Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My name is hilarious

I had to go to the bank again today, and when I told the teller my name he laughed for 5 minutes. Then I told him my last name and he laughed for 5 more, no exaggeration. Apparently it´s a big joke because the tellers next to him started laughing too. It´s quite nice because the two tellers I had yesterday remembered me and were all smiley. Everyone here pronounces my name hey-ma. Hahaha.
The movie last night was very interesting. It was called La Teta Asustada, which translates literally to the scared tit, not Milk of Sorrow as it is called in English. It got its name from the children born in the terrorist years who lactated from the sacred milk of their mothers. A warning that you may not want to read the next part. The girl`s mother dies from disease caused by rape. So, the main girl puts a potato up her vagina to prevent being raped, which Rosa says is still a custom today in the poor parts of Lima. Rosa whispered some of what was going on to me which helped. It was a movie about the typical life of the poor people in Lima. They have all their weddings in one month of the year only. It was cool because I recognised the scenery from the bus ride here. (Luis is practicing his guitar and singing. It is very loud). The cinema was really big but we sat at the bottom because we were ten minutes late (which really didn´t help me with understanding the plot) and so my neck really hurt by the end! Parts of the movie were in Quechua so those parts had Spanish subtitles, which made it easier for me because I find it easier to read Spanish than to listen and understand it.
Before the movie last night 4 of Rosa´s friends came over to organise a mother-cousin thing for mother´s day. I had no idea they were coming so I was surprised to see the room full! She probably told me though, I just didn´t have a clue what she was saying. We had Baileys mixed with some really good Peruvian thing. As usual, the name escapes me. I just had a conversation with Rosa and we are doing something tomorrow morning to do with cosmetics and the central square in Cajamarca. I was so lost apart from that. We leave for Celedin at 1.
I gave one of the bracelets I made to Irena. She loved it. She is so lovely I actually managed to chat with her a bit today when Anita, Irena and I went to pick Luis up from his guitar lesson. She is coming with us to Celedin which is awesome!
Today I prepared a week of lessons for one class, but I have so much more preparing to do. Maybe I don´t want to be a teacher. Mind you, it would be easier if I didn´t have to translate everything into Spanish and would knock a few hours off of my preparations.
The gym today was brutal. However, for the 20 minutes I was on the treadmill I caught the Man U-Arsenal game, which was also painful. I told the trainer: muerto muerto (I am dying) but he just thinks I am a wuss. Which is actually true compared to all the fit Peruvian people.
This morning I went to the schools of the poor children in Cajamarca again with Rosa. We went to deliver the food for their breakfast for the next week. The kids were so happy to see it, which was wonderful. The bread they had been given for the past two days was so small. One of the mother´s is paid to make it by the rich school in Cajamarca (which Rosa´s kids go to) and it looks like she may have skimmed off some money. It is so sad. The kids have beautiful spirits, but they are surrounded by mangy animals and bugs and filth and have a fairly good chance of coming down with something.
Luis wants to watch guitar on Youtube now so I´ll write more later.
Ciao, Gemma
p.s. The pic is the outside of one of the schools.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Internet is back up!!

