Sunday, 12 January 2020

Lofoten, my very first travel and adventure crush

I have always been that weird soul that always have had this hunger for the more exciting sides of life. Not in the way that I have been going to the north pole or exploring the Amazon, but if I got told that there was something I couldn't do or wasn't allowed to do, you can bet your sweet behind that I would do my best to achieve it. At times and especially during my childhood these adventures could be borderline insane or directly dangerous. Like the times we built rafts to cross the fjord with or went exploring in areas that usually were off limit for the public. This could be old world war 2 bunkers, old fisheries or play wargames with actual dangerous weapons that we made ourself.

In later years, this has in many ways developed into my fascination with exploring “new” cultures and countries around the globe, but I would say that the spark that lit the fuse had to be my many holidays up north in Norway and especially Lofoten. The first trip was when I was in the age of 6 or 7, but got more frequent like multiple times every year after I got married. We could spend like several months at the time and just enjoy our lives. My then father-in-law had this huge property (something like 750 acres) that included a massive shoreline, mountains and our own lake as well. It was a literal paradise for us and especially during the summer season.

The first things that come to mind when I think about Lofoten are fishing, the amazing midnight sun and insanely beautiful scenery (yes this is during the summer months). You guys that already have had a Lofoten experience would know what I am talking about here. For me, this area of Norway is pure paradise, but of course, the weather could be really bad at times as well. This would be true especially during the winter months. Because after months of almost no darkness comes months of almost no light, or the short period of daylight you get has a blue tint to it and only last for a few hours. Northern parts of Norway is something you could call the “nation” of contrasts.

For the most part, very few tourists venture into these parts during the winter season, or they usually start to slowly return around March when there is this huge international fishing competition, but sadly this is one event that I haven't had the pleasure of being a part of. So by mentioning this annual event just shows how an important role the ocean and fishing plays in this region. Think about it, when they arrange something like a world cup in cod-fishing. I am not sure how big of an event this is when it comes to attendees, but I would guess it in the hundreds coming in from all over the world. Just to have it said, when I go out fishing, its not really about the catch, but for the peace and quiet.

My love and fascination for Lofoten started as mentioned back in my early childhood, around age 7 or 8. Back then I went with my parents and siblings, but the activities were the same. Every night we went fishing, but back then it was in a close-by lake and not the big and wild ocean. I guess it was safer for us kids and yes, we always went home with a catch. For me when I think about Lofoten, my thoughts usually drifts off to my many fishing memories. Even when I look back at the ones that got created when I returned as an adult, but these are more vivid memories. The fun part is that I cant remember one day during my many trips that didn't include fishing in one way or the other.

At the same time and I feel this is something that I view as important when it comes to Lofoten, fishing isn't the only “good” thing. Just look at any travel photo or video from the area. Just look at the close to magical scenery. Those insane mountains that seem like crashing into the sea, the clear blue ocean, exciting culture and rich history going back to the good old Viking days. There is even a Viking “village” that is part of what we call the Lofotr Viking Museum. This contains a full-size longhouse, animals and within opening hours also local actors and guides and yes its a reconstructed longhouse. The sad part is that I never got to enjoy it, just passing either on my way to or from Leknes.

The point I am trying to make here is simple, this is the most amazing region of Norway. Just take the pristine and close to untouched scenery. Up to this day, I have a hard time finding a place, city or country that I have visited through my many years as a traveller that can compete with Lofoten. Maybe the one destination that comes the closest has to be the Azores all the way down in the south Atlantic. I would say that both are unique and amazing, but hands down and without a doubt the winner is Lofoten. I guess this is the old patriotism playing up in me. Anyway, if you are planning a trip to northern parts of Norway, there are two items you can't forget to pack, loads of waterproof clothing and fishing gear.

If there is one thing you can take from this blog post is that you haven't visited Lofoten yet, then its high time for you to put it on the top spot on your bucket list and make it your highest travel priority. Just keep in mind that Norway is extremely expensive. One thing is for sure, when I at one point in time return home to Norway, this would be one of the first things I will do. I will more or less go straight up to Lofoten and visit my relatives that still live there and naturally go fishing. My cousins have really been nagging on me about a visit the past few years. The truth is that I haven't been up there since my divorce back in 2009/10, that is actually a decade ago.

P.s: you can actually check out my friend's blog. She has been blogging for years and have loads of exciting photos and focuses on a broad spectre of topics. So check out her blog (Mookieslife) and let her know that I sent you. Thank you for the photos Mookie. I do appreciate them greatly.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

5 street foods you have to try while visiting Peru

This one is for all you travelling food junkies out there because today I am going to focus on food or in this case the more typical Peruvian streetfood. Yes, I know this isn't a blog that has its focus on food, but if you are just a little bit like me the culinary experience plays a huge part of the travel experience. My philosophy is that the local food makes or breaks how you look back on your stay. Anyway, today I am going to share with you guys my top five list when it comes to Peruvian streetfood. One thing has to be said, many of the dishes on this list aren't isolated to Peru, but they seem to have a very special place in the hearts of the Peruvian people. As a bonus, these dishes are usually extremely cheap as well.

