Monday, March 28, 2011

Happy Birthday Susan!  I have to send her a wish becasue we share birthday/half birthdays!  It's always been so fun to celebrate with you Suz!  Sorry I am missing it this year, but please know I am thinking of you!

3 - 28 - 11

Celebrating with the Birthday Girl
Buenas Noches Amigos!  Tonight I am writing from Starbucks while enjoy a chai tea - and yes it tastes the same as in the U.S.  It is really nice to walk into some of the chain restaurants here simply because it looks just the same as in the States.  They have McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Starbucks, and I'm sure others I haven't run into yet.  I never was much of a fast food fan, but I must say I've been eating more of it lately and I think it is because I like the familiarity more than the food.  I guess I need to hurry up and join a gym if I keep this up!

Not a whole lot has changed since my last update, work is still going well.  The biggest update is that I moved.  The move was super easy being as I only own about 2 suitcases worth of items.  I did have to make a big trip to Plaza Vea (like walmart) here and buy a lot of household items which is nice.  The new place is great; I walked to work this morning with a huge smile on my face!  It is located right next to a beautiful park and very close to a fancy shopping district.  This could be bad news..... walking next to these high end shops I already feel my credit card burning a hole in my pocket. 

My co-workers
This weekend I got to head out to a birthday party on Friday night.  One of the girls I work with was celebrating her 25th birthday and hosted a big party at her house.  All of my coworkers were there along with a lot of other people.  Julio came with me, and we had a really good time!  One thing I can say about people in Peru is they really know how to host a party.  They serve food all night long, always make sure your glass is full, play great music, and everyone is very friendly.  After the party, Julio and I went out and met up with one of his friends.  This made for a rather comical evening.  Julio's friend had a rather good time telling me all of Julio's secrets and what he maybe says about me when I am not around.  I think Julio was a little embarrassed, but all in all it was pretty funny - and good insight for me!  As I sometimes accuse Julio of never wanting me to meet his friends from school.  I guess now I know why.

Saturday was very relaxed and Sunday was just a busy day of moving.  I think I was a little too stressed, which made Julio stressed, which made for not the best moving day in the world.  But, it was a good thing I don't have much stuff.  Now I am all settled in for now; although I already have a list of new things I need to buy for the house!

It is hard for me to relate to many of the Peruvian "young adults" here, because their lifestyle is much different.  It is very common for people to live under their parents roof until they are in their late 20s or married.  Kids generally don't have a lot of responsibilities as the mother cares very diligently for her family.  She cooks all the meals, wakes her kids up for school/work, cleans up after them, and most households hire a maid because it is so cheap to have one.  It is also very common for the family to pay for all of the kids education.  I hate to spoiled, because that really isn't the right word.  Life is not as easy here as in the States, that is for sure.  However, I guess young adults don't have the same responsibilities here as we do in the U.S.  I feel like as soon as I was out of the house I had to take care of everything on my own.  I had school, work, bills, had to clean and cook for myself, came home to a dorm or empty house, etc.... I may have been a little too independent and tried to hard to do everything on my own, but still, in generally I'm not sure that young adults here can really understand the independence that we crave in the U.S.  Even Julio, although I think he craves to have the independence, can not always relate to what I am talking about.  It isn't fair for me to compare young adults here to young adults in the States though, because here, without a degree, you don't really have the opportunity to make enough money to live on your own.  There are a lot of little things I notice about Julio and some of my friends here that tell me they would not know what to do if they had to live on their own.  It just isn't part of the culture here.

Anyway, my chai tea is about gone so I think I may retire for the evening.  This Starbucks was recently robbed by gunpoint and all the laptops were stolen from the patrons.  It is funny how that makes me feel extra safe.  There are now two cops standing outside the door with guns.  I wouldn't say this city is dangerous by any means, I actually feel very safe here.  However, like in any big city robberies do happen.  However, it is pretty rare a robber would came back to the same place again a week later - so I think I am safe! 

I leave for Cuzco on Friday - and get to be a tourist - finally!! Words can't describe my excitement, but I will share the whole experience when I return next week.  Hopefully I will have some pretty sweet pictures as well.  Take Care Everyone!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3 - 22 - 11

Well better late than never... I am a little late on my weekly update.  I hope I haven't left my family/friends in any distress wondering what happened. :o)  (kidding)  I guess time is just flying by, days are running into each other and turning into weeks, weeks are running into each other and are turning into months, etc.... Ok so that is a little bit dramatic, but you get the point.  I guess things aren't as new and exciting as when I first got here, so everything is blending together a little more.  That just means I am in more of a routine and following the same patterns day after day, which is what happens when you have a job.  It would be pretty sweet if I could just wonder from park to park each day and learn more about the culture, but reality is I have to pay rent among other things.

