Saturday, December 24, 2011


And I think at our new address letters will arrive, because the place we live at is well known! :)
Last Wednesday I went and had lunch with my host family from last year. They gave me a paneton and a lovely pair of earrings which was very nice of them! We played monopoly and caught up. They are going to spend Christmas in Celendin.
Work gave me a food basket and I was SO excited about it, thinking back now my reaction was probably a little over the top. Yesterday was our last day of work and yesterday César subtley mentioned that Christmas dinner in Peru is eaten at MIDNIGHT ON CHRISTMAS EVE. So I scrambled to get a turkey early yesterday and hope it will be thawed out enough to eat tonight! This morning we went all over the city looking for veggies and 2 more plates and cutlery etc so that our guests will have something to eat with and the traffic is HORRIFIC. We ended up walking a LOT and it was faster than the taxi.
Well, our new apartment is smaller, but it is better for us. That essentially means it is cheaper and I love the brick walls :) It is long and has loads of windows which is the best for us because we love natural light. And we can see the moutains and the whole city.
But THE STAIRS! Wow, are they ever steep! But that will be good exercise. I will take a picture of them for you sometime!
It is still a bit messy here, but the goal is to be clean and organised by the time César´s family arrives (around 10).
Well, I was spoiled by my students! I received a scarf, bag and wallet Peruvian style plus a purple stuffed elephant! :) I will post a picture another day!
Well, I have started on our mountain of dirty laundry but it is pouring down so I am not sure where I am going to dry it. We have a spot on the roof for clothes but that is not helpful in this weather!
Well, I think break time is over, time to start cooking and preparing for tonight! More pics to follow probably tomorrow!

Love, me!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A quick one

Well, just checking in with a quick note to share some pictures. Yesterday we were taking apart out wardrobe which took a few hours and César thought he was hilarious when I was trying not to break the thing and instead of quickly unscrewing it he stopped to take a picture of me. I look really sexy in it so I though I would share it with you so that you can have a laugh! I know I look amazing in César´s shorts and socks and sandals too! :D
We still aren´t at the point where we move stuff. Today César had to travel to Chilete for work, and I am going to have lunch with my host family from last year...come to think of it I had better go and buy a paneton for them. I have to go to the bank at some point but last time I went the line was like, 3 hours long and they delayed ages dealing with me because they had new staff.
In the last picture, I told César we should take a nice picture to send to my family and this is what he did. In ALL of my attempts to take a photo. So he is pretty much a younger version of my dad.
Apart from that...3 days of work left before VACATIONS And 5 days before ECUADORRRRR!
I made my students write letters to Santa which I thought was very funny and I put Christmas music on... Santa Claus is Coming to Town... while they did it. Ahahahahaha. In the end after much complaining they did it. Almost all wanted a new job although one asked for a new husband :S and another wrote that we should spend out time writing letters to God who actually exists rather than Santa Claus. That was a bitter letter full of reproach. No sense of humor there! I have quite a few ACCESS students, they are intelligent students from public schools who receive scholarships so that they study English. These are usually the kindest students who always do their homework and are a pleasure to teach. Studying English allows them to apply to public universities that they otherwise wouldn´t be able to get into because many of them have an English requirement. So it really helps them become professionals and is an important program. One of my ACCESS students wrote that he doesn´t want anything, he just wants Santa to give gifts to people poorer than him who need them more. I thought that was the best thing ever.
One of my private students dropped by my house yesterday to give me a gift as he is off to Lima to join his very pregnant wife this morning. I was very surprised to receive anything. He gave me a USB full of interesting ebooks which he had downloaded. Super cool gift idea!
Here is a link to our final presentation in Fundamentals of Psychology. It is a bit long and probably boring for you and in Spanish but imagine that we are there explaining it and then it would be excellent! Fast forward to the end to see some of the interviews, obviously in Spanish as they don´t speak English but the kids are sweet. One of them sells popcorn and everytime she sees me she says hi and it is very nice!
Well better get moving! I believe that tomorrow we will actually move some stuff, or Friday maybe...who knows!
Take care!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Almost Christmas...but no snow!

Last night we went to see Arthur Christmas to try and find some Christmas spirit but it actually depressed César. The movie said that all children in the world receive a gift from santa, but since he never did and millions of poor children around the world and especially here won´t the film didn´t go down too well. Speaking of that, yesterday we spent a few hours visiting César´s mother and sister. It was heartbreaking, becauase the father of César´s sister´s baby denies it is his, even though they were living together for a long time. He has gone off to Trujillo and sends her insulting messages. She doesn´t want his money but she does want him to accept the baby is his so that the baby can have 2 last names. In the traditional Peruvian culture a baby without his father´s last name is sort of ¨cursed¨ or at least seen basically as a bastard in the real sense of the word and suffers socially. Well she was in tears and César wants to go and talk to the man and see what they can do. If not they will put both of César´s sisters last names. Here a baby has to receive their identification card within a month or a long and difficult process begins. We saw the scans yesterday and she tried to show me the baby but it looked like a peanut in the picture. Then she showed me a more recent one and it was cool, I could see the spine and everything. She is due in February. César and I are trying to think of what we can do to help her. Right now she works selling 3 cent candies which isn´t exactly a lucrative business although apparently she manages to make between 5 and 10 soles a day. Which is still terrible and we can understand her worries of how she is going to bring up her baby. She is 19, but she is really young and she has no idea about her baby, yesterday se was talking about how her baby liked to stand up and mess around in her stomach. Since she doesn´t even have her primary school education, César and I were thinking that we would help her with her baby since she will be our niece on the condition that she takes night classes or weekend classes until she finishes her education. It seems like the best we can do, because without her education she won´t be able to find a better job. She lives in the room César rents his mother which is awful by the way, they had a better room before but his mother complains about everything and always moves, every 2-3 months without consulting us and then has problems. The last room she had was bigger and had windows and a wood floor and was clean. This room is dreadful, with no windows, it is mouldy and I can barely breathe when I go there PLUS she has to pay more for it...I mean César has to pay more for it. So now she is going to move again because I told them that a pregnant woman should not be in a space like that and no wonder César´s sister feels sick. Plus they have problems with the water there, lots of people share one tap. Maybe you think we should buy them things to help them out right? When César gives them nice things they a) ruin them or b) sell them for a low price. César´s mother sold their house in Huambos when César was a child for 1000 soles, that is like $300 but seemed like a lot to her. Does that make you appreciate your education?
It is a really difficult situation. Yesterday we found César´s mother in tears. One of her neighbours had called her a statue. She didn´t know what a statue was. César tried to explain that it was probably a joke because she sits around a lot but she started screaming about how she never does anything to hurt anyone etc and it was really sad. Until César asked her what she did with the backpack he bought her and she pretended she had no backpack. He asked her how much she sold it for and she kept saying she hadn´t sold it but half smiling. Really all we can give them is food and when the baby is born baby clothes. We´ll see, but the first thing is to get them into a room that has ventilation. I told César he needs to help them find a room because they don´t seem to be able to understand that if you move it should be to a better place for you. Anyway, enough about that. They are coming over for Christmas and I have to try and cook my first turkey. Oh dear wish me luck!! César´s mother doesn´t know how to cook much either so she won´t be much help! I have to try and remember Mum´s instructions.
Saturday was our work lunch and secret santa. I got a nice pair of leaf earrings :) I found out I am the youngest employee at ICPNA but 4 years!
The picture is of me dancing in the talent night.
On Friday I had my last final exam. I finished the semester with 16, 16, 17, 18 and 19. The system here is based on 20 points. So that was good :)
César and I are moving this week. We found a cheaper place which includes internet, is in a better area and although it is a bit smaller it has a much cosier feeling to it. We are sick of looking at our empty space! Now to take apart our gigantic wardrobe...
Pictures to follow. The new place has brick walls and the brick is not wallpapered or painted over, so it looks nice I think! :) We will miss our pretty stained glass roof except that when it is sunny you die of heatstroke and when it rains you get wet! haha
I have classes in ICPNA until Friday the 23rd, but now I have my daytime free. On Saturday we went out to celebrate the end of university and a girl called me over on the street. She said she saw me dance in the the talent night and was wondering if I would be interested in teaching ballet classes in her academy! Coooolll! She said she would call me this week so I hope she does!! :)
I wrote a blog the other day, but the whole thing disappeared and I was so annoyed that I didn´t write it all again. It was super long! Basically it was to inform you that the state of emergency placed on Cajamarca has been lifted. The army and helicopters have gone which is much more peaceful and all seems to be back to normal :)
I saw Happy Feet 2 and Puss in Boots in the cinema, I think I am a child again and only watch animated films.
CÉSAR AND I TRAVEL TO ECUADOR NEXT MONDAY!!!!!!!!!! I am super excited :D There will be LOTS of pictures provided I don´t lose my camera! We have to get dollars to use there.
Our friend Adriana, the new mother, has to have surgery. The stitches they gave her after they cut her open a bit to get her baby´s large head out fell out and she is in a lot of pain. Sounds awful to me. Ahhhhhh. But she didn´t want to have a C-section so that was her choice I suppose.
Well, I should probably get some cleaning down to sort out before the move!
Take care dears! :)

