Connect to Peru

Where Americans and Peruvians Living Abroad Connect to Peru

“Connect to Peru” Feeds Leading Greater Miami, Florida Portal with Peruvian News

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miamiI’m excited to share some great news: our friends from MiamiPeru.com have posted a “Connect to Peru” link in their website!

MiamiPeru.com is a leading portal that keeps its readers informed about the latest Peruvian news, events, restaurants, nightlife and art in the Greater Miami, Florida area. Its editorial team is led by Marino del Varco, former reporter at The Miami Herald, Washington, DC’s El Pregonero and El Latino, Peruvian newspaper Expreso, among others.

With this link, we look forward to keeping the many Peruvians and Americans living in the Greater Miami, FL area informed about the latest Peruvian news.

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Written by Catherine Castro

February 27, 2009 at 12:13 pm

Posted in General, News

Back On Track!

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writing1Hi everyone!

Well, it’s been some crazy busy February work weeks and an awful flu I finally battled and went through before getting back on track to writing again.

I’m sure more than one reading this post has been working or somehow thinking on how they could be affected by the Economic Stimulus Package — the main reason for my several nights of insomnia and long hours working in my main job as a publicist in the Washington, DC area.

Also, I want to thank my BFF the Nyquil bottle for helping me successfully battle the worst point of a week and a half long flu working (whenever I wasn’t drowsy) from my bed.

Anyways, “Connect to Peru” and this humble writer of yours is back on track and ready to continue giving you the most exciting and fun things about what Peru can offer for your next big trip to my beloved South American hometown.

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback and comments, and for coming back every day to read our daily updates! It has just been three months since launched, and a wonderful journey!

Cheers to you all, and let’s get back to the show!  🙂

Written by Catherine Castro

February 23, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Posted in General, News

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The Specially Designed Riedel Crystal Glass Exclusively for the Peruvian Pisco

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Worldwide Introduction of the Peruvian Pisco Glass by Riedel Glass Corp.

Worldwide Introduction of the Peruvian Pisco Glass by Riedel Glass Corp.

Just as the white wine, the red wine, the champagne, etc. have their own glass design to correctly appreciate and savor their kindness to the taste, the pisco has its own specially designed glass designed and produced by the world renowned Austria house Riedel.

Chosen among 29 final prototypes, the exclusively designed crystal glass for Peruvian pisco was presented in Vienna on May 11, 2006, and shipped to Peru on July 24, 2006. It is a tulip-shaped glass.

Click here top watch a video that walks you through the Riedel headquarters in Vienna, Austria and how they produce their unique designs, including the pisco glass. Although the video is in Spanish, it includes an interview in English with the Riedel’s House President George Riedel at the beginning of the video, and then further comments on minute 6:50.

If you want to learn more about pisco, click here for a great website in English (click each of the yellow icons on the bottom of the site). Click the icon with the glass image in the middle bottom row to get the specs/measurements of the Riedel glass.

Written by Catherine Castro

February 8, 2009 at 11:12 pm

Cherry Piscotini, Recipe Exclusively From Las Canteras Restaurant

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Cherry Piscotini by Las Canteras (Washington, DC)

Washington-DC based Las Canteras co-owner Gary Lee shares with us another one of his innovative pisco-based drink recipes exclusively with “Connect to Peru” in celebration of “Pisco Day”.

So here is the recipe, and hope you have fun trying it at home!

Cherry Piscotini
Ingredients (1 serving): Two and a half ounces of cherry-infused Pisco, one half ounce of blackberry schnapps, a half ounce of cherry juice, juice from 1/2 lime, a splash of soda, a scoop of ice.

To make the drink, mix all of the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake well until nicely chilled. Serve in a chilled martini glass.

Optional decoration: sugar around the rim of the glass.Garnish with a cherry.

Enjoy!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 8, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Macadamia Crusted Salmon Filet with Pisco-Based Sauce, Exclusively From Taranta

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Macadamia Crusted Salmon Filet with Pisco-Based Sauce by Taranta Restaurant (Boston, MA)

Macadamia Crusted Salmon Filet with Pisco-Based Sauce by Taranta (Boston, MA)

So today we are kicking off Day 2 of our “Pisco Day” Special Weekend Edition! And it’s great to do it with a wonderful recipe exclusively from Taranta‘s owner Jose Duarte, a Peruvian top chef and one of America’s leaders in “green” restaurants. Taranta is one of the very few restaurants in the U.S. to be a Certified Green Restaurant. In fact, Taranta was recently named among the “50 Best Restaurants in Boston” by Boston Magazine.

And if you are in the Boston, MA area, you might want to stop by Taranta this weekend. Taranta will be offering a Pisco Sour tasting to all its customers in celebration of “Pisco Day”!

So here it is….today, chef Duarte shares with us his recipe for a Macadamia Crusted Salmon Filet with a Pisco-based sauce….YUM! Thanks to chef Duarte for sharing this great recipe with us!

MACADAMIA CRUSTED SALMON FILET

By: Chef Jose Duarte, Taranta (Boston, MA)

 

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

4 pieces of salmon 8 oz each

1/2 cup Crushed macadamia nuts

1/2 cup breadcrumbs

1 spoon lemon zest

1 cup of Sicilian Blood Orange Juice

1/4 cup of Peruvian Pisco

1/2 cup of heavy cream

Bunch of Asparagus, grilled

2 cups of Arborio Rice

Thyme

 

To make the risotto cake:

Make rice following a standard risotto recipe, expand in a sheet pan and let it cool, place in a mixing bowl and add, salt, pepper, 1/4 cup of cream and sprinkle some thyme, make muffin shape pieces and cook until the sides are crispy.

 

To make the crust:

Mix breadcrumbs with macadamia, lemon zest, add salt and pepper to taste.

 

To make the sauce:

In a medium sautee pan bring the juice o a boling point then add pisco and cook for 2 minutes, reduce flame and gradually add 1/2 cup of heavy cream mixing with a wisk. Salt Pepper to taste.

 

Cooking the Salmon:

Season salmon pieces, then sear on high heat on a large pan, Remove and crust with macadamia mix, place in preheated oven at 350 for 10 – 15 minutes until crust is golden color. Do not overcook the fish otherwise it will dry.

 

Serve by placing the risotto cake on the bottom of the dish, then the asparagus, then the crusted salmon and finalize with the sauce.

 

Bon Apetit!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 8, 2009 at 9:31 am

The Origins of the Pisco

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piscoInstead of writing a post about pisco and its origins, here is a two-part video named “Pisco, cultural heritage of Peru” that walks you through the origins of pisco, including locations where it is produced in the south coast of Peru, official documents from centuries ago proving pisco is authentic from Peru (and nowhere else — others claimed to be pisco are really a totally different liqueur not 100% from grapes — a key characteristic of the authentic pisco), as well as interesting recipes you can make with pisco. You might also want to take note of the locations mentioned in this video which are great places where you can visit and see how pisco is produced.

Part 1

  • The history
  • The old cellars
  • The name
  • Pisco tourism

Part 2

  • Bar and Kitchen — includes commentary from Peruvian top chefs Isabel Alvarez, Gaston Acurio and Pedro Schiaffino
  • Cultural Heritage

Written by Catherine Castro

February 8, 2009 at 9:21 am

How is Peru Celebrating “Pisco Day”?

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Tourists Enjoy Pisco Sours in Lima (Andina)

Tourists Enjoy Pisco Sours in Lima (Andina)

The Pisco Sour, the most symbolic beverage of Peru and considerd a “national cultural patrimony”, will be starring this weekend’s crowded festivals in Peru, with thousands of free tastings, contests and dances throughout the country, as the largest Peruvian newspaper El Comercio reports.

Many activities, such as free tastings, competitions and dances are taking place in the capital city of Lima, and throughout the nation since Thursday, February 5 thru tomorrow Sunday, February 8.

In Lima, the Municipality of Surco, Peru’s Ministry of Production and the National Commission of Pisco (Conapisco) will host the 6th National Pisco Sour Festival at the Parque de la Amistad in Surco district.