Yay, the internet is working again! Unfortunatly, I can´t seem to find anywhere to put my camera card. I will have to work on figuring out how to post pictures. Today I joined the Gym, it´s only 30 dollars for 3 months and it´s top of the range. I figure with all the extra consumption of food it´s a good idea, and also it´s a good way to spend time with my host mother. The people at the gym only speak Spanish so it´s very interesting. They took all my measurements, having a good laugh at my lack of arm muscles hahaha. The guy who owns the gym is French. It´s a going thing in Cajamarca that places look like nothing on the outside and are gorgeous inside. Tonight we are all going to the cinema to see this traditional Peruvian movie. It will be interesting to see how much I can understand.
For lunch we had loads of food again. We had a soup of some Peruvian thing which I cannot remember the name of, and juice of a Peruvian fruit which I also forget the name of. Then, we had rice, potatoes and onions, and these little pork things with corn. We have corn and rice everyday. They drink their juice warm here. Ít´s actually really good. Yesterday we had some Peruvian fruit juice that was similiar to apples warm for breakfast. This morning I went to the bank, which is apparently very time consuming. I waited in line for about an hour, and then when I finally got there they needed my passport. Oh, I forget to mention it took me about half an hour to find the bank. My host mother came with me when I went back so that I didn´t have to wait in line again. Finally I got the money so I could pay rent!
Oh, I forget to tell you the other clumsy stories which didn´t involve me. At the restaurant where I had more food than ever before in my life yesterday, Rosa (my host mum) knocked her Inka cola flying and I had to move because everything was soaked! Then at breakfast yesterday, the maid here, Irena, threw a glass across the room by accident. Then, on the way to the market today, Rosa tripped and almost wiped out on the street. This is actually not too hard to do, I am surpised I haven´t gone flying yet. There are big holes all over the place and you have to really watch where you are going!
I am so tired!! Rosa´s niece is here, she is about 4 and so sweet. I love how everyone here kisses you on the cheek when you arrive and when you leave. She came up and gave me a big hug and kiss on the lips she is so sweet!! It makes everyone feel more comfortable to greet each other in this way. I have been kissed so much this week! Anita and Luis were so happy to hear I was going on vacation with them, they are so welcoming.
This morning I did some preparation for my classes. It took me 2 hours to prepare one class! Good grief.
I have to say that so far I haven´t felt in any immediate danger. Sometimes I get a little nervous walking alone at night but apart from catcalls and whistles and people calling senorita, senorita, it´s been okay. I made a huge mistake on Sunday when two men called me over. They were dressed in uniform and I thought they were policemen so I thought I´d better go, but actually I think they were traffic wardens. It was okay and everything, we chatted for like 5 minutes, but then later when I was on my way to ICPNA again, the one guy was very flirty and though it´s possible his intentions were honourable I really doubt it. I told him I wasn´t interested and said ciao and ran away. Maybe not the best solution but my Spanish is limited and I didn´t want to give the wrong impression. I haven´t seen him since, which is great. I have since learned exactly what policmen wear so I will not be so stupid again.
I have my own key to the house, and I also have a lock on my bedroom door, so it is very safe.
I know I have more to tell you, but I don´t have time right now.
Hoping Canada or England is treating you well!
P.s. The food is typical to Peru