Friday, December 2, 2011


In the 9th day of the strike, the protesters told us that the market was allowed to open from 6-10 a.m., and that the roads would be open to allow transit for anyone but mining vehicle (i.e. every vehicle will be interrogated before entering or exiting). However, some exits remained closed, and other only open for certain times. However, Cajamarcans have had enough and everybody is working as usual, except that there aren´t classes anywhere. César and I went to the the market in morning and I can report that Cajamarca has buisness as usual, minus the lack of classes and lack of flights and mobility into and out of the city. Although the peace and quiet is gone ( I mean the peace in front of my house ) it is much nicer to see Cajamarca like this and not dead. We bought basil, spinach, and other veggies and my chef made us green pasta, it was good, except for some reason it occured to him to take the lid off of the food mixer and it went all over the walls, amazing how far it flew! Luckily he had the lid back on quick enough to save most of it! Genius.
Speaking of genius, yesterday I dropped my phone in the toilet. Luckily since César is an electrician he managed to take it apart and salvage it for me, so it still works yay!
We still have the helicopters overseeing us. But I think that people just need to work now, so they decided to. Nobody liked the whole, you can shop from 6-10 idea we were proposed yesterday, like an authoritarian infringement of human rights. I think it will be good for the protesters to see that they are not the government. However, they say that on Monday they will be back at protesting and attacking those who work. However if the people work normally in these numbers it will be more difficult for them to get a crowd going without resorting to violence. And now they have finally entered into negogiations. Things are looking up, and I get to work tomorrow! :)
César left for Chota for work, but he has to go via Chiclayo because of the lack of roads in Peru and the fact that most of the ones that exist are blocked. It should be a 3-4 hour journey but now it will take all day. That would be like going to The Pas from Brandon via Regina. Or in England, going to East Sussex from Norfolk via Wales. So clearly that is ridiculous and he will be travelling all day so I will not see him tomorrow now. But at least I have veggies and can make myself a salad! :) yay market being open! We went to the mall and the supermarket is empty of fruits and veg and fresh meat.
And the sun is shining. It doesn´t feel like December to me, it is much too hot, and I am wearing a skirt! Take care dears!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

And it continues

Last night, due to ongoing pressure and final acceptance from the bosses in Chiclayo, ICPNA decided to close its doors for the safety of students and teachers alike, some of whom had to walk for an hour or more through unsafe streets to arrive there. My walk was half an hour which isn´t bad and we weren´t threatened at any time, luckily I don´t live in one of the dangerous parts of the city. I even went to the main square yesterday and everything was calm, loads of people lying around, the anthem of Cajamarca playing and not much else. Obviously I went to work in jeans, on Monday one of my collegues asked why so many of us weren´t wearing suits and I reminded him that the strikers don´t want anyone working, and walking through the streets with a suit and a laptop case like he was is a bit obvious. Yesterday, he came to work in street clothes, haha. So now, I have no idea what to do, I mean I could study and prepare classes etc for Saturday but really I want to work and go to my classes, how frustrating. So far today, only one group of protesters has passed our house. They were shouting that the president is gay. I think that should give you an idea of the kind of ignorance we are talking about. And they want Humala (the president) to come here. As if he would come, they´d probably kill him!
Somebody called César with a job, so he has gone to work. I told him to be careful.
Meat has become scarce, and if you find it the price is ridiculous!
César went exploring yesterday to see what was happening while I was working. He found that at one of the exits to the city, some of the protesters had offered to let people leave for a small fee. Some of the other protesters found out and came and forced everybody out of their cars. He says there is a line of about 20 cars with smashed windsreens and punctured tires. This is not on the news. The news claims that the protest is passive, except for the fire in Celendin yesterday and the few people who were rushed to hospital as a result of a confrontation at one of the lakes.
The army has arrived in Cajamarca.
The mine was using ambulances to deliver food to its workers. Now, the protesters have found out and are stopping all ambulances to check inside.
The mine has temporarily suspended the Conga Project, much to the dismay of many of my geologist friends who work there, one of whom just bought a new car and owes $15,000 on it. Whoops.
The protesters say temporarily is not enough, they want it cancelled for ever.
And so, the strike continues. There is no work. Food is running out, and tempers flare.
The issue is very delicate. While nobody denies that water is important, there are ways to go about expressing your voice. I might add, that one of the leaders of the protest is an ex-convicted terrorist. Stealing from the shopping mall, which is now closed and forcing working people to join the strike, and acts of violence are not some of them.
Meanwhile, the usually exquisite main square is being trampled on by thousands of feet.
If the mine goes, thousands of people will be without work. And massive job loss causes poverty, which in turn causes crime. Like it or not, Cajamarca is MINE DEPENDENT. Yes, we need to protect the water. Yes, we need to find ways to treat it, make artificial lakes and yes, the mine must invert hugely in the community. But do these people really understand what would happen to Cajamarca if the mine should disappear? Of that, I am not sure.
Meanwhile, every day the province of Cajamarca loses millions of dollars. Children miss their classes, and adults can´t work.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Well, the strike continues and grows in size and intensity. 5,000 more people are arriving very soon from surrounding areas, the problem being I am told they will do WHATEVER is necessary to be heard. In Celendin (a town about 3 hours away), they set the mine offices on fire, although the people are putting it out as we speak. There are plans to burn the offices in Cajamarca which is worrying because they are only located about 3 blocks from where I live. They have a live man tied to a cross as you can see in the photo, obviously I wasn´t that close, I took the photo off of the internet. Yesterday the worse I heard was smashing windscreens and puncturing tires to prevent people from working. Even still, I taught my classes with a significantly reduced number of students. Plus I had to walk to work, obviously César accompanied me, and it was fine. The protest was passive when we passed it. The all President still refuses to call it an emergency situation, for this reason he has not come, nor has he sent any representatives, which is really making everything worse. More roads are blocked today, and we are worried out the new arrivals. Gas is running out, food is running out, and they are threatening to cut the water and electricity, or essentially put us in a situation of total chaos. We have collected water in every possible recipient and César is showering as we speak. We hope they don´t cut the water. It will obviously affect them too, we are all in the sitaution together. The mine has offered to go, but has demanded that the government repay all its inversions in the state which total hundreds of millions of dollars, and the state doesn´t want to do that.
So here we are, waiting to see what happens next, eating cereal with yogurt (milk is very scarce now that all the people who produce it are protesting, and all the trucks have been stopped) and drinking orange juice. Prices are getting higher every hour. But here in our apartment, all is normal. Today, no protesters have passed our house. As to whether I work today, I will play it by ear. If 5,000 people really arrive and this thing turns violent, I am staying in my bedroom with my padlocked door!
On a more positive note I put a photo of me with some children from the workshop.
On facebook there are a couple of pictures of two protests which passed our house yesterday, they were passive except that they forced all the workers who were constructing the building across the street to join their protest.
Take care!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The strike continues

Day 4 of the strike in Cajamarca, and today the university is closed so I am writing here instead! It is kind of awesome because today was supposed to be my final speech for one of my classes.
Yesterday we went to visit our friend Maykler, and trying to arrive our taxi was stopped and turned around. So we had to get out and walk a bit until we found a mototaxi that took us to his house. In the picture you can see me at his door, it is such a big door, I love it!
On Thursday I tried to get a picture of the protest, but it took me so long to find my camera that I only caught the end of it in this picture.
Sorry, César phoned to tell me that the protesters are going to stop the water flow, so I went to fill up all the buckets and recipients of water that I could find, and we bought bottled water to drink and eggs. I don´t know how we are going to survive on eggs, but that was what they had!
Let´s hope for a speedy resolution!
Cajamarca is now monitered by several police helicopters which is unnerving for the adults and exciting for the children.
There is no exit from Cajamarca, and no entry, other than by plane. I fear they may take over the airport, and then we shall all be stuck here, unless we walk.
I promised César I wouldn´t exaggerate the situation, so where I live, all is peaceful right now, except that I want to shower and I can´t :(
And there is not much to do.
At least we have internet though!
The other photo is with 2 of my classmates who participated in the workshops, at public school CEGECOM.
Well, I shall keep you updated dears! Chau for now!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Announcing the birth of Adrian Gonzalo