Andina news reports:

Visitors will have the opportunity to sample Peru’s flagship drink and enjoy a series of artistic and cultural activities. The festival will open at 12:00 (local time) with a Pisco Sour toast and thereafter local authorities will unveil a bust of Victor Morris, creator of the original Pisco Sour recipe.

At 15:00, several young students will participate in a Pisco Sour contest; while at 18:00, the “Pisco Sour: History and Tradition” book by Guillermo Díaz Vera will be presented.

Afterwards, Peruvian historian Luis Repetto, journalist Raul Vargas and deputy foreign minister Gonzalo Gutiérrez will comment on certain particulars of this book.

The Pisco Sour contest will continue on Saturday, Feb. 7, at 15:00 with the professional category and then Creole singer Cecilia Barraza will perform for the audience at 21:30.

The celebrations will end on Sunday, Feb 8, at 15:00 with the final of the Pisco Sour contest in the champions category. All these shows and activities are free.

The Parque de la Amistad (Friendship Park) is located in the Limean district of Surco, a block from the intersection of Benavides and Caminos del Inca Avenues.

In the provinces of Peru, many free demonstrations will take place this weekend, as well as dances and all kinds of activities to promote the Pisco Sour.

In the southern region of Ica, where the pisco originated, visitors will receive 3,000 free Pisco Sour drinks, and the Pisco Producers Association will elect its “Queen of the Pisco”.

Contests will take place where bartenders, chefs, students or fans will prepare their own recipes and look to win the prize for the “Best Pisco Sour”.

Written by Catherine Castro

February 7, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Posted in drinks, Events, News, Travel

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Where to Celebrate “Pisco Day” in the U.S., by Macchu Pisco CEO and Owner Melanie Asher

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melanie3Our friend and owner of Macchu Pisco Melanie Asher provides a list of the hottest places in the main U.S. cities to celebrate “Pisco Day” this weekend. Here is the list and a link to their websites to get more information!

In New York: PDT (113 St. Marks Pl., in the East Village) or Yerba Buena (23 Avenue A)

In Washington, DC: The Gibson (2009 14th St. NW, in the U Street area), Bar Pilar (1833 14th St NW, in the U Street area) or Las Canteras (in Adams Morgan)

In Virginia: PX Lounge (in Alexandria) or The Majestic (in Alexandria)

In Maryland: Aroma (in Olney)

In Boston: The Four Seasons (200 Boylston Street) and Eastern Standard (528 Commonwealth Ave)

In Las Vegas: Sushi Samba (3325 Las Vegas Blvd. South)

And, to this list I’d also add:

In Boston: Taranta (North End) and Orinoco (22 Harvard Street in Brookline, or 477 Shawmut Avenue in downtown).

Happy Pisco Day, and thanks to Melanie for sharing these tips with Macchu Pisco fans!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm

“Pisco Day” Special Weekend Edition: Sour Haas Pisco Drink Recipe Exclusively From Las Canteras Restaurant

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Sour Haas

"Sour Haas" by Las Canteras Restaurant (Washington, DC)

It’s finally here! Every first Saturday in February, Pisco Day is celebrated in Peru and around the world to commemorate such a delicious liqueur, and the basis for preparing what people are claiming to be the hottest drink in 2009: the Pisco Sour.

Throughout this weekend, we will be publishing several pisco-related posts to celebrate this special day, including pisco recipes exclusively from Gary Lee – the co-owner of Washington, DC-based Peruvian restaurant Las Canteras – who is an expert on creating innovative pisco-based drink recipes, exclusive interviews, as well as tips on where to get good pisco sours, among other fun things.

This morning, we are kicking off the Pisco Day Special Edition with a recipe for Sour Haas, named after Hass avocados, one of the key ingredients. It’s designed to be a delicate balance between avocado, mint, pineapple juice and Pisco. Thanks to Gary for sharing this recipe with us! DO try it at home…or stop by tonight at Las Canteras restaurant to get it straight from Gary!

Sour Haas Recipe (1 serving)

Ingredients: four teaspoons of ripe avocado, eight leaves of mint, two and a half ounces of Pisco, two ounces of pineapple juice, two teaspons of simple syrup, and a scoop of ice.
 
Muddle the mint gently in a cocktail shaker. Mash the avocado into the mint with the muddler. Add the Pisco,  juice, simple syrup and ice and shake very well. The avocado and mint should be blended nicely together. 
 
Serve in a highball glass, garnished with a sprig of mint.

Enjoy!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 6, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Update from our Argentinean Blogger Friend Seba on his Trip to Peru

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sebaWe just got a message from our Argentinean blogger friend Seba as he is back in Argentina after a couple of weeks vacation in Peru — a trip he just did following our posting about a northern Peruvian beach called Cabo Blanco where Ernest Hemingway got inspiration from to write his book “The Old Man and the Sea”.

Here is a translation of his comment posted this morning:

“Well, I am back in Argentina since yesterday, will be a week of reaccomodating myself to work but I promise a super post next week. Your country (Peru) is really beautiful, with things to discover in every single corner, and, as an extra gift, with prices really but really cheap. Hugs and thanks for everything!”

Looking forward to reading all the details about his experience in Peru next week!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 5, 2009 at 10:00 am

Calling Las Vegas, New York and Miami…Gaston Acurio’s Peruvian Cuisine is on the Way!

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Traditional Lomo Saltado

Traditional Lomo Saltado

According to today’s Associated Press story published in today’s Florida’s Sun Sentinel newspaper, Gaston Acurio – one of Peru’s top chefs and one of the leaders in Peruvian cuisine around the world – announced his empire will be opening more La Mar seafood restaurant locations in Las Vegas, New York and Miami.

As the article states,

“Acurio hopes to inundate the U.S. and European markets with his brands, from a mall-friendly stuffed potato franchise to microwavable Peruvian favorites and seasonings for grocers. Acurio says investors have been eager to back his projects.”

Acurio brings the best of Peruvian cuisine to the palate of the international gastronomy fans — also named “neo Peruvian cuisine” which is a bit different from what traditional native Peruvian cuisine is all about. So how do you know which one is which? Might be a bit tough if you are not Peruvian or you don’t have a Peruvian friend at your table. Let’s see…I will show you the difference from visuals that might help for one of Peruvian cuisine’s most traditional dishes, the Lomo Saltado. The photo above is the traditional-styled Lomo Saltado which is more home-y, more rustically served, this is how Peruvians eat it every day. Now check the picture in the AP story and you will see it is a bit more refined and styled up. Neither of them are right or wrong, just two different styles. If you want to have the authentic one, you might want to try the traditional style of course. That is how many Peruvians have enjoyed their cuisine for many generations.

There is no question about how Acurio’s efforts have benefited and promoted tremendously the Peruvian gastronomic art (yes, it is an art) around the world. And if you want to learn more about Gaston Acurio, get a refresher of the postings I did earlier, one on his new La Mar restaurant opening in California, and another posting about its ratings.

Look forward to trying the new locations! And if you are a local in any of these three cities, let us know how was your experience!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 5, 2009 at 8:37 am

British Woman to Trek the Peruvian Andes to Raise Money for Mental Health Charity

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treking1Great to read that Peru’s geographic landscape will be witnessing such a nice gesture for mentally disabled people in the UK.

Sara Burden, a woman native from Belper, United Kingdom, will be treking the Peruvian Andes in September 2009 to raise funds for the Mental Health Foundation, a

Burden states in the article:

“The trek is seven days across the Andes. We will trek for eight or nine hours a day and will train for 16 weeks.”

How can you support her? If you are in the UK, you might want to stop by at her art auction at “The Little Gallery” on Bridge Street from February 7 – 21.

Good luck on your treking adventure in Peru, and congratulations on such a nice gesture!

Written by Catherine Castro

February 4, 2009 at 9:03 am

First Shipments of Peru-US Exchanged Goods Arrive to/Depart from Peru

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The first goods exchanged between Peru and the U.S. around the recently signed Free Trade Agreement arrived to Peru and were shipped to the U.S., correspondingly, according to an article in El Comercio.

