This summer we won't be sending the kids to camp and hitting the beach. Instead, on June 26th, Scott, Melanie, Lucas and Sydney depart for a 2 month adventure in Peru where we'll immerse ourselves in peruvian culture, volunteer to help those less privileged, hike the Inca Trail and live in the jungle. Follow our blog for regular updates, pictures and videos from all 4 of us.

Thursday, December 22, 2016


The saying goes, "a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step."  Well in this case, our trip is actually closer to 7500 miles and so it ended up being slightly more involved.  The first step in the journey involved just getting my mom to LAX to fly with us to Tel Aviv.  And what seems like a simple task...boarding a direct flight from Nashville to Los Angeles...ended up being far from it.  Braving winter storms, back problems, luggage questions, and about half a dozen other ailments that would sideline any lesser almost-70-year-old jewish grandmother, she somehow survived the first leg of the trip.

I'm not understating how much of a Hanukkah miracle this happens to be.  At one point my mother proclaimed, "Scott, you're just going to have to accept the fact that you're going on this trip without me."  So mission accomplished!

The rest of us officially began our trip with arrival at LAX around 2p on the 20th, and ended with arrival at our hotel in Jerusalem at the equivalent of 2pm the following day. That's a full 24 hours of travel, including 2 planes, lots of movies, a little sleep, a bus ride at Heathrow, multiple trips through security, a van ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and lots of anxiousness (curtsey of my mom).  But, it ended successfully with us settled into our rooms at the Inbal around 12:30am on Thursday morning, Jerusalem time, on the 22nd.

The highlight of the trip, was probably the El Al security dog in Heathrow.  Without question, this was the cutest bomb sniffing dog we've ever seen.  I had to take a picture of it, which then elicited a sharp reaction from the armed El Al security guards, although the dog seemed completely unfazed!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Streaming Silverman...Take 2!

I'm sure all of you have been anxiously awaiting details on the next big Silverman adventure.  After a 3 year hiatus, we've decided to dust off our suitcases and set out for a multi-generational tour of Israel, followed by a few additional days in London.

Plus, to spice things up this time, we've added my mom as a fifth member of the group.  Of course, with her addition it means we'll need to upgrade accommodations a bit compared to Peru so we settled on a planned tour through Authentic Israel.

We'll be retracing the footsteps of history in the Old City, descending to the lowest place on earth to float in the Dead Sea, and scaling the heights of Masada (although my mother we'll be doing so via cable car!).  Not to mention eating lots of falafel.

Stay tuned here for updates on our trip.  Hope you enjoy.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Aaaaannnnnndddddd...we're back!

After 9 weeks we finally returned to the United States exactly 1 week ago.  We've spent the last week recovering from the adventure...showering, washing clothes, drinking water straight from the tap.  I even shaved off my beard...check out the before and after shots:

We spent our first night back in the LAX Hilton, and enjoyed a gourmet breakfast the next morning at Carls Jr.!!!  After enduring a few hours of car trouble, we finally got on the road and headed out to the desert for a few days of downtime (since our house was still occupied) where we did nothing more than sit by the pool, relax and eat anything other than rice or potatoes!  We finally made it back to our house on Friday, and have spent the last several days unpacking before the kids go back to school tomorrow.

Since we've gotten back we've gotten tons of questions about the trip.  Of course, we're more than happy to regale people with crazy tales of the zoo, adventures at Lake Titicaca, or all the weight I seemed to have lost (I lost some 15lbs), but the conversation always seems to come back to whether our kids now have a different perspective after living abroad.  The answer is definitely 'yes', but it's less an appreciation for all our luxuries we enjoy (cars, houses, toys, etc.) and more an appreciation for the basic standards that we in the U.S. have grown all to accustomed to.  Things like...

  • Ice -- Peruvians don't ever have ice and drink most drinks at room temperature (think warm coke).
  • Working sewers -- Being able to throw our toilet paper in the actual toilet.
  • Water -- Having access to water 24 hours a day...being able to drink it straight from the tap, having a hot water heater with access from every faucet.
  • Clothes Dryer -- Drying your clothes in a dryer and not outside on a line.
  • Food Variety -- Not eating bread, butter and cheese for every breakfast or having rice/potatoes for every lunch/dinner.
Keep in mind that the way we lived while in Peru was considered "middle class" for that country.  