Auntie Mary sent me an e-mail reminding me that I forgot to announce the birth of Adrian! He was born on November 5th perfectly healthy. The mother opted for a normal birth (they recommended a C-section) and the head was too big so they had to cut her open somewhat to get it out... now she is in hospital because the stiches broke open and for some reason they say they can´t put them back in and she has to wait for it to heal naturally. I don´t understand why but I all I can say is owwww! We have yet to meet Adrian as they are in Trujillo but in two weeks we are going since I have a congress of biodance, a branch of psychology there. I have attached a photo, look he is using the blanket we got them! 2 hours after birth.
The strike in Cajamarca yesterday was very passive, everybody was impressed at the non-violance which is excellent. However, all the roads leaving Cajamarca are blocked, meaning that nobody can leave and nobody can enter. They have made barricades of rocks and garbage and people and refuse to move. Essentially, this the reason that nobody can get to the mine. We had classes as normal at ICPNA, but César accompanied me. We had less then half of the students show up. However, students who live in Baños del Inca, about 2 miles from Cajamarca, weren´t able to come because the busses and combis refused to bring people here. Baños is the rich village which was once quite separate from Cajamarca, but now Cajamarca is creeping closer and closer in its growth. It is where the white people live in large quantities, almost all of whom are connected to the mine. As of yet I am not sure if there are classes in the university, I guess I will see soon!
I still haven´t met with the psychologist yet. As part of our course, all of us have to have a 1.5 hour sessions with our teacher, who is also a phychologist to see if we are mentally able to be psychologists. It should be interesting but she has already cancelled a lot of appointments and as of yet I don´t have another date so I don´t know if it will happen or not.
Today my students are writing their final exams and on monday the new cycle begins. There is no break because we want to finish on Dec. 21st instead of Dec. 23rd. I am so excited for my end of year trip to ecuador!! :D
César is cleaning the flat, sometimes he gets these urges to clean and becomes a kind of soldier, totally fixiated at the task at hand. I am supposed to be cleaning the bedroom but clearly I am not.
Well, I shall try to keep you updated more frequently my faithful blog readers!
Much love, Gemma

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Where has November gone!

Well, I am a terrible blogger, because I haven´t written for almost a month! I have been very busy. I entered my University´s talent night under the category of modern dance, with a lyrical number. I arrived at the theatre at 4:00, whereupon I watched all the bands, poetry, soloists and duets until ELEVEN THIRTY IN THE NIGHT when it finally came to be my turn. Yes, that´s right, 7.5 hours of talents before the modern dance category began. I would like to end that after my category, they sticill had all the traditional dances to do, meaning the even went until 1 AM!!! It was the MOST ridiculous thing, I have no idea why they didn´t make some cuts beforehand. Also, each career had they own fans, who came with balloons and noisemakers to cheer on their respective talents. I have no idea why they allowed several acts from each facultly in every category, ideally they would have chosen one so that the night finished at a respectable time. Anyway, Administration won the whole night since they are the biggest facultly and participated the most. As the only representative of Pyschology in the whole night, I was quite impressed at the number of people who stayed to watch me perform. When I was on stage, it was weird because I couldn´t see the audience at all, it was black, and then they used smoke, so I was literally blinded and forgot everything and had to improvise. Even with that, I won 2nd place in modern dance. I was happy with that because all the other routines were groups of 7 or more with girls wearing very short skirts and bras, involving very little dance, but still some of them were good because of the sheer numbers of participants. The winner had 20 dancers and they had some cute ideas too.
Today there is a strike in the Cajamarca, if it were in a 1st world country I´m sure it would make international television but since nobody cares about Peru, nobody knows. Yanacocha is the 2nd largest gold mine in the world. Today all the surrounding villages, farmers, and their supporters in Cajamarca are gathering in the main square to protest the contamination of fresh water due to the mine. They say the strike will be indefinite. Today, all universities, schools, shopping malls and markets are closed. I´m not sure if that portrays the gravity of the situation to you. For them to close the open air market, a sprawling area of over priced plastics and really expensive fruits (that reminds me, yesteray we went to the market to buy fruit, 3 kilos of apples, 1 kilo of grapes and 2 kilos of oranges cost us 30 soles, that is like $10, ridiculously high but they say there isn´t any fruit right now). Yesterday when we arrived at the market it started to rain. I was wearing flip flops. Imagine a 2 inch deep brown river which sweeps up all the garbage floating down all the streets and in the middle part where people walk. Now imagine you have BARE FEET. Sexy right! Well, this area is totally shut down. Guess what? ICPNA STILL HAS CLASSES. I will see how the situation unfolds, because if there aren´t any taxis or it is dangerous in the center part of the town I won´t be able to arrive. I told my students to play it by ear too, if the situation turns violent I told them I love and I´d prefer them to skip class. I also said the institution is open, but if it is dangerous us teachers aren´t coming and we will contact you. But we musn´t get ahead of ourselves. Rumours abound in these situation and it is best to wait and see. Don´t worry, I live in a suburban part of the city, where the protest won´t come to because strategically it makes no sense. They say that by 5pm the drama will be over, but I am not so sure. In any case, I will play it by ear. They called on the president of Peru to come here, but I am not sure that he will. There have brought 2000 policemen up from Lima. Right now, everything is peaceful and normal where I live, and there are cars passing by on the highway just as normal. César has gone to work too, he says there will be more work today since other people aren´t working. I will keep you updated, but don´t worry about me, I am far from the center of the protest, and the protestants say it will be passive (although the 2000 policemen suggest otherwise, and may even provoke violence, as the policemen are HATED by people here, they are often the biggest thugs). I kind of want to go the central part of town to see what happens, but I promised César I would stay here, and I promised my parents I wouldn´t take unnecessary risks. So I will watch my facebook page for updates instead! Ahhh it´s so frustrating, the politics of the situation are so interesting...
I LIED. The strike, or a part of it, well I think just a part because there were probably only 800 people, just walked past my house. Totally pacific, they are playing the anthem of Cajamarca and have banners etc., but the policmen aren´t even there with them, they are all smily and waving and totally peaceful. I asked my friend and he says the police are at the mines and in the main square where the demonstatrations are taking place and this is just some people heading to the main demonstration. Waoooo I want to see the main part! But I am here, so relax! Here is a picture from the newspaper of one of the central streets, usualy bustling at this time, totally dead in preparation for the demonstration.
Well, in university I am doing well, they say I´d have first place in my class if I was taking all the courses, which I am not because I have to work.
Well, I have been part of various social projects in Cajamarca, we have been to 3 different public schools, very poor ones, and given the children workshops on self esteem, respect, teamwork etc., we have also given them pens and treats etc. It has been really interesting, because the other day I was walking and a girl selling popcorn on the street says, Hola, Gemma, how are you? I recognised her but I couldn´t remember from which school, and she was so chatty and even remembered my name and was so excited about us coming back to hang out with them. At the school my group chose, most the the kids are streetworkers, as in they are the ones who are trying to sell you things, or wanting to sing for you or shine your shoes etc. It is a privilege to be able to work with them and get to know them. The photo is of children in another school called Ingenuo, where they aren´t quite so poor because they have uniform. I should say, that all public and private schools have uniform. CEGECOM doesn´t have uniform because it is not a state school, nor private. It is 100% free and run by volunteers, for extremely poor children. The level of education is low, and they do a lot of singing, it is quite religious, however they have their classes too.
Wow, I just saw a police helicopter pass in the sky (well obviously haha).
I think it is great that people are defending the environment, but I also think that they aren´t really considering the impact of mine closure. Cajamarca SERIOUSLY depends on the mine and if it leaves, the wealthy population leaves too, the schools have less students, the shops have less consumers, basically the economy nosedives because everybody is connected in some way to the mine. Most of my students are the children of people connected to the mine, and if it closes there won´t be money for English classes. I do agree that they need to negogiate a way to protect the environment and keep the mine going too.
I made grape cake the other day. Yes, I smushed up grapes and took out the pips and cooked them, I recommend it, they were yummmyyy!
Yesterday we went around the university giving out bracelets and information about ending violence against women for Nov.25th. That was cool.
I broke a window at ICPNA. Seriously, I don´t even know how it happened, I didn´t even use that much force, I mean I don´t exactly have a lot of force!
Well, I shall keep you updated. I think I shall make perogies! Take care my dears!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Back from Trujillo