In a historic celebration, the first shipment coming from the U.S. to Peru’s international port of Callao arrived yesterday Monday, February 2 including apples from California worth US$17,542. And the first shipment of Peruvian textiles to the U.S. left Callao.

The vast majority of goods coming from the U.S. to Peru free of customs charges include complementary and industrial goods, supplies, and machinery for Peruvian producers.

The U.S. is Peru’s largest commercial partner. In average, trade among both countries reaches nearly US$ 9.4 billion per year.

Click here to watch a news video on this relevant trade accomplishment for both countries.

Key US-Peru trade facts, according to El Comercio:

  • Since last Sunday, products imported to Peru from the U.S. are entering free of customs — in the past they included a 9% or 17% customs charge.
  • In 2008, 18% of the US$31,163 million of total Peruvian exports were shipped to the U.S.
  • In the following months, the Free Trade Agreements with Canada, Singapore, China and Chile will become effective.

Written by Catherine Castro

February 3, 2009 at 10:29 pm

lared and Fulbright Commission in Peru Sign Agreement to Benefit Young Peruvians via Scholarships to Learn English for Free

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lared-logofulbright1

One of my favorite things is to work to benefit Peruvians with limited resources who cannot afford to have the education that I was able to get since my early years. I have always believed that education is certainly a critical factor that needs immediate attention in order to fight poverty, hunger, quality of life, and establish strong values to young Peruvians.

 

Through this post, I am delighted to share great news that will benefit many young Peruvians with limited economic resources in several provinces of Peru. A not-for-profit group of young professionals living abroad to which I belong, lared, has just announced an agreement with the Fulbright Commission in Peru to manage and assign the funds we generate through different events and activities for educational scholarships to study English.

 

Although in Spanish, here is a link in Fulbright’s website already promoting and calling applicants.

Written by Catherine Castro

February 3, 2009 at 11:42 am

Engineer and Son from Rochester, Minnesota Explore the Peruvian Amazon and Machu Picchu

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limaThe Post Bulletin paper from Rochester, Minnesota, recently published a travel article written by engineer April Horne who decided to travel to Peru with her eight-grade student son Garrison Komanieckiand.

The destinations within Peru included Machu Picchu, one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”, and the Amazon River/Rainforest, which is currently ranked No. 3 in the voting for Natural Wonders of the World.

While at Lima (where the major international airport is located), they explored the city and said:

“We walked through beautiful cathedrals, including one with extensive catacomb structures, an engineering marvel that had survived numerous severe earthquakes. We also saw pre-Incan ruins dating back to about 600 A.D.”

While in the Amazon, she highlights:

“We learned how to shoot a blow gun and danced around a fire with the villagers. We were struck by the simple life of the villagers, with minimal possessions, open-air huts and a diet consisting of fish, bananas and the occasional sloth or monkey. We ended our rainforest stay with a “recovery” stop at Ceiba Tops, a luxury resort with hot and cold running water and a swimming pool.

And on her trip to Machu Picchu, she says:

Our guide told us about the different sections of the Lost City, pointing out agricultural areas and living quarters, temples, channels for drinking water and waste water. He showed us how structures were built to study the stars and movements of the sun. We finished with a hike up a portion of the Incan Trail to the Sun Gate.

Click here to read the full article.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 30, 2009 at 9:15 am

Newest Pre-Incan Museum “Huaca Rajada” Opens Nearby Lord of Sipan’s Tomb in Lambayeque, Peru

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top_lambayequeIn the northern department of Lambayeque, the newest display of Peruvian archeology just opened in a museum named “Huaca Rajada”, as Reuters reports. The museum showcases masks, ceramics and jewelry from the ancient Moche culture (prior to the Inca empire) which flourished on Peru’s coast from about 100 AD to 600 AD. Click here to watch a video with images on what you can find on your visit. And at the museum, there is an area where locals manufacture native-styled textiles for sale to visitors as souvenirs.

It is worth noting that the museum is located very close to the golden tomb of the Lord of Sipan — dubbed the “Tutankhamen of the Americas”.

These two sites – the new museum and the tomb – could be two great stops for your next trip to Peru if you are of the exploration, archaeology, or historian type. Once you get to the capital city Lima via its international airport, you can take a bus or fly to Lambayeque.

Here is a good site where you can get further information about where to go and what to do in Lambayeque.

And click here to watch a great video to learn who was the Lord of Sipan and why it is so important not only for Peruvian history, but also why it is treasured by historians from around the world.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 29, 2009 at 9:09 am

How is the Economic Stimulus Package Going in Peru?

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As we expect news on the American Economic Stimulus Package in the next two weeks, Reuters writes about the status of the Peruvian’s stimulus package which will help Peru ride best the global economic recession with government estimates reaching up to 4-5% GDP growth in 2009.

The Reuters article reads:

Peru started the first part of spending under its economic stimulus package (…).

The first bit includes 4.5 billion soles ($1.42 billion) of price cuts and spending. It includes a 10 percent reduction in fuel prices, 3 billion soles in social spending, help for non-traditional exporters, and infrastructure projects.

The finance ministry said it also has been working to keep credit lines open and obtain loans from multilateral agencies.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 28, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Posted in News

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Associated Press Reporter Gives Travel Advice for Baby Boomers; Peruvian Amazon His Spring 2009 Destination

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elderhostelThere seems to be a Peru travel media boom lately…this time is the story of an Associated Press retired executive planning a trip to Peru following his retirement! If you are in that time where retirement is an option and looking to destress by taking an educational world tour, this article is a MUST!

Picked up by The Mercury News, Rick Spratling talks about his experience travelling with his wife under a non-profit organization’s travel program. Elderhostel was founded in 1975 on five college campuses in New Hampshire, based on the idea of inexpensive lodging and noncredit classes.

An excerpt of the article states:

By 1980, participation grew to 20,000 people in 50 states and Canada, and in 1981 Elderhostel offered its first international programs. Today Elderhostel says it attracts more than 160,000 participants annually to nearly 8,000 tour packages in more than 90 countries.

Elderhostel says the average cost of programs in the United States and Canada is a little over $100 per day, while international programs, not including airfare, average a bit over $200 per day. Elderhostel emphasizes a package price that covers meals, taxes, gratuities, lodging, lectures, excursions, activities and travel within a program, such as shuttles to various sites.

Participants provide their own transportation to domestic programs. For international programs, you can book the flights yourself or have Elderhostel do it.

Rates vary widely by destination and type of trip. My wife and I paid just under $10,000 to visit Israel. Our planned trip to Peru will cost around $11,600 for two. Both pricetags include roundtrip airfare from the United States.

Also on the high end is a 24-night study cruise of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands and a nearby island called South Georgia for around $14,000 per person. This price covers expert lectures, experienced group leaders, field trips, lodging, most meals, gratuities, taxes, ship travel, air shuttles and round-trip air fare from the United States to Buenos Aires. The cost varies by departure city.

But Elderhostel also offers programs for less than $600. You can study “The Cajun Experience” in Louisiana for $547 per person, including meals, five nights of hotel lodging and expert-led sessions ranging from how to dance the Cajun waltz to the history of Acadian migration from Nova Scotia to south Louisiana. You provide your own transportation to and from the program site in Lafayette, La.

While Elderhostel makes no claim to five-star luxury, we gave good marks in Israel to our hotels, food, guides and expert lecturers.

Sounds like an interesting option for baby boomers looking to travel and explore!

To read the full article, click here.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 27, 2009 at 12:09 am

Colorado Reporter Qualifies the Inca Heart as “Strong and Mysterious”

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bildeIt is always interesting to read how foreigners explore Peru and share their journey with the world. In a recent local Colorado newspaper “Summit Daily News” reporter Megan Wheat documents her trek to Machu Picchu. It was great to read how she summarizes her trip:

Our journey through Peru was simply put — an adventure. For me, Machu Picchu was the highlight, and provided education and exploration. In Peru, the culture is rich, the faces friendly, and the ruins and Incas who built them, wondrous.

