… And Then Disaster Struck

What's left of our supplies

Shortly into our horseback adventure, we began to discover a few fatal flaws.

First, we started noticing that the information we had gotten on where to ride, how to get there, where there was grass and water, was not really accurate. It seems that while our new friend had been trying to be helpful, she had ABSOLUTELY no idea what she was talking about.

To add to the uncertainty, the weather turned on us. Mongolia, land of blue skies, did not have blue skies for us. It was cold and rainy as we packed up our camp and head with our horses into a big storm with horizontal rain blowing in our faces. But we were continuing on.

The saddle for our packhorse, Pokhara, was barely holding together and so bags kept falling off or shifting badly. Rick got off his horse, Kajo, to readjust the packs for the 5th or 6th time. Pokhara was tied to the saddle on Rick’s horse (hint, this was a bad idea!), and I was holding Kajo’s reins from atop my horse while Rick made adjustments. So the two horses were standing in front my horse, Valpo.

… And then disaster struck.

What really did us in was a combination of tack failures.

Something spooked Kajo and he jumped to one side of my horse, and Pokhara jumped to the other. I told Rick to grab Kajo’s reins to get better control of him than I could have from on top of my horse. When Rick pulled Kajo pulled back and his bridle snapped off completely!! Which totally freaked him out, so he starts bucking.

But Kajo and Pokhara are still tied together, on either side of me and my horse. And now the rope is coming at my horse’s head, he ducks it, but it’s about to clothesline me – with two spooked bucking horses on either end. Right then, Valpo rears up. I roll off his back and hit the ground – all I see around me are flying hooves of three bucking, rearing horses. I curl up in a ball and cover my head, and as soon as I see a break I jump up and out of the way.

At this point, one of the saddles has broken and now hangs under one of the horses, one horse doesn’t have a bridle, and all three are running away.

Keep in mind there are no fences, no buildings, nothing to stop them – just wide-open hills. We know we can’t chase them down – so I grab our most important items that were in the saddle bag that fell off when valpo reared and Rick starts walking in the direction they are running, just hoping to keep a visual on them.

As we’re watching we see Pokhara, our packhorse, bucking and throwing off   EVERY.  SINGLE.   BIT. of supplies we have for this 21-day journey. I mean pasta bags exploding as they hit the ground, fuel canisters bouncing off rocks. It looked like an air strike being delivered via horseback. Did I mention it was pouring down rain? They kept their bucking sprint for every bit of a mile, before start slowing down; no doubt due the fact they they no-longer had any of our gear strapped to them. And luckily as he’s walking after the horses Rick come across a ger camp (the traditional nomadic family homes) and a guy comes out and asks, in English, what are you doing wandering around in the rain covered in mud. Rick tells him the short version of what just happened, and the guy tells him to come in his ger and dry off, he’ll send his sons to get our horses. Rick says he’s going to go back and get me and bring me to the ger.

disaster trail

After a few minutes to warm up and get our wits about us we go to salvage what we can of our supplies – there’s really nothing left. The stove is ruined, our food is scattered across a half-mile stretch of mud and rock. We’re down a saddle and a half a bridle, and one of our horses seems a bit injured. We realized that there was no way we could continue on at this point, without somehow getting back to Ölgii and starting all over finding tack, supplies and possibly another horse; did I mention how much trouble it was to find tack in Ölgii the first time?

Our new friend comes back and tells us that just yesterday he had taken down all but one of his guest gers, but something told him to leave it up a couple more days – and we’re welcome to stay in it. He also tells us that he is just starting a tour company that goes out to Tavan Bodg National Park, where we were planning to ride to. And as quicker then we could say yes, he’s got his sons bringing in cots and bedding and a stove and table and chairs. There is a fire going and hot Mongolian Tea!

We replayed what had just happened over and over trying to piece together what exactly went wrong as we changed into dry clothes. We came to the conclusion that what really did us in was a combination of tack failures and some bad information.

What's left of our 21 day food supplies
What’s left of our 21 day food supplies: 3 bags of candy (gifts for kids along the way). half bag of pasta. 2 dozen small boxes of matches (gifts for ger families). 3 packets of instant soup. 2 cans of peanuts. 4 powdered juice mixes. 2 small bottles of vodka (ger gifts). A half pint of cooking oil. 1 cucumber. and a bunch of instant coffee.