We´re back from our lightning visit to Trujillo. Wesley, César and I left Saturday, but Wesley stayed there since his girlfriend is on the point of giving birth- at any second. They told her between Oct. 24th and Nov.2nd since she doesn´t want a C-section. Apparently the doctors here try to convince you it´s necessary so that they can charge you more money. How disgusting. We stayed with Rafael and Sandy which was great because it was free. Since we didn´t buy a ticket in time and it´s a bank holiday weekend we arrived to Trujillo lying down in a cubby space behind the drivers seat. It was excellent, easily the most comfortable bus ride I´ve ever taken and I slept very well. Bonus: the 3 of us travelled for 10$!! Good to have friends!
Once in Trujillo we took the bus to Huanchaco, that was fun since there were no seats and I had to hold the bar, but it was such a choppy ride that Rafael and César had to help me stabalize, they thought it was hilarious that I have practically no muscles or sense of balance. I had a ball though, everyone else on the bus kept looking at me as if I was insane for laughing everytime the bus stopped and started again, oh well let them think that it´s because I´m white! When we first got on the bus there were 2 black men with a portable stereo rapping, and they rapped about my eyes which was nice, and then they asked us all for money. Neat job. We took Rafael and Sandy´s dog Boni to the beach, it is such a cute dog, you can´t even see it´s paws because it has so much fur! Later Adriana and Wesley and Adrian´a little sister joined us at the beach, I was hoping her water would break because that would have been exciting but for her sake I am glad it didn´t because the hospital in Trujillo was 20 minutes away. It was cool to feel her belly where her baby was kicking. She is hugeeee! How exciting! It´s a boy by the way! We were discussing names lots. At one point they were hooked on Steve, but they couldn´t say it properly so they changed their minds. I think his name may well be Adrian, but the pronunciation is AH-DRIE-ANN in Spanish. Or Wesley Jr. I hope they were kidding about that one. When the baby is born I´ll post a picture. I am not sure when the couple will be back in Cajamarca but I am sure they´ll be pics on facebook!
César says I am addicted to washing our clothes, it is not that, it is just so much fun to have a washing machine. I am happy happy! Today I have no classes to teach and I am taking the opportunity to-well- relax! And wash clothes. And then I will practice my dance for the talent night!

Well chicos, more later!
xxoo Gemma!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bye bye ICE

Today is a sad day, because I just chatted to Mum and she says that our dear dog Ice is no longer among the living. So now I am being very nostalgic and thinking of all the great moments shared with her. She was a beautiful dog, not like the horrible rabid ones here that bite you. My student came to class the other day with 3 holes in his leg from where a dog a had taken a chunk out of it. ughhhh, it was awful.
I was so sick yesterday, maybe I could feel Ice´s sickness even though we are far away or something like that!

On a lighter note, later on César, Wesley and I are going to Trujillo tonight to see Adriana and her extremely pregnant tummy waiting to explode at any moment :) It would be super exciting if she gave birth while we were there, but since we will be back in Cajamarca on Monday it´s not so likely. Wesley will stay there with her until the grand moment hits! Owww! Pictures to follow as long as I don´t forget to take my camera!

Speak soon xxoo

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sleep is for the dead

Well, I am so happy here in Cajamarca because I am now very very busy, actually maybe I would have a nervous breakdown but I dont have time for that. Also I calm in my storm.
This month I began working with a group of bright students from a local high school who are planning on taking an English exam called PET at the end of next month. They need to be prepared well in speaking and writing, so I got called in! It means I have to get up at 6:15 to be at the school at 7:30 because it is outside the city in a field where there are cows. I love being there because it is so peaceful, I love to get out of the city and all the noise! The problem is a main road has been closed for repairs and the cars are being directed in front of our apartment so that is just wonderful. In the picture you can see me in ICPNA
I am doing well at university. I am going to dance a lyrical solo in their talent night representing the faculty of psychology so I am excited about that and happy to be dancing again! I am SO out of shape though! I actually didnt realise it was that bad! I have lost weight since I arrived here though, so that is positive.
Today in the morning I was invited to judge a spelling bee in English at a local high school, that was pretty neat! They gave me a lovely gift to say thanks which is a board game of ludo made of wood and all the counters are little carved glass animals. It is neat. I just got back from judging Project Citizen, which is a program where locals have to identify a problem and come up with solutions and an action plan for it, and they write a book too- all in English. It is a LOT of work for them, and although their English is so-so the ideas were cohesive so that was ok.
On Tuesday one of my classes went to do our volunteer work. We gave a workshop about Self-Esteem to ¨children of few resources¨ as they are called in Spanish. It was interesting and as I am so nosy I loved seeing what their school was like., but the school was normal, there are places much poorer here. The school my group has chosen is way poorer, all the children are street workers (selling food, cleaning shoes etc.) and the oldest is 14 because by that age most of these children will have a family and have dropped out. The school is awesome because the director is AMAZING and all the teachers are volunteers, the state doesnt help them AT ALL so the spirit there is awesome, everybody wants to be there and the principal has total control- even with his no punishment rule. The kids all want to be there. I have to say- they may not be bright when it comes to school work, but I havent been to any private schools here with that kind of discipline and such a great environment. Nobody fails, they just go to learn, nobody expects them to finish high school but if they want to stay they are welcome. It is like their second home. They are SUPER polite too, sweet sweet sweet. I much prefer them to certain other very spoiled students who I know belonging to schools of high prestige and high tuition as well. I guess you know a really poor school because the students dont have a uniform. When we went to do our workshop the other day all the students had uniform, so while they are not rich maybe they arent so bad off- one child even whipped out his camera phone to take a picture. I think we should take the opportunity to go to really really poor schools, so I am excited to spend the next month helping out at CEGECEM with the sweet streetworking children.
I have a sore throat, ugh
This morning I cracked an egg--- on the floor, and since we dont have paper towel I tried to clean it up with a plastic bag which actually doesn´t work by the way. HOUSEHOLD TIP #1- put dry powdered laundry detergent on top of egg. The detergent will dry it up and later you can clean it up. WALA! Bet your glad you decided to read my blog today!
Cesar and I saw this great movie called 8 minutes before death or something like that with Jake Gyllenhal or somebody like that and it was so thought-proking, we were nerd chatting about space-time continuems and the future for ages afterwards.
My classes this month at ICPNA have been full of the usual things, poor Cesar gets to hear me rave like a lunatic when I´m happy and rant like a madhorse when I´m not. He´s great :)
My hands are getting better thanks to TRIMICOT, a cream recommended in the pharmacy which appears to make my wounds disappear, how wonderful!
César and I hope hoping to travel on Sunday, somewhere. Wesley and Adriana are going to have their baby any time now!

Catch up with ya later! Hang in there all you BUers suffering from the strike! I´m sure you´ll be back to class soon, or I hope, for you! ;)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Things I have learned in Peru

1. How to open a door with a credit card. Don´t panic, it is impossible to open our two front doors with credit cards because they have padlocks. However, the door to the bedroom and the study can be wedged open with a well placed and jimmied card. Good skill to have! Especially since there doesn´t appear to be a key for those locks!
2. Just because the sun is out when you leave the 3rd apartment, doesn´t mean that it won´t be pouring down with rain by the time you reach the ground floor (i.e. in the space of about 10 seconds)
3. Powdered laundry detergent wrecks hands. I washed our shoes with it and now my hands are inflamed. PLUS: César has done all the washing up lately ;)
4. Flash cards (i.e. those things you use to study) have a correct format, and if you forget a comma you are an idiot. OH MY GOODNESS IT IS RAINING SO HARD RIGHT NOW. When I wrote point 2 it was sunny. I had to do 32 flashcards and I lost 2 out of 20 for incorrect use of commas.

Ok, so I am writing because I am so excited, yesterday we bought a WASHING MACHINE! Woahhhh! And we are gonna dry the clothes in the kitchen since our roof is made of glass (which is great, as long as it doesn´t rain!)
Last weekend we went to Chiclayo, it was great to be outside of Cajamarca! We went to Tucame and climbed a pyramid where pre-Incan kings are buried. We hiked around there and took pictures and walked through the herb garden and it was great! Plus we saw a lizard which César tried to trap so we could get a good picture but it was way too fast for us! We also went to the cinema to see some movie about Walter and a beaver which was bizareeee!
Enjoy the photos, We had to hold the washing machine down because it vibrates a lot!
I will write more later, must get to work!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Hello my neglected friends!