To read about this reporter’s journey to Peru, and to get her great traveler’s tips, click here.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 26, 2009 at 11:05 pm

“Slumdog Millionaire” Latin American Premiere in Peru on February 19

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slumdog_millionaireEverything is ready for the Latin American premiere of Danny Boyle’s film “Slumdog Millionaire” on February 19 in Peru — the first Latin American country showing it, as El Comercio reports.

“Slumdog millionaire” has already received several nominations and awards, including the Critic’s Choice Awards, the Golden Globes, SAG Awards, and the recognition it got from the public in the festivals of Austin, Chicago and Toronto.

If you haven’t seen it yet, you should! And if you are traveling to Peru by February 19, make sure you add it to your itinerary!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 26, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Peruvian Artist Gian Marco’s Album Listed Top 5 by Billboard Magazine en Español

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gian_marcoNow this is a post that’s very exciting to me and is close to my heart…my favorite Peruvian artist: Gian Marco.

Billboard Magazine en Español just published its list of best albums in 2008, and it is great to know that Gian Marco’s “Desde Adentro” album is listed # 5! He shares this ranking with renowned Latin American artists, including Julieta Venegas, Soda Stereo, Café Tacuba, Juana Molina, Bajofondo, Fonseca, The Pinker Tones, among others.

As El Comercio newspaper reports, Billboard highlights Gian Marco’s album is a unique production, and gives credit to the Peruvian singer and composer for great songs like “Hoy”, “Hasta que vuelvas conmigo”, and “Me cansé de ti”.

For those who are not familiar with the artist, the song “Hoy” (click here to watch the video) was actually written by Gian Marco and inspired by Peru as a country. It was a winner of the Latin Grammy Awards in 2008. When you listen to its lyrics in Spanish it might sound like it is a couples love song, but it really is about the love he has for his country and longing to come back home. Towards the middle of this video, you can listen and watch traditional Peruvian music and dancers. The small guitar his musicians play is called the “Charango”, a native Peruvian instrument and the dance is called the “Huayno”, both go back for many generations since the times of the Incas. It is in fact one of my favorite songs, brings me emotionally and mentally back home…and perhaps even you’ve heard it being performed by Gloria Estefan (check out her version here). In her video, you will notice she tried keeping the Peruvian spirit on it, including the llama, the colorful bag at the beginning of the video, her belt, and of course taping it from Machu Picchu.

For those who want to see Gian Marco perform, he is currently in Mexico launching his first tour around the main cities, and is planning to perform on February 13 and 14 at the Centro Cultural Asia when he is back to Lima, Peru.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 25, 2009 at 9:45 pm

Peruvian Fruit Producers and Exporters to Attend Fruit Logistica 2009 Event on Feb 4-6 in Berlin, Germany

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logo-index-enOn February 4-6, the leading trade fair for the international fresh produce trade Fruit Logistica 2009 will take place in Berlin, Germany.

While going through the list of exhibitors, it was great to see so many Peruvian firms and associations participating, including the Peruvian associations of producers of Hass avocados, citrus lime, lemon, asparragus, mango, grapes, among many others.

Consorcio de Productores de Fruta (CPF, and translated the Consortium of Producers of Fruit) is one of the Peruvian companies exhibiting. In a press release, Eugenio Oliveira, CPF’s Commercial Manager, says:

“With our projected volume growth in coming years it will be very important in 2009 to continue the development of our business and establish our brand “Malki” in new international markets. We are looking to new markets in Russia and Asia and plan commercial trials to the Middle East. Increasing production, exchange rate volatility and global recession are all factors in leading us to look at new markets as part of our long term vision”.

To learn more about this event in Germany, click here.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 24, 2009 at 10:26 pm

News from our Argentinean Friend Seba on his Trip to Peru, Headed to Piura

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hemingway

Ernest Hemingway in Cabo Blanco, Piura, Peru

Our Argentinean friend Seba seems to be having fun in Peru, and he wrote a comment to our post saying (translated from Spanish):

“Thanks for the post. Yesterday we went up to Machu Picchu, very nice. I will be arriving to Piura in the next days. The goal is to stay until February 2. Looking for the calmest beach in Peru, which one would that be? Accept all recommendations.”

Hi Seba – Glad you are having a wonderful time in Peru. In Piura, I would highly recommend you going to the District of Mancora where you can pick and choose among wonderful beaches and you can relax with a ceviche and a really cold Peruvian beer (ask for Cuzquena, another option is Cristal). Food is amazing, make sure you try one of those omellettes with shrimp (they are huge and delicious) for brunch. And don’t forget to ask for “cancha” as a little appetizer which is traditional — it is dry, toasted salted corn. It’s vicious! The good thing about Mancora is its size. It is small enough you can actually walk it all along, and then you can catch a bus (ask for buses or “combis”) that will take you to nearby beaches. In terms of stay, and since you are hitchhiking, the best option is to check out for small hotels nearby. Since it is peak season, might be tough to get into the big, fancy hotels. You might also want to ask for Inns or sometimes families rent rooms as a small business during peak season.

To help you navigate the beaches, it is helpful to use the km. you are along the Panamericana Sur (highway) as a reference. The District of Mancora is located at km. 1165. So here is a list of nearby beaches in Piura going southbound you might want to check out:

  • Playa Mancora is on km 1165 — This is my beach pick. Check out the Punta Ballenas Inn (named ballenas as some years ago you could see whales in the shores). Great spot for relaxing and enjoying a fun nightlife. Along the main street in the Panamericana Norte you can check out traditional shops for arts and souvenirs, and rentals for surf boards if you are into it. You can also find information sites, including a bus stop. Bars at night can go all the way til early hours of the morning with reggae music, cold beers and Maracuya daiquiris.
  • Playa Pocitas (also called Mancora chico) is on km. 1160 – many people claim it is the best beach in Peru, you can get there walking, taxi cab or moto-taxi from Mancora, Vichayito or Los Organos. It is a bit more calm than Mancora given it is farther from the city. The name “pocitas” was given due to its beach forming small natural swimming pool-type of beach spots once the sea level is low. You can find good quality hotels in the area, and families are often among its tourists.
  • Vichayito is on km. 1155 in the District of Los Organos. This is a very calm beach, wonderful to relax. You can find a beach spa, and bungalows to stay at. Great spot for kite surfing or ocean diving.
  • Los Organos is on km 1150. Punta Veleros is the best beach in this neighborhood. It is a great beach but most likely you will need to make reservations in advance for staying at one of the bungalows or hotels. Might be a bit tough given the peak season.
  • Cabo Blanco is on km 1137 in the District of El Alto. This is the beach you liked to explore from where Ernest Hemingway got inspiration to write his book “El Viejo y el Mar” (“The Old Man and the Sea”). He liked fishing the Merlin Negro (big marlin). This beach holds world records on fishing, and is a great spot for surfers.
  • Lobitos is on km 1100 in the District of Lobitos. This is a beach a bit far from the others, which explains why its weather and beaches are a bit colder. It is a windy city, and there aren’t as much tourist facilities as the other beaches. Perhaps you might want to check it out, but wouldnt recommend you spending the night here.

And if you have a bit more time, here is a list of beaches in the Department of Tumbes (north to Piura, close enough to the borders with Ecuador) you might want to check out:

  • Punta Sal located in km 1187. It is 15-20 minutes driving from Mancora. A great beach spot with several hotels and restaurants for tourists. You might want to call in advance to make sure you have somewhere to stay given it is peak season.
  • Zorritos in km 1241. This is a good beach spot for relaxing. Has various hotels and restaurants, and is close to the city of Tumbes (capital of the Department of Tumbes) and the frontier with Ecuador. If you go, you might want to check out Hervideros, a small site of natural thermal water pools. Zorritos has several bus agencies, pharmacies, mini markets, etc.