As we were finishing our inventory of what was left (it didn’t take long) our new friend came in and talked with us. He asked up what our plan was (we must have seemed like some crazy gringos). After hearing us out he offers us a ten-day private trip out to the park, where we would stay with a family there, then horseback ride and camp – we’d have a van for all our food and stuff, we wouldn’t have to worry about horse thieves, we’d still get to ride across the steppe – and he would do it all in exchange for our three horses.

While we were totally bummed not to be doing it on our own, it felt a little like it was our only real option at this point. And we felt so blessed that God had allowed our little disaster to happen right at the backdoor (at least in Mongolian terms), of someone who could help us and take us on a tour.

So we said sad goodbyes to our horse and ended our independent horse trek a bit earlier than planned, but without injury and still with a great sense of accomplishment and a lot of lessons learned.

… That Time We Spent 3 Million on Horses in Mongolia

Buying Horses in Ölgii, Mongolia

Ölgii AirportWalking out of the Ölgii “airport” a feeling of remoteness came over us that we hadn’t experienced, even with the places we’d been so far on this trip. Outside of the small parking lot, it was just nothingness. And unfortunately not the lush, green, grassy hills of nothingness we’d hoped for.

The next day we found a name and phone number of tour guide that we thought might be able to help us with our dream of buying horses in Mongolia and riding across the steppe. We called and were told they would meet us in thirty minutes. This was our introduction to Nazca, and how things get done in Mongolia.

We expected her, being in the business of organizing and selling tours, to try to sell us on a tour, instead of buying our own horses and riding by ourselves. But as soon as we told her what we wanted to do, she said, “OK. I’ll call some people. Can you come to my place later?”

We were shocked, didn’t she need more information about what we wanted? Didn’t we need to figure out where we were going? Well we assumed she was just going to get some information, maybe feel things out with people we could talk to about horses.

We headed off to the The Black Market of Ölgii to check out what kind of tack and supplies they had …

Ölgii Black Market is closedIt was nothing like the other market, there was virtually nothing. Even once it was open and full swing it wasn’t anything close to the UlaanBataar Black Market … unless, of course, you need some pots and pans or kids clothes or something like that.

Ölgii Black MarketWe knew we were in trouble.

By noon, we got a call from Nazca, in broken English, to come to her place. As soon as we walked into her ger camp, a man left to retrieve three horses – what the?!? HORSES?! This is happening … We’re buying horses in Mongolia! We aren’t ready for this! We thought she was just going to talk with us more about where we could ride, how to go about getting supplies, maybe try and sell us on a tour … no, she had gotten horses. Things were happening so fast around here!

Buying Horses in Ölgii, MongoliaI examined the horses, they looked really healthy. I hopped on the first one, trotted him out of the gate, cantered down the road – he rode great. And it was the same with the next two. We had been told that it was hard for foreigners to find good mounts to buy in Mongolia – locals would only sell them their worst horses that were old, malnourished or way too wild. We decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, so we started negotiating with the family, and settled on a good price – ₮3,000,000 Mongolian Tugrik (about $1,500 US). But we had a problem, we still didn’t have any saddles, or supplies, or hobbles, or bridles, or really any idea exactly where we’re going … and we were staying in a hotel … and that hotel doesn’t really accommodate horses! We got them to agree to keep them for one more day and we could pick them up tomorrow.

Buying Horses in Ölgii, Mongolia Looking over our 3 Horses in Ölgii, Mongolia

For the next 24 hours I think I ecstatically yelled “OH MY GOSH!!! WE OWN HORSES!!!!!” about every five minutes! It’s impossible to capture here in writing how thrilled I was, but ask Rick sometime and he’ll recount the ridiculousness.

They were beautiful bays; we posted the pic on Facebook and asked for name suggestions. A couple people suggested naming them after some of our favorite places we’d been, and a couple more reminded us that you have to see their personalities before you name them.

We spent the rest of the day and most of the next morning gathering what tack we could find, buying a 3 week supply of food and with Nazca’s help, plotting our trek out on an old Soviet era Russian map.

