This post is a little different than most here on our blog. I’m deviating from the travel aspect of our lives and talking more about food for our littles since a lot of people have been asking me about this lately. Feeding kids can be challenging. Feeding kids in a foreign country can be downright scary.
I haven’t blogged as much about the things we’ve been doing in Lima because, well, life gets busy and sometimes it’s just hard to find the time! But we have seen some really wonderful places here in the city, and even just outside the city. So I’ll be going back and documenting some of the sights to hopefully serve some good information for those visiting or moving here in the future. Hope you enjoy!
We made a wonderful discovery a couple of weeks ago. Well, we’d actually been hearing about the “water fountain park” from friends for a while, but had yet to make it out there. It’s near central Lima, so it’s a good taxi ride away from Miraflores. We went in the evening on a day when the kids (miraculously) both got a nap. It was about 5pm by the time we arrived. There were people lining the outside of the park with bags of popcorn, habas and cotton candy. We grabbed a couple bags of popcorn to hold us over till dinner. The entrance fee was S./4 per person, and was totally worth the beautifully manicured lawns and clean paths.
It’s been nearly four months since we moved to Lima, Peru. Since being here, one thing that we have really enjoyed has been finding new foods – especially veggies and fruits! Plantains are one of the new staples in our home, so I thought I’d share a little about why we love this unique fruit. I think you can usually find them in the states – I remember seeing them in Whole Foods – I just never knew what to do with them! Or that they could be so delicious… So here goes – 5 reasons we love plantains!
1. They’re a great carb!
Since getting rid of grains two years ago, we are always looking for good ways to get in carbs, especially for the kids. That energy-fueling component may have a bad rap in pop health, but as “real-foodies” we know it’s just as important to the body as good fats. Plantains are the third highest source of carbs, behind cassava and taro root. They contain a whopping 62 grams of carbs in one mashed cup. Nice!
2. They’re cheap!
Here in Peru, plantains are about as cheap as bananas. They’re a great way to round out a meal without spending a bunch of money!
3. They have a good shelf life.
If you buy green plantains, you can use them all week. Some recipes need the more green, unripe fruit, while others call for the sweeter ripened yellow fruit. Once they start getting brown spots they’re a nice addition to smoothies. No matter where the plantain is in its ripening process, it’s useable. That means they make a great back-up veggie 🙂
4. They can be sweet or savory
I love that I can use them for slightly sweet, fluffy, plantain pancakes (sometimes even throwing in a few mini Enjoy Life chocolate chips for the kids),
or for a dinner casserole. Of course, the Peruvian side dish of fried green plantains or “tostones” is also a great savory way to eat them (especially when pan fried in coconut oil and dressed with real sea salt!)
This week, we also made plantain tortillas that turned out great! They were a nice accompaniment to mexican rice, beef & veggies, with some diced avocado and a cilantro pesto.
5. They’re a fantastic starch!
I’ve seen them in everything from muffins and cake, to pancakes and desserts – in place of flour! We’ve had some delicious treats made out of plantains at our local organic market, and I’m really excited to start experimenting with baking them! The recipes we’ve used so far are super quick and simple, which as a mama of two Littles three and under, is really important! I’ll post recipes on the blog as I come up with them. Let me know if you give plantains a try and what you think!
I turned 27 last week. But in 27 years, I have never had a spring birthday. Until this year.
I’ve always loved fall. In Texas, it means the weather may [finally] be cooling down, the leaves will be changing colors, and cozy weather will be approaching, with lots of hot coffee and tea. But this year, while all my facebook and pinterest friends are busy pinning and sharing fall recipes, our cold, foggy, gloomy days are brightening with a little more sun each day. And the spring fruit is making its way into the markets…peaches and strawberries, mmm! It’s such a strange thing, to watch everyone back home embrace fall, and to have spring showing up here. But that’s what it’s like on this side of the equator. Come visit us, people 🙂 While I’m not a fan of the weather that greeted us when we arrived in July, and hung around until a few weeks ago, it’s really getting beautiful now. Every day new flowers spring up in bright colors. Every evening we watch the orange sun set behind a bank of clouds over the south Pacific Ocean.
27 was a great birthday. I had a mani-pedi last weekend and chose a spring rose color. I enjoyed time with my sweet family. And I felt loved by so many family and friends. On last Tuesday, John and I were able to bike out to the close neighborhood of Barranco. We visited Museo Pedro de Osma, which is housed in a gorgeous white colonial home.
The main exhibition is mostly renaissance-period artwork, religious paintings on wood and canvas and wooden carvings and statues.
The house itself was worth going to see – it had gorgeous stained glass windows throughout, and what seemed to be original hardwood floors.
The chandeliers were also beautiful!
The second building was setup with colonial furniture and Peruvian paintings of Spanish royalty.
The third building was a complete shock to me. We walked into the dark room and backlights illuminated silver for as far as the eye could see.
It was breathtaking. Some of the silver work was so intricate!
We weren’t sure what the fourth building was supposed to be, but it was interesting!
