Learning to Cook in Lima!

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As you all know by now – ever since I met C, and he introduced me to the wonder that is Peruvian cuisine, I have been completely and utterly hooked. What came as a surprise to me when I first visited Peru in 2011 (read about my adventures HERE!) was not only how diverse the country is in terms of its population but also how this diversity is represented in their food, especially in and around Lima! Peruvian cuisine has fully embraced, adopted and modified the flavours from the Andes, the Spaniards, the Chinese, the Japanese, as well as Africa and the Middle East. Continue reading

The Emirates Run-Around.

For those of you living in Brazil and South America I thought I would let you know about my experience with booking a flight with Emirates, so that you if you decide to do so, you will not be as surprised as I was with their rather inconvenient policies!

The Background:

C and I are planning a trip to Singapore for Christmas. As you can imagine that is not exactly an easy or cheap destination from Brasilia! However, my brother lives in Abu Dhabi and I know that Emirates flies directly to Dubai from both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. So we thought we would fly with Emirates to Dubai, visit him for a few days and continue on with our journey from there. We will then fly back home to Brasilia separately, as I will stay on in Singapore longer and C has to come back and work (well someone has to right?). Rather straight forward I thought….oh how I was mistaken!

Issue Number One (more of an annoyance really)

Booking my ticket directly with Emirates was a nightmare. I had done my research online in regards to what the best routes would be from Brasilia. However as C and I were flying back at different times, I wanted to talk to someone in Emirates to help me book the tickets to ensure C and I were on the same flight outbound, as well as help me find a good price. The prices I saw online where reasonable if we were to go directly to Singapore, but when I wanted to include a stop-over for a few days in Dubai, it doubled!

So I called the Emirates Rio office, but was immediately directed to a call centre (judging by the ladies accent) in the Philippines. The call did not start well, when she told me that there was no such place as Brasilia!! After struggling through a 40 minute call, where she kept giving me the wrong information, giving me wrong quotes and neither of us understanding each other, I decided that I would call again. This time I was directed to a call centre in the US. After explaining what I wanted – the woman essentially told me to do it myself and there was no point in her helping me! I have to admit I was lost for words, and after having spent 40 minutes with other lady in the Philippines I just gave up!

In the end, I asked my brother if he could talk to someone in Emirates in Dubai to see if they could help us. What do you know? The next day after my big brother made a few phone calls he had managed to find the perfect flight for us, half the price as quoted to me online and we were all happy! Time to pay for the tickets!

Issue Number Two (a massive issue)

Now armed with my reservation codes for my flights, I phoned up Emirates in Rio again, again I was transferred to a call centre, this time in India. When I wanted to pay for my tickets, I was told I was unable to do so over the phone or online. Apparently it is Emirates policy that if you are buying a ticket to or from South America, you have to do so in person at an Emirates office!! This is a bit of an issue for me, considering Emirates does not have an office in Brasilia! I was then transferred from various call centres around the world (or at least that is what it felt like) and the best advice I got, was from another guy in India who asked me if I had a friend that could go to an Emirates office to pay for my tickets for me!

When I said that wasn’t an option I was transferred to a very helpful Emirates employee in the US, who was trying to figure out how she could help me, and in the end she put me in touch with the Rio office (the same office I had been trying to call for 48 hours). I was given a glimmer of hope here. The Rio office, said that I could fill out a ‘credit card form’, email them the information and they would be able to process the payment! HOWEVER, when she found out, that I do not have a Brazilian credit card, this option was no longer available. It is Brazil’s policy that they cannot accept international credit cards unless in person!

In the end, my only option was to fly to São Paulo and go personally to the Emirates office there and buy my tickets. As luck would have it, C and I had already planned to visit São Paulo for a long weekend. So yesterday first thing in the morning, we took a taxi to the Emirates office and FINALLY we were able to buy our tickets and put this lengthy saga behind us. C and I are now definitely flying to Singapore via Dubai for Christmas :)

I really make a point of not complaining on The Travelling Chopsticks, as I want this forum to be positive and for inspiration, but I felt that this was rather important information to share. Be prepared that if you would like to fly Emirates in South America, that you will have to go to the office in person to buy your tickets, even if it means you have to fly to get there!

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I think Calvin pretty much sums up my feelings over this whole situation!

Brazilian Wax, Brazilian Bikini, Brazil Nut….

What do all of the above have in common?! Yep, you got it! BRAZIL!

We are moving to Brazil! :)

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2 weeks ago C and I found out our next post was going to be Brasilia. 1 week ago, we found out that instead of moving in 2014 (which was planned) we are going to be moving in the summer. I can tell you one thing – there is nothing that can distract you more from your own wedding plans, than finding out that you are moving to a new country in less than 6 months!

We have done nothing but talk and think about Brasilia since we found out we were moving there. If I am going to be honest, the news was not met immediately with joy on my part…quite the opposite. I really had my hopes set on Tokyo which was our first choice, at the end of the day my heart is and always will be in Asia, and finding out I was moving further away from my family was hard. But as the reality sank in, that Brasilia is going to be our new home for the next 3-4 years, I have slowly warmed to the idea and am now quite excited about the prospect.

Even as I write this post, I still cannot completely fathom that I am moving to Brazil! Those of you who knew me in my late teens and early 20s, know that I was obsessed with Brazil, Brazilians, Latin American’s in general –there was something so exotic about that side of the world. In my rather uptight boarding school in Sweden I used to bore my friends by playing Manu Chau and Shakira on repeat (I know Manu Chau is not even Latin…but his music coincided with my fantasy of what Latin America would be like!) and dream about living in South America. This was also the time, my biggest aspiration was to live on a beach, work in a bar and date a surfer….oh how things have changed…

Or have they? Have you heard the theory of Positive Thinking? That if you think about something you want hard enough, long enough, honestly enough..it will happen? Well I think I am about to be a believer. Here I am 10 years later and I am living in Mexico, marrying a Peruvian and about to move to Brasilia….I tell you, careful for what you wish for :)

Worryingly however, is the lack of information that I can found on line regarding Brasilia, and the little I can, does not seem that exciting: In summary Brasilia is a man-made city with interesting architecture, cut out of the middle of the rain forest and is shaped like a plane….riiigghht. Not quite the South American ideal I was dreaming of as a teen…

Do you see the plane?
Do you see the plane?

When I have told friends and colleagues where our next post is, I cannot begin to tell you how many women have told me – its a great place to make babies! REALLY? that is what my future is destined for- 3 to 4 years of baby making? There must be more to this city than meets the eye, and I promise you I will find it! :)

Although I am excited about our move to Brazil – I must admit, it makes me very sad as well. We have made so many good friends here in Mexico, have such a good life here that it will be sad to leave. Also, leaving in 6 months has seriously disrupted my plans! Now everything I wanted to do before we left has to be all crammed into the next 6 months, not to mention we will be in Peru nearly all of March for the wedding (EEEK our wedding is tomorrow in a month!)

So I have decided that I need to seriously get blogging on all the amazing things there is to see and do here – be prepared for a whole barrage of ‘all things Mexico’ in the upcoming months!

Until next time – Ciao!

From Exploding Ovens to our Trip to Peru

Well this weeks cooking efforts was abruptly halted on Sunday when our temperamental old oven decided she had had enough and blew-up. Yes, you read it right – our gas oven had a small explosion!! Luckily, the only casualties of the blast were ‘C’s ‘ leg hair – which were singed to black stubs, and the stench of burnt hair permeated through the apartment! Keep Reading