Since you were interested in Ernest Hemingway, here is a snapshot I found:

In the 1950s and 1960s, fishermen traveled to Cabo Blanco to hunt big marlin. Ernest Hemingway caught a 700 pound marlin while filming the motion picture based on his novel , The Old Man and the Sea. In 1953, Alfred Glassell Jr. caught the IGFA all tackle world record black marlin, weighing 1560 pounds.

Have fun, and keep us posted on your trip!

Got tips for our Argentinean friend on his trip to Piura? Feel free to share and post them here!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 24, 2009 at 12:55 pm

Peruvian Amazon Women Handcrafted Baskets in San Diego and Chicago Museums and Zoo

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amazon1Ever wondered how you can support the native poor women from the Peruvian Amazon from the U.S.?

The New York Times wrote an article about how women from a remote Amazon village weave baskets as a way of living to export them to the US.

As the article states, their first international buyers are the San Diego Natural History Museum and San Diego Zoo, and they plan to sell to other museums and home décor purveyors like the Field Museum in Chicago and eventually Cost Plus.

What is unique about their weaving ability is that they use fibers from the branch of the chambira palm tree and turn them into anything they need — fishing nets, hammocks, purses, skirts and dental floss.

And here is what Nancy Stevens, manager of retail and wholesale operations for the San Diego Natural History Museum, states when talking about selling Peruvian handicrafts to retailers in the US:

“These baskets represent so much more than simply a basket. When I began to hear their story from a local project into a story of sustainability, where they’re being developed as a responsible use of the natural resources of this Amazon region — it just clicked so beautifully with the mission of this museum.”

To read the full article, click here.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 23, 2009 at 11:52 pm

Join the “Connect to Peru” Facebook Group!

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facebook2Just a reminder that “Connect to Peru” is available via Facebook!

Click here to join the dozens of readers already getting their daily updates via Facebook!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 22, 2009 at 11:18 pm

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Join “Connect to Peru” Via Twitter!

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twitter_logo_sJust a reminder that “Connect to Peru” is also available via Twitter:

http://twitter.com/connecttoperu

Written by Catherine Castro

January 21, 2009 at 9:07 am

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Expectations from NY Bronx Peruvian Immigrant at Today’s Inauguration Ceremony

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Today’s New York Daily News’ Bronx issue published a story on dozens of Bronx residents visiting Washington D.C. for the Presidential Inauguration celebration. And a Peruvian immigrant Alejandra Delfin among them shares her expectations:

Alejandra Delfin, 42, a Peruvian immigrant and artist, is going because her daughter, Misra Walker, 16, got tickets by working in [Rep. Jose] Serrano’s office.

They were prepared to sleep in their car, but will instead use sleeping bags on the floor of a three-bedroom apartment.

“The Election Day was so amazing, but it is not real in a way,” she said. “Being there is almost to say this is really happening and we are part of it.”

She said the visual image of Obama, the son of a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, gives hope to all people with darker skin.

“I feel he’s more understanding and open-minded,” she said. “Even just to see someone who looks like us in leadership, it’s wonderful.”

To read the full article, click here.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 20, 2009 at 12:19 pm

Forbes Magazine Ranks Peru Among “World’s Top 10 Culture Capitals”

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forbes1Forbes magazine ranked Peru among top 10 “World’s Culture Capitals”! 

In the travel section of its most recent issue, Forbes magazine states:

Known both for its textiles and folk art as well as ancient structures and biodiversity, the OECD says Peru classifies 93% of its tourists as cultural tourists. However, Peru is different from many other cultural meccas in that it targets young travelers who spend less per day, but tend to stay longer. Along with volunteer tourism, those with an International Student Identity Card receive discounts on everything from hostels to Inca Trail tours. […]

And according to the Peruvian government, the country’s tourism dollars reached $2.22 billion in 2008, an 11% increase from $2 billion in 2007.

“In a downturn like this, many young people will choose to travel at the end of their degree, rather than immediately embarking on a career,” says Richards. “They might be the most effective target [for cultural tourism].”

To read the full article, click here.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 19, 2009 at 7:29 pm

Discovering ‘Lost’ Kingdom of the Ancient Inca

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machu-picchuThis is the title of the travel article in today’s Miami Herald. It includes a pretty good summary on the most recent developments behind the stories on how the Machu Picchu citadel was “lost” and rediscovered.

The article states:

For decades, the story has been that Yale professor Hiram Bingham, in a feat that smacks of Indiana Jones, ”discovered” Machu Picchu and its treasure in 1911. In fact, according to Beto Rengifo Solano, one of Peru’s leading archaeological guides, Bingham was led to the site by a barefoot, young boy. When he got there, four families were living among these grandest of Incan ruins. Its greatest treasure had long since been plundered.

A recent article in The New York Times goes one step further, reporting the existence of property records that show repeated purchases and sale of lands including Machu Picchu before 1911, and suggesting the possibility that a German logger may have made off with the site’s best treasures. Other early visitors may well have included a British missionary and a German businessman.

Click here to read the full article. The debate about being lost and its discovery might take decades, but as the article states Machu Picchu “itself remains an endless enchantment.”

Written by Catherine Castro

January 18, 2009 at 6:49 pm

Argentinean Blogger Travels to Peru Inspired by “Connect to Peru” Blog Post

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playaA blog post woke me up in a gratifying way this morning as I read an Argentinean blogger named “Seba” was going on a two-week vacation as a hitchhiker to Peru, and particularly to the northern beaches in Piura after mentioning Hemingway finding inspiration for one of his books in Mancora from my post on “Great Beach Getaways in Piura: White Sands, Warm Water, and Sun”.

Here is a translated version of an excerpt of his post:

As it reads. This humble server is out on vacation. Leaving with Sun. Two weeks. Already got the yellow fever shot, backpacks ready, passports up to date and tickets in hand. Destination is Peru, first Cuzco and then the beaches in the north, definitely Mancora (I want to know that place since I learned that Hemingway got inspiration from that place to write “The Old Man and the Sea” (“El viejo y el mar”). [and then he links his blog to my post]

Seba – If you read this post, thanks for reading “Connect to Peru” all the way from Argentina! Enjoy your trip to my native Peru. I am sure you’ll run out of camera memory with all the wonderful things you can explore particularly when hitchhiking! Best of luck, and we’d definitely like to hear from you on how your adventure went two weeks from now! Buen viaje!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 17, 2009 at 10:03 am

BREAKING NEWS: Bush Puts US-Peru FTA Deal Into Effect!

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fta1Just a few moments ago, President Bush proclaimed the approval of the US-Peru FTA agreement!!

This is a very important accomplishment for Peru on its way to become an economic leader in Latin America and in the world — and of course will also bring foreigners closer to Peruvian goods in the U.S.

Click here to read President Bush’s Proclamation signed today.

As the Associated Press (via BusinessWeek) reports:

U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab says it is the first free trade pact to reflect enhanced labor and environmental standards outlined in an accord the Bush administration reached with Congress in 2007.

For the first time in history, Schwab said, U.S. exporters will be able to sell the vast majority of their products in the Peruvian market duty-free.

Two-way trade between the two nations totals more than $9 billion a year. For Peru, the pact will make permanent and build on temporary trade preferences that have benefited Peruvian farmers, workers and entrepreneurs through the Andean Trade Preference Act.

The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative issued this press release (full version click here):

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab made the following statement today regarding the entry into force of the United States–Peru Trade Promotion Agreement:

“With the President’s issuance of a proclamation to implement the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement as of February 1, 2009, I am very pleased to be able to celebrate the entry into force of this important trade agreement.

“We have worked closely with the Government of Peru to ensure that the obligations and responsibilities of each party have been met under this Agreement. We have engaged in this effort as true partners, and I want to thank President Garcia and his government for their hard work and dedication over the course of the last year.

“I want to thank those in Congress who worked with the Administration to develop a bipartisan trade policy template, paving the way for the approval of the U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement. This is the first free trade agreement (FTA) in force that will reflect the enhanced labor and environmental standards set out in the May 10, 2007, agreement between the Administration and the congressional leadership.