The job is still going really well.  It is always exciting, sometimes crazy, yet able to be handled at your own pace and on your own accord.  I enjoy the independence of the job and the fact that how hard I work determines how well I do.  I also work with some pretty great folks.  We all went out for a little celebration one night after work last week to celebrate my first sales.  It was fun to spend a little time with everyone outside of the office.  We had a lot of laughs, some good food, and a couple drinks.  I've always had really good relationships with my coworkers at pretty much all of my jobs.  I think this makes life more enjoyable, I mean you spend a minimum of 40 hours a week with these people - you might as well enjoy their company and spend a little more!

Oh Julio - I try not to write too much about him in this blog.  I'm not sure how much he appreciates all these aspects of his life being shared with all my family/friends.  Not that he minds, but maybe the idea is a little strange being he has never met any of you.  I tell him that probably the whole town of Storden knows everything about him, probably even more than I know!  I love to tell him stories about life in MN and how wonderful it is.  Living here has really made me appreciate all the wonderful things about living in the country.  Hopefully someday I can bring Julio back with me and you all can show him just how wonderful of a place southwest MN is!  Julio has been so great to me this week.  Not that he wasn't nice before, but I think he is starting to get maybe a little more sweet on me than he thought he would.  ( I hope he doesn't read this ) We learn so much from each other and about each other every day.  It's funny how you go from just wanting a chance to be in the same country, to in the same area of the city, to in the same room, to having them by your side. I really like to have my own space, but I think it's okay if Julio wants to be in that space.

I'm moving!  This is both exciting and a little sad, but more exciting.  I will be moving to a really nice area of the city, and it is walking distance from my job.  Goodbye taxis, goodbye combis, goodbye headache from the traffic every morning - you will not be missed!  I will be moving in with another American girl who has been living here in Peru for a while.  She teaches English and also has a Peruvian boyfriend.  We've got a lot in common and I think it will be a great living situation.  My lease starts on the first of April, but I can start moving next Sunday.  I am excited to do a little shopping.  My new house is not completely furnished like the one I have now, so I will need to buy a few things.  It will be nice to have my own things in my house, it makes it more comfortable and homey. 

This past weekend I was a little sick.  Not really sure with what, but I stayed home for a pretty quiet weekend and I now feel much better.  I did get out a little bit over the weekend though.  I went to the Fuentes show here in Lima.  It is a beautiful park with lots of Fountains and a featured show with lights, music, water, etc... We sell this at my job, and everyone talked about how great it was, so I wanted to see for myself.  It only costs about a $1.50 to get into the park, and it was well worth it.  I went with Julio and my roommate, Mario.  I think we were all pretty impressed and surprised at  how beautiful everything was at night.  Even Julio had never been to this show.  On Sunday Julio and I went to a beach here in Lima.  The beaches here in the city aren't really that pretty, and are mostly rocky.  It was still nice to enjoy some sun and just have a little time to talk.  The highlight really was this poor man who took our picture.  He had one of those really old camera's that prints your picture right away and then you wait a few minutes for the picture to show up.  It was such a great idea and I will cherish the picture forever.  For 5 soles I have the most beautiful picture of Julio and I by the ocean.  I wish I could share it with you all, it kind of looks like an antique! 

I had wanted to write something a little different this week.  Something more personal about myself and what life is really like when you move to another country.  It is surprising the little things that start to matter to you or no longer matter to you.  I guess I'll wait and go into detail about this in another post.  Right now I am feeling a little tired and hungry for ice cream.  Ice cream is like home to me here.  When I was little, I ate ice cream as my bedtime snack, then of course there was the Shady, a 7-foot ice-cream cone I constructed, boxes upon boxes of ice cream in college, and now more ice cream in Peru.  I guess ice cream is a big part of my life.  It is what I always want to eat when I want to feel good or be reminded of home.  Pretty much every day I get an ice cream.  Here in Peru, there are vendors for different ice cream brands that ride around on bikes ( 3 wheeled contraptions ) with a cooler selling ice cream treats.  They ride around there section blowing there horn alerting people that they are coming by.  It really is just like having an ice cream truck drive around with its little music playing.  Everyone knows that sound that signifies the ice cream vendor and everyone here loves to run out and have an ice cream treat.  ( People definitely eat more desserts here, yet they are still skinny - it isn't fair )

I should have an exciting next couple of weeks with some upcoming plans.  I look forward to sharing more soon!  Good night!

Sunday, March 13, 2011


Forward motion only requires one small step
There is a song I have been finding myself listening to again and again and again.  I first heard it about 3 months ago on my itunes radio and fell in love with it.  It was starting to get pretty popular before I left, so many of you may know this song: Dog Days are Over by Florence and the Machine - Song.  A very unique artist, and I can't begin to imagine where the inspiration for the song or the video came from.  However, for some reason I want this song to be like my theme song.  I don't think that my life relates to this song, not really anyway, but it inspires me and I love the lyrics. 