Unexplainable Beauty and extreme poverty

Let´s see, where did I leave off...
On Saturday night, Miranda, Juan, Simon and I went to a Mexican food place. I had, ummmm... tamsomething but it was very good and we had sangria for good luck! Then, we took a taxi to the shopping centre so that I know how to get there. I found an adapter for only 30 cents, yay! I also bought water but I didn´t read the con gas part and it was carbonated. Well, lesson learned. I would like to say that I fit in really well here because people are so clumsy!! Juan dropped his water and it spilled all over his backpack and all his things! More instances to follow...
Miranda and I went back to the hostel for our last night. She went to buy earplugs at the pharmacy but I had to help her ask for them. Oh! I forgot! At 5 in the morning my first night in Cajamarca I was woken by yelling, honking, and stamping of what sounded like a massive riot right outside our guesthouse. Needless to say I was a little concerned, but I didn´t open the window to look outside because that would have drawn a lot of attention to myself, being that it opened to a little balcony overlooking the main square. The next day I found out it was the police and the police in training parading around town! At 5 in the morning! Good grief! They were so loud!
Okay, so Sunday my alarm clock failed to work. How terrible is that!! So, Juan came knocking and I was not ready. I pulled a 5 minute record speed packing and still made it to my host house in plenty of time. I said bye to Miranda and I honestly wonder how she will like Chiclayo. She never seemed very happy to me. I thanked Juan for all his help with finding me a place to live and turned to my next adventure!
The family I am staying with is extremely nice. Luis is 8 and it was his birthday on Sunday which was really cool. Anita is 12. They both speak some English, and Luis speaks it very well. They learn at their school, which I think is the best one around. We went to San Marcos on Sunday which is an hour from here, and their Grandfather joined us. He is so jolly and friendly, pointing out the names of places to me all the time! The scenery was gorgeous. It actually choked me up, I probably would have cried but that would have been ridiculous and my host family may have been worried. Anita threw up on the way there, so at least it´s not just me getting sick. The kids are so sweet. They stopped a couple of times so that I could take pictures. I will post some when the internet at home is back up. I am at an internet cafe right now. San Marcos is quite pretty, and when I got there it was cow and bull selling day. They were about 1000 people in this mud square and livestock everywhere. It was totally chaotic! Awesome! They bought me a popsicle or lollipop in Inka Cola flavour. Yummy! Luis and Anita showed me the Church, which you aren´t allowed to take pictures off but it was quaint. We went for lunch at this little cafe with very promiscuous pictures of women all over the walls. I´m not so sure it was appropriate for the kids, but when in Peru... There was so much food!!!! I had corn first, which is with every meal here. Then, they brought out hen soup. The most massive bowl of hen soup you have ever seen. I was just getting through that and very full when they brought out more food! A massive steak, rice, and fries. The look on my face must have been priceless. I hate leaving food and didn´t want to be rude, but I couldn´t eat it all. However, most of the family did! A popular dish here and Anitas favourite food is Guinea pig. I don´t fancy it much but I will have to try it sometime. After supper we went to meet my host father´s friend who runs a pharmacy. He had 2 sons and a daughter. His one son was 17 and I placed him at 13. I think, from what I understood, that he is quite sick, something to do with his blood. He was very friendly though and spoke some English, so he took me and my host mother on walk through the streets of San Marcos. I saw a massive pig being pulled by a rope, loads of cows, flocks of sheep, goats etc. in the streets. There are dogs everywhere, lots of them are mangy though and viscious. I take my lead from the kids here though and they giave them a wide berth. Also, on Sunday, we went to Paucamarca. This is a tiny village up in the Andes of extreme poverty. Such extreme beauty and extreme poverty sitting side by side. It is quite possible that the people had never seen a white person before. I don´t know, but I attracted a lot of attention there. Well, I attract a lot of attention everywhere, being white and female, but the smaller the community the more so. The people said ¨look, another kind, another kind¨ and ¨blanca, blanca¨ (white) and ¨gringa.