Papa rellena: I have to say that this dish deserves the “first” place for so many reasons, but the most important ones among them are the fact that it's such a simple and tasty on the go type of meal. At first, I kinda avoided it at any cost and went for something completely different, like something with fried chicken, but lately, I have gotten a taste for it. The best part is that its so easy to make yourself. All you need is a potato (in this case potato paste) and fill it with meat, onions, olives and one hard-boiled egg. When you have done this and shaped it more or less like a potato you “throw” it on the frying pan. On the side you can either have rice or a salad, I prefer a light salad. I usually max out after two servings of these potatoes.

Churros de manjar: I am not sure how I would categorize this one, but my foodie's heart wants to say its a light snack and my brain would say its a Spanish breakfast. Because this dish has its origin from Spain and back in the “old-country” this is a typical breakfast item. To explain this dish a bit better, its a deep-fried dough filled with some type of caramel chocolate and sprinkled with sugar. Yes, it's very sweet and that is also the main reason why I would categorize it as a snack on the go and not as a typical breakfast item. To be completely honest, I don't think I would ever be able to eat as much as it's needed to satisfie my early morning hunger. I am not saying it's not tasty, but it is not what I would call a complete meal.

Anticuchos: If I am going to be completely honest, this is one dish that so far has given me the biggest problem getting used to. It's not because of how it tastes, but this time around it's about the type of “meat” they use to make the dish. You can say it has some similarities with the better-known dish shish kebab, but the anticuchos has its origin from the Andes mountains. The dish itself is pretty simple, meat marinated in vinegar and spices (usually cumin, aji pepper and garlic). The meat that is used for this dish is beef heart, but you can without any issues replace it with the more desired type of meat. It's not my go-to street food, but I will eat it if someone offers it to me or if I get the sudden hunger for it, yes that happens.

Arroz con leche: This is a “dish” that most of you might be familiar with, the English word for it is rice pudding and you find a version of it more or less all over the world. For me, it becomes a Peruvian experience when you combine Arroz con leche and mazamorra morada. If you are curious about the dish, I will be linking to an external website that can explain this a lot better than I can. When you combine these two dishes it becomes something that locally is called the Peruvian flag and you just have to take my word on it, its deliciously sweet. Its the perfect combination of rice, milk and corn. Just to mention it, Peruvians use corn in more or less everything, from food to wine.

Marciano's de Lucuma: Okay, I have to be completely honest with this one. My girlfriend threw this one at me and I spent ages on google trying to find out what in heavens name this dish was for something. I wasn't able to wrap my head around it. I just couldn't remember ever having tried anything with such a name, but one simple photo served me a eureka moment. It's as simple as a popsicle in a plastic bag and its amazingly refreshing, not to forget tasty. If I am not mistaken you can more or less use whatever fruit juice you want with this one, even chocolate or pure milk and put it in your fridge for a few hours. Yes, you can make this one yourself as well, my girlfriend used to make it all the time while we lived in Lima.

I guess that this wraps up my top 5 about Peruvian street food or snacks. I am fully aware of the fact that I have been throwing around a lot of weird sounding names in this post, but if you wish to learn more about the many dishes I have “talked” about in this post, I have included links to external websites. That way you can read more in details around the dishes that I have mentioned in this blog post. Maybe you even find yourself making one or more of these yourself or chase down a street vendor so you could have a taste of it, my best tip would be gone for the churros first. Its the one that would have the best first-time experience. Anyway, for me its all about sharing my love for food, travel and the experience I gather by living as I do.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post because I have had loads of fun writing it. Must say at times it has been a minor struggle to complete it. Not a difficult topic to write about, but the hard part is to narrow the list down to just five simple street dishes. When you live in a country like Peru with a rich culinary culture, it becomes a big problem. I have heard that Lima is the new Paris or Paris of the South Americas when it comes to food. At the same time, if you did enjoy my post, why not check me out on social media? I have linked to my many profiles beside my page bar and I do hope to see you there as part of the Beyond the Horizon family.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Been enjoying the holidays with family and friends

For me, Christmas is a family holiday where the focus lay on the somewhat cliche of spending true quality time together. What I am thinking about when saying quality time is things like just spending a good amount of time together playing games, eating good food, watching a good movie, go out or just have a lot of fun together. With other words, maintaining the family dynamic and that is extremely important to me since I am a typical family guy. Days like these get extra important when you keep in mind that I do work a lot, usually between 12 and 14 hours day. So this Christmas it was important for me to spend as much time with my loved ones as possible and I do feel we kinda succeeded with this.

