Vida Huancaína

Our adventure in the Andes


Back in the USA

We made it back in one piece.  With all 4 checked bags and 3 carry-ons.  And miraculously without excess baggage fees.

It’s been a strange transition for us.  We had strategically booked our tickets so that we would not have to deal with winter, but Mother Nature had other plans for us.  We left weather like this…

sunset in Huancayo the evening we left (I kept thinking to myself, “red at night, sailor’s delight…”)


and the sunset in Lima the day before we flew home

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and arrived to this…

5 inches of snow the day after we landed


and then, less than a week later, we had another few inches of snow (which incidentally made for pretty snowy beach photos)

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We’re hanging in there though and slowly getting back into the swing of things.  We’re enjoying all the things we’ve been without for the last several months (sharp cheddar cheese!  dark beer!  raw veggies!) and settling into new routines (I found a temporary position at my old organization and Chris will start writing his dissertation).  I think it’s going to be awhile before we both really feel like we’re both physically and emotionally adjusted to being back.  But I would really be amiss not to thank the family members who have helped us out so far with this transition–THANK YOU!  And to all those other family members and friends whose faces we haven’t seen yet, we will do so as soon as possible!

So, this brings to a conclusion the end of my Peru blogging experience. I’ve really appreciated everyone who has visited the site, posted comments or emailed to let me know that they’ve been reading the posts.  It’s been so wonderful to be able to share our experience with everyone.  And I enjoyed putting together the posts so much that I’ve decided to launch another blog to talk about one of my favorite things–knitting!  I’m sure you’ve noticed a theme of knitting and hunting for yarns throughout our time in Peru, and this new blog will be a place for me to share my knitting adventures.  If you’re interested, check it out at!

Thanks again everyone!  As they say in Peru, que le vaya bien!



Hasta luego, Peru!

Today is our last full day in Huancayo!  It’s so hard to believe that our time here is over.  We’ve made so many amazing memories during the last 14 months, even up through our last week here.

To start off, we participated in our second cortamonte celebration with our host family.  The celebration this year was even bigger than last year, with 6 montes (trees), a big stage for performers, and a crew from a local TV station.  We skipped the costumes this time around, hoping to avoid drawing too much attention to ourselves, but we didn’t manage to escape getting doused with baby powder, ribbons, and confetti!  We stayed late into the evening, chatting with our host family, while passing around a bottle of beer, pouring a bit into the cup, toasting those around us, and then pouring out a little bit for Pacha Mama (Mother Earth).


We took a trip to the towns of San Jerónimo and Hualhuas for once last round of jewelry shopping and yarn stashing, respectively.  We decided to walk from one to the other this time, about a 4.5 km, hour-long jaunt through the countryside.  We took in the corn fields lined by eucalyptus trees, while a thunderstorm rolled in overhead and produced the most beautiful rainbow over the valley.  Little yellow birds flitted back and forth between plots of land.  Cows, sheep, and pigs grazed, and roosters strutted their stuff.  We passed families harvesting potatoes and children playing on the dirt road yelling “buenas tardes!” (good afternoon!) to us as we passed by.


Then, the grand finale, was a big pachamanca feast.  We helped our host dad get the pit ready (and by that I mean we kept him company while he did all the work) and took fastidious notes of all the steps so that we might attempt to recreate it ourselves one day in the US.  We stuffed ourselves silly on heaping plates of chicken, pork and lamb, with potatoes, beans, and humitas (sweet tamales). We sat around the pachamanca, heat still rising off the stones, and visited with our host family.  We shared stories from the last year, and also learned new things, like how to properly wrap a traditional blanket around yourself to carry a baby or goods from the market, or how to wear it to dance.


Now we set ourselves to finishing stuffing all our clothes and souvenirs (and yarn!) into our suitcases and prepare for the last 8-hour bus trek (at least time around) from Huancayo to Lima.  We’re both excited and nervous about heading home.  We’re worrying about the counter culture shock awaiting us, but also looking forward to seeing the friendly faces of our loved ones!

Though our time here is closing out, this will not be my last blog post (more on that from the USA!).  For now I’ll say hasta luego, Peru!

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Two weeks!

Two weeks from today we’ll be flying home.   It’s so hard to believe that our time here in Peru is coming to a close so soon.  The time has passed both so slowly and extremely quickly.  Only a daily basis the hours seem to stretch on and on, passing so much slower than they do back home in the fast-paced city.  Yet, at the same time, we’ve been able to do so many things and have so many crazy adventures that it feels like the weeks and months have gone by fast.