¨ I get people calling me gringa in Cajamarca too. It´s not very nice really. The roads in Paucamarca are nothing more than mudbaths. You can´t drive on most of them. The mosquitos are bad there. The people seem unhappy. It is very sad. There are roosters on the roads. I think that the Grandfather knew people there, but we couldn´t find them if he did. That evening when we returned to Cajamarca, two friends came over to celebrate Luis´birthday. I gave him a ball saying Canada which he loved, and I let my family here pick some of the bracelets I made. They loved them so much, which is awesome! Luis played the Guitar for me a bit. It is odd because Luis and Anita know the words to a lot of English songs. Luis is often asking me what words mean so he can understand what he is singing. Anita loves the Jonas Brothers and Zac Efron. The Jonas Brothers are going to Lima and she really wants to go but it is way too expensive. Luis wants to go to Santana, which I get the impression might work out of him. That night I thought we were only having birthday cake, but no!! They brought out supper, some corn potato fish thing with onions. I was in shock, I was sooooo full from lunch still I was not sure how I was going to each any at all. I ate half and then said I´d have the rest for breakfast. The Dad thinks I am on a diet!! This is more food than I have eaten in my life. We had red wine which was very strong to celebrate his birthday. You won´t recognize me when I return because I will be a whale!! The male friend of the parents that came played the guitar and sang songs for Luis and we even sang happy birthday in English. He blew out the candles and had two left so I said ¨dos novias luis?¨ (two girlfriends) and everyone thought that was very funny. I had to go to bed at 10:30 because I had been up since 7 and had done so much, I was practically falling asleep on the couch haha.
Yesterday I was up at 6 because I had to be a ICPNA at 7 to observe. I still wasn´t hungry at all but I had to struggle throught breakfast. Oh! I forgot! They have a maid. It is really weird because she is 18 the same as me. I made my bed and cleaned my room and the mother came in and said no no no no no, I am not allowed to do anything. I am not even allowed to wash my own clothes. It makes me uncomfortable to have someone my own age do my chores. She is married and has been for 2 years. Wow! Her name is Irena and she is quite sweet, but she speaks no English. I know that she is paid well but I still don´t like it. Simon introduced me to his class and I met all his students. They are awesome people. After observing I went back to the host house. The mother is the supervisor of the schools in the part of Cajamarca experiencing extreme poverty. She is an awesome person. She took me with her to the inspect the 4 classes. It is another world to Canada. It is even another world to downtown Cajamarca. The roads are muddy and very uneven and full of water. It is dirty with garbage everywhere. The schoolchildren are so sweet. With my pathetic Spanish I went around to each table to introduce myself and meet the kids and ask them how they were and if they liked school etc. The children at 5-8. Some kids are very obviously sick. It is so sad. There is a program where they get breakfast 3 days a week and the government sends food too, but it is bad. A lot of the kids are sick, and if you saw the milk you would understand. It is very lumpy and sour. My host mother inspects the food and gets new food in and tells them what is okay to eat. She sings songs with them and all the kids love her. She is so charismatic. All the schoolkids here wear uniform. They look very smart, it is nice I think. To get to some of the classes you had to wade through mud and bugs etc. There are toilets outside that everyone can see. I didn´t take pictures because I think it would be an invasion of their privacy. It is sad because those kids don´t have any kind of future or opportunity really.
Yesterday afternoon I went back to ICPNA to get my schedule and observe more classes. Observing is not very fun after a while! I got my schedule and books. I had 9 books, so I am going to develop muscles carrying them. So, I guess I will be a muscley whale ahahahahaha. For the first week, starting May 4th, I have 7 and a half hours of classes a day and 8 and a half on Saturday. That is an insane amount of work because the preparation is huge and I have to find time outside of that. I have to anticipate the questions they could ask me in Spanish too, so that means even more work. However, there are no classes at ICPNA this week as today is their finalk exam day. So, I do have lots of time to prepare. However, from Thursday to Sunday my host family are taking me on a trip with them to this place 3 hours away beginning with S. Hmmm, I wish I could remember what it is called! I love living with them because it gives me so much more opportunity to explore the country around here.
Yesterday I met a mathmatical genius guy who is studying English because he has a grant to get his master´s in America. We chatted for an hour waiting for ICPNA to open (apparently nobody here can give you the correct time to be at a place). He is the first agnostic person I have met here. I was told to tell people I am Christian because otherwise I could get into trouble. Being Agnostic is not so bad but if you confess to be athiest you are in big trouble. It is majorly offensive to the people here. He was really interested in my views of how the earth began and even though his English is limited and my Spanish is limited we managed to talk about these deep topics, which I think says a lot about people. I think Mr. A would have a great time talking with this guy. I am crap at telling how old people are here, I had him placed at 21 and he is 26.
Well, I had better get back to my family because I only said I was going to the bank and they may be worried. I don´t know. The internet doesn´t work at my house.
Thanks for keeping track of me! Have a great day!
p.s. The second pic is my host family in the gorgeous Andes. Please excuse my dreadful hair in the first pic. Recognise the shirt Brandy? :)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