We had a wonderful time. After enjoying the art for the morning, we stopped by a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant (literally – this is probably the restaurant that started that phrase…I wish I’d gotten a picture!). It was a simple place, but served the most delicious Mexican food I’ve had this side of the equator. It just may save me from my [constant] craving for Mexican food for the remainder of our time here. They have wonderful, big, Chipotle-style burritos. And chips! They have chips! In all the restaurants we’ve been to in Peru we’ve only been served tortilla chips ONCE. It’s sacrilegious if you ask me (okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic…but still…) Anyways, it was a great way to celebrate and we thoroughly enjoyed our burritos and chips. It’s really nice to be able to bike places here in Lima. It’s so much quicker than walking and a bit safer than taxis, I suppose. We’re learning how to get around without a car…but more on that later 🙂
When we picked up the kids we enjoyed a leisurely stroll home through the park. Cliff was a bit cranky (it was nap time).
Later, after dinner at home, we had three little desserts we’d picked up from a little pastry shop. Olivia was more excited about my presents and cake than I was, I think, ha! It was pretty cute. Love these kids….
This week the kids were off of school all week. We enjoyed having some time as a family in the mornings. One morning we decided to make the trip up to Surco and visit what would come to be known as, “the train park”. When we arrived we found out that while the park opened at 9am, the train didn’t start until 11:30am. But that was okay. We enjoyed a very leisurely walk around the park and took our time watching the ducks and koi in the pond.
This week our household goods arrived from the states! It is so nice to have things like a decent cutting board, a rocking chair, a crib and our double jogging stroller! We were getting along without these things, but it’s oh, so helpful now that we have them! After we fed the kids this morning, we loaded them up in the jogging stroller for a leisurely stroll to the park. There’s a great little vegan/gluten-free cafe that sets up at an organic market, so we grabbed a few treats/breakfast and a coffee and enjoyed some time with the kids in the fresh (as fresh as Lima gets) air.
As soon as Cliff saw the train he started shouting, “choo-choo!!”
It’s amazing how trains and trucks are just somehow ingrained in little boys’ minds. They know they’re cool! He was so excited to see the train up this close. And so were all the other little boys at the park! This is the place to be…
The kids really needed some time to just run around and scream. Olivia even asks me sometimes, “mama, can I scream here?” Most places the answer is no…so they enjoyed screaming this morning.
An older group of men set out some instruments in the grass and before we knew it every child who could walk on their own two feet was making a bee-line for them. Cliff immediately went for the guitar and Olivia was fascinated by the drum.
It was a good outing for the kids. John and I were reminded that sometimes our day just needs to be about the kids, and not our to-do list. They sure had a great time!
Those smiles make all the rough days worth it!
We’ve walked a lot our first month in Lima. We are starting to get more comfortable with the way things work here. The traffic is just really crazy, so the first week we were here it was pretty intimidating to navigate the streets as a pedestrian.
We’ve learned a few things that have helped: 1) there’s safety in number. If a big group of people cross the road, chances are you can cross too, so long as you stay close enough to the group. 2) cars who flash their brights are NOT saying, “go ahead” but rather, “don’t even think about crossing, because I’m not stopping for you.” This is a life-saving bit of knowledge…so if you plan on visiting this place keep it in mind! 3) it may seem scary when crowded buses round a corner going 40mph with people filling the sidewalk and medians around them, but they’re probably not going to hit you. At least the chances are in your favor…so you can relax a bit and save that adrenaline for a more important task.
One of the things we’ve been enjoying here in Lima are the numerous parks throughout the city. They range from small median lots with a fountain in the center, to large walking trails with playgrounds and it seems there’s one on nearly every corner. We were surprised to be greeted by an unexpected animal at one of the parks we visited…cats covered the grass and as we walked into the park they seemed to swarm down out of the trees. Thankfully they weren’t that interested in us and the kids were able to play on the playground without much interest from them.The kids love watching them, though! Cliff’s cat impression is hilarious – so I for one never pass up the opportunity to ask him what a cat says. His response is always squinty eyes, a scrunched up nose and a high pitched, “meeeeowww!!” This park had some neat history as well as a enormous piece of pre-columbian pottery.
The buildings are gorgeous. This is where the Mayor of one of the districts lives.
There are some beautiful churches, too.
We’ve seen a lot of really amazing murals and artwork in the city.
It’s good to be getting familiar with the streets and learning our way around. Overall, we really like Lima so far. I’m glad we have a full year to get to know this place because there’s a lot we haven’t seen yet!
On Tuesday the kids started preschool, or “Nido” as it’s called here.
We had never planned to send our kids to preschool, since our plan is to homeschool, but considering the circumstances we decided to take the plunge for this one year. We really wanted them to pick up Spanish in our short time here. Everyone in Lima does Nido. You will never see a child over 18 months old out and about in the mornings. These facts brought us to two realizations: 1) keeping the kids out of preschool would have meant very lonely days with little to no interaction with other kids at the park, etc. and 2) by enrolling them in a local Spanish-speaking school we are effectively immersing them in the language while simultaneously giving me time to focus on my own Spanish learning (through Rosetta Stone, other programs, and tutoring). We believe it was a good decision. So far both the kids love their school. Olivia was right at home, and woke up the first day ecstatic to go to Nido. Cliff had a harder time, but by the second day he seemed to mostly enjoy himself. He loves playing with the little girls his age!