“Today’s proclamation marks an important milestone in our relationship with Peru, one of our strongest allies in Latin America. For the first time in history, American exporters will be able to sell the vast majority of their products into the Peruvian market duty-free. Through this Agreement, we have seized the opportunity to lead by strengthening our partnership and helping promote economic growth, prosperity and well being in Peru and throughout the hemisphere.”

“Trade and trade expansion will be a vital component of our effort to restore economic growth in the global economy. The additional market openness brought by this agreement will enhance our trade and prosperity in the future and support existing and future high-paying American jobs, particularly in manufacturing and agriculture.”

Very exciting! Looks like it will be an amazing year for Peru despite the global economic crisis!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 16, 2009 at 2:21 pm

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Lima International Airport Inaugurates Phase II of Expansion

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peru_overviewOn your next visit to Peru as you arrive into Lima’s International Airport “Jorge Chavez” you might notice changes compared to your last visit. The infrastructure modernization program of the airport was inaugurated and will benefit its 10 million tourists estimated to arrive in the next few years, as El Comercio reports.

The Phase II expansion will bring the following benefits to tourists:

  • More immigration counters for quicker service particularly during peak hours
  • Expansion of the duty free
  • Improved luggage service

Never been to Peru? Here is a great video produced by the German TV network Deutsche Welle on the airport management group and improvements made to the Lima International Airport, including safety for tourists and efficiency of its operations. And here is another video with a glance around the airport.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 16, 2009 at 2:30 am

Afro-Peruvian Rhythms with Novalima Coming Up to New York in March 2009

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novalimaDiversity is a pretty good word to describe Peru — its culture, its history, its food. Among the diversity of cultures and races that still remain in Peru are the descendants of the immigration flow from the African continent several centuries ago. Afro-Peruvian music is perhaps one of the most treasured rhythms you might want to learn if you are exploring Peruvian native music.

New York Daily News writes an article about “Novalima”, a new fusion-type of band who will be releasing worldwide their new CD “Coba Coba” this month and will be performing in New York in March. Click here to watch a video on one of their hit songs “Machete”.

Just so you get a taste of what traditional Peruvian African music is all about (and who served as inspiration to Novalima), click here to listen to the authentic song behind “Machete” called “El Mayoral” performed by Eva Ayllon, one of the most widely known ambassadors to Afro-Peruvian  music.

And if you go to Peru, Chincha is a city in the department of Ica (south of the department of Lima) where you will be able to find the oldest generations of original Afro-Peruvian families. You can get to Chincha by driving the Panamericana Sur highway with some nice beaches along the road. One of the most known native family names is the Balleumbrosio’s, and you can click here and here to watch videos on this exotic dance you might be able to enjoy live on your trip!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 15, 2009 at 6:00 am

Ready to Fly? Paragliding in Lima, Peru

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tandem_paraglidingIf you are of the adventure type, paragliding might be something you’d like to try for your next visit to Lima.

It is done in the Miraflores/Larcomar area right next to the beach which is where most of the top hotels (e.g. Marriott) in Lima are located. So ask your hotel or travel agent for a paragliding company nearby.

Here is a fun video of what you’ll be able to enjoy. Are you ready?!?

Written by Catherine Castro

January 14, 2009 at 11:06 am

Surfin’ U.S.A.? Try Surfin’ Peru!

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surfOne of Peru’s most beautiful and fun beaches, San Bartolo, will be the venue wherethe best surfers in the world will be competing for the World Championship of Women and Men Professional Surfers 2009, as an article in RPP reports.

So if you are planning to be in Lima, Peru between January 23 thru February 1 and like surfing, you might want to consider a trip to San Bartolo which is just a few miles south of Lima (TIP: to drive from Lima to San Bartolo take the Carretera Panamericana Sur, drive until kilometer 50, and then make a right).

Among the 10 surfers representing Peru is Sofia Mulanovich, a multi-world champion surfer and the first South American to be inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame. Check out a video interview to Sofia here.

As of date, the teams from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico,  Puerto Rico, U.S. and Hawaii have confirmed their participation.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 13, 2009 at 2:43 am

Peru’s Skies Connecting to Cuba’s Starting March 23 via TACA

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tacaStarting March 23, TACA airlines has announced they will be serving direct flights between Lima, Peru and La Havana, Cuba, as an article in Living in Peru reports.

There will be 3 flights to and from both cities every week.

So perhaps a little stay in La Havana before heading to your final destination, or maybe making a stop in Peru coming from La Havana on your Latin American tour might be a good option to consider now!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 12, 2009 at 9:36 pm

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Former Aston Villa and Newcastle Soccer Winger Nolberto Solano Is Back in Peru

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4886567If you are a European soccer fan, most likely you’ve heard of Nolberto Solano. The 34-year-old former Aston Villa, Newcastle and West Ham winger is leaving Greek club Larissa to go back to Peru and join one of its largest soccer teams “Universitario”, as ESPN reports. Universitario is one of the “classic” soccer teams in Peru.

Solano is finally landing in Peru today Sunday after waiting for his contract to be finalized and after dealing with flight delays due to weather conditions. Solano expects to play for two years in Universitario, then will end up his soccer career as a player, and perhaps begin as a trainer in Argentina.

If you are planning a trip to Peru or other South American countries, you might want to consider tracking the 50th edition of the Copa Libertadores regional championship which is scheduled to begin on January 27 and will last til April, and check out Solano playing with the Universitario team.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm

“The Georgetowner” Names Peruvian Pisco Drink as Cocktail of the Week

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gt_coverOne of the many yummi things to try at Peruvian restaurant Las Canteras is its innovative ways of preparing pisco-based drinks. Located in the Adams Morgan area in Washington, DC, Las CanterasSour Haas was named Cocktail of the Week by The Georgetowner, and Gary Lee, one of its restaurant owners and former Washington Post travel writer, shares the recipe!

Gary begins by muddling fresh mint leaves in a glass. Next he carefully slices a portion of ripe avocado, which is added to the crushed mint. The ingredients are rounded out with a dash of simple syrup, pineapple juice and pisco. To properly merge the elements, Gary gives the components a good workout in a cocktail shaker. Because the drink consists of four distinctive ingredients, Gary notes that it is very important to shake it fully to make sure it is well blended. When he pours the combined mixture into the glass, the result is an opaque, pale green beverage.

Go ahead and try making it at home! But if you are in the Washington DC area, you can get a taste from its creator at Las Canteras restaurant located at 2307 18th Street NW, Washington, DC.

As you might recall, its executive chef Eddy Ancasi was our special guest revealing his Peruvian-style Christmas a few weeks ago. But most importantly, stay tuned to my upcoming post as I uncover the story behind Las Canteras and its chef, and other surprises coming up soon!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 10, 2009 at 8:46 pm

Where Can I Buy Peruvian Food Supplies in Virginia?

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anticuchos-cow-heartI have been getting questions on where to get Peruvian food supplies in the DC area, and here is the scoop. One of my favorite spots to do my Peruvian grocery shopping is in El Chaparral Meat Market located at 2719 Wilson Blvd in Arlington, VA. It is a small store right across a Wholefoods Market, and carries a pretty decent variety of authentic imported supplies from Peru, including:

  • Aji panca (great to make Lomo Saltado or Anticuchos, for example)
  • Aji amarillo (the “secret” flavor behind the Papa a la Huancaina or Cau Cau)
  • Yuca (comes already peeled, cut into blocks and frozen, great to make the yuca fries with the Huancaina sauce — for first-timers you can get a taste of it at Guarapo a few blocks away)
  • Packaged instant sauces (a big life savior if you cannot find all the Peruvian native ingredients)
  • Paneton (the Italian sweet bread on every Peruvian table around Christmas and New Year’s)
  • Chocolates I used to enjoy when I was a kid, including Cua Cua, Sublime, Princesa, Lentejas, etc.

