I would like to share my story of living abroad in Peru. My first experience here was in July of 2010 and have many stories to share with my family and friends about my life ever since.
I also own a travel agency and promote travel within Peru. If you or someone you know are interested in traveling to Peru, please visit my website at www.expertperutravel.com or my Travel Blog.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Buenas Noches Amigos, Good Evening Friends,
It has been just about a week since my last post, so I'd like to give a little update on life in Peru. I did not keep a daily journal this time, so I'll just tell you a little bit about my week in general. This week has been really good overall, but there are definitely some struggles I will need to overcome!
Spanish, spanish, spanish..... this is obviously my number one nemesis. Steps are being taken however to break down this barrier. I started private Spanish lessons last Wednesday. I was recommended this tutor by my landlord, Gloria, and the price was definitely more than fair. My Spanish teacher is a young lady, well maybe a few years older than me, named Carol. She used to teach Spanish as a second language in a school and has just recently decided to start teaching private lessons instead. She is great, we spent a lot of time laughing and getting to know eachother. Our lessons are completely in Spanish, no English is to be spoken unless absolutely, positively necessary. I was shocked that I could talk and learn in Spanish for the whole two hours of the lesson. Carol obviously spoke very clearly and said things in a simple fashion making it so easy for me to understand her. I think the most important thing I got from this first lesson was confidence. I know a lot of Spanish, but am not at all confident speaking. Carol really made me feel like I was doing great and that when I really concentrate and listen I can understand. I had my second lesson with her on Friday, and we will meet three more times this week. I definitely have noticed a big improvement in my ability to understand and speak even after just two lessons.
I hate to say it, but I began feeling a little bit bored this week. I have done a lot of exploring, but with no real purpose. I've done a lot of walking around, enjoying parks, shopping, eating at some local venues, learning to use the combis (little buses), and just trying to interact with others to practice speaking. However, during the week, everyone is working, and I'm wandering a little aimlessly on my own. I wouldn't really say it feels lonely, but I guess I just need more of a purpose or destination. I'm going to try to go see/do some more specific things or activities this week. I think that will help.
On a very positive note, I did have a small victory in my job search. I have been searching online and in the newspapers this week for jobs for English speakers. I have applied for a couple teaching jobs ( I have a TESOL teaching certificate through an online course I did) and a couple of jobs in the tourist industry. I actually got replies from two jobs right away, both wanting to do interviews. One was for a teaching position for a company that goes around giving English business classes to local companies wanting to educate their employees, and the other was as a travel advisor for a Peru vacations company. After doing some research about the companies, I realized I did not want to work for the company offering business classes. There were a lot of bad reviews from past employees online. So I decided to just go to the one interview on Friday for the Travel Advisor position.
The interview was in the business district in San Isidro, Lima, Peru. It is actually only a block away from where Julio works at Citibank. Obviously, I am excited that it is so close to his work, and it would be an ideal situation if we ever wanted to share rides or meet up after work. The business is actually located inside of a pretty nice house. When I walked up to the address, I was a little leary, thinking to myself what if this is some crazy guy luring girls to his home saying it is for an interview. So, I called him from outside the home to double check and make sure everything was fine. A young lady came out to the door smiling, greeting me, and urging me inside. This made me feel much better. As I entered, I could see the home was set up with offices and in the style of a business with several people working. The interview was only about 30 minutes long and was pretty typical of what an interview would be like here. I think their main concern was that I was able to speak fluent English, which soon become obvious. He has a couple other interviews set up for this week, so he told me he would probably be deciding on Wednesday or Thursday and would get back to me. The environment seemed really relaxed and comfortable; I really hope I get the job! After the interview I was able to meet up with Julio for lunch. I had only seen Julio once since Sunday, so I was really anxious to spend a little time together. We had lunch, then went to the park and enjoyed the beautiful, but very hot, weather. All in all, it was a great day.
Over the weekend I stayed at Julio's house with his family. They have been so kind to me, I feel very lucky. His parents do not speak any English, but have been very patient with me in trying to communicate. With a combination of words and motions we seem to usually come to an understanding. Julio's mother is very busy, always on the go, cleaning, cooking, running errands, and always making sure everyone has everything they need. She insisted on doing my laundry instead of me bringing it to a laundry mat, so, how could I say no? ;) Only one of Julio's sisters was home and she does speak English well. She has also been very kind to me and provides me with some assistance when my language skills are lacking.
On Saturday, Julio and I went to the Jockey Club; they have gyms, pools, courts, etc... It was great to hang out by the pool and do some swimming. It is a really nice venue, and we had a lot of fun. Julio and I are hoping to start playing some squash there. I have played a lot of raquetball, and squash is very similar. After returning from the pool, we had dinner and then headed out for the night. Some of Julio's friends were getting together nearby, so we spent the evening having a few drinks and hanging out. There were a couple other native English speakers here, and pretty much everyone spoke some English. Although, I should be practicing my Spanish, it was nice to speak a little English and socialize!
Overall, I can't say life here feels entirely different than being back home. Of course there are many cultural differences, but it doesn' t feel as different as I thought it might. There are definitely two different worlds here in the city. The middle and upper class live in homes and have lifestyles not entirely different than in the U.S. The biggest difference is in the large population that fall into the poverty level. Neighborhoods are very distinctly broken up between well to do and not so well to do. It does appear that effort is really being made to make improvements here though. There is a lot of construction and development happening.
I'd like to just leave off with a couple notes about the differences in life here:
- You can not flush toiletpaper down the toilet. There is a little trash next to every toilet and that is where you put the paper. (This is hard to get used to, I have more than once instincitively dropped toilet paper in the toilet!)
- They cut their grass with weedwackers. (yards are small, yes, but even workers in parks and on boulevards are walking 4 or 5 wide with weedwackers)
- Driving here is crazy. I don't think any laws are really enforced. Cops are usually just paid off or bribed with $10 or less for crimes. This is a real problem.
- Everyone whistles. Whether you are getting a friends attention, or referring to an action in a story, or see someone you think looks good walking by, everyone is always whistling in every conversation.