Maybe because he has a sister…? It’s pretty cute.
Olivia has come home both days bursting with excitement as she recounts to us her day. I’ve never seen her so excited! It was terribly hard for me to leave them the first day, but I can see it will be good for them. It’s so hard for me to learn that my littles are just as safe outside of my personal care. God is always watching over them, and continues to guard and guide them even when I am not there to see. I’m so thankful that He does!
On the 1st we were able to move into our apartment here in Lima, Peru. It felt very empty compared to our hotel room that we’d been living in for nearly two weeks. It felt way too big. In fact, I realized today I’ve never even been in the guest bathroom! Of course, our house that we came from in Pacific Grove, CA was barely 1,000sqft, so this is considerably more space, even though we’ve gone from house to apartment and from small town to urban city. Funny, huh?
Once we were finally able to unpack our things and actually move into a space it was such a relief! The apartment is gorgeous, with an ocean view and plenty of opportunity for people watching, including para-sailers that fly by for a few hours every afternoon (this brings endless entertainment to the littles).
Cliff loves watching the cars out the big floor-to-ceiling windows, telling them “bye-bye” as they disappear from sight, and searching for dogs being walked in the park below us. There are huge windows in every room, which is wonderful for light, but being Peru this also means very little insulation. There are fairly large gaps between each pane of glass, so the city noise permeates every inch of the apartment (as well as the cold air). We’ve become accustomed to the loud honking, people shouting, and other city sounds pretty quickly, though. It’s a pretty small problem to have, really. Last night, we were cleaning up after dinner while the kids played in the living area, and the traffic really backed up outside. There was honking left and right (with crazy sounding horns), sirens, and the screeching and rumbling of motorcycles. Olivia looks up and says, “Mama, I hear music!” Haha!
The drafty cold air inside the house has been a bit harder to get used to. There’s no heating or ac, which makes for some very cold and gloomy winter days lately. We had to go buy quite a few blankets after we moved in, because we’re still awaiting the arrival of our household goods. Making the trips to and from the local department store was quite comical. It’s about a mile walk from our place, so we’d load up the kids, one in a stroller and one in the Ergo, stuff an empty duffle bag in the stroller and go shopping. The biggest thing that I’ve thought of that I forgot to pack in our household goods was our pillows and bedding. Don’t ask me how I forgot – moving day was insane, with three different shipments to think through and a whole crew of movers to manage. Obviously I didn’t do that great… 😛
Anyways, we needed some bedding, sheets and pillows so we walked to the store and loaded up. Thankfully we hit a big sale so things were fairly affordable. It was hilarious carting all that stuff back home though! Comforters and pillows are about the bulkiest things you can buy. We had the stroller handles laden with bags and a huge duffle bag stuffed to the max. Add to that our two sleepy littles and we were quite a sight, I’m sure! We’re still awaiting our crib, which means each of the kids are sleeping in a twin bed. Cliff is nearly 18 months old, hardly old enough for barricade-free sleep, but we’ve been making due. And I have to admit it’s pretty adorable when he comes stumbling out of his room half asleep after a long nap.
The biggest plus to having a home is the kitchen! It has been such a blessing to have a kitchen again – to not have to eat out every meal and actually be able to prepare our own meals! I’ve been trying a fusion of foods we’re accustomed to and local foods. Plantains, rice and tamales have quickly made their way into our diet.
We really are enjoying the food experimentation. It has been a bit overwhelming trying to do all my cooking from a regular grocery store. They do seem to be generally stocked with more real foods (as opposed to prepackaged foods) than their United States counterparts, but it’s still difficult finding good quality ingredients. I was definitely used to easy access to good food at places like Trader Joes, Costco and Farmers Markets in California. Trying To figure out what the prices are is interesting, too! Not only are US dollars 3 times the value of soles, but everything is weighed by the kilo, which amounts to more than 2lbs. It makes for quite a mind-workout each time I go shopping. I’m glad my dad worked with me so much on math when I went grocery shopping with him! Ha!
We found the local organic market this morning which I am super excited about! It was much bigger than I expected.
They sell everything from pastured dairy to veggies and gluten-free baked goods. It was a really fun outing. I took much longer than necessary, probably, soaking in all the new ingredients and trying to decipher new Spanish words on packaging. The market is held at a local park, so we took the kids to play and stumbled upon a little kids music class.
The whole city is very family friendly, and most people go out of their way to say hello to the kids. Of course the blonde hair is quite a novelty here, too. We’re able to walk most places, which is great. There’s a lot within a 2 mile radius of us.
Overall, we’re settling in nicely. There were a few rough days last week, but I think we’re mostly adjusting to the new culture. We just keep getting out there! Even though my Spanish is fairly rough, I know it is only getting better each time I use it. And that’s encouraging!