When we picked them up we started to see their personalities. I knew as soon as I met him that I would be riding the stallion. They said he was the most difficult and spirited, so he was out for being a packhorse or Rick’s horse (sorry “Prude Dude!”). He was also the most beautiful, so I was thrilled. He was noble, and gorgeous, and freaked out at every little thing … I mean every little thing, if we rode past a green beer bottle, over a bridge, by a strangely shaped rock, he spooked. My favorite was when he spooked as we rode past a pile of cow poop. He was named after one of our favorite Chilean cities, Valparaiso and I called him Valpo for short, as they do in the city.

P1210884Our packhorse got the name Pokhara. It was one of the first towns on our trip. It’s in Nepal and a super chill, calm place. Pokhara was our calmest horse and it seemed to suit him. I remember the first day we were in Pokhara, Nepal, a guy at our guesthouse who had been there for three months, emphatically told us, “Don’t get sucked in!!” – he had only planned to be there for a week. It was an easy place to want to stay forever.

Making Friends in MongoliaAnd finally, Rick’s horse. He was steady and reliable when you were riding, but seemed to have a bit of a split personality when you weren’t. He was the most affectionate of the three, but then sometimes he wanted nothing to do with what you wanted him to do and would be a total pain. We thought about places we’d loved that were difficult sometimes, but close to our heart and we know Kajo Keji was the perfect fit for him. Kajo Keji is in South Sudan, where we worked with Seed Effect. It was a hard place in a lot of ways, but some of our favorite moments from the trip happened there. We called him Kajo or KK a lot.

Pack horsin' around Horse Heads in MongoliaWe struggled to find saddles, bridles, hobbles and gear. And unfortunately got stuck buying stuff that was broken or barely working. It wasn’t ideal, but the next day we saddled up our mounts and headed out for our adventure.

Relaxing on the Mongolia Steepe

The Black Market in Ulaanbataar

Tack at the black market in UlaanBataar

The Black Market in Ulaanbataar is a leftover from the Soviet era in Mongolia, when it was Communist and all shopping and markets were controlled by the government. The Black Market was an illegal market where individuals went to sell their goods. Now it’s huge, and legal, but the name hasn’t changed. And you can literally find ANYTHING you could possibly want there.


We went specifically to buy riding boots for me. We also wanted to check out their tack selection, but planned to buy our saddles in Olgii, the city we would fly into to begin our horse adventure.

It was overwhelming, but we finally made our way to the tack section and were blow away by how beautiful the saddles were!

Saddles at the black market in UlaanBataar

Saddles at the black market in UlaanBataar… and how strange they were. I guess I understand now why we saw all of the riders standing up when they did anything faster than a walk. I also quickly realized that I would NOT be riding for multiple weeks in a Mongolian saddle. Not gonna happen. Hope they have other options in Olgii. We learned that most likely there would be Kazak saddles in Olgii, since the population there in Western Mongolia is all Kazakh.

Then we found our way to the boot section of the market. There were dozens of vendors and thousands of boots! I immediately fell in love with the traditional Mongolian boots – they are so unique! But they wouldn’t be my riding boots. Fortunately, the prices were lower than we expected, so Rick agreed to let me get two pairs, one for riding and one for wearing back home.

Mongolian boots at the black market in UlaanBataar

Before we left, we found an amazing section of antiques and traditional items. We haven’t been able to buy really any souvenirs on this trip because we couldn’t carry them. But since Mongolia was our last stop (besides a few days in Korea), we let ourselves stock up. It was also some of the coolest items we’ve seen, in that they were all authentic (not stuff made for tourists to buy) and really interesting. We ended up with a variety of items from a royal family’s turquoise jewelry to a beautiful heirloom snuff bottle, a singing bowl to traditional bronze bells. And of course, my beautiful Mongolian boots!

Getting to mingle with Mongolians going about their day-to-day business and seeing the incredible goods was a highlight of Ulaanbataar for us.