Anyway, that's pretty much it for our blog posts on Peru.  Perhaps we'll use this forum to continue to post family updates if any of you are actually interested in the more mundane happenings of the Silvermans.  

Thanks for following our summer adventure,
Scott, Melanie, Lucas & Sydney

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Our Israeli Brothers

Not surprisingly, there aren't many Jews in Peru so when Melanie happened across a little area of Cusco with lots of hebrew signs it was worth a little more exploration.  As it turns out, Cusco is a popular tourist spot with Israelis so one Saturday a few weeks ago we decided it was worth trying out Cusco's only bagel place for lunch.

Simply named, The Bagel Cafe is exactly what it sounds like...they serve half decent bagels, cream cheese, tuna melts, pizza bagels and pretty darn good milkshakes.  It's run by a guy named Ohad Duchovny and his twin brother Gilad...both moving to Peru from Israel.  Ohad was very funny serving us himself, and it was a great lunch.  In fact, the kids asked to go back several times afterwards, but we never had the opportunity.  We enjoyed it enough that we even tried one of the other restaurants run by the brothers...a Sushi place if you can believe (who knew Israelis ate sushi?).

Anyway, we figured Ohad would soon forget the 4 Jews from Orange County, CA and our paths would likely never cross again...but we figured wrong!!!  As it turns out Ohad, Gilad and their father decided to take a trip to the jungle at the same time as we did and stay at the same lodge.  We're sitting at dinner one night and Lucas looks over at me and asks "Is that the bagel guy, Dad?".  Sure enough it was...and he remembered us too!  Well, weather delayed our return from the Jungle so we had to spend an extra night in Puerto Maldanado, and we hung out that extra night with the Duchovny family.  The dad loved Lucas & Sydney and by the time we finally landed back in Cusco, the 7 of us had become fast friends:

Anyway, if you ever find yourself in Cusco and craving a bagel (or sushi) we know the perfect spot...just drop our name and our Israeli brothers will hook you up.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Lost Cochoa

Today we're hiking to a place called "lost lake".  Not sure why it's considered lost because we had no trouble finding it…albeit it took a good 2 hours of hiking and another hour by boat!  On the way we saw tons of birds…vultures, wild turkeys, toucans, screamers, tons of turtles and more, and once we got to the lake we even found a few black caimans…

Lucas was pretty excited, but Sydney seemed a bit overwhelmed (or perhaps it's fatigue since the whole hike was about 8km round trip).

We even climbed to the top of a 200+ foot platform (a little high for my taste) to have a look around:

On the way back, we stopped at the biggest tree I've ever seen:

By this point, Sydney was a little tired and needed a ride so I obliged…

But i had to put her down to watch our guide coax a tarantula out of it's nest with a blade of grass.

That was enough hiking for us so we took the rest of the day to relax in the hammocks and view the local botanical garden before an early bed time.

EcoAmazonia & Monkey Island

On Tuesday morning we had a quick breakfast at Ana's and then off to the airport for our flight to Puerto Maldonado.  It's a short trip, only about 45 minutes, and we were met by our lodge at the airport to take us to our transportation.

The lodge is actually about 30km downriver so after a quick tour of the town and local market and a stop for water (and ice cream!), we're off.

We arrive at the lodge about 1.5 hours later:

And after lunch and seeing our bungalows, we're ready to see some animals…which is good because first stop on our tour is Monkey Island.  It's small island basically across from the lodge that's used to house monkeys that have been injured or for some reason need rescuing.  There are about 50 of them, across 4 different species, on the island, and they stay there until the local authorities determine they're ready to be returned to the wild.  In the interim, they're available for us to view and even feed…

The spider monkeys are our favorites, but they tend to be afraid of the smaller capuchins so they wait until after the other monkeys have their fill before coming down to say hi…

Tons more pictures on Flickr, but this gives you a little perspective…quite the first day in the jungle.  Now back to the lodge for dinner and then…a night boat ride looking for the ever elusive white caiman.  Well, its not so elusive because we saw a few:

Now time for bed…we have an early start tomorrow at 5am so nite nite!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nutrition Clinic

For the past two weeks I forged ahead alone far far away from our house (an hour walk there and back) to the nutrition clinic where I worked with a Peruvian nutritionist.  Before I went, I was looking forward to the experience and had done some research on the nutritional issues in Cusco.  I knew iron deficiency anemia was a huge problem.  Being here six weeks, I could now see why.  We have been pumped with so much rice, corn and potatoes that it isn't even funny anymore.  The clinic is called MONET and basically is like the American version of Early Intervention, WIC and a cooking class all in one.  There are seven MONET clinics serving the city of Cusco.