So much to say, so little time

I am so tired but I dont want to sleep I want to write stuff down so I don´t forget! On Thursday when I arrived in Lima I had breakfast at the guesthouse which was a piece of bread with jam. I also had lunch there which was very yummy chiken with rice and yellowy potato stuff with salad. Rice and chicken are very popular here. Everything comes with rice. Juan hailed us a taxi and the way it works here (oh by the way WUSC did pay for my taxi so phew) is that you haggle a price. So the first taxi was too expensive and we took the second one. There is no meter and if you are a gringo they will try to rip you off apparently. However Miranda got a taxi for only 8 soles when 15 would have been reasonable, which is probably because she is a blond white female and Juan says the taxi driver thought it was an honour to drive her. Hahaha. Miranda is another SWB student, from the University of Victoria. She is a business student so she will be doing some admin stuff and teaching too. She is going to Chiclayo and she is leaving with Juan in the morning. She is 23 and has travelled everywhere, like all over Asia and Europe and she is going to study in Mexico next semester. So, on Thursday we went to the WUSC office and sorted all the paperwork out. I was worried about my Visa as it was only stamped for 90 days, but apparently the extra 8 days are no problem, I just have to pay 1 USD per day extra which is no big deal. Everybody here gives us the price in USD dollars which is useless because I don´t have any and it doesn´t really mean anything to me. But I have asked and everyone thinks the USD and the Canadian Dollar are the same thing. We divide the Nuevo Soles by 3 to figure out approximately how much things cost in CAN. The head of WUSC talked to us about what they do in Lima and the provinces, they have programs to help with water and santitation and are focused on public education. Juan gave us an initiation and I feel like it would have been very useful to know a lot of what he said before I got here. However, the way of the Peruvians is not to hurry and telling you things 5 minutes in advance is okay. I chatted with Sonia, the maid at Margaritas, a lot which I view as an accomplishment as she speaks no English whatsoever. I was sad to leave even though I was there for maybe only 15 hours haha. Miranda was very very very upset because I paid 40 soles for my night, and she was there 2 nights and paid 120 soles. She doesn´t have any good feelings towards Margarita anymore, which is sad because she was really nice and I think it was just a misunderstanding.
Yesterday we visited ICPNA and we observed 4 classes, some children and some adults of all different levels. I think I should beable to do a decent job. I really hope so anyway. The students choose their teacher, so if you get less students in the second month then you know you have done a crappy job. So no pressure! This morning we went to watch 3 more classes starting at 8 with Simon´s class. Simon is from Montreal and I am taking over from him. His first language is French and he has a strong Quebecois accent, so I have trouble understanding him sometimes. He speaks Spanish very well, and I must be getting better because I can understand more. I act as translator for Miranda sometimes which is pretty cool and I´ve managed to ask for things in stores and restaurants and actually get what I asked for. An accomplishment, I think. He is also very good looking as some of the advanced students were telling me in a break, but they think he is very serious. I met two girls, both named Lucia who were very nice and a bunch of other adults whose names I don´t remember. They are all shocked that my parents let me come when I am only 18. One of the teachers was telling me that she was offered a job in Canada when she was in her 20s but her parents forbid her to go. Another girl had a similar story. They both regret not going.
The house I was supposed to stay for 250 USD per month caused a problem because the lady is away and I can´t move in until the end of May. Living in a guesthouse for all that time would be very expensive. So I went to look my other option and they wanted 500 USD a month. Good grief!!! More expensive than living in Canada! Cajamarca is expensive now because there are a lot mining companies here. This is the reason why so many people want to learn English, because the companies are mostly all American, although there is one Canadian company. I was really upset because the house is gorgeous. It is really modern. The family is also really nice, the lady has a son and a daughter who live at home, and her son speaks English very well which is handy because he can translate. The dad is a doctor so he says if I get sick he can help, and the mother is a teacher. I really wanted to live there, so I went back to the house again and explained my situation (i.e., just because I am white does not mean I am rich) and said that I dont need cable or supper. So, they came down to 280 USD which is much much better!!!! I think what swung it for me is that the little girl told her mum she wanted me to stay and they really seemed to want to have a student live with them. It is a really safe place because they have about 8 locks on the door and 3 alarms. The mother said she will treat me äs if I am her daughter. She speaks a little English as she studied at ICPNA for 2 years, but she does not speak much. She says we can help each other, which is fine with me. The first option was with the academic advisor of ICPNA and she has no children so it wouldn´t be so fun. Also, i would have to take a taxi, mototaxi or Cambi to work twice a day at least, which is not so safe. I think it is okay, but the lady at the house I am going to be staying at said it is not safe because I would be a white female travelling alone and thus a target, plus it would be dark when I went back. It gets dark here at about 5;30. I am going to move in tomorrow morning at 7 and the family is taking me on a day trip with them! For no extra cost! How awesome is that!
If you are still reading and not bored then I applaud you... haha.
This afternoon Juan took us to Los Baños de Incas, the natural hot springs of the Incas. You can take baths there mixed with cold water as the temperature of the water is 70 celsius. Apparently there has been accidents where students fell in because they were messing about and got burned up pretty severly. I cringed. There are also water massages, pretty nice I think. I managed to have somewhat of a conversation with the tourist information guy. On the way back we took a Cambi because Juan wanted me to practice. They are these vans that drive around with a person yelling out the window where it is going, like the one we took had a boy yelling hopital, hopital. You have to jump on fast or they will drive away. It is 70 centimos for anywhere in the city. I got to tell the guy when we got off ¨stop at the corner¨ and then we paid and hopped off quick. It´s so awesome I love it. The man is always yelling he says go go go go come come come come quick quick quick and it is very loud but so... I cant find the word but I love it!
I have to mention the rain, it is hilarious... one minute the sun is shining and there are no clouds, the next second there is torrential rain for 5 minutes. It is so funny. People here might think that white people are crazy because I am laughing all the time like a hyena or something.
Oh, when we were walking home today the lady in front was carrying a massive bag of leaves, Juan says its coke, yes, coke, you understand no.... I was like, cocaine and he says no its for medicinal purposes. Apparently that part of the plant is medicinal, he says it helps them feel better... hahahaha.
There is no such thing as a presciption here. You can buy anything you want at the drugstore. There is also no drinking age.
I have to go because Juan is coming at 7 and I should wake up Miranda. We are going to meet Simon and go out.
I had chinese for lunch and there was so much food, I really haven´t eaten much, yesterday I had a sandwich. I am not hungry, which is really weird for me. I gave my xtra rice to a begging lady on the street. She was very grateful. Its okay to give them food but not so much money. It´s heartbreaking to see all the beggars though.
Thanks for reading all of this you poor souls! Bye for now.
P.s. The pic is of Cajamarca