Nadaam Festival

Since before we were even planning our big trip, we had this crazy idea that we wanted to go to Mongolia, the land of blue skies, horses and nomads, buy horses and ride across the steppe. So while in South America, we got an itch to end our trip with something big and adventurous – and Mongolia sounded like just the thing. So thanks to an amazing friend who helped us out with discounted flight tickets, were able to go.P1210685

We arrived in the capitol, Ulanbataar, from Beijing in the middle of the night and had fortunately booked a hostel already. We groggily woke up the next morning with plans to figure out what the heck we were doing (which part of the huge country we wanted to go horsetrekking in, how to get there, how to buy horses and tack) – but immediately got sidetracked by a flyer hanging in the hostel that offered a ride to the last Nadaam Festival of the year – Today! We asked when they were leaving and the answer was right now, so we hopped in an old Russian jeep and were on our way before we knew what happened.


A few minutes outside of the city, we were quickly driving through expanses of rolling green hills as far as you could see, no fences, no buildings, nothing. We knew we’re arriving at the festival when we started seeing Gers (traditional nomadic tent-homes, like yurts) and herds of horses. There were thousands of people there.

We started our day at the archery competition, one of “The Three Manly Sports”, which is what Nadaam is all about. The traditional dress is amazing and beautiful. And the skill of the archers blew us away! Even more so when we got to try our hand at it ourselves – it was tough! And we were using a little kid bow.


Next up we went to see some traditional Mongolian wrestling. Which involves quite interesting costumes!

I loved how there were horses everywhere! The people are incredibly skilled riders – standing up in the saddle, texting and galloping at the same time. We grabbed a seat in some bleachers next to where the horses were parked.


The final event we went to see was horse racing. The races are long distance – 25 kilometers – and are designed as a straightaway with no turns. That’s because the riders are little kids from 4-9 years old, and it’s safer if the kids don’t have to turn the horses. Basically the kid is just there to whip the horse and make it go fast. They use kids because they’re so lightweight, and they use virtually no saddle. We grabbed a seat in the grass when the horses and riders started heading out, thinking the race would start soon… but two hours later we hadn’t yet seen the telltale cloud of dust. That’s what you look for, a big cloud of dust in the distance. The riders have to trot the horses about 20 kilometers out from where you first see them and then turn around and start racing. We were so excited when we finally saw the cloud of dust, and it was over just minutes later.

We finished our day off with some fermented yak milk and evading the traffic jam leaving the festival, by heading for the hills. Our driver saw the traffic, busted a u-turn and drove right off the road. We just started flying through the grass, over creeks and rocks, and we made it back to the hostel in no time.

What a first day in Mongolia!


Happy Birthday to Rick, Jacobus-Style!

We were in China for Rick’s birthday, and had been talking about how we wanted to celebrate for a while. As a going away gift, our friends Will and Angie Jacobus gave us “a night out Jacobus-Style” – for those of you that know them, you know what that means! For those that don’t, let’s just say it’s “go big or go home” style.

We knew Beijing would be a great place to go Jacobus-Style, and what better occasion than Rick’s birthday. I found the perfect place – a 600 year old Buddhist temple. No seriously.


It’s one of the top restaurants in Beijing and it’s in a 600 year old Buddhist temple. It’s also an art gallery. And it’s known for it’s over the top service.

I called for a reservation and told them it was Rick’s birthday. When we arrived we were greeted with two glasses of champagne and offered a private viewing of the grounds and gallery. It was beautiful! The pictures don’t begin to capture it.

We were seated in the gorgeous interior and ordered the tasting menu. Each course was French twists on traditional Asian cuisine, and all delicious!

Rick got four different birthday desserts. And his very own cheese cart. Yep – his own cheese cart!

We spent the entire night there, and didn’t even realize it was well into the morning when we were finishing up. It was such a special and incredible evening that we’ll never forget. Thank you Will and Angie for such an amazing experience!!


8 Things We Loved About China: 72 Hours in Beijing

We had no intention of going to China originally, but when we learned it was a necessary stop on our way to Mongolia, we thought we would make the best of their 72 hour visa-free transit policy. China really surprised us! We found a lot to love in just 72 hours.