The sad part I would say is that I wasn't able to spend the entire 10 days of Christmas without logging into my work-related systems, its how it is when you are your own boss and the only provider in the household. I know that this kind took a semi-dark turn but just wanted to explain a few things before continuing on the main topic. Anyway, we had a great celebration and spend the most important parts of it with my in-laws at Pasamayo and staying there usually gets followed by some pretty fun parties at night. Yes, they are that type of people who knows to enjoy the lighter side of life in many ways. Christmas eve was like a calm event with the main focus on the kids and their enjoyment. Gifts, good food and a few drinks.

Sadly I didn't get to take many photos from this day or I did, but they are of the more personal character. It doesn't feel right to use them if you know what I mean. I would say the day was a success in so many ways and on top of it I got the honour of being part of a tradition where they give to those who are less fortunate in the community. For me, this is something that really put me in the mood of Christmas. Its usually some very light entertainment, some food, a warm drink and gifts for the kids. It's my mother-in-law that is the organizer behind this event, she always does things like this and its all year round. For dinner, we had a barbeque all you can eat and the evening ended with a light firework show by me.

The days between Christmas eve and New years ever were, for the most part, spent working, but for the first time since the first of August, I took a day off for the big event. This is something I have been needing for some time now and I loved every minute of it, from the moment I woke up to the very moment I stumbled semi-drunk into bed. Yes, I got a bit drunk as I usually do on this day, but never so bad that I am a problem or anything. Just in a good mood and happy, but kinda felt it when I woke up the very next morning tho. To be completely honest, I am not really used to the alcohol anymore. The main thing is that we all had a great time and we also spent this day at the in-law's place in Pasamayo. Didn't really have any choice.

Our day of celebrating the new year started with us going to Chancay, a town maybe 20 minutes away for some awesome seafood, or to be more precise some amazing ceviche and they make the best ceviche in Peru there. After eating a huge portion we went for a while to the beach, to enjoy the sunset and then returning to Huaral to do some pre-celebration shopping. We needed some yellow shirts, glasses and fireworks for the evening. I cant celebrate new years eve without at least some of the fun stuff. With all of this done, we went to our final destination for the day and that were as mentioned Pasamayo and my in-laws. Because of all our shopping, we came kinda late to the party, but what a party it was.

That's the good part about living here in Peru because whenever there is an event or celebration, a lot of people turn up to join in. Usually, they come from both near and far to be a part of it. The big welcome of the new decade wasn't any different for us and that makes things just that much more fun or interesting. At the same time, you always get introduced to new people as well. Anyway, the day was amazing in all aspects of it, from start to finish, the only regret is the fact that I woke up feeling a bit beaten up, but that's just to be expected I guess? The good part is that we got to spend some quality time together as a true family, a really big one at the end of the night. Then again, it took me a couple of days to get back on track.

Yes, it has taken me a couple of days to get back on tracks and that is also the main reason for this blog post to be as delayed as it is. I am really not used to party anymore. Anyway, looking back on the holiday, I have to say it was a fun and successful event. I have not eaten, had this much fun, had this much to drink or been this relaxed in ages. What's lucky for me is that events like this don't come around that often. The important part is that we as a family have been having fun and enjoying ourself and that is for sure something that will keep me energized for weeks or even months to come. Well, this has been my Christmas “holiday” and how did you guys celebrate yours? At least I hope you had a good time!

Anway, I hope you guys have enjoyed reading my first proper blog post and because of that decides to stick around, maybe even check me out on social media while you are looking around. I am currently active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but I am also working on getting my Youtube channel up and running with frequent vlogs. When it comes to my channel, I am having a hard time finding editing software that I enjoy working on. Have had this problem since Microsoft took away their window movie maker. That one was so easy and convenient to use, for me at least. Not really important at this point in time, since my focus is at my blog and the channel only would have a supplemental role, if you know what I mean by that?

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Welcome to my expat world, Beyond the Horizon

Greetings to all you lovely ladies and gentlemen out here on this great world wide web, at the same time it does seem like as I have the honour of welcoming you into my very own private corner her one the internet. So at a time like this, I do feel the need to express my gratitude for the fact that you are taking the time off from your daily routine and busy schedule to check out and read my newly started blog. With this in mind, I do hope that my work lives up to your expectations and that you enjoy reading about the topics I am focusing on. At the same time, if you by any chance see anything that needs to be improved, I would appreciate the constructive feedback.