Wow, so I have been a busy bee! bzzzz! Where to begin?
Well, the English conference was pretty interesting, but it meant on the homework side of things I didn´t get very far...oh well. There was a speaker from England and a 2 Americans and other people from around South America. Since Cajamarca hosted it, all the ICPNA teaches had to introduce somebody. I was nervous (I was the youngest person there for sureee) and read mine so quickly I am sure that nobody understood a word I said, but luckily they had it in front of them to read anyway. Two very long days and we didn´t have the chance to travel yet again. Last weekend we didn´t have the chance to travel because I had to do 2 group presentations at university. They were very demanding. We had 2 weeks to write a ten page report, print 2 page summaries for every classmate, make a powerpoint with at least 20 slides and present it, being ready to answer any questions the prof could think of. We had to make a modal and drawings and find a short video too. That is just for one class!! Oh! And we didn´t have any lectures on the topics so we had to do all the research ourselves! The other group presentation I was part of was dreadful. We didn´t do hardly anything and the prof asked us to explain ourselves, I told him I work full time too and so he gave us another chance. One week to read 6 long chapters about different topics and present them. ay ayayyyy
ICPNA gave me the ECCE preparation course to teach, it is for the Michigan International English Exam, and it is very interesting for me. It means I get home at 10:30 every night I don´t sleep too much!
Yesterday I went and quit my math class. I don´t have enough time to study, plus who wants to study logic at 7 o clock on a Tuesday morning for 3 hours? I was so lost and I knew I would fail so its better to quit right? I don´t remember quitting anything before though...hmmm.
After the English conference two weeks ago Cesar and I went to his best friend´s baby shower. It was so long! We arrived 3 hours late and it still went on another 2 hours with ridiculous games. The plan was to go to the bar afterwards, but we came back to change (I was still in my suit from the conference)and I fell asleep. Hahahaha. You can see the couple in the photo!
I enjoy my other classes, they are very interesting. I am also happier at work now that I only have to teach children on Saturdays, Juniors and then a reading workshop.
I am tired!
So this morning I was told to go to ICPNA at 7:30 (early, we start at 8) and when I got there, surprise! They wanted to take blood from all the staff members. It was at that moment that I realized I am still so western, because I refused to let them near me with a syringe. They were probably all clean, the nurses looked professional, but I didn´t take the risk. In Canada? I´ve had my blood taken lots of times. Conclusion: I am probably a huge snob. I wonder what you would have done?
I included a photo of some of my psychology ¨family¨ as they call us here. We had our welcome to the career of psychology meeting and the 2nd, 3rd and 4th year students made speeches saying that now we are all brothers and all this, I have never had that experience of each occupation having meetings every month or two and planning events together, like today for example they are going to the mall to give free psychological tests to children from 8-12 years old. We are invited to watch but not participate since we have only been studying for 1 month!
I am actually very happy yet very busy, and the days are passing by so quickly it is Sunday and then I blink my eye and wow, you mean it´s Friday tomorrow? Wowwww!
I will try to keep up with you more often, send me your news!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Just a quick one

This is just a quick note because I wanted to post a picture of 14 of the 21 children I had to teach this month. 7 of them are missing because today is a bank holiday and many people went on vacation. Yesterday we had a staff meeting. NOBODY told me, just like NOBODY told me about the conference. The lack of communication drives me insane, and then they expect you to go with no problem. Just like nobody told me we have to wear suits to the conference, as if I have a suit, as if I can afford a suit with one days notice. I have black pants and I will buy a white blouse, but suit no way. Tomorrow at 8 we have the opening Gala for the binational centres of Peru English Teaching Conference. We all have to go. I am so excited (actually I am not because at 6 on Thursday I have to get up for class) and I hope its not a stuffy high class do because I am so not that kind of person but if we have to go in suits it probably will be. Then the conference begins on Saturday all day and it is Sunday all day too- but I think it will be really interesting because there are lots of international speakers. Apparently it´s the first time the conference is coming to Cajamarca. Well, now I have to do my assignment for Fundamentals of Psychology as it´s due today (I am so good at leaving things until the last minute). Since it´s a holiday Cesar shouldn´t be working today but since he got called by a client he´s gone in anyway.
I have a bit of a cold.
The parcel my parents sent 2 months ago hasn´t arrived, so I don´t recommend that anyone send me anything, as I would hate for you to waste your money.
We still don´t have water. ughhhhhhhhh, I smell good.
Ah! One more difference in University! They do roll call, and if you skip more than 5 times in 17 weeks you fail. If you arrive more than 10 minutes late, you get one ¨skip¨ so if you are late 5 times you fail. That´s discipline for you.
All for now! ch ch ch chauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu! xxx
love you! me!

Friday, August 26, 2011

University in Peru!