  1. Did you say it’s 600 years old?!
    The U.S. has 100 year old buildings, South America has 200 year old, Europe boasts about 400 year old stuff… but China, we’re talking 600 year old buildings! And they’re beautiful and so interesting.
  2. 26 Billion People in Beijing, and it’s a super considerate, clean and organized city.
  3. Park Life.
    Parks and palaces that are beautiful and used by the people every day for singing, dancing, tai chi, playing games and just hanging out. We went to the Summer Palace and the Heaven Temple and got to experience it.P1210254
  4. Hutongs: Ancient Arteries of the City.
    These winding alleyways have ancient architecture and it’s where we got to see the real city come to life.
  5. The Great Wall.
    Our day trip out to visit it showed us the beauty of China’s countryside. What an amazing structure.
  6. Enthusiastic attire.
    People go all out dressing up in character. They really get into whatever activity they are doing, or do it just to look unique.P1210336
  7. Feng Shui design in everything.
    Whether it was a palace, a room in a restaurant, a park or a neighborhood this thoughtful design was employed. I loved the intentionality and the peaceful feeling it created.P1210165
  8. Duck.
    We had the most incredible roasted duck. The skin literally melted on your tongue as soon as it touched it.P1210263

Regina’s Story: From Alone to A Loan

DSC_0256We meet Regina while she was cleaning onions on her mat in Wudo market. We sat down to talk with her about what God is doing in her life through the micro-finance ministry of Seed Effect in Kajo Keji, South Sudan. It turned out to be a little challenging – because she was so popular! It seemed like everyone in the market wanted to buy from Regina even though there were many other people selling similar vegetables.

When we asked Regina why she was so popular, she giggled and said, “Because I am so cheerful and happy!” There is no denying it, she is an extremely cheerful person and when asked she has no trouble giving the reason for her joy, “God fills her heart with love.”DSC_0234Regina grew up surrounded by conflict, losing members of her family to the conflict, and with what little they had they were just sustaining themselves with food. She wasn’t able to go to school as a child. Without any education, Regina was forced to work as a very low paid cleaner. She shared with us how she used to hate knowing that she wouldn’t have any food to take home to her family, and how helpless that made her feel. Not only was she unable to survive on the meager wages, but it was hard manual labor, with unpredictable and excruciatingly long hours. So much so that when she became pregnant with her twins she was forced to leave the job.

Regina found herself pregnant, jobless, with children to support, no business experience and no savings to fall back on. She said the word the best described this time for her was “Alone”.

DSC_0237She says God provided a way to her soon after that – and that way was a loan and education through Seed Effect. She heard of Seed Effect through people in the market, they told her she could start small, and grow, and have her own business. She wasn’t sure where to start, so she asked for a loan to start a small restaurant. As she grew to know the Lord, she saw how He had showed her love and provided mercy to her and provision that she couldn’t do on her own. Since she can’t read, the scripture shared by Seed Effect was her way to get to know the Lord.DSC_0257She also grew in her business knowledge through Seed Effect’s business seminars. With new found confidence, she took on a fabric business, and then transitioned to her current business selling produce and food items. Regina says one of her favorite business skills she has acquired from the seminars is time management. Specifically she learned that if she gets to the market early, and has her goods all set up and displayed, ready for customers as soon as the first one arrives, she gets more business. We got to encourage Regina with how we saw her living out Ephesians 5:15 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as the unwise, but as wise, making the best use of the time” and being faithful with her business.

Regina wouldn’t let us leave without telling us one last time how thankful she is that through her business she is able to come home with something to put on the table for her family, and to pay for her children to attend school – all 7 of them!



This is the first in a short series of throwback posts, stories about our time in Africa a few months ago.

As we were looking back over the last 11 months and thinking about some of our favorite parts and most meaningful time, we kept coming back to the time we spent in South Sudan with Seed Effect. Reminiscing made me realize that I never shared many of the stories we captured from that incredible time. Part of our time in South Sudan was spent gathering stories for Seed Effect to be able to share about the work going on there and for supports to get a feel for what it’s like there. But it was such a powerful experience for us that I wanted to share them on our blog as well.


I came expecting neatly buttoned up stories of past hardship, then with God’s intervention through Seed Effect, a transformation, renewal and new hope. I had drawn up in my mind a neat beginning, middle and end, all tied up with a bow. And I was expecting to fill in these predetermined blanks with the client’s details.


But God had a different plan. Today when we went to hear stories, we didn’t go to a market where the clients had been with Seed Effect and experienced life change yet… instead, they were on their very first loan, just a month or two into it. To be honest, my first reaction was disappointment when I learned this. How am I supposed to get these triumphant stories, when there hasn’t been time for it yet?!?