Cajamarca is very pretty. It is surrounded by the Andes and it is a colonial city so there is a lot of Spanish architecture. I can´t say I enjoyed the 16 hours on a bus to get here though. At some points we were so close to the edge of the mountains that I couldn´t see the road anymore!! At other points it was nothing more than a gravel track and very bumpy. However, Juan got us first class tickes for some reason so it is the most classy trip I have ever taken. The scenery was stunning at times but I didn´t take too many pictures because I was too busy puking up the entire contents of my stomach. Charming, I know. I was actually happy to only have a throwing up kind of travel sickness as the toilet on the bus was ¨solamente para urinar¨ and the trip was 16 hours. The driver said if you should have other needs, you have to tell him so they can find a stop and the whole bus stops for you. How embarrassing would that be!! Apparently nobody had to do that though. Driving out of Lima we could see the poverty really well. The ¨houses¨ are really colourful though because they had a huge painting houses campaign to make everything prettier as a lot of tourists go to the top of the mountains to see the whole city. Lima is massive with 8 million people spanning 50 km long and 15 km wide. I can´t say í am a big fan though. I much prefer Cajamarca, which seems like more of a community although it still has about 300,000 people. Juan had a hotel picked out for us, but it was 80 soles a night which is a bit much, so Miranda found a guesthouse in her handy Peru book from lonely planet. It is only 20 soles per night and we share a room. I think it is quaint. It took 15 minutes before I could get any hot water in the shower though and when I say hot I mean a little bit warm. There is not much water that comes out of the showerhead either- but it is okay. We have a balcony which looks over the square.
I have to go now but I have lots more to say- we are going for lunch, I will write more later.
Hasta pronto!
ps. the pic is the Plaza de Armas in Cajamarca

