A weekend jaunt to ancient Lima

When your BFF who lives thousands of miles away invites you to meet her in a culinary Mecca just a few hours from your place, you say yes. Which is how Rodolfo and I found ourselves headed to Lima for a weekend of gastronomic indulgence in wonderful company.

Huaca Pucllana ceremony

Lima isn’t my favorite city – I’ve seen the sights, and the constant grey skies get me down (see also: Bogotá). In this case, however, that was a plus because it meant we were happy to tag along on whatever touristy activities S. and B. wanted to hit without worrying about fitting in any must-sees of our own. And when your itinerary includes a leisurely stroll along the coast of ritzy Miraflores, it’s hard to complain about the planning.

Miraflores, Lima

Most of our sightseeing, however, was focused on the past. While the Incas are the most famous ancient Peruvian society – it’s kind of hard to top Machu Picchu – they aren’t the only one who’ve left their mark. The Lima culture built huacas, ceremonial sites that once were cultural centerpieces but now feel incongruous next to modern apartment buildings.

Huaca Huallamarca

We went to two huacas, Huaca Hullamarca and Huaca Pucllana. The former was, frankly, not that interesting. It’s smaller and didn’t offer a ton of information, although we did get a good laugh out of the doll/mummy hybrids scattered around to illustrate how people might have used the different spaces.

Huallamarca

Huaca Pucllana offered guided tours, which is helpful to add a bit of context when all you’re actually looking at is a pile of grey bricks. Plus they had a garden with plants that would have been grown and animals that would have been kept back then, so that’s an automatic win in my book.

Llamas

Of course, ancient sites means ancient artifacts. Next stop: Museo Larco, home to one of the most famous collections of Pre-Columbian art in the world. Get ready for pottery porn.

Manchester. Not the soccer team.

To much of the world, Manchester is home to one thing: Manchester United FC. For most of my life, I mainly thought of it as home to Manchester Airport. But over the past few years, I’ve discovered that Manchester is surprisingly cool.

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Granted, my family lives next door to a dairy farm, so the simple act of taking a supremely easy train journey and arriving 30 minutes later in a big city is already pretty exciting. But as someone who loves downtown Santiago for its ornate architecture, I especially appreciate Manchester’s gritty buildings and the contrast between old and new. Luckily it would appear that this is a place where cultural revival doesn’t mean knocking down every last bit of history.

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On our last trip to the city, Rodolfo and I had a casual lunch and did a bit of shopping before making our way to the Museum of Science and Industry. This turned out to be a mistake because the MOSI is absolutely fascinating and deserved far more than the 2 hours we had to give to it. We didn’t even make it into all of the galleries.

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What we did manage to learn is that basically everything to ever be discovered or invented happened in Manchester. This city lays claim to both atomic theory and atom splitting, the first railroad, even vegetarianism! And, of course, the first professional football league. Who knew?

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Sadly I do not have a photo of the absolute best thing in all of Manchester and possibly the world: family naan. Akbar’s Indian restaurant is the place to go for a good curry and a naan bread the size of a beach ball, intended to serve the whole family. Google it, seriously. There are plenty of other good restaurants and hip bars, of course, which makes popping up to the city after work a very attractive proposal.

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While Manchester may in many minds always be followed by the word “United,” there’s far more to this city than a sports team.

More fun Manchester facts here.

Here we go again

Well hello there. Obviously it’s been a while. I mean, this is my second post in all of 2014, and that first one was basically phoning it in.

I’ve gotten a few messages asking where I’ve been or why I stopped blogging, and the boring truth is that I’ve just been living life and not feeling like writing. While I’ve had some “successes” like working with companies or meeting people only to find they’ve read my blog before (which yes, is as awkward as it sounds), the fact is that I do this as a hobby because it’s something I enjoy. No inspiration? Close the computer and go do something that sounds more fun!

Most of my blog hiatus had to do with the fact that work was using plenty of my creativity, so I just didn’t have as much to give to personal projects like photo editing or writing. Part of it though, is that like a good little blogger, I followed best practices like responding to all my comments/emails/tweets/Facebook messages in the nicest possible way to make each reader feel special. And that was exhausting.

Now, some of you ARE special. I’ve met great people through the internet and very much enjoy interacting with others I’ll probably never meet. But some people need a good shaking. I am not a robot put here to answer your hopelessly broad (what is Chile like?) or Google-ably specific (how much does the metro cost?) questions, especially not when you can’t even be bothered to read my FAQ first or write your email in a polite tone. The bad apples – and even the good apples on days when I had other, non-blog things to do – made me wonder if maybe I should just pack it all in.

But lately, I’ve been wanting to write again. And since we’ve established that this is a hobby that I do because I enjoy it, here I am. The difference now is that I’m not going to try to pretend to be nice. Guys, I’m not nice. That is not false modesty (and people who know me in real life are laughing at the idea of me being either nice or modest). I am a lot of wonderful things, but across-the-board sunshine-y is not one of them, and I officially give up on trying to fake it just because some “how to be a successful blogger” article told me to.

So, new rules. I’ll try to reply to all substantive comments because I appreciate the time people take to leave them and often have a response. If I don’t get to yours, it’s not you, it’s me. Unless your comment sucked, in which case, evaluate yourself. I will probably not respond to emails because eh, I don’t feel like it most of the time, but I’m keeping my email address listed on here so that the stupid (stupid!) questions continue to go there instead of cluttering the comments of random posts. I will stop resolving to “get better at Facebook”. I’m sort of over Twitter but do reply, and I’m all about the Instagram. I don’t care about SEO or linking to my old posts right now, so eff that too. End of boring policy-making.

On a more positive note, here are some things I’ve done in the past year:

– Went to Lima with friends for the sole purpose of eating. Mission accomplished.

– Went home to California for Thanksgiving. This was so good.

– Went to the Dominican Republic with my husband. Stayed at an all-inclusive resort, thus breaking many promises that I would NEVER do such a thing. It was awesome, and I want to go back.

– Participated in the Crossfit Open. Yes, it’s a cult, and I am a card carrying member. I am also stronger than I ever imagined I could be and basically have to be forced out of the gym every morning because I just want to hang out there with my friends all day.

– Was a bridesmaid in two friends’ weddings. This was also so good.

– Went to New York City, saw friends, showed my husband around for his first visit there. We had a blast.

That’s all that comes to mind, so apparently these were the highlights. Maybe if this inspiration sticks around I’ll tell you about them someday.

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