But as I listened to Clements and Kenny talk about how they are learning to trust God, and how they want to grow their businesses. And as I got to encourage them with 1 Peter 5:10 “After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” God reminded me that His establishing, restoring and strengthening of us isn’t a past tense story – it’s happening now, it’s ongoing.

God reminded me that none of our stories are finished. We are all in the midst, none of us complete. And how short sighted of me to think any of God’s stories of work in us are neatly packaged.

DSC_0280That’s what faith is about. I can hear Kenny talk about his carpentry shop and how he wants to invest in more timber so he can build for more people in the community, and while his life doesn’t look much different yet… than it did a month ago before the loan, I hear the hope in his voice. And I know it will be different because God is working in his life through Seed Effect sharing the word of God with him, through my prayers for him. We are all unfinished, but God who began the good work in us will bring it to completion.

Seed Effect comes alongside Kenny and Clements and dozens of other clients to wade through the messiness in the middle. And celebrates the small transformations along with way, with full faith that God is using it to bring glory to Himself and draw us closer to him. Because God promises that he will establish, restore and strengthen us through it.

DSC_2873The words of one of my favorite worship songs echo in my head as I reflect on today, “You’re not finished with me yet! You’re not finished with me yet! By your power, I can change, I can change, because you’re not finished with me yet!”


Things We’re Learning – Lesson 4: Community

Wow – we miss all of you guys a lot!!! Friends, co-workers, family everybody. That has been the hardest part of this trip; definitely harder than any of the mountains we’ve climbed, or the questionable beds we’ve slept in, or the lack of showers. I miss each of you individually, but I’ve come to realize that I also miss community in general, having people.

IMG_4335I read an article once that talked about the most reliable factors to predict the happiness for an individual. Unbelievably, the most reliable factor was if they had a friend that lived on their block. It shocked me at first, but then I thought about some of the most content and happy times in my life and it was when I lived next to door to one of my best friends, Angie Jacobus. Rick and I talked about it and decided that, had Will and Angie not moved to another area of Dallas, it would have been a much, much harder decision to sell the house, and leave to travel the world… it might not have happened at all.

Not to say “It’s all their fault,” but maybe a little 🙂 Beyond just having friends, there is huge value in proximity – being located physically close. I mean Skype calls are fun and everything but it’s a lot more fun to meet the Carpenters up at Whole Foods for tacos after work. To be part of peoples lives on a daily basis, and have them be a part of ours.

We’ve been thinking about this and discussing it for the last few weeks and noticed a few things. First off, God created us to want community and calls us to seek it out. Secondly, even taking what the bible says about community out of it, human beings are just more successful when they have their people. Think about the most successful fitness and weight loss programs: Crossfit (group workouts that create strong bonds), Weight Watchers (group encouragement and accountability), even the new 21-Day Fix program is setup to have a coach and a group of others that you do it with. Think about the 12-step programs like AA, they are based on having a group of people that you share with, get encouragement from, have accountability to; there’s human connection.

P1190769That being said, we have decided that wherever we wind up living at the end of this trip, one of our top factors, if not the top factor, will be community. Not in the “good schools and nice parks” sense, but a place where we can authentically and deeply connect with people. And that those people live near us. We have been joking about having “meet and greets” with the neighbors, maybe having a “meet for coffee/wine” hour to get to know the neighbors, before we consider renting or buying a house. Community is just that important.


Foodie Fantasies Come True in Lima – Part 2

Astrid y Gaston La Barra, Lima Peru

We were still hot on the trail of the top restaurants in Lima, even after our Central experience. Next up was Astrid y Gaston – we tried our same tactic of showing up and hoping, but still couldn’t get in for the tasting menu. However, we did score a seat at La Barra, the a la carte part of Astrid y Gaston.

They brought out the wine list in this swanky little envelop, and I kinda felt like I’d won some kind of award. And the prize was wine!

We had an appetizer of langostino, which was delicious. And then got the roasted suckling pig to share – unfortunately, it looked and tasted sooo delicious we failed to get a picture of it. #foodcriticfail

Astrid y Gaston La Barra, Lima PeruThe flavors and dishes were spot on – from the appetizer of spiced olives, to the langostino to the pig. I wish we had gotten to do the tasting menu here, I’m certain it would have been out of this world!

