Art, architecture, history, travel

Posts tagged “South America

1986 Venezuela Our Last Stop 4/4

Colonia Tovar entrance.

Colonia Tovar entrance. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We left Lima  for Caracas, Venezuela. The plane made a stop in Bogotá BOG, Columbia El Dorado International one of the busiest airports in the world. Another high plateau with more samples of coffee. It’s really popular and all the countries compete with each other. I’m sorry but Columbia beats Brazil hands down. Katie remembered the beautiful emeralds they had for sale there. We would visit Cartagena on another trip.

Caracas CCS only 15 miles from the coast sits at the top of a high cliff. Fifteen miles at an altitude of 2200m It seems like the drive from the airport is straight up.  We are back on the Atlantic side now. We are visiting  Belgian friends who had transferred  from Cincinnati.  Jean-Pierre was with Procter & Gamble. They had a new baby. The baby’s name was Lucie.  At 18 mos she was just learning to talk, French. She was a Belgian baby being raised in Venezuela. All she could say was qui, qui, qui or who?  She is very cute. We stayed with them at their apartment. It was very nice. It was a high-rise. It is hot in Caracas.

Jean-Pierre had to work but on the weekend he took us to the German colony of Colonia Tovar.  The original settlers from the Black forest in 1843. The efficient Germans were quickly isolated and kicked out of town to form their own colony by the  people of Caracas. One day Dominique drove us to visit the faculty of chemistry at Ciudad University. The Capitolio is a small gold domed building downtown.

Well, the most important thing to know about Caracas is that it is the birthplace of the great liberator, Simon Bolivar, the George Washington of South America. He was raised in Caracas by his nursemaid Hipolita. During the Napoleonic Wars Spain was occupied by France. One by one, Bolivar picked off the Latin American colonies winning them independence. In sixth grade I wrote an oil company pamphlet asking people to come to work in Caracas.

Jean-Pierre is an excellent host. He gave us some gifts. Locally grown cocoa. two bottles of Polar, a local beer and a small reed bow and arrow. Use by the natives to shoot and poison frogs. He also gave me samples of the local coins and currency.


Caracas Faculty of Chemistry University City

1986 Next Stop Peru 2/4

A visit to Lima, Peru on vacation through Sout...

A visit to Lima, Peru on vacation through South America, July 2010 (cc) David Berkowitz (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

archivo de presentación en la Plaza San Pedro,Lima

archivo de presentación en la Plaza San Pedro,Lima (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though our plane arrived a day late, Pancho was waiting for us at the airport.  When we asked him how he knew how to find us, he said that’s easy I just called the airport and asked if any planes were arriving from BA today. They said not today but we do have one tomorrow, mañana. I think our plane arrived about 6 pm. It was Thursday. The flight on Lufthansa took about 8  hours including a stop in Santiago to pick up fuel and more passengers. That’s the SA way. No way to call ahead and let him know in those days. That just the way things were done.


Map of Lima

So different in those days without Yelp or google. A good deal of time was spent on research, reading relying on locals and friends.
Finding things and getting lost.

Now I should say a few things about the Finns and the connection with
SA. Eduardo del Rosario and my father-in-law, Mr. Finn had been in basic training in the Mojave desert in California during WWII.

They renewed their friendship at Fort Knox during the Korean War. When Rosario returned to Peru he became a general. They had a daughter named Stella. They sent her to college in Cincinnati. She used to visit the Finns on weekends. Pancho was studying in Kansas, he used to drive to Cincinnati for dates sometimes. That’s about 700 miles, before interstates. It’s a wonder what a man will do for love. Katie was about nine years old.  Katie told me he had a record player hooked up in his car so he could listen to music. No CD’s or eight tracks, then. The first time I met Katie she told me her brother was staying with friends in Peru. I thought well isn’t that interesting. I never thought of Peru as a place people actually visited. There were Political problems in Peru in the 60’s. The Generals’ had staged a coup and overthrown the President. There was trouble with the US over fishing rights, especially tuna. I remember my dad telling me about it.

SouthAmerica3 001

Pancho owned ladrillos Rex in Lima, a foundry that made bricks. They have four children. The little boy really liked his He-man space mountain. He had all kinds of other He-man toys to play with. Pancho built his own house with bricks from his factory. One of the girls gave up her room to me and Katie. Pancho paid as much for his car as he did for his house. Labor is cheap imports are expensive. When we arrived at their house from the airport, they had a special surprise for us. It was Budweiser from St. Louis. We did get to try some of the local beer as well.