And as we come closer to Spring and getting ready for BBQ season, El Chaparral is a great spot to get some fresh meat ideally prepared for Anticuchos. The great thing for those who aren’t Peruvian is that its employees are familiar with Anticuchos, and can guide you as to what is the best meat to use.

Writing this post is making me hungry and now craving for a Papa a la Huancaina. Getting a couple of potatoes and the Huancaina packaged sauce is a quick way to get my craving satisfied right away. Yum!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 9, 2009 at 11:38 am

Peru Aims To Plant 40 Million Trees by February 20 To Mitigate Climate Change

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Reacting to “green” specialists stating little could be done to avoid average global climate to raise by 2 degrees Celsius, the Peruvian Ministry of Agriculture is aiming to plant 40 million trees nationwide in a project that has been planned for months, as El Comercio newspaper reports.

The areas targeted for plantation were carefully selected according to the quality of the soil and water. The government expects capturing around 573,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year from this project.

What is relevant about this project, in addition to its “green” benefits, is that it will generate about 128,000 temporary jobs in the first quarter, and even business behind the fact that the cost per ton to develop “clean” mechanisms or carbon bonds around the world is 12 Euros and considering you can capture more than 25 tons of carbon dioxide from 1,000 trees.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 8, 2009 at 9:32 am

Peruvian Government Further Strengthens Position Towards a “Greener” Peru

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greenThe Peruvian Ministry of Environment announced the creation of its new organization “Organismo de Evaluación y Fiscalización Ambiental” (OEFA) which will be responsible for overseeing and sanctioning mining and energy businesses that don’t comply with environmental standards, as Andina via RPP reports.

Starting tomorrow Thursday, January 8, OEFA will be recruiting and hiring in the next three months, and will be ready to open in March 2009.

This new entity is another way in which the Peruvian govenrment continues promoting its commitment in making Peru a “greener” country, including its investments in the next years to protect its tropical rainforests as I mentioned on my earlier post.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 7, 2009 at 11:11 am

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Peruvian Jose Duarte’s “Taranta” Ranked Among Top 50 Restaurants by Boston Magazine

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boston_printIt is always great to hear whenever a Peruvian succeeds abroad. Boston Magazine’s latest Dining Features Article names Jose Duarte’s restaurant Taranta among the “50 Best Restaurants” in Boston!

If you have been following my postings, I am sure you might recall the note I did on Jose’s innovative efforts on implementing “green” initiatives in the restaurant business. Click here to read my post if you missed it.

Here is how Boston Magazine’s ranking worked:

What we’ve come up with is an unprecedented ranking of the top 50 restaurants in the city, as collectively judged by the Globe, the Herald, the Phoenix, Zagat, Yelp, the Phantom Gourmet, and select posters from the Boston board on Chowhound. And, of course, ourselves, in the persons of food editor Amy Traverso and features editor Jolyon Helterman (a Cook’s Illustrated alum), with help from our critic, Corby Kummer. We reviewed the reviews, standardized the scores, and, using a little statistical wizardry, calculated a hierarchy of culinary excellence.

Listed under # 34, Taranta is described as:

Peruvian cuisine is a dizzying fusion of Spanish, African, Asian, Italian, and French influences. At this North End spot, Peruvian meets southern Italian for an even headier mix. ORDER THIS: Pork chop with sugar cane–rocoto pepper glaze.

Congratulations to Jose, and keep up with the success!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 6, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Why is Foreign Investment Peru’s Top Priority in 2009?

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One of “Connect to Peru”‘s regular readers, Juan Carlos Seminario, was kind to share with me his insights on the optimism and risks that Peru could face in 2009. A native Peruvian executive who has worked for Fortune 500 Companies like P&G, Johnson, and Loreal, and principal professor for the Diplomacy Academy of Peru, among other credits, I thought would be interesting to share what he has to say via his blog “Latinopinion“.

In summary, Seminario outlines inflation, devaluation and the drop of net international reserves are among the top risks Peru could face in 2009. But the way it can best face all of these risks is via foreign investments. Well, sounds pretty in line with what I have been writing about in my recent posts, including the Minister of Economy’s tour to key cities in the U.S. and Europe, and the two upcoming FTAs with China and South Korea in 2009, for example.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 5, 2009 at 11:34 pm

Where to get Inca Kola in New England and in the Washington DC area?

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incaInca Kola is the Peruvian local soft drink (soda) and is also named “the Golden Kola”. It gets its yellow color from Hierba Luisa (Lemon Verbena in English), a natural ancestral herb. The uniqueness of the story behind it is that Peru is perhaps the only country in which a local soda beats Coca Cola and Pepsi in market share  – a case study that Harvard’s Business School has covered for more than a decade.

Some like it, some don’t mainly for its sweetness. But if you are in the first group, or you’d like to try it, you can get it in the International aisle of most (if not all) of the Stop and Shop grocery stores in New England (Boston, Connecticut, Rhode Island, etc.). It is available in 2 liter plastic bottles, and some stores carry smaller sizes of bottles and/or aluminium cans.

And if you are in the Greater Washington DC area (DC, MD, VA), you can get Inca Kola at the Giant stores in their International aisle.

If you’d like to read further about Inca Kola, a good place to read is at its Wikipedia entry by clicking here.

Want to share where you get Inca Kola at your local city? Post it in the comments section to share it with the world!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 4, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Boston: Two Traditional Peruvian Restaurants Just Across the Street From Each Other

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polloWhile in Boston, one of my last stops wondering around the city to search for Peruvian restaurants was at Machu Picchu restaurant. Located in Sommerville, MA, close by to the Cambridge neighborhood and accessible via bus (look for # 86 bus route), the restaurant ended up being a great option if you are looking for authentic Peruvian food. As soon as you arrive you are welcomed with toasted corn (Peruvians call it “cancha“) which is originally from the Andes region in Peru. Here is an overview of my experience.

As a good Peruvian, the dinner kicked-off with a Pisco Sour — wouldn’t recommend it at this restaurant. You could actually feel you were drinking alcohol versus tasting the mix of its ingredients.

For an appetizer, I enjoyed a Causa de Pollo which is a mashed potato-type of cake filled with layers of onions and chicken. It was good, but tried better ones. As an entree I liked the Aji de Gallina, a traditional entree with boiled potatoes, shredded chicken on a creamy sauce made with the Peruvian yellow aji (chili). For dessert I had the Combinado, a two-in-one serving consisting of Arroz con Leche (similar to a rice pudding) and Mazamorra Morada, a purple corn-based compote with pieces of fruit.

To get a glance of Machu Picchu restaurant’s menu, click here.

Although the restaurant is not at a fancy, downtown-ish location as Taranta (a great green-certified location to enjoy Italian food with a wonderful Peruvian kick) or Orinoco (for the best pisco sour I had in Boston), it is a good option to enjoy traditional Peruvian dishes if you are driving or don’t mind walking in the suburbs of Boston.

And the latest about this Machu Picchu restaurant…the spin-off of its Peruvian rottiserie chicken right across the street! This just-opened restaurant is named “Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill”. The menu looked pretty interesting, and the chicken looks pretty good and authentic. This type of chicken is perhaps Peru’s second flagship dish after the Ceviche. What is unique about this restaurant was the Quinoa side, as well as Peruvian-style beef kabobs we call “anticuchos”. Quinoa is originally from the Andes mountains of South America, with Peru at the center of the Inca Empire, and is a great source of protein that many generations have enjoyed. So if you are hungry, perhaps you might want to save some room after your meal at Machu Picchu to get some rottiserie chicken, or better yet anticuchos as an appetizer.

To get a glance of Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill restaurant’s menu, click here

TIP: And if you are a big beer fan, you might want to try the local Peruvian beers available at both restaurants, including Cuzquena (my favorite) and Cristal.

Machu Picchu Restaurant is located at 307 Somerville Avenue, Somerville,  Massachusetts 02143.

Machu Picchu Charcoal Chicken & Grill is located at 25 Union SQ, Sommerville, Massachusetts 02143.