The nutritionists name was Catalina (Caty) and the woman has many responsibilities.  Each family that comes into the clinic must have an updated growth chart on the kids.  Caty checks the charts to insure each kid is growing.  The families pay 1 sole for both breakfast and lunch for each kid they have, which is about 33 cents per meal.  If the kids are not growing well, she calls them out on it and gives them a talking to.   I thought I was direct with my patients.  This woman is a force to reckon with and has to be given the situation.  She gives them nutrition handouts to emphasize variety and the importance of protein and fat, which is often deficient in these kids' diets.  There is also this huge push for hand washing.  Many of the kids have parasitic infections, which stunts their growth and brain development.  This has all been traced back to lack of hand washing so she spends loads of time teaching the kids and parents to wash their hands before they eat, after they change diapers or go to the bathrooms themselves.  Once they are checked in, the kids are free to play and we cook.  Aside from Caty, there is another woman that comes in as an assistant cook, but takes orders from Caty.    There is a very small play area where they also eat. 

Here is the kitchen they work out of.  NOTE:  The kitchen is smaller than it appears here. 

There is a four week menu cycle in this clinic.  I have been able to order food in restaurants, tell taxis where our home is located and buy tickets to museums, but learning the Spanish words for Peruvian food was a challenge. I had to ask Ana, my Spanish teacher at Maximo Nivel and then did a lot of Googling (when I could find internet access) to figure out what the hell the menu items were. Once I did, I realized the menus were very well balanced.  

As they cooked through breakfast and lunch, Caty and the cook graciously offered me food to try. Sometimes I took it.  Sometimes I did not.  I watched food preparation very closely and asked a lot of questions to learn their techniques, especially on how to cook quinoa (I am the world's worse quinoa cook).  While there are many wonderful things about Peru, food safety standards in the country are not the same so I was hesitant to try the food because where they cut the fish is where they may make a salad.  Wouldn't you be nervous?

Before I went to the Monet clinic I envisioned sitting at a desk, asking families to be patient with my Spanish and telling them how to feed their kids so they grow well.  That is not what I did.  I did do some simple nutrition counseling, especially when I saw a mother force feeding her kids.  (THAT DRIVES ME CRAZY IN PERU AND AMERICA!)  Here my responsibilities were broader in a larger effort to support the clinics day to day operations, which they desperately needed.  And…I was OK with this.
  • I cut potatoes, carrots and onions with the dullest knives you could imagine. It took me 25 minutes (no exaggeration) to cut an onion until they told me it was just right for the lunch that day.
  • I washed and dried dishes in the coldest water you can imagine in that tiny kitchen.
  • I swept and mopped the floor with a broom that had a towel around it that kept falling off.  Mopping took twice as long.
  • I cleaned the kiddie plastic tables and chairs over and over again and organized the developmental toys for the kids. 
  • I held and played with some of the cutest babies and kids.
  • I sat on the floor talking to mothers in broken Spanish about the differences and similarities between Peru and America. They had a lot of questions for me.  We talked about everything from feeding kids to Barack Obama and how horrible they thought guns were.
  • I bought wipes and diaper cream for a mom who I saw changing a kids diaper the day before and taught her how to properly clean and change the baby.  He had diaper rash (and many other medical issues).  I was stunned watching her change him and will spare you intricate details about how she changed and cleaned him.  His diaper was a thin washcloth she wrapped around him and then secured a plastic grocery bag (the kind they are trying to phase out in the US) as "rubber pants", similar to the 1970's version some of us may have worn.
  • I made grocery lists for the clinic.
  • I served food and tried some, when I felt it was safe.
  • I read the Peruvian governments goals for a healthier population (more about hand washing and lots about the importance of safety of children from abuse…of all kinds.  Violence in homes seems to be a big problem.
While it wasn't what I expected, I learned more in those two weeks than I would have sitting at a desk talking protein the whole time.


Monday, August 19, 2013

Heading to the Jungle!