Lima is one of the oldest cities in the Western hemisphere. It was founded by Pizarro. Its port is Callao. They had a terrible cholera epidemic there in 1991. Peru was one of the last countries to win independence from Spain. At one time the entire South America was ruled from here, known as the viceroyalty of Peru, Limeños are very proud of that fact. Lima is also home to one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of San Marcos. I had an Austrian friend in Cincinnati who used to teach Pharmacology there during the summers, their winter.

A word about the calendar we arrived in September so it was just about the end of winter there, but since Lima is close to the equator 60 F is about as cold as it gets, but with the humidity it’s still a chilling cold. The climate is moderated by the cold Antarctic Humboldt current. More on that later.

Unlike the dialect spoken in BA the Spanish of Peru is modeled on Castilian Spanish. Peru is also under the influence of two native languages Quechua and Aymara, also due to many Asian workers, Chinese and Japanese. It is a fascinating country a melting pot in its own special way. In many ways Lima is just like any other city on the Pacific coast in California, in many ways not. Miraflores and San Isidro are nice. One day we went to a Chinese restaurant with Stella’s friend, Linda. The special dish was pigeon. Pancho didn’t tell us about it until after we ate it. It wasn’t bad. It tasted like pigeon, though.

Well, Pancho took good care of us. One night, we went to a Bodega. Things didn’t really get hopping until after 11 pm. Unlike Argentina, they have a curious way of getting on the highways here. They don’t necessarily use an exit if there was a hole in the fence somewhere, they just get on there. Why waste all that gas driving all the way to the exit? The other cars will slow down won’t they? Some people here drive like maniacs. I’ve seen that in Spain and Mexico, too.

One Saturday Pancho took us for a drive. We drove up into the mountains with the children. It was beautiful. I still don’t know how the seven of us fit in that car. It was a big Mercedes like the one I have now. On the way back we stopped at some friends. They are always doing things like that. Dropping in on people. They are very social. They throw lots of parties. One night went to a christening.

Senduro luminoso or shining path was a band of Maoist guerillas who were terrorizing the country. Blowing up power plants, bridges and other infrastructure. The had murdered a New York Times reporter in Ayacucho. Fortunately they were not active in Lima. One time Beatriz heard the fireworks at the Reds game in Cincinnati. She was scared. She thought it was the shining path. We said don’t be scared. We don’t have things like that here. She was good friends with Katie’s mother.

Lima is one of those cities you either love or hate. It does have a problem with air pollution. Katie and I loved it. We loved the history and the people. We ate at many nice restaurants and sometimes at home. The food is excellent especially the fish and shellfish. Pancho never let us pay for a meal. We really appreciated that. One night we ate a special place that had a decor with little huts like the African jungle another night on a pier that jutted right out into the Pacific Ocean. It was just beautiful. There is a special Inca museum called the Gold Museum.

57 Cad RF 0704

1957 Cadillac

One day we went downtown on our own. We saw some of the sights including Plaza de armas, Plaza St Martin, Parliament, the cathedral of Lima and the Palacio de Torre Tagle. Some of the older homes still have wooden balconies. We met a Deputy of the Parliament of Peru. He enjoyed showing us a round. He gave us his card. Like many Spanish towns the Plaza de Armas is laid out on a square grid. New Orleans and Cuzco have the same plan, if you look closely. The cathedral was closed the day we came, but we told them we couldn’t come back they let us in anyway. 

Pancho took us on a tour. He showed us a special square built for the anniversary of Peru all of the buildings around the square are identical. He is very proud of his city and rightly so.

We saw a coulple of old 1957 black Cadillacs. The ones that my grandmother loved so much.

gold museum
downtown Lima

1986 So this is what happened 1/4

Español: escritor argentino jorge luis borges

Español: escritor argentino jorge luis borges (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Satellite image of the falls

Satellite image of the falls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Katie and I decided to go to South

America. We had just bought our house on Berry Avenue in Cincinnati. It was 1986.

