Have you ever tried Shica Shica Ice Cream?
I certainly had no clue what that was, until I tried it on my last trip to Tarapoto. Shica Shica is a nut that tastes like a mix of coconut and peanut -and shica shica ice cream is delicious! I tried it at Fruta & café (Jr. Maynas 234) where they offer all kind of exotic, organic ice creams made of typical fruits of San Martín region. Chocolate ice cream with local cocoa was also very good, and you can have either chocolate alone or mixed with peanuts. And no, I did not eat a giant portion of all possible flavors! But I tried many, because you can try them all before deciding. I liked to have an ice cream at Fruta & Café's calm and atmospheric patio, with a cup of coffee -locally produced, of course! Unfortunately, I had not my camera with me that day, so I don't have photos from there.
But I took these ice cream photos in another Tarapoto ice cream bar called Anona. They also had a good selection of all the exotic fruit ice creams: lucuma, passion fruit, coconut, mango...
Anonas (Jimenez Pimentel, block 3) also had a small back yard patio with green plants and very tasty fruit juices.
PS. Good news is that Fruta & Café is also in Lima! Caminos del Inca 3198 and in Asia, just outside of the main shopping area.
Lima was selected as "Plaza Mayor de la Cultura Iberoamericana" for 2014, says today's El Comercio. Congratulations to Lima!
This cultural recognisition among all the Ibero-American capital cities was awarded to Lima thanks to the city's cultural and historical patrimony, as well as the use of public space for art and artistic projects. It means that next year the whole continent's attention will be oriented towards Lima, There will be many cultural events on the agenda for 2014!I love the colonial architecture of Lima's historical center: the cathedrals, Plaza de Armas, even the crowded areas of the center such as Calle Capon, but unfortunately I don't go there very often, unless it's a Chinese New Year or something. Why? Well, I live in other side of Lima and the distances are long here, traffic is a mess...so yes, even my love for architecture knows some limits! But when Mama Troll and Papa Troll came over for a visit, I was happy to join them for a little sightseeing tour. Here are some photos!
One of the blogs I frequently follow is Florence -based Alla Fiorentina, so I was very pleased to say 'yes' when its author Krista asked me to contribute to her 'Travel Tuesdays' series. I decided to share my Brazil travel experiences, you can read it here.
A maggot in Mistura
I must admit that after I had visited the Amazonian section at the Mistura Gastronomy Fair I had my doubts about the jungle cuisine. En la selva se come todo. 'In the jungle we eat everything', said the Amazonian lady laughing while holding a tray full of big, fat maggots. Not much of a bug eater myself, so I was a bit worried about the food issue when we traveled to Tarapoto.Luckily, there was much more to eat than that. Lots of plantains and bananas in all forms but mostly fried, fruits and fruit juices, varieties of fish, meat (chicken and pork, cecina, being the most common, but also venado, deer), juanes which is basically rice and meat (or chicken/shrimps) cooked in a banana leaf, and very delicious organic ice creams made of local fruits or raw cacao.On our first night in Tarapoto, we ate in a restaurant called Doña Zully, which is located right at the Plaza Mayor and offers local specialities. We tried some fried yuca for a starter, and it came with three different but all more or less spicy sauces: huacatai, huancayina and the third was kind of a pickles made of cocona fruit and chili pepper.
After that, we ordered a piqueo amazonico including a variety of dishes: pork ribs, chorizo, rice juanes, fried plantain and salad. All the meat was grilled on an open fire at the back of the restaurant.
The service was very professional and for a price, 46 soles (for two!) the plate was well worth trying.
We drank cocona juice, a new fruit I discovered on that trip. It is said to taste (and look) something like a mix of lemon and tomato and I second that description. I would not qualify it as my new fruit favorite, but in the hot weather a jar of ice cold cocona juice was very welcome.