Well, today is the last day of my first week of Peruvian university! I talked about this in a blog last year, but to refresh your memory, in Peru there are private and public national universities, but since I´m not a national I don´t think public university would be free for me anyway. The problem with public university is that there are a lot of strikes so it can take a long time to finish your degree. Generally, they are less organized and not as clean and secure as private univerisities, having said that this is from what people tell me. I have taken a tour of the national university of Cajamarca, and it seems nice but I have not sat in on any classes there, it is prohibited so I cannot tell you what it is like really.
The differences between Brandon University and the Private University of the North (UPN):
|) Classmates. Most of my classmates are 17-19 years old. You can start university at 16 if you pass the admission test- if you already have a degree you can enter without a test. You go into your career in semester 1 with all the people who are starting that career and you stay with them unti semester 10 (5 years for all occupations) unless you fail or drop out etc, so the class becomes a tight knit group of people. And a small group. In Psychology there are 15 students, so we have all our classes together. Except for those classes like basic math which I have to take at 7 in the morning because I work in the evenings.
2) Class selection. While in Canada we choose every class we want to take, here you only choose your profession. All the courses you will take are laid out for you. The advantage is that you know you are taking the correct classes and the university isn´t making a bunch of money on electives you take and do not need. That´s not to say there aren´t requirements outside your career. Every student has to take University Methodology, Basic Math, Statistics, and Spanish 1 and 2. Unfortunatly the class I most wanted to take, Spanish, is in the evenings so it is impossible. Bad luck. Too bad math wasn´t at that time. Imagine, 7-10 am learning math in Spanish, with a whole bunch of symbols that are different. Ughhhh.
3) Class slots. All of our classes are at lest 2 hours long, but most are 3. The advantage of this is we have more time to develop ideas. The disadvantage is that it is sooo long in comparison to our short 50 minute time slots (although we did also have some 2 and 3 hour classes, the difference is that here there are no classes which are shorter than 2 hours in length, and there we usually had a break whereas here we don not).
4) Instead of taking a maximum of 5 classes, all students should take 7. I am taking 6 because of Spanish. It works out 21 hours a week of class, in comparison to 15 there. If I were to take Spanish it would be 26.
5) Evaluation. While there we had to do an essay or 2 or 3 plus a couple of exams depending on the course, here all courses are evualated the same. 3 assessments and 2 exams with the possibility in most classes of a substitory exam if you are failing. Sometimes the assessments are tests, sometimes papers, sometimes a mixture of class presentations and participation etc.
6) Rather than have letter grades and be marked out of 100, we are marked out of 20. To pass you need a 12, which I can only assume is equivalent to 60% or a C- or D depending on the course. I´ll let you know how grave my situation is when I get my first 05. hahaha. Except I might cry instead of laugh.
7) The classes themselves. The classes are participatory. Many classes I took in university there were of the sort where you go and write like mad for 50 minutes and then try to interpret your terrible handwriting afterwards. Some teachers did try to get us participating, but especially with history, the classes were lectures. Here, the teachers are more like facilitators except for history of Psychology in which our Prof has assured us we will read 100 different authors in 17 weeks. I have 50 pages to read before next week. This is a first year course. Every week we have to discuss. If one person refuses to participate in the discussion or appears not to have read the material, we all have to write an analysis and conceptual map of the reading. All for one and one for all. The downside? In math class, we all had to go to the board and write the answer to different questions. I should explain. My math class has about 50 students and they are all in engineering programs. I had no choice but to join them because I couldn´t take the math for humanities course (which we are told begins the same for every unit, but stops at level 2 and we continue to level 5) in the evenings and I have to take math to continue. Yay for me. So I go to the board and write my answer and the prof says,I just finished saying that I didn´t want you to do that. So I had to do a different question. After which the prof took pity and let me sit down. Ahhhhhh. My other classes are very enjoyable, the ones which are directly related to psychology. I find it interesting. I just don´t like it when I have to speak because sometimes the profs put on a face which says ¨I really don´t understand what you are saying, but I´ll hear you out...¨ but all in all, my profs are super personable and in most cases funny. The difference? They don´t have PHDs. Many of them simply have their bachelor degree and experience in the field, and some of them are doing or have completed a Masters.
So which is more difficult? I think they are different, and it depends on what you are good at. This program is designed to make you into a Psychologist. We have to go out into the field and practice etc. My first degree wasn´t really designed to make me anything, rather to give me lots of information and teach me how to study and be organized etc., with the idea being that people then go into professional programs like education or law which teach you how to be something. Either way its 5-6 year in both places to get a good job which you are trained for so I suppose it´s the same with the difference being less electives and more specialization earlier here.
Interesting fact- we also have moodle! It´s called a virtual classroom but in the address you can see the word moodle, which interests me. Also, this university is part of Laureate International so it has a good reputation.
Well, apart from university which the biggest news of this week, it is the final week of the cycle at ICPNA, tonight, tomorrow and monday I have to give final exams. On the weekend of September 2 I have to go to and ELT (english language teaching) conference for all the ICPNAs in Peru which is here in Cajamarca in the most beautiful hotel which I have never entered because it´s way too classy for me but I am excited to see what it is like inside! The conference is all weekend though so I will be tired...oh well.
We don´t have water again. I haven´t showered in 3 days, but we had water collected in buckets just in case so we can at least wash our feet a bit, and our hair. I hope we get water soon because I feel disgusting.
Cesar´s best friend´s girlfriend is in town, they are planning their baby shower, she is 6 months pregnant and very obvious, she says the baby kicks a lot. If it´s this weeked we will obviously be going to that, although we already gave them the gifts I brought from Canada, they love them :)
I lost my cell phone, it was sad. I loved it so much, I had it for 3 years and it was so small. Now I have a new one, the cheapest they had, it is big and blue and ugly. I don´t know how I lost my old cell phone, but when I went to set my alarm I couldnt find it. Darn.
Cesar and I went to see The Green Lantern a while back, have you seen it? It´s not bad. Probably would be pretty cool in 3D but we haven´t reached that technology here yet.
I feel like there is something I have forgotten to do...but I can´t remember what? hmmm..
I don´t like final exam day because I have to stay up late correcting exams and calculating average etc because at 8 tomorrow I have to give them to the office, before my class starts (at 8).
I hope I haven´t bitten off more than I can chew with university and a demanding job. At least at H and R Block and at the hotel I could study under the desk...hmmm oh well, at least if I fail it doesn´t really matter, except for me it does because I am that kind of person.
Cesar bought himself a suit and tie for his Universiy buisness presentation. I have never seen him so dressed up before, it was funny, and cute in a strange way hahaha. He can barely talk now because his braces have infected his gums. Makes me remember when I had braces...all you people who have perfect teeth and never had braces, feel lucky! The university gave me a notebook as a gift- here I am in the photo on my first day of Uni in Spanish! The other is a billboard which was part of Cesar´s buisness project.
Leave me your news!
love, me!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Now that I have lived in this country for almost 9 months in total, I have compiled in my mind some things about this country that drive me insane.
#1. Just because the car is equipped with a horn, doesn´t mean you have to use it ALL THE TIME
Drivers, particularly cab and mototaxi drivers who dominate the road here, have discovered that that little horn on the steering wheel can be used for almost any situation. Get off the road BEEP, make way for me even though nobody else is moving BEEP, I´m bored BEEP, look there´s an attractive woman / tourist BEEP BEEP BEEPPPPPPP, what the hell I think I´ll honk my horn now BEEP. It is enough to drive you insane. I have never taken a taxi ride in which the driver has failed to use the horn. It just doesn´t do anything when you use it all the time. Even my Peruvian friends get annoyed by it, although their yelling at the taxistas doesn´t do anything either.
#2. What is the point of resting the seat belt on your lap? In Peru, it now illegal to sit in the front of a vehicle and not use a seat belt. The enforcement of this law is pathetic, I´ve never heard of anyone punished for it, and if a policeman gets up in your face you just slip them a bit of cash. Even so, taxi drivers take the time to rest the buckle of their seat belt ON THEIR LAP. It would take less than a second to stretch it a little bit further and clip it in, but no, that would be uncool, safety is not a priority. Much cooler it is to rest it on your lap. I know I am awed by every taxista who employs this ingenious strategy of appearing to obey a law that really is only for their own personal safety. I think I am the only person in Cajamarca who wears a seatbelt when there is one, which usually there isn´t in the back of a cab. When there is a seatbelt I always thank the driver for providing one, who then looks at me as if I am insane.
#3. Hailing a cab. The accepted method of hailing a cab in the majority of the countries I know is to stick your arm out (or phone). This method is one I use every day when I need a taxi. Therefore, it is not necessary for you to slow down and gawk at me as you pass gesturing that your cab is empty. It if want I cab, I will hail you. Thank you señor taxista.
#4. People in the street. It is often difficult to know who are the real impoverished and who aren´t. The best thing to do is ask a local. For example, last year I was prone to giving little bits of change to an old man in a wheelchair who always sits in the main square. My students have informed me that he is wealthy, and makes his living begging on the streets where most tourists see him and take pity. One of my students saw him taking large quanitities of cash out of the bank. hmmmmm. Now I give food, nothing more. Also, I saw a man stumbling along with a cane which blind people use on Sunday. Last week he could see perfectly well. Your conscience wants to help people, but those who really need it. This year, we only give to people who are selling something, and food sometimes to people we have seen on the street at night, those people are more likely to be genuine. Also, I never give to people who call me Gringa or gringita, I despise this word, it is so derogatory. And the lady who said Cesar would die? I see her lots, but I don´t giver her money, she insults everyone who walks by her. You catch more flies with honey. I don´t think she is too poor, because she has shoes and I never see her when it´s dark. And the children are the most heartbreaking, you want to help them, but you know all the money you give to them goes to their parents, who are usually standing about a block away watching.
#5 zebra crossings. I have yet to figure out what the point is of having these crossings. NOBODY will stop to let you cross. They are at the busiest interections in the city. You cross at your own risk. There are areas that have lights which are much safer to cross. I must figure out what the law is with them.
I took the picture by accident, but I feel that it represents Peru well. I have to go and translate now, more later! xo

Thursday, August 11, 2011

It was funny, but now I smell bad...