Arrival in Lima

Well… looks like I don’t have internet at the moment, but when I do I will post this.
It is only 6:50 and I have been awake since 6. The birds are singing and it is lovely but loud! I’m having a little trouble figuring out what the time is, but I went downstairs last night clock hunting, and if the only clock I found was right then I think it was 11:30 when I finally got to go to bed. I tried to find someone to ask, but people were sleeping. I hope I have got the time right as Juan is coming to pick Miranda and I up at 9.
On the plane to Lima I made another friend! Guess what his name is? Juan! He is 29 and quite gorgey, and we chatted for about 4 hours. His English was quite good as he’s worked in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver. He was an intelligent engineer and knew a lot more than me about politics and the economy, but I tried to keep up! I tried to do a lot of sleeping on the plane because I was tired and it was very boring. My ears also really hurt! Juan says if I come back to Lima he will be my tour guide, which would be quite handy as everyone here speaks Spanish so sometimes it is hard to get the nub of what is going on. I was very disappointed that it got dark right after the Gulf of Mexico because I was hoping to be able to see South America from the sky! I could see Florida really well though! I didn’t have a window seat because when I got to my assigned seat an older type Spanish-speaking lady was sitting there and she looked all confused bless, so the lady next to her asked her for her ticket and she was sitting in A instead of H, so I said I’d go and sit in H and that was great because then I met Juan! When we passed the equator the pilot said, “welcome to fall!” Haha. It feels like a hot sticky summer to me, it was 26 when I landed and I think I should have packed more shirts and capris, however Cajamarca could be very different.
I had no problems at customs, it was just stamp stamp stamp and go ahead. I don’t think the Customs lady even looked at me!
A man named Julio picked me up at the airport which was interesting because he speaks pretty much zero English Hahahaha. My first test and I was so tired, estoy muy cansado as I told him wrongly and he corrected, because I am a girl and was actually cansada. But he got the gist and was very friendly. The driving policy in Lima seems to be a free for all. Before Julio started driving he crossed himself and did a little kiss and prayer thing which was a little disconcerting but also to be expected as the majority of people here are Catholic. He has a little plaque of Jesus on the Cross in his car too. Wow my batteries are running low I will have to try and find an adapter ASAP! There are Scotiabanks everywhere. Julio was very excited when I told him that was my bank and he started pointing them out, averaging one per block. It was crazy! He also pointed out McDonalds, Burger King, and KFC, muchas grases (lots of fat) as I said and he wholeheartedly agreed. I was very proud of myself for managing to ask what the big yellow square vehicles were and understand the response. They cart around money from bank to bank and are very expensive apparently. There are Zebra crossings everywhere. It would be like having Zebra crossings all over Portage Avenue at rush hour. It’s not really a good idea! People are in the streets running around and the cars are honking all the time. At one point Julio stopped in-between two lanes to tell me twice, because the first time I was totally lost, that I was never ever to get out on the right side of the car because that equals danger of death. Well, I don’t think he said the danger of death bit, but as the cars zoomed by I understood his reasoning. Left side it is! I thanked Julio and he said “tranquilo, no pasa nada” haha, (relax, it’s nothing) and actually seemed a little put out by me saying thanks. I really hope that WUSC paid him to come and get me because I totally forgot to pay him and he never asked for money, nor now that I think about it was there a meter on the car. I will ask Miranda later.
Lima is split into a bunch of different districts, and I am in San Isidro right now staying in Margarita Akamine’s house. To get here we had to go through a security gate so it’s pretty safe I think, not that I have seen anything remotely resembling violence here. It is a very pretty building outside and the lady who runs it is tiny! She must be only about 4 feet and very slim and so welcoming! “Mi casa es su casa” (my house is your house) as she said! It is awesome, you have to go up spiral stairs to get to each floor! I am on the 3rd floor and there is a big step up to my room which is very nice! I met Miranda, who said she was really glad to see me because her Spanish isn’t that good either, which makes me feel better about mine haha. She was very sunburnt, so I am going to slather on sunscreen today! She flew in from Vancouver- Mexico and then Mexico-Lima and apparently had lots of turbulence. I had quite a lot of that too! She arrived on Tuesday morning and is coming with Juan and I to Cajamarca to check ICPNA there, and then heading off to Chiclayo. I’ve also met another lodger here from Japan who has been staying for 6 months. He had been to Canada and asked if I spoke French. He speaks Japanese, English, Spanish and French. Good grief! There are bars on my window which I first though was to stop any suicide attempts (kidding) but might be so that nobody can crawl through it. They have pretty patterns on them. I opened the window right up and checked for bugs before I went to bed. I thought I saw something on the wall and got up to make sure it was a bug but it was a nail. Hahaha. I had a quick shower before bed and then conked right out. It is still only 7:30 and don’t really need to be up yet but it is so light and I think I’m going to explore the house and maybe find some food! Talk to you later!
P.s. The pic is of me and the housekeeper at Margaritas. She is lovely.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Waiting in a labyrinth of chairs