We've now bee in Cusco for almost 8 weeks, and frankly we're running out of activities so thankfully we leave tomorrow for 5 days in the Amazon rainforest.  We're staying at this place called the EcoAmazonia Lodge, and for 5 days we'll be busy hiking and looking for wild animals.  Of course, we're practically experts at dealing with animals after spending 2 weeks volunteering at the zoo!

There's no internet access in the jungle so we wouldn't be able to post anything until we're back next Saturday so stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Bathroom Situation

Mothers and daughters have many opportunities to bond in life.  I never thought one of those opportunities with Sydney would be the Peruvian bathroom situation.  The two of us have had bathroom experiences that I hope none of the women reading this blog have to have...EVER!   Our Cusco home bathroom situation is acceptable (although I am in a now six week fight with the shower as you may have seen in an earlier post) It's the bathrooms we encounter outside the home that are the problem.

In an effort to make this bathroom situation more bearable for the two of us and to get us in and out of bathrooms as fast as possible, we decided to develop a rating system each time we go.  Here is our scale:


Here are examples so you have a clearer understanding.

HORRIBLE:  We were visiting one of many Incan ruins, in the middle of nowhere, early in our trip and Sydney looks at me, crosses her legs and says, "Mom, I gotta go."  I cannot let this child pee on Incan ruins (disrespectful!) so we search for a bathroom.  I found the "bano" sign and we got into the line.  There was a man sitting outside the bathrooms with a bucket of water.  As people stepped out of the stalls, he took a bucket of water and threw it inside the stalls.  I thought he had amazing aim to be able to  get the water into the toilets after people left the bathroom.  What a talent this guy was!  When it was our turn, he pointed us into one of the stalls.  We walked in and all we saw was a drain, about the size of a standard checker board, on a flat floor. There was no toilet.  There was no toilet paper.  There was this drain on a very wet floor and it smelled "DEESKUSTING", as Sydney pointed out.   I had to brace Sydney on my arms, over the drain while she peed.  She looked horrified  and said, "Mommy!  This is awful!  I wish I was a boy right now".  I could not have said it better myself, bless her little heart. When I walked out of the bathroom a woman said to me in English, "You are a brave soul.  I used bathrooms like that in Europe 20 years ago and swore I would never do that again!"

EXCELLENT:  The JW Marriott of Cusco wins!  We happened to find the hotel walking around the city and Sydney had to go.  (They also had internet access so Scott and Luke had a few minutes to surf and check email) WOW!  This lobby bathroom wasn't reality.  There was marble and granite, working locks and hooks on the doors, hot AND cold water options, fragrant soap and the floor was D-R-Y!   Both of our mouths dropped when we walked into the bathroom.  We started to jump up and down and dance out of sheer joy because when we found the JW Marriott it had been about four weeks of mostly HORRIBLE and POOR experiences.  I told Sydney I wanted to hang out and live in this bathroom, but of course, we couldn't.  But we both washed our hands in the temperature of our choosing and our hands were nice and dry when we left because they had real towels to dry your hands with!  HEAVEN!

While this is not the most riveting blog we have posted, I want to remember to be forever be grateful for bathrooms with water temperature options, clean floors and towels or air for drying hands.

Monday, August 12, 2013


Well, for lunch today we made plans to go to a traditional peruvian restaurant that specializes in Cuy (guinea pig for you gringos).  At La Qunita Eutalia they have no menus.  Instead you look at the hand written chalkboard for what's on the menu that day, and the waiter hands you a sheet of paper and a pen to write down what items you want to order.
In addition to Cuy (3rd item down on the menu), the restaurant is known for rocoto relleno (stuffed peppers).  We also decided to try Costillaro (lamb ribs) can probably guess which is which in the picture below:
And, here is the's served basically deep fried with the head still on.

Melanie fell in love immediately...
It's actually quite good...tastes much like fried chicken...the only problem is that it's not easy to eat.  There's not a ton of meat and it's not something that you can just cut into pieces.  Honestly, it's meant to be picked up and eaten with your hands like you would a chicken leg.  We did our best and it turns out Sydney is a big fan (Luke, not so much).  If you can stomach another picture, here's the finished results...
Overall, a cool experience, but we pretty much all agreed that we won't be running out for another round of guinea pig so all your little furry pets back in the states will be more than safe around us when we return!