Hey, guess what, I haven´t showered since Monday! Yesterday I washed my hair with the little water we got out of the faucet in the whole day, but that´s it baby. I also used it to wash my feet a bit after. The result of no rain since the blog post where I said we had to use buckets to collect water from our leaking roof (at least 2 weeks ago) there is no water baby! Oh yeah, I can feel the sweat of the last three days, sexxxyyy :) Some days we have had some trickles of water, maybe an hour or two of low pressure cold water which we scrambled to collect in bottles and buckets. We have been receiving less and less until today, when we haven´t had any. We leave the faucets open while at home in hopes of tempting some water out but so far no luck. When we brought this problem up to our caring landlord he said, ¨I get up at 5 in the morning to shower. If you don´t want to do that, get more buckets and fill them up when you have water.¨ Yeah, thanks, that is helpful. How about you install a water tank? No, ok then. But it is good to know we have water at 5 am. At first the idea of getting up at that time to shower seemed horrible, now it seems a small price to pay if it means I can be clean. We may consider moving house. Apparently, the problem is that living on the 3rd floor or higher means it is hard to build up enough pressure to get water to our floor. At 5 in the morning water use is low so for that reason we may be able to shower then...I hope so. I guess that this is the dry season. The house I lived in before, like many better abodes, has a water tank on the roof, so we never had this problem. I will really miss the ceiling and wall colours if we decide to move, because for the rent we pay, Cesar says, water should not be only at 5 in the morning. We only pay 100$ a month each, but that is a lot here. We may have to go to the public showers tomorrow if we dont have water because I feel like I have a layer of filth covering me, obviously I am far too used to western comforts like constant running water. Hot water. Swell! We are not the only ones without water today though. In the morning I went to work with Cesar and in the workshop they had to use from the tank, nothing came out the tap. I suppose all sun and rain means lots of sweat but nothing wet (I JUST MADE THAT RHYME UP!) like water. It also means I can´t cook, so we went out for lunch. Yesterday I made hand made perogies! But, I had to fry them because we didnt have enough water to boil them! I am proud of myself :) because they were actually good, see picture! We had collected just enough water yesterday to boil the carrots, and then use that water to help wash the dishes afterwards plus a little more that we had saved in the bathroom. It is amazing how clean the dishes appear even though I am sure they are covered in germs. Oh yes! On Sunday we went out and bought PANS! yay! Plus some food, so now we can cook. Our first meal in the department was beef and mash, it was lovely except a little overcooked but whatever I had never cooked on a gas stove before. NOTE this was photo taken when we still had a decent amount of water (from 8-9 am to 7 pm) oh and we bought a new wood table to prepare food on and store pans on below.
I fully recommend having a boyfriend who is an electrician. The charger for my laptop broke so I couldnt turn it on. So he fixed it. Bravo :)
The only clean part of me is my teeth.
Maybe I should become like a cat...
The other picture is Pisco Sour on my 21st...I have decided I am now less of a fan of pisco, it is too strong for my pathetic alcohol resistance level.
I no longer wish to teach children, they give me a headache, although they can be lovely sometimes, mostly they make me angry because I cannot control them. I am not allowed to kick anyone out of my class! There is no principal to threaten them with, and apprently they don´t care if I call their parents. Maybe I will have to do some kind of reward chart...hmm...that could be a possibility.
We were thinking of travelling this weekend, but Cesar has exams on Monday and Tuesday, so I think it´s best that he doesn´t fail them, it is more expensive to retake the course than travel.
We went to see The Smurfs, which is Los Pitufos in Spanish, I don´t know why it isn´t the same since they don´t exist either way...strange. But it was a cute movie, we arrived half and hour late...
Amusing story for you...
somebody who I know here, a lady of my mother´s age who shall go unnamed even though you will never meet her, went on a trip to Cuzco, that is close to where Machu Picchu is (one of the wonders of the world). Since you have to go uphill, they recommend chewing a coca leaf, which helps you breath and continue going in the thin air. However, this lovely yet naive and uninformed lady misunderstand, and burned A WHOLE BAG of coca leaves and drank them as tea. After this, she could not sleep for more than 2 nights due to the effects of this leaf (which anyone here will assure you, is not a drug). It isn´t the same as cocaine, it´s more natural, but yes it is drug because it has an unnatural effect on the body. Note to anyone who travels, do not consume huge quantities of coca leaf alone, unless you wish to live the results! She said she didn´t understand what was happening to her (so I guess it would be scary) until she got home and talked to the doctor. Oh dear...
We went to visit Cesar´s mum on Sunday...apparently she is having trouble getting her DNI (national ID card, without which you cant do anything) because at 13 when she was confirmed by the Church, she changed her second name. She doesn´t want to get her DNI with her old name which is by the way only 1 of her 2 names, because she doesn´t like it. So she keeps travelling to her native village to get the same birth certificate with the name she hates in hopes that they will give her on with the name she gave herself (which of course they won´t), and is so stubborn that she will not relent and just get her DNI with this old name. It would be funny, if it wasnt costing her so much money to travel back and forth to get the same document she already has numerous copies of...oh dear...
Well, I suppose I had better prepare something for my classes before I go to work, and apply large quantities of perfume...
chao for now chicos!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Who wants to trade immune systems?

Hey hey chicos! Yesterday we returned from our travels to Celendin. We traveled with Cesar´s best friend Wesley. It is a 3 hour journey and we had to do it on a budget. That being said, we decided to travel there with the family who owns the workshop where Cesar works in their huge van which seats like 15 people legally and a whole ton illegally, but since it was a family thing there was loads of space and only about 9 of us. So, we got a free passage there, but the problem was the journey killed me, I vomited so much and felt DREADFUL, like maybe I was going to die, Cesar said I´d probably live and I guess he was right! We arrived on Friday morning and I was in a state so we went to eat, I had lamb and rice which was great until about 1 o clock in the morning when I upchucked it all. Anyway, in the afternoon we went to see the motocross. AHHHH. I should explain why that is scary and exciting at the same time. The safety tape making you not cross the track is very close, so close that the possibility that a bike would land in the audience after a jump is well, likely. When I arrived I noticed LOTS of police standing along the track and I thought it was an uncessary number....until a man fell off his bike and the crowd RUNS ACROSS THE TRACK TO THE MAN to see what has happened WHILE THE RACE IS CONTINUING. I almost had a heart attack. The bikes are racing around, dodging people because for them clearly it is more important to win than not kill anybody. So, the police were trying to keep people back in the viewing area and stop the bikes but nobody really seemed to care. Even when the man had been carried off in an ambulance, people ran across the track like it was a game of lets see if we can be killed today or not. It is obviously not good for my western heart to watch these races. We decided to walk back to the town from the track which took about an hour but saved us roughly 1 dollar. hahahaha. oh boy. The van which took us to Celendin and to the races had already returned to Caxas so we had the suitcases and backpacks with us, it was great, we looked like tourists (although, I always look like a tourist). When we got back to the main square we discovered that we had come on the wrong day, that this was the only night there was no live band playing. So, we meandered around town, found a hotel (which I stress is lucky because in FIESTAS (independance day parties) it is really hard to find one. They charged us 50 soles or about 17 dollars for 2 beds. We thought that was expensive, because the room was simple with no tv and the shower was COLD. ICE COLD. It was funny listening to Cesar and Wesley scream when they were taking their agonizing turns in the shower but not so fun when I was the one screaming. There is cold water, and then there is COLD water. Mountain fresh freezing cold. In the night we hung out in the plaza (main square). I saw my host family from before and they gave me a ride in their brand new car, which is very nice I might add! We went out for supper but it took them about an hour to bring the order and Cesar´s food never arrived, so we weren´t very impressed. I learned how to play billiards, I suck. In the night we went to a club where there was a live rock electronica band, it was ok but then I felt dreadful like I would pass out so Cesar had to take me back to the hotel, we left Wesley in the club with his new friends... I spent the night puking my guts up, it was awful, and we missed the party. Who wants to give me a better immune system?
Saturday was better, I woke up feeling so weak that I thought my DUST FILLED hair was soft, Cesar quickly corrected me. I couldnt get a comb through it. We went out for soup and then luckily found a combi aka collectivo or big van that would take us to LLANGUAT , 1-2 hours further away. I was not exited about the trip because I felt dreadful, but we paid extra so I could sit up front, so I actually didnt feel nauseous. I should add that arriving to Celendin I had taken 2 gravols, but that didnt do it. The Combi was packed, you can see in the picture, there werent many seats so they were sitting on buckets and other people, after the pic was taken we picked up more people still, I guess there were about 20-25 people in a space which would carry 8-10 in North America. I was up front though, and there were 4 in a space for 3, which isnt bad, I couldnt complain because I felt ok!! We arrived at LLanguat for 17 soles, or about 6 dollars, which was ok. Then the fun part! The natural hot springs and river. The day was boiling hot, so it was beautiful to swim in the rapids (I hit my head on a rock for being an idiot and not keeping my head about water...I also didnt realize the rapids were quite that fast!). In the picture you can see Cesar swimming. Imagine a beautiful mountain scenery and a blue river with a couple of ice cold beers and sunbathing on the rocks! This is the life! We made friends with a party of 10 who had rum and coke, and they looked after our stuff while we crossed the river (this involves us all holding hands like a group of preschoolers haha) and went in search of the mud. There are pools of boiling hot water like in Yellowstone National Park, and a little boy was scooping out mud with a long stick. Supposedly if you apply mud to your whole body it helps you to maintain a youthful appearance. I reckon its a scam, but its fun anyway! The problem was, the mud didnt come off easily. We walked on and found the place where the boiling water enters the river, and there are natural hot springs which you can bathe in, we hung out there until the sun started to disappear and then headed back, obviously the air felt freezing cold to us then! Plus we had to cross the now cold river, it was always cold but with the sun out it was okay. We thanked out new friends and headed back the road. We walked uphill to the village and bought some local fruits and waited for a truck. We met an old man who literally smoked 15 packets of cigarettes in the six hours since the combi dropped him off, his arms were in dire condition! argh. He told us there would be no cars and we´d have to stay there in Llanguat. We didnt fancy the idea and went outside to the crossroads. Luckily, a grain truck passed so we climbed the ladder and sat on a piece of wood they´d put along the trailer. It was a lovely, it didnt make me sick because it was open air. 2 hours later it was FREEZING COLD, but until then it was great! hahaha. That is the way to travel! They charged us 10 soles, or about 3 dollars to Celendin. That night we were planning on going to see Agua Marina, a Cumbia band in Celendin, but the cost was 20 soles EACH, that is 20 dollars for the three of us, and way too much. Luckily there were lots of people in the plaza so we hung out there. When we tried to go back to the hotel, we found that the owner was in the party, what luck, and we were locked out. Worst luck for Cesar and Wesley who were suffering for need of a toilet. Shortly another lady came who was a guest there, and she was very angry, rightly so, one cant just abandon their business! We phoned, but the owner was drunk. Well, if you cant beat them, join them right? We convinced the lady to come with us to the main square, its not good to be alone in the street at night, and we found the friends we had made in Llanguat! We hung out with them for a couple of hours until the owner agreed to come out and let us in his hotel. What great service! Might I cut costs we had downgraded to a room with just one bed. 25 soles. We removed the mattress from the bed and used our suitcases to make it longer, thereby all able to fit half our body on the mattress and the other half on the suitcases...ingenious way to save money! I wish I had thought to take a picture! It was cold so we slept with jackets on as well! Yesterday we went out for natural juices mmmmm yum and took a taxi to Cajamarca...expensive, but what can you do? We got a flat tire and Cesar helped boost another car on the way. The taxi was great, he had all 80s music in English, and Abba in Spanish...wooohooo! We were in almost in Caxas when Wesley was like...hey lets go swimming! So we got out of the taxi in Banios Del Inca and went to the pool...which had a water slide! It was great, because we were disgusting with hair full of dust and having worn the same clothes almost all weekend :) While in the pool there was...drama! A grumpy old woman working there was yelling at a girl about my age for wearing a t-shirt in the pool ( you have to wear bathing suits). Apparently, the lady at the counter had told the girl she could wear the shirt if she didnt wear her bra. The grump told her she had to get out, or she´d call the police. The girl persisted. The police arrived and did...nothing. At this point the woman was in a right state and yelled at everyone to stop laughing, she said one goes to the pool to swim and relax (like we can relax when the police come in...), not to have a bath. I felt bad for the grumpy woman, she must have been having a bad day, or suffering from menopause. We returned to Cajamarca and Cesar went to do some work while I slept, and we had planned to go out but were so exhausted we ended up sleepig. And now I am 21. woo hooooo, I am old. Hopefully, we will go out later, some friends have called and invited me out for dinner later, so that should be nice!
Thanks for keeping up! love me xxxx