Hi! I have made it safely to Toronto and am now waiting for my flight to Lima! The flight was a pretty good one and the lady next to me, Elise, was very friendly and we talked about her hitchhiking trip around England hahaha.
I walked about 2 miles around the airport because I am just that hopeless and the signs were very confusing. Oh, and one lady pointed me the wrong way which wasn't very helpful!
It is really dull waiting here, but at least I managed to snag a free wireless connection! It's a bit dodgy though...
I had poutine for lunch. I know, isn't that enthralling. I'm sure my posts will get more interesting than this. I hope.
Had a visa scare earlier as I don't have one because the Embassy of Peru told me that with my British passport I was fine without one for 6 months. Fingers crossed that Customs Peru grant me the 8 day extension. I am very nervous about it though...
Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, April 17, 2009

5 days to go!!

That is less than a week!! I received my pre-departure package today. I have a nice WUSC bag, a luggage tag, and lots of papers!

Here is my orientation schedule...when I arrive in Lima late on Wednesday I will stay the night there in San Isidro district. On Thursday I will meet the local partner, Mr. Escate, who will take me to the USACC office for a meeting and introduction / orientation. That afternoon I will head to Cajamarca, 16 hours on a bus! On Friday I will meet my host family and then later meet my bosses at ICPNA in Cajamarca, and that afternoon I have my first practice! Saturday I have orientation of Cajamarca and get to visit the city, and then I will meet with the man from Canada who is teaching at ICPNA right now.

I am so excited!!

3 exams down, 2 to go!

If you're interested in Students Without Borders or humanitarian issues, you should check out to see what groups and individuals across Canada are doing.

I am overwhelmed with the number of views on this blog already, thanks for being so interested in my adventure everybody! Feel free to leave me questions or comments at any time if you have something to say!!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Hi everyone! I just picked up my Nuevos Soles yesterday, and it is very pretty money so I thought I would share it with you. I like the pilot one, the other side has a plane on it. I can't wait to check out the coins! If you click on the pictures you can see them bigger!
1 week to go, this time next week I will be on a plane flying far above the earth! YAY!

I have a feeling I'm going to have to cut back on my luggage, my suitcase is already overflowing with professional looking work clothes!

Well back to work I guess, this paper is not fun at all...


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Just a bit of humour

I went to the bank and asked for Peruvian money, and the lady cashier asked me what country you use Peruvian money in.
I thought that was very very funny. I wanted to say you could use it in Brandon, but because I am so mature I did not, and also because Dad said Peru before I had a chance.

10 days to go!! That's almost into the single digits!! Wow!

Yesterday I got some professional looking shoes, i.e. not trainers/runners. They are black flats and quite nice (and they were cheap!).

Happy Easter! I am off to my boyfriend's house this afternoon, which will be awesome. Too bad it's raining.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Here is the link to my Students Without Borders blog,
I have to make 3 posts there, and will make the rest here.
12 days to go!!!!
I should study for my exams, what fun.
I am very excited and I want to pack right now instead of study (which I seem to be procrastinating doing right now)


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

2 weeks to go!!

Welcome to all my cyberspace friends, if there are any of you out there!!
Today I officially only have 2 weeks to go until I fly to Lima! I am extremely excited. I just had my oral exam in Spanish and my instructors feedback was very encouraging. I am hoping to improve my Spanish by buckets!
I have bought a mosquito net, rounded up all my mum's professional looking clothes and sorted out all the paperwork type stuff. I am really hoping that I never come face to face with a Peruvian cockroach. But I suppose that I'll be missing out if I don't have that experience (right?)! I hear that they eat lots of meat down in Peru, which is fabulous as those who know me well will know I could never be a vegetarian.
I will do my best to keep you updated via blog while I am on my adventure, and please leave me a comment if you drop by here to let me know how you're doing and what you want as a present (hahaha).

Peru, Hasta pronto!!