Anyway, I guess its about time for me to get started on the part where I am introducing myself and the blog you now are visiting. First of all, my name is Jack Bowler Sr or just Jack for short. I am at the time of writing this post a 44-year-old Norwegian male who is living out his dream in South America and have done so since July 2016. Here I am enjoying my life together with my small family (son, a partner in crime and cat). Yes, my friend, you did read that correctly, because I have left my safe-haven back in Norway to live the exciting and challenging life as an immigrant here in Peru. I guess you are wondering why at this point. I would say that the most important reason is my family

I would say that the second most important reason has to do with my life long fascination for this part of the world (when I am saying this part of the world, I am thinking about Latin America). Because the truth is that for as long as I can remember I have had a dream about travelling and exploring South America. For me, it has to do with the people, food, language, culture and its rich history this region has to offer. Back in 2009 – 2010 I made my dream come true and spent a whole month just exploring the streets of Lima. You would be correct if you said I was sold on the idea and that was from the moment I landed at the airport. This was an experience that kept me coming back for more until my decision to move more permanently.

So who am I as a person and what do I prefer to fill my everyday life within the form of activities and such? As it is at the moment and for the more standard mundane days of the week, these are for the most part spent as a stay at home dad. The main reason for this is because I do not have my paperwork to be able to seek employment outside the household. At the same time, I have been for a while now struggling with something called a language barrier. Let's say that learning Spanish has been a much longer road to travel then I at first had expected, why it has been like this is something I am unsure about. Might be because most people I talk with would do it in English and not Spanish.

When it comes to me just spending time with myself or enjoying some good old fashion daddy time as its called, I do enjoy wasting time on computer games (these days its more likely to be on my Playstation 4 and games like Grand Theft Auto Online or Fishing planet). Yes, I am an avid gamer or the correct is used to be, since its a lot less time spent on it these days than it used to be. At the same time, I do have a huge fascination for photography or capturing the everyday small moments as I like to call it. when the opportunity arises I am unable to turn down spending time outdoors. Either just walking around in the city, hiking in the woods or go real-life fishing.

If there is one single thing that I love doing when time and finances do allow it, it has to be travelling and exploring new cultures. This is one fascination that has brought me all over the world. I have travelled all over Europe, North America, Asia and now started that time in my life where I want to see as much of South America as I possibly can or can experience. So far it has been limited to Peru and Equador, but there are plans for Chile, Bolivia and Argentina sometime in the future. At the same time, I do want to visit Africa and Australia, just to be able to tick those boxes of as well. Anyway, way before this becomes a reality I want to take my family for a while to explore Europe.

When it comes to the content of my blog and the plans that I have for it, I have to be completely honest. The idea here is to focus on sharing my everyday experience as an immigrant and expat to this amazing country. Focusing on how I am experiencing how it is to live here and how it was to visit as a tourist. This is something that I am going to do through text, photos and videos, but the focus will be on the text and photos. At the same time, I will do my best to portray it as correct and factual as I can do. I will not sugarcoat anything and I will also avoid using things like photoshop. At the same time and as I see it, the Peruvian people do not have anything to be ashamed of.

When it comes to the “intensity” in the post publishing process, it is an area that I do not wish to promise more than I know is possible to deliver on. I am for the most part thinking about my inexperience when it comes to “working” like that and in that regard doesn't want to bite over more than I can handle, short term. As I see it with my very limited experience in this field, publishing a post once or twice a week might be doable and with time also start working on videos for my Youtube channel. Yes, I do have a Youtube channel as well, but not been very active on it in the past. Have uploaded a few videos last year, but it's only meant as an addition to the blog itself.

I have a confession for you guys and girls. This is not my first attempt on having a blog, I had this one running for a while and felt like I had painted myself into a corner. At the same time, I had issues with extremely low numbers when it came to traffic coming from search engines and such. So I took a break and work kinda got in the way, after a while I felt maybe a restart and rework of the most important posts would be a good idea. Not sure if it is, but the result is that I closed the blog, took down all posts and now been working on them for a while. At least I hope that I haven't made a crucial mistake with this strategy, not that it matters since I am doing it mostly for the fun anyway.

I guess its about time for me to start wrapping things up and at the same time, I want to end this one by thanking you guys for taking the time to check my blog out and for reading this post. I do hope you did enjoy the read and that I will have the pleasure of seeing you back at a later point in time. Before you close the tab, why not check me out on social media. The links are as following, my Youtube channel (Beyond the Horizon 2.0), my blogs Facebook page (Beyond theHorizon), my Twitter (Beyond the Horizon), my personal Facebook page (Jack Bowler Sr) and my Instagram (Beyond our Horizon). I hope to see you guys there, you might find the content that you enjoy.

As a side note, the photos that I am using in this blog post is from my hometown and to be honest, I felt that something from the past would be a perfect way to kick things off. I do feel that opening my blog again after weeks on weeks working on its content is kind of a big deal for me personally, hope you feel somewhat the same way.