Saturday, March 30, 2019

A Festival in Lima, Peru

We are stopping for a few days in Lima, Peru as we make our way back home. On day one, a Sunday, we taxied into the center of Lima to the Plaza De Armas De Lima for the weekly changing of the guard ceremony at the Governor’s palace. We arrived at 10:30, only to find a festival/parade forming. We got to enjoy the full parade, with lots of music, dancing, and colorful native costumes. It was one of those lucky, unexpected experiences that make traveling so wonderful.

Friday, March 29, 2019

★★★★★ Book Review: Surviving Immortality by Alan Chin

Surviving Immortality by Alan Chin
Edward C. Patterson, Reviewer

Powerfully fast-moving with now-relevancy
I know I can rely on a good read whenever I open a book by Alan Chin; and Surviving Immortalityis no exception, except it isexceptional. With a believable spark, Mr. Chin presents us with a world devouring itself when promise has given it its greatest loss for hope. All the inchoate faults of humanity, ready today to strike our civilization to the core, leeches out when confronted by a mind shattering development and a simple, lethal condition. Surviving Immortality is masterfully rendered into a work long lingering after the last pages.

The characters are complex, each with their own demon, but honest to their convictions; so much so, there are no heroes, and those who appear villainous can be redeemed by their good intentions. The main thread of the story his told through Matt Reece’s point of view, although all the characters get their turn; but it is Matt’s intense purity, a purity despoiled by circumstances, which unfolds like a night flower in moonlight. Alan Chin crafts an action adventure and psychological political philosophical tale, if there could be such a genre, keeping the pages turning until those pages disappear and time is lost. The elements in the work, and those effecting Matt Reece, are all about us today just waiting for the spark to ignite them. Mr. Chin strikes that spark.

I am a fan of Alan Chin’s other works, but this one combines all the signature touches of them all — ranch life, storms at sea, tropical islands, police procedural, Buddhism, sexuality and a lust for travel. He even includes doffs to his latest wanderlust — Machu Picchu. The world he presents is hisworld as much as ourworld. The arguments are current ones, and I’ll not spoil your read by mentioning them, but whatever opinions you have on those topics, Surviving Immortalitywill not fail to engage you, even if you wind up talking to your night light at midnight in bed. 

Needless to say (but I will say it), I highly recommend this book if you enjoy a powerful fast-moving work with now-relevancy from a major author who contributes to our contemporary literary legacy.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Fabulous Foods of Chile

One of the best reasons to travel to Chile is the wonderful food options. Many people told us the food in Peru was superior, we found the Chilean food exceptional. Chileans generally like their food salty, often salting their food before even tasting it. As you can imagine, Chile has incredible seafood, and we loved it all. 
There’s no Chilean sea bass here but plenty of great fish options. This is my favorite. Conger eel.

More conger eel and Merluza (Hake).

 I love pulpo (octopus).

Fresh abalone.

And more pulpo.

Mussels in Chardonnay and honey sauce. 

 Merluza and seafood. 

Huge empanadas.

Tuna ceviche. Almost like poke.

King crab with caviar.

The local favorite in Patagonia, lamb shank.

Mango sponge.

More ceviche. 

Rare hare with black truffle risotto.

Calafate sour. Made with pisco and Calafate berries.

Guanaco carpaccio.

Coffee and dessert. Restaurants in Chile will present you a bill with an optional 10% tip which you’ll be asked if you want to pay it. Don’t know what happens if you decline since we’ve never said no.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Two Book Reviews:

Can You Ever Forgive Me? By Lee Israel
Coming back from South America, I saw the movie based on this memoir on the plane. I really loved the movie, so I read the book. 

Before turning to the criminal life, running a one-woman forgery scam out of an Upper West Side studio shared with her tortoiseshell cat, and dodging the FBI, Lee Israel enjoyed a celebrated reputation as an author. When her writing career suddenly took a turn for the worse, she conceived of the astonishing literary scheme that fooled even many of the experts. Forging hundreds of letters from such collectible luminaries as Dorothy Parker, Noël Coward, and Lillian Hellman -- and recreating their autographs with a flourish -- Israel sold her "memorabilia" to dealers across the country, producing a collection of pitch-perfect imitations virtually indistinguishable from the voices of their real-life counterparts. Exquisitely written, with reproductions of her marvelous forgeries, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is Israel's delightful, hilarious memoir of a brilliant and audacious literary crime caper.

This turns out to be one of those rare books where I find the movie so much more satisfying than the book. It was a rather dull read. The book offered little that the movie didn’t provide, and the movie did it so much better. I did finish the read, but only because it was a short memoir. The only thing I found in the book that I didn’t catch in the movie was the sheer volume of forgeries she perpetrated—over 400 forged letters. Amazing. She said in the book she thought her illegal letters were her best writing. After reading the book, I’d be inclined to agree.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan 
This is another movie I saw and loved, and then read the book after. This time, as brilliant as the movie was, the book was equally as good if not better.  This one is going on to my favorites shelf, and I will reread it often. Ian McEwan is a master of presenting detail of the inner experience of his characters. 

Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family division. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.

At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital—an encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Buenos Aires, La Recoleta Cemetery

H. and I visited the most famous tourist attraction in Buenos Aires, the La Recoleta Cemetery. It is located in the Recoleta neighbourhood, and contains the graves of notable people, including Eva Peron, Presidents of Argentina, Nobel Prize winners, the founder of the Argentine Navy, and a granddaughter of Napoleon. It has been often hailed as one of the world’s most beautiful cemeteries. It is chockablock full of magnificent statuary, and equally jammed with tourists. 
It takes hours of walking and quite a few miles to see it all.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Buenos Aires, Walking Round The City

H. and I did a lot of waking today. Took the subway to plaza de Mayo to see the big church, which was impressive. We then walked down to the harbor, up one side and down the other, looking for a good eatery for lunch. The place we selected didn’t live up to our hopes, but then did serve a decent beef carpaccio, and the shrimp I had weren’t too bad. There were two tall ships moored at the harbor. Those old sailing ships still hold a certain fascination in my heart. From the wharf we walked all the way back to our room, stopping along the way for ice cream. The day was cooler with a nice breeze so walking wasn’t as bad as yesterday. Still, we had to stay out of the direct sun as much as possible.

Florida Street, where all the money changers hang out.

A portrait of Evita Peron on the far building.

I would love to cross an ocean on a ship like this.