Piqueo Amazonico at Doña Zully
Friendly chef at Doña Zully
Here are some more photos from the recent trip to Tarapoto and its nearby regions - I don't want my readers to think that the Peruvian jungle is only a one big Christmas theme park!In fact, Tarapoto is a city of 118 000 inhabitants. The airport is located near the city (15 minutes ride with a mototaxi), so if you are visiting Peruvian Selva Alta, the highland jungle, you are most likely to start your trip from here, or at least stop by. The center of Tarapoto is busy and noisy with its shops, salesmen, mototaxis, bars and restaurants. But if you want to escape the rhythms of Oppa Gangnam Style you can walk only few blocks away from the center and you will already find more peaceful quarters with local residents' houses and the typical jungle vegetation in their gardens and back yards.This photos were taken in San Roque de Cumbaza (about one hour ride from Tarapoto), from a hiking route from the river Cumbaza to an ecological mirador up in the mountains.
The whales appeared in groups of three or four.
Every now and then a small fountain appeared in the ocean, as a sign of their presence.
I don't know how close you get to whales when you actually take a boat tour, but for us, seeing the whales even from this distance was quite an experience and could not have asked for more.
Pocitas beach is about half an hour walk along the beach line to Máncora. Unfortunately, I did not get more photos of the whales, but here are some photos from along the way.
In late September, whales migrate from Ecuador to the Peruvian coast. The possibility of seeing some of these huge sea mammals was one but not only motivation to travel to Máncora just before my trip to Europe. If you have already been following this blog for a while, you may have read some previous posts about the beaches in Northern Peru. I am not a big fan of the town of Máncora itself due to the way how it has been shaped by rapidly growing tourism. Other beaches nearby are much more charming, such as Vichayito or Órganos. On this latest trip we tried a beach called Pocitas and it turned out to be a good choice. I can't say better than the other because all of them had their own special character. Our hotel was called Peña Linda. More rustic and cosy than fancy and bling bling, but it was right at the beach and had an infinity pool with an ocean view.
And yes! There were horses there, and I love horses (see this post). Last time in Máncora I wanted to ride at the beach at the sunset, but unfortunately all the attempted appointements with the horse men (or boys, as none of them seemed to be older than 10 years old) failed and thus this fantasy never became reality.
Wiser this time, we booked the horses early enough and got to ride...if not to the sunset but at least at the beach. Back and forth, and then posing for some photos until it was a bedtime for those horses and they had to go home.
We stayed at the beach -without horses. But the whales were still to come...
On my first trip to Peru, back in 1999, I visited Paracas, from where we took a boat trip to Ballestas islands, Islas Ballestas. These islands are known for the interesting marine fauna: you can spot varieties of seals, penguins and birds. It is one of the ecotourism musts in Peru. Those who are interested in culture and history appreciate also 'El Candelabro', a mystic geolyph sign on the rock. Its purpose is to date unknown.
EDIT: There WAS El Candelabro...I just learned that it does not exist anymore, it was destroyed at the 2007 earthquake.
But, if you are in Lima, you can also spot sea lions much closer to the city. The other weekend we went sailing on a friend's sailboat around San Lorenzo and Palomino islands on the coast of Lima, and there were plenty of noisy sea lions enjoying the sun. They may look cute and cuddly, but they make a hell of a noise and are apparently pretty agressive! Keep your distance...
I was removing some old photos from my equally old cell phone, and found these photos I took in Paris last year.
My cell phone is an old Nokia, model N82, and I have kept it because of its camera function for which I have not found its equal in more recent models. That said, I have to add that I am not a techonology geek and do not change phones all the time when a new model comes out. Therefore, this is not a comprehensive comparative study of cell phone qualities, just a banal observation of an average user.
However, Paris is also very photogenic city, don't you think?
Here are some photos from Pucusana, beachtown and a traditional fishing village on the Central Peruvian Pacific cost, 60 kms south of Lima.
During the holiday weekend of 28th July (Peruvian independence day known as Fiestas Patrias) we stopped shortly here, to eat some seafood and even ended up making a little improvised fishing trip I was the first one to catch fish! But it was too small, a little fish called borracha, "drunk fish", so it was liberated. More than fish, we saw giant, jelly medusas floating at the surface of the water!
Once back at the harbour, we saw a professional fishing boat arriving after two weeks out on the sea. Boat full of swordfish, biggest ones weighted 190 kgs.
As July is winter time in Peru, the town was rather quiet. But supposedly it is a very busy spot during the summer season.