Today's interview is with a Frenchman, Mathieu Reumaux, who currently lives in Lima, Peru. He is the co-founder of design studio Ma+Go. I met Mathieu in his office in Miraflores, at the headquarter of magic.What is Ma+Go about?
"The name comes from our first names, MA for Mathieu and GO for my Peruvian business partner José Antonio Mesones, known as Goster. Mago also means a magician, the one who creates magic" explains Mathieu.Mathieu's first contact with Peru was back in 2001, when he visited the country for a school project, while studying at ESSCA business school in Paris. "I was fascinated by Peruvian culture, and I also found this vintage esthetic in traditional clothes that I later wanted to develop into a clothes brand". In 2002 he met Aurelyen, and together they Misericordia, a brand that offers ethic, quality clothing for men and women. "Back at the time, it was the beginning of the fair trade trend in clothing industry, and our first client was concept store Colette in Paris". Since 2006, Aurelyen is alone in charge of Misericordia and Mathieu has worked on other projects being away from Peru for some time. In 2009 he met Goster.
"Goster was one of the founders of Peruvian surf and culture magazine Aqua, and he has been working in many international art and graphic design projects. He has also received a special prize for his design of Peru Mucho Gusto book, from the jury of Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. He proposed we should create a studio together, and so we did." In 2009 Mathieu also met his future wife, and he decided to stay in Peru.
"We have colaborated with many musicians. We made, for example, the record cover for Grammy nominated Peruvian group Bareto. When dub artist Mad Professor (best know for his colaboration with Massive Attack) came to Peru to record with Arequipan cumbia band Los Chapillacs, we designed their album cover. We are also behind the poster of the world music festival Siete Mares."
"At the moment one of our important projects is Art Latino. It aims to promote and develop Latin American contemporary art and provides a virtual platform and an online magazine presenting works of Latin American artists."
In addition, Ma+Go is also creating a new image and designing the boutique of Peruvian surf and skate clothing brand Dunkelwolk, and working with Peruvian photography collective Supay. "With Supay, we are making a photography book, which will be sold -among other places -at MATE (Fundaçion Mario Testino) store in Barranco."
How it is to start an enterprise in Peru, as a foreigner? What are the challenges and the advantages?
"There is much to do here on the creative side. Peru is inspiring because it is visually different, there is a relatively easy access to resources and for example in our field, printing is more accessible. But there comes the challenge, too: if you only look for the cheapest materials and production costs, you are likely to encounter some problems with the quality of your products. So you need to pay attention to that, to the quality, and perhaps pay a little bit more to make sure your products meet the quality standards. Also, as we sell in Europe in euros, and here in Peru the currency is eiher Peruvian nuevos soles or US dollars, you have to keep an eye on changes in different currencies. Sudden changes in the rates can make you lose lots of money."
Any other advice for people who want to start a business here?
"Yes, find a good accountant! He can be your best ally. There are many complicated laws related to business, and a good accountant knows about them and can also be your advicer, whereas a bad one can make you lose money. Not on purpose, but simply as he does not know enough. So don't hesitate to spend more money to find a skilled accountant."
How about Lima: where to eat, what to do, where to shop?
"As a Frenchman I must of course recommend the French restaurant Hervé in Miraflores (Calle Atahualpa 195). Their tasting menu is probably the best I have tried here. It costs I think about 180 soles and you have to book it in advance, but it's worth it! I also like their plate Magnet de pato d'Oxapampa."
"Bodega Verde in Barranco (Sucre 335) is a nice place to have a coffee or tea."
"For buying French products such as cheese, I recommend DeliFrance (several addresses in Lima; see website) and you can also find good cheese at Bioferia organic market (every Saturday Calle 15 de Enero, also in Surco in Parque de la Amistad). Oh, and in Bioferia they also sell these blue potato chips made of native potatos, they are delicious!"
"Bodega Verde in Barranco (Sucre 335) is a nice place to have a coffee or tea."
"For art, I recommend the classic, Museo de Larco (Av. Bolivar 1514, Pueblo Libre), and the new Modern Art Museum, MAC (Av. Grau 151) in Barranco, whereas for shopping I really recommend to visit the outlet store of Misericordia, La Cabaña de Alta Costura (Mariscal las Heras 658, Lince). It is more than a showroom, you can really get to know the fabrication process there."
And if you want to spend a day or two outside of Lima? Where would you go?
"To spend some time in the nature, I like Nor Yauyos-Cochas Landscape Reserve at Lima region. It's a protected area, and you can hike there. You will find lagoons and waterfalls."
Très bien -merci beaucoup, Mathieu!
MaGos visit cards. Each card presents a different project. Photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
"Magic is the illusion of the impossible, and there is always an element of surprise, a surprise hit, a modest revelation. But in magic nothing is left to chance." Ma+Go website
Mathieu Reumaux, photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
MA+GO, photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
MA+GO, photo © Juan Martin Cabrejos
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.
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.
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...
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.
It was raining heavily on our first night in Cusco.
Rainy evening in Cusco
Yet, we left the comfort of our room to find something for dinner and hit the town.
The city of Cusco -or Qosqo, as it's called in quechua language - is located in southeastern Peru, in the altitude of about 3 400 meters above the sea level. Unless you are a professional athlete who frequently trains in the altitude or a local with native American origins, you will most probably feel the effects of the height in your lungs when climbing up some of the numerous stairs of this city.
Despite all the obstacles that Mother Nature, Pachamama, was placing on our way ( = the rain, the altitude and the general laziness of human being) we were well motivated to go and explore the city.
Streets had gone all quiet when it was raining. It had been 12 years since my first and last visit to Cusco, so I was curious to see how different it would look like now.
More shops, more restaurants, more tourists. More of everything, in fact, including that now there was a double-decker red buses for sight-seeing, like in any tourist destination in the world.
But the city still had its charm. Cusco has been the capital of the Inca empire, it has hosted the Spanish conquistadors and today it has a very international vibe.
The Andean Trilogy: Puma, Snake and Condor
After enough of walking in the rain it was time to get something for dinner. But where to get something quick, cheap and cheerful, when most of the restaurants were already closing their doors?
From my first trip to Cusco I remember that the solution most often was small hamburger stands that were to be found in basically every street corner.
Chicken shawarma on Drug Street, Cusco
So what would be a typical cusceño snack today?
Today, almost every street corner in Cusco seemed to host a shawarma/falafel restaurant. Yet another example of the Andean synchretism and capacity to adapt to foreign influences!
Cusco Cathedral, built by Spaniards on the foundations of an Inca temple
Tel Aviv? Nope, Cusco!
We ended up eating in a small place on the Drug Street.
Why it's called Drug Street? I don't know. I can only guess.