(PS – Although it doesn’t matter if you have in mind enjoying a great Peruvian meal, the one thing I was “nervous” about was the many typos the menu and marketing materials had. Sorry, must be the PR girl in me! Hahaha.)

Written by Catherine Castro

January 3, 2009 at 9:49 pm

A Peruvian Looking to Become Olympic Best Cross-Country Skier

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olympicsToday’s New York Times print and online issues include a story about Roberto Carcelen, a 38-year old Peruvian who is looking to become the only Peruvian cross-country skier in the 2010 Olympics. Carcelen, one of only a handful of South American skiers with sights set on the Vancouver Games, is training while also being a consultant for Microsoft.

As the NYT story states, Kent Murdoch is a two-time medalist in the World Masters cross-country championships who is a member of Carcelen’s training group, and says about this Peruvian:

“Roberto is like many of us. He wants to see how far he can go. But what impresses me every day is that he is doing it in a new arena, and with a drive and intensity that most people just dream about.”

What is remarkable about this story is Carcelen’s energy and dedication to achieve his dream in such a unique niche in Peruvian sports. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Peru has so many things to do given its weather diversity, including surfing and running, two of the activities Carcelen has experience at. But nobody practices cross-country skiing as a sport.

Click here to read the full NYT story. Good luck, Roberto! You are already a winner to our beloved Peru!

Written by Catherine Castro

January 2, 2009 at 11:10 pm

South Korea Looks for FTA with Peru in 2009

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Looks like 2009 might be the year of Free Trade Agreements between Peru and the Asian countries.

In addition to the Chinese FTA expected to be signed on March 2009 (see my earlier post here), now it is South Korea’s Foreign Ministry announcing it intends to promote negotiations for an FTA with Peru.

As the Living in Peru article states, South Korea’s president said he expressed his “admiration” for Peru’s “dazzling” economic growth, which makes it an attractive country to increase investment.

Written by Catherine Castro

January 1, 2009 at 10:06 pm

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How Are Peruvians Welcoming 2009?

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playa1So how do Peruvians plan to celebrate the New Year’s? An article in RPP Noticias, the leading news radio and online site, states the options are either camping at a beach, at a friends’ or family’s place, or at a public venue for the long weekend that began yesterday for most.

For the New Year’s Eve, traditionally there are superstitions on receiving the New Year with a positive attitude and good luck, including wearing a yellow underwear (typically bought by someone else to bring more luck), eating 12 grapes at midnight, having yellow flowers, among many others. And regardless of where they will be, people plan ahead to stock up on alcohol and beers, bottled water, as well as canned food if you will be away from home.

According to the article, this is how the New Year’s Eve is looking like in Peru, particularly in the Coast region:

Campers along the beaches have already began to travel mostly by car to their preferred beach or to their friends’ or family’s beach house since the past days according to their vacation schedules. The main inter-department highway along the Coast called “Panamericana” (similar to the I-95 along the East Coast) is already busy with thousands of cars and SUVs with families or groups of friends going north or south from Lima, the capital city. Several police cars are along the highway to address any potential jams, and giving away brochures with safety and driving recommendations. To help the flow of drivers from Lima to the south of Peru, the highway has been opened today to be all southbound, and will change on January 4 when all drivers plan to come back to the city to start work on Monday.

Hundreds of people are also along the highway selling goods for those last-minute needs, including yellow flowers, balloons, bottled water, and other yellow goods to bring up good luck at midnight.

And for those who decide to stay at home or at a friends’ or family member’s place, a dinner similar to what they had for Christmas (a big meal similar to Americans’ Thanksgiving dinner) will be served tonight. The main course could be chicken, turkey, or pork, accompanied by paneton (an Italian-style sweet bread), salads, and several sides such as mashed potatoes and white rice. And to drink, there will be champagne or sparkling wine.

And once the clock hits midnight, fireworks all around the country will be heard. This replaces the typical “ball drop” Americans have.

Happy New Year to everyone, regardless of where in the world you will be!

Written by Catherine Castro

December 31, 2008 at 1:44 pm

Australian-British Travel Guru Tony Wheeler Names Peru “Hot Destination 2009”

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lonely-planetOne of the purposes of my blog is to allow for its readers to stay ahead of the curve on the popularity that Peru (both as a country and as a brand) is getting throughout the world. With restauranteur Todd English predicting Peruvian food to be “the next big thing” (read my post here), Bon Appetit magazine naming Peru’s capital city Lima as the “Gastronomic Capital of South America” (read my post here), and a dozen luxurious hotels including the world’s largest hotel chains to be built in 2009 and 2010 in Cuzco (read my post here)…now another travel tag adds to the mix — and all the way from Australia!

Australian newspaper The Age just wrote a story about world-renowned traveller guru Tony Wheeler, co-founder of the Lonely Planet guidebooks sold around the five continents (click here to view an interview done to Wheeler by Travel Channel). Among travelling tips and profiling the Australian traveller, Wheeler highlights his 2009 hot destinations…and yes, Peru is one of them!

Here is what the paper writes about Wheeler and his take on Peru:

The founder of Lonely Planet guide books, Tony Wheeler, predicts big growth in travel to South America, particularly Peru. He says Peru has “everything in one package”, from the “lost city” of Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail to surf breaks, canyons and Lake Titicaca.

Written by Catherine Castro

December 29, 2008 at 11:32 pm

A Dozen Luxury Hotels, Including a 7-Star Hotel, will Open in Cuzco in 2009/2010

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hilton1marriott1In 2008, more than a million tourists from around the world visited Cuzco, the department where Machu Picchu is located. To address the increasing demand expected in the coming years, a total of 12 luxury hotels are planned to open in 2009-2010, some of them by the world’s largest hotel chains, as El Comercio reports.

Here’s the timeline, so make sure you take note of them as you plan your next visit to Cuzco!

Q1 2009

  • Urubamba Luxury Collection will be opened in the area of Valle Sagrado by the Peruvian chain Libertador Perú
  • Río Sagrado, a boutique hotel by a Peruvian investment group
  • Marriott will open a hotel that looks to surpass 5 stars
  • San Agustin, a local Peruvian chain of hotels, will open a 3-star hotel in Urubamba, and a 4-star hotel in Cuzco.

Q2 2009 and beyond

  • Acqua Hotel Resort Spa, a local chain of boutique hotels, will open between May and June 2009. It will consist of the renovation of a colonial mansion from the 17th century. A second 5-star location will also be opened in Urubamba.
  • Hilton Hotels Corp. will start building a 5-star hotel in mid-2009 to be located just 4 blocks away from Cuzco’s Main Square.
  • Aranwa Sacred Valley will build a 5-star hotel in the area of Valle Sagrado and another one in the city of Cuzco which is expected to be inaugurated in 2010.
  • The American company Revolutions Perú will build the first 7-star resort in Peru
  • Casa Andina plans to open its second luxury hotel by 2010.

Click here for a related story from today’s Washington Business Journal covering Maryland-headquartered firm Marriott and Hilton.

Written by Catherine Castro

December 29, 2008 at 9:19 pm

“Connect to Peru” is now “Engaging Latinos”

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Dear friends…it’s been a while, but “Connect to Peru” has now expanded its horizons and grown to be named “Engaging Latinos” which will cover not just Peru, but Latin America, and particularly focus on how Americans can get to know more (and better) Latinos through their rich culture, history, gastronomy, and all those things that make Latin America a great place to live and enjoy.

So come over and join the bigger familiy of nations I will be blogging about at http://engaginglatinos.com, and also on your favorite social media platforms:

Facebook page: “Engaging Latinos” – http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Engaging-Latinos/182932255136692

Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/72362301@N02/

Twitter: @EngagingLatinos, and use the hashtag #engaginglatinos

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/engaginglatinos

You will start seeing great content on these channels, so stay tuned!

Happy reading,

“Connect to Peru” — now “Engaging Latinos”

Written by Catherine Castro

December 18, 2011 at 10:12 pm

Posted in General, News