We do have a few must-dos before we leave, including:

It’s also now carnaval time again and the big cortamonte festival is happening this weekend!  The party will be even bigger this year than last year, with three days of dancing and cutting down trees to celebrate the coming harvest.  I think this year Chris and I may opt out of the costumes, but we’ll definitely join in for parts of the celebration with our host family as our host sister is a padrina (sponsor) this year!

The blog may be a little quiet over the next few weeks as we endeavor to soak up as much as we can during our remaining time here!



This post is dedicated to our dear family friend who we lost yesterday.  Her kind, generous and caring spirit will be missed.  In her memory, I share with you this little hummingbird we saw in Cusco that was just happily chirping away.  I know how much she would have loved to have seen it.  You’re forever in our thoughts and memories.


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Huancahuasi is our new favorite restaurant in Huancayo!  It’s a restaurante turístico (tourist restaurant) that serves up delicious local and regional dishes and drinks, with a backdrop of truly huancan (Huancayan) decor.


a very traditional decoration, braided corn hanging from the ceilings

corn with husks braided together, a very traditional decoration, hanging from the ceilings…and a not so traditional Santa dressed in local clothing 🙂

We have been back three times since we discovered the restaurant in December, have tried many different things on the menu, and have loved them all.  Our favorites include the rocoto relleno (kind of like a stuffed bell pepper, but the rocoto pepper is native to this area of the world (and decidedly spicer) and is stuffed with ground beef and spices and covered with Andean cheese), quinoa tamale (a traditional tamale, but the masa (dough) is mixed with quinoa), and conejo picante (spicey rabbit).

To wash it down, Huancahuasi has a variety of drinks like chica morada (a sweet juice made from purple corn) and chica de jora (a fermented corn drink). They also serve up cocktails with regional influences, like a coca pisco sour (your traditional Peruvian pisco sour with a bit of coca leaf tea infused into it).  Yummy.


rocoto relleno with accordion potatoes


arroz con pato (rice with duck) and a pitcher of chica de jora in the background

We recommend going on a Saturday or Sunday when there are even more choices on the menu, including the super delicious regional specialty pachamanca (we made one with our host family in the backyard last year during Semana Santa).  We’re going to try to go to Huancahuasi as many times as possible to try as many dishes as possible before we leave!

Now we’re off for a couple weeks to travel around Peru, and we plan to try as many regional specialties as possible!  Check back in a couple weeks for the full report.

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Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!


Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo!  Wishing you and yours happy holidays and a prosperous New Year! 

We’ve had a wonderful 2014 exploring Peru’s culture and sights.  From hiking up to 16,700 feet to touch a glacier, to seeing the 3rd tallest waterfall in the world, to dancing in traditional costumes, we couldn’t have imagined a more diverse and fun experience.

A special thanks to everyone who has stopped by the blog to check in us and read about our crazy experiences here in Huancayo.  It means a lot to us to be able to share this time with you all!

We’ll be taking a break from the blog for a few weeks while we visit with family for the holidays and explore the wonders of Chilean Patagonia!  Check back in 2015 to read all about it and see lots and lots of photos.

Happy holidays,

Karin & Chris

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It’s not Christmas in Peru without panettone

Imagine our surprise when there was not only a huge Christmas tree erected in the mall downtown at the beginning of November, but that it was also completely decked out in panettones?!  Panettone is everywhere here this time of year.  According to the local newspaper, Peru is the second largest consumer of panettone after Italy.  Who would’ve guessed?!

Panettone tree!

Now that’s a BIG panettone tree.

There are about a dozen or more different makers of panettone, stacked in huge piles all over the grocery stores. (According to our host family, D’Anafrio is the best.)  You can get it in a tin (most expensive), a box (middle expensive), or a bag (least expensive).


Stacks of panettone at Casa Sueldo


We counted 11 different brands of panettone at Plaza Vea!

We had our first panettone experience over the weekend when our host family celebrated the first weekend of Advent.  We lit a candle, said a prayer, and then feasted on huge slices of panettone, as well as chocolate chip cookies and blueberry bread that I had baked (full post on the blueberry bread, including recipe, coming shortly!).

We tried the traditional panettone with little dried fruits baked inside, which was definitely sweet with a slight hint of rum or some other spirit baked into it.  We’ve seen that there are also panettones filled with bits of chocolate, which I think I might like a little better than the traditional one!

Yes, the napkin holder is a guinea pig.  :)

Yes, the napkin holder is a guinea pig. 🙂

Now that we’ve had our first panettone, it’s officially Christmas season.  Because, it’s not Christmas without panettone in Peru!