that we bought as we sit around and read a book. Who does all the ironing and mops the floors and picks up the dog poop and …..well you get the picture.

It is an uncomfortable feeling.

But I could get used to it all too easily.

Oh I am not going to be able to get ripe and perfect mangoes here in the USA. What am I going to do???? How can I live without my morning mangoes and fresh bread purchased an hour before eating. My bread slathered with butter and the most amazing orange marmalade. I just can’t seem to find good mangoes at the store.

But I will continue to try.

Somehow, oatmeal doesn’t look too appealing at the moment.

I love the sound of other countries. They are always different from where I live. Some of the sounds are just what you would hear in any other large city. There is the noise of the traffic, the honking, the trucks. There is the noise of life, people walking by and talking. They are talking in a different language but they are still talking.

But then there are the sounds that are different, the things that you stop and say, “What was that?” The ice cream vendor and his bicycle cart who goes by and blows his little horn that sounds like a demented bird. There are the funny car horns, the really different police sirens.

And the dogs barking! Of course, they always seem to want to bark only at night when I am sleeping or trying to sleep. On dog will bark and then they all get going. I would think it is sort of like the old time “trunk” phone lines where one person would call another and anyone who was on that line could pick up and listen. But do they have to make night time bark calls? Or is air time cheaper for them at night. Hmmmmm. Perhaps I am putting too much thought into this.

I appreciate the quiet of the country when I get home.



  1. Octopus is one of those great foods, along with mangos, and olives, that I certainly didn't try growing up in Cleveland in the 60's... Even if those things WERE available, we didn't eat them, because we were English, and Yankee and just wasn't done. Back then, we ate what was grown locally in season, or what came out of a can. So the fare, whilst tasty and often covered in gravy, was limited.
    Living abroad has taught me to eat all sorts of interesting things, such as octopus, which is served here in rounds covered with ground red pepper and slathered in olive oil (pulpo Gallego)'s great. On my list of things I will gladly eat are: baby eels, squid, cuttlefish, blood sausage, brains, rabbit, snails, wild boar, gammo (a kind of deer) and an assortment of other stuff Clevelanders would probably shy away from. Glad that you are being bold. When we lived in Boston, I used to order mangos from an organic farm in Florida...they were expensive but fantastic...Google around and see what you come up might be worth the money if you need to quench that craving.
    I'm happy Joan has done so well for herself...she is an amazing woman. I bet she's a great mother-in-law.
    Welcome back to Cleveland...have a can of creamed corn in my honor!

  2. Deb . . . do you remember my octopus dinner in Tarpon Springs, FLA? When placing my order, I had envisioned a tasty plate of sliced tentacles from a giant octopus similar to what Captain Nemo saw from the windows of the Nautulus in the movie, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. To my dismay, the server brought out a large platter of small, deep-fried octopi . . . some of which contained tiny, black, beady eyes looking mournfully up at me.
    Actually . . . they tasted pretty good. To this day I frequently order fried calamari when it's available.

  3. Ha Dad, I totally forgot about the octopus dinner.

    @ BarbeeAnne- it usually always pays to be adventuresome when eating while you are traveling. You never know what you might find that you will like. Although there have been those occasional "misses", such as the lovely dish of Milzwurst that I ordered in Germany. I am just not up for spleen.


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