Another day we went to another of Gaston Acurio’s restaurants, La Mar Cebicheria, and it may be our favorite restaurant in Lima! It’s not in the awards list, and is much more casual, but completely surpassed our expectations. Starting from the variety of native potato chips with three sauces, and Cancha Salada (it’s a special kind of Peruvian corn that has really large kernels, they roast and salt it. You can squeeze lime over it, or dip it in hot sauce, or just eat it by the handful) the flavors were awesome!

We decided on the ceviche tasting and Causa tasting. Each ceviche was completely different, but super fresh and interesting. The Causas were my favorite though. I really shouldn’t be sharing this on the blog, because I have a secret plan to start a restaurant in the states that’s all about Causas – it’s gonna be the next big thing!

Causas are these amazing little appetizer dishes made of layers of mashed potatoes, and in between the layers it’s filled with things like avocado, onions, chicken, tuna, crab… you name it.. then topped off with a sauce that compliments. There are hundreds of varieties, but they all taste amazing. It’s like a super fancy potato salad sculptured and filled with the best ingredients. Ours at La Mar included one with crab and langostino, avocado, a savory/sweet passionfruit sauce and another with tuna and salmon tartar, wasabi and a crispy nori topping.

To finish it off at La Mar, we had octopus two ways. It was remarkably tender, and I just couldn’t stop eating the version with an olive sauce.

Bummer is, we didn’t even bring the camera to this most extraordinary meal, so no pictures… unless we go back again before we leave Lima, which is a very real possibility.

Anyway… on to the next stop in our foodie tour… we went to Maido, another restaurant on the Top 50 restaurants in the world list.

Maido Resturant - Lima, PeruWe actually got a reservation for this one through our hotel – Score! We’re big time now! …or so we thought. We arrived to learn that we did get a reservation, but not for the tasting menu, that had ended 15 minutes before we arrived. But never fear, I’m a determined foodie, and they made the mistake of putting the tasting menu list of dishes in the a la carte menu… so we proceeded to recreate it ourselves (our server was less than thrilled with this, but obliged)

Maido features the signature Lima fusion of Peruvian and Japanese, “Nikkei” – so lots of raw fish was on order. Every single piece was delicious! The sushi was incredibly fresh and well prepared – we particularly liked the octopus and the tuna. Maido Resturant, Lima PeruMy favorite dish of our experience there was the Nuevo Ceviche, it was beautiful cuts of raw fish, but instead of being marinated in a lime juice sauce, it came dry then tableside had a powder added to it and stirred in that gave it a wonderful smoked yellow pepper and light citrus flavor. It was much less sweet than the typical ceviche (which I’ve found to be really quite sweet here in Peru). It was crazy delicious and truly innovative… sadly, the picture does not do it justice at all! P1200740

We also tried out the 48-hour braised short ribs and they were everything you could hope for! The meat fell apart, but wasn’t greasy, just buttery. We almost ordered it again for another course, it was so good! Oh sweet meat perfection!!


I typically wouldn’t order ramen at a place like Maido, but it was on the tasting menu, so we went for it. And it was truly excellent. And we finished it off with a clever little dessert they called “Ceviche”, you can see the resemblance. It was a variety of tropical fruits, both fresh and crispy freeze dried, ice cream and a citrus sauce. Again, delicious!


There were quite a few other courses that we really enjoyed, each well thought out and well executed. I would definitely say Maido was worth it!

We had some other incredible meals at less well known places. Like our sushi dinner at Osaka. The straight up sushi was the win here – I would say it’s the first or second best salmon nigiri I’ve ever had (a very authentic little spot in Vancouver being the competition).

We also had a superb dinner at AmorAmar, which was our super backup choice on our first night here, but turned out to be one of our favorite meals in Lima. I’m always partial to a place that blows you away with an amuse-bouche.

We still have a couple days here in Lima and I’ve got big plans to explore the “hole in the wall” food scene, especially the anticuchos.

So despite hiking for about 20 days of the last month we’ve spend in Peru, I think I’ve managed to gain weight from my six days in Lima! At least it was for a worthy cause – Peruvian food is amazing!!

Maido Resturant - Lima, Peru