Katie’s dad Mr. Finn was scared he didn’t want us to go. He came over to the house to take us to the airport but really he wanted to talk us out of it. He couldn’t talk us out of it so he took us to the Cincinnati airport, which is in in Kentucky CVG.
Then we got on the plane and flew  to Buenos Aires in Argentina EZE. I’m sure we didn’t fly direct. Stopped in Brazil had a free coffee in the airport, Rio GIG I think. We had this big game with us called He-man space mountain it was for Fracisco Arrenetta. Katie carried that thing all over SA until we got  Peru. It was for the Arrenettas who lived in Peru. We left the airport on the bus and went to the hotel. It was beautiful. The highway was modern and just like any highway in the United States.
The hotel was great. It was a residence hotel on Maipu and it turned out Jorge Luis Borges, the famous blind Argentina poet lived there. Although he lived there we never met him. He died soon after that. I was a nice old style hotel with a beautiful lobby.
We had dinner one night at a wonderful restaurant called El Palacio de la Papa Frita, the french fry palace, with red wine a sparkling mineral water mixed together white table cloths and  a huge steak called baby beef. It was very crowded and busy but the waiters  did a great job. When we got to Peru, Pancho told us he had heard of it and had eaten there too. He even knew about the baby beef.
Florida avenue in the Retiro district beautiful pedestrian shopping street with lots of nice furniture and antique stores and  cafes and bars. Lavalle street and the plaza de Mayo are also main sights.We got a tour of the beautiful Teatro Colon Opera house by and opera student. Maybe not as well known as the one in Manaus in Brazil, but I’m sure the operas are better these days. The one in the Herzog movie Fitzcarraldo starring Klaus Kinski. We sort of did our own walking tour. The pink house or Casa Rosada, the white house of Argentina is pink. It felt very much like Europe especially Italy which I also like very much. Argentina is beautiful and the people are very sophisticated and fashion conscious.
My friend Beatriz, who worked for Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati had been helping us with our Spanish before we Left. She said now Ted just stop at any pub and ask for dos cervesas, por favor that means two beers please. Well the first time we tried it the waiter looked at me and replied dos cervesas o una grande, which means two or one big one? We couldn’t stop laughing. We hadn’t thought of that one. Beatriz would later return to to Peru and be elected Prime Minister the first female PM of any Latin American Country. That night we went to a fancy restaurant, nightclub, milonga and tango. Katie had been working hard so she had gotten a$100 bonus award. We tried to spend it all but it was impossible even with dinner, champagne, nightclub tango, milonga and taxi tour including la boca barrio. I think we spent about half or $54.Image In the 70’s Argentina had been known for wild inflation, death squads and the Dirty war when tens of thousands of people just disapeared.
I’ll never forget I was in Spain when the infamous Argentine dictator Juan Peron died. We saw it in all of the newspapers.
Then we took a plane to Iguazu falls IGR and back to Brazil and an over night stay in Paraguay, Ciudad del Este not Asunción the capital. I had to buy the plane tickets at the airport using my Spanish.  Bought them the day before and then came back just to be sure there was space. It is a very popular place I think it was a Tuesday It was a small plane with the old stairs no jet way and the cockpit door was open the whole flight. Many people had never flown before so they just got up and started talking to the pilot, pre 911 of course.
The Iguazu falls straddle the border of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. It’s a triple border. It is one of the most amazing places I have been in my life and I have been to some amazing places. Three times the volume of Niagara Falls. In Brazil they speak Portuguese of course and the Falls are know as the Cataratas de Iguacu.
From Puerto IguazuImagewe missed our bus to the falls. We should have just followed the crowd. You must see the falls from both the Argentine and Brazilian side. The views are quite different, although I now understand Brazil now charges Americans $150 for a
visa. Back then you could just cross back and forth across the border as many time as you wanted. The    view from Argentina is up close. The view from Brazil gives a better perspective of the immensity of the falls.
Misiones province We took a cab across the friendship bridge from Foz de Iguacu, Brazil to Puerto Presidente Stroessner now Ciudad del Este. Named for the cruel dictator who had ruled this land locked South American country with an iron fist since WWII(1954). Foz de Iguacu will play host to part of the ESPN Summer X Games in 2013.
ImageThat night we met a charming guy with Scotch whisky and a pick up date at a cool hotel with an outdoor restaurant and colored lights. It reminded me of Christmas even though it was August.
There was an outdoor  market and Katie bought a purse. Katie said, I never even knew Paraguay was a place and all of a sudden I was there. When we got back to Cincinnati Mr. Finn was sure I meant Uruguay but that was one place we hadn’t been, yet. I would love to take the hydrofoil from BA to Montevideo some day like in the movie Gilda with Rita Hayworth.

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Our plane to Peru LIM had mechanical trouble and was delayed one full day. That’s the way they do it in SA no planes today, come back tomorrow. Lufthansa flew over the  Andes and with a stop in Santiago SCL those mountains are so high it seemed the plane had just enough altitude to make it over them.