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Cesar, love, it´s the kitchen!

Apparently since I got this camera 5 years ago I have taken over 7000 photos! wow!
Ok, so here it rarely rains, but once in a while we get a torrential downpour like you can see in the photo, remembering that rain rarely shows in my photos should help you imagine the quantity of water that fell. What started as a nice tinkering sound on our glass roof, upon investigation turned into OH MY GOD ITS RAINING INSIDE and movement of everything into areas where we have real roof (luckily, due to the lack of furniture, this took approximately 5 seconds). We cut the top off big water bottles and set them around the room to catch the water, but I wasn´t very helpful because I couldn´t stop laughing. I might be crazy. Good thing we don´t have carpet!
On Sunday we went to watch Cesar´s friend play 6 side soccer, at which he was absolutely dreadful, and his side lost more than 8-0, I lost count. In the picture, he is one in the middle with the green stripe on his shirt. I asked Cesar why he doesnt play, and he said he did play but the ball hit him in the face and 3 of his brackets fell off (anyone who has had braces is now cringing), so now he´s off the sport until he gets his braces off which will hopefully be soon! The place he played is called Santa Barbara, another part of Cajamarca, and the concrete pitch had a restauarnt and some entertainment, so that nice. First there was a female singer and she was great. And then, this man gets up and starts winking and dancing away singing in Quechua, which was so not pleasant to listen to, but out of respect for his age and sheer guts we gave him a little tip when he came around with his bag. We were going to go to the cinema afterwards, but they were only showing 3 movies and we had already seen 2 of them, so we bought a pirate movie and watched it on the laptop instead. On Saturday Cristian and Davo came over in the afternoon and we sat on the balcony, when Cesar got back from work he joined us and we ummed and ahhed over the beautiful view from our balcony...a busy highway and construction :) oh well! In the night we finally went out dancing, but I was so tired from work that we came home at like, 2, and everyone else was there until 5. Luckily, the old diarrhea excuse frees you up every time! :)The other picture is of La Molina, the outdoor restaurant and soccer pitch where we had chicken kebabs which were yummy! Saturday was the last day of the cycle for Sat classes and tomorrow will be the last day for regular classes, and then Thurs is Independance Day here so hopefully I will get a chance to do something more exciting like TRAVEL!! Cesar has the week off from university and I think I get a week, or at least 5 days off. My student of private morning classes has gone back up to the mine for his week on, so now I have mornings free. I have a huge pile of correcting to do though...! I promise, when my life is more interesting (ie, when I get paid) my blogs will be too! Till then, take care lovelies! xx

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Peru wins!

Well, their quarter anyway. Yesterday we spent the whole afternoon from 2 after work watching soccer at Cesar´s friend´s house. It is the South American cup which is played every 2 years and this year is in Argentina. It was Peru vs Colombia for a spot in the top four, and despite all prediction Peru pulled out of it with a 2-0 victory in the extra half an hour. Then, it was on to Argentina vs Uruguay to see which team Peru will be up against on Tuesday. After 90 plus 30 minutes of play they were tied 1-1 and in the penalty shoot out, Uruguay won with 1 more goal than Argentina. I´d hate to be the Argentinean who missed! The thing is, the game was much more intense, and they play at another level to that which Peru and Colombia played at, so everyone is pretty sure that Peru will stay in their 4th place position. However, it is a game and you never can be totally sure!
After that, we all went out for chicken. Today is Pollo a la brasa day. Everyone here says the way in which they cook their chicken on the fire is different to the rest of the world. I believe it tastes the same as any other chicken does, but nobody wants to hear me say that. The plan was to go dancing after the chicken which we finished at 9, but we got back to the apartment so tired that instead of changing to go out we went to sleep. How boring, right! hahaha
Apparently it is neccesary to have a day for everything, even chicken!
I just came back from lunch with Cesar´s mother who seems much happier. She may even start to work because she is bored, although we are not sure what she will do, but that is what she said. I think it would be better than being in a room all day watching television.
I am eating M and Ms and they are yummy. I missed them. yummmm. Cesar and I are going to see Harry Potter after he finishes his 20 pages of homework for University, and I guess I should get to marking the midterm exams I set yesterday. I have a crazy student who is Harry Potter mad and spent half my class making a heart and writing herself a love note from Daniel Radcliffe. At least, she says, she is learning english so she has a chance with him. oh boy.
Cesar´s id card expired so we are waiting for the new one he bought to come in the mail. His old one had a picture of him at 16 years old. I told him, they are going to make you get a photo because you dont even look like the same person. He said, no way, this is Peru, nobody cares. So, we get there, and guess what! They make him get a photo. I feel triumphant enought to share this story with you. Anyway, we arent travelling right now because you need your ID card to be safe, especially when traveling with a white girl, the police like to pull me over for interrogations more, because I am obviously super suspicious looking.
Oh, and also because we dont have any money, that could be more the reason. We are thinking of going to Jaen for Independance Days at the end of the month which would be awesome because I have never been there and it is far away. Still in Peru, though.
On Thursday we went out with Cesar´s friends after work. Oh! and we went to the best pasta place ever. There was this weird French family there who asked me if I spoke French when I went in to which I replied no. The dad was being very special and was like, no I dont want this dont want that etc and then he yelled- I AM FRENCH AND I ONLY DRINK WINE. Everyone was like, ok go back to France then. Then he asked me, what is your nationality. English, I said. And your boyfiend? Peruvian. Ohhhhh woman you dont know what you have got yourself into. Nice, right!
On Thursday I went to visit the host family I stayed with the past two years. We had something yummy which I can best describe as a slimy green case with meat olives tomato eggs and other random stuff packed inside, and you are supposed to eat the case too. With rice, of course. Alwayyyssss rice. Rosa traveled to Cuzco and Macchu Picchu and was showing me her photos. Looks like fun, but you need 1500 to 2000$ to go she said and that is a bit steep for me. Rosa took me to a dance and song performance that the public schools in her program were putting on. That was neat to see.
I will attach some photos now so that you will get more idea of my life. The first is Cesar in our kitchen dining room area which is almost empty haha. The other is Cesar´s friend Pedro hogging half of the photo when we went out on Thursday. The last is during the break between the two matches yesterday, the sun was out and man was it hot! As soon as we have money to travel the photos will be more interesting! love xxx