This week I feel like I've really settled in.  Everything is starting to feel comfortable, and I'm adjusted to the idea that this is my life.  It's not just something I'm trying out, wandering through, or watching from the outside.  This is my life, the one life I have, and I want to be 100% in this moment.  My mind has become more aware and present.  When I first arrived, my energy was focused a lot on myself.  Not because I was trying to be selfish, but because I was so lost that it took everything I had to just get what I needed.  Now I can actually listen to, understand, and really relate to someone else.  The focus of my attention can now be on someone else's wants or needs.  I guess the biggest barriers were the language and uncertainty of my surroundings.  I am definitely pretty comfortable with my surrounding, and the language, well it is coming along as good as I can expect after living here for a month. 

Work provided me with another busy week.  This is a good thing.  I like being so busy that I don't have enough time to really think about anything.  Like when you're really in the groove and flowing from one thing to the next.  It's like you just know what to do and how to do it without thinking it through.  It was another successful week and I think vacation planning is actually kind of a fun career.  Next week, the other sales agent returns from her over two week vacation.  It will be nice to have some of the loud taken off, but even nicer to have someone to help me learn how to do more things.

All kinds of relationships have been growing around me this week.  Now that I am beginning to communicate with others and am able to listen to them, people have really opened up to me.  I dare say, I may even have a few new friends.  From people in the office to old and new roommates at my house, it has been a social week.  I am learning a lot about the interesting people around me.  They come from all walks of life, each unique, and many with extremely interesting stories to tell! I think this whole growing process has really been great for the relationship I already had as well.  Julio has always been really great, but I feel now that he maybe appreciates me more.  We never really knew each other that well; we had more of an instant deep connection than an actual relationship.  Now, we are really getting to know each other, and I think it's safe to say we still like each other, probably even more than before.  :o)

My vantage point - tsunami waves

This week there was a great sadness that hit our country with the earthquake and following tsunami in Japan.  It's great the way the world can really pull together at times of need.  It is also amazing how small our world really is.  A tragedy like that in Japan not only reaches our homes through communication means, but it touches us physically with the aftermaths.  The fact that the tsunami waves could reach as far as the US shore, and here in Peru, just baffles my mind.  The waves were set to reach the Peruvian coast at about 8:45 on Friday night in Lima.  A lot of the city had shut down at 4:00 as a safety measure.  The coastal highways were closed, all businesses were instructed to close at 4:00, and people were urged to take safety precautions.  People lined the Dunes overlooking the coast waiting to watch and experience what was to come.  There were some pretty good sized continuous waves, but I can't say they were any bigger than the waves are here on a windy day, I think everyone felt a sigh of relief, but also a little disappointment; as they were hoping to witness sometheing a little bit bigger.  All in all, it is just most important that everyone was safe.

The other onlookers

This weekend we had a big party at my house.  It was a party in celebration of the leaving of one of the girls that lives her.  She will be returning in a couple of months, but nonetheless, a good reason for a party.  Here in Peru, everyone likes to go all out for a celebration.  We had a great BBQ with way too much food, good music, lots of laughs, and many kind people.  It was fun to socialize a little bit, especially in Spanish!  I also met a couple other Americans, and I really enjoyed talking to them about their experiences here.  There are so many really unique great people traveling here.  I look forward to meeting more American travelers and also making more Peruvian friends.

Today, I went out for an amazing lunch with my roommates.  It was at a restaurant called El Mirador.  It is a long ways away from my home, in the northern most part of the city.  It overlooks the harbor where hundreds of vessels come with cargo.  It is a very pretty area with a Naval Academy, Army Museums, a beautiful beach area, and some nice shops and restaurants.  It is small, it is not like the large areas of the city where there is always traffic and hustle and bustle.  Driving through the city today, I really have started to realize how huge this place is.  There are so many areas I don't know and haven't seen.  I think you could live here a lifetime and still not know all the little secrets.  I guess that is just how big cities are though.  I'm used to Storden where I have ever street corner, tree, building, or change that has ever happened, engraved in my brain.  I'm excited to do some more exploring.

I hope everyone back home is well and safe.  Also, please remember that I do live here and I am a travel agent.  If you want a vacation, please take advantage of me!  I would love love love to see some familiar faces this year!!!  Here is my work website:

Hasta Luego!

Monday, March 7, 2011


Here is a link to some pictures from the festival I was at yesterday.  Photos of courtesy of Gloria -   Very beautiful pictures!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

3 - 6 - 11

It's been a week already, and time for another update.  I'm finding I really enjoy this whole blogging thing.  I find myself making notes during the week or thinking, wow I can't wait to put this in my blog and tell everyone!  It really is a great way to stay connected, but even more than that, it's great self therapy.  It gives me time to reflect on everything that has happened during the week and actually see it in writing.  It is much different to actually read your thoughts rather than just think them. 

This week had a very sad beginning.  My Grandpa, Derold Parker, passed away on Monday morning.  He had been battling cancer for almost a year. For a lot of this past year he has been doing really well, but the last 3 months had definitely gone down hill.  I guess I sort of knew when I said goodbye to him before I left for Peru that it may be the last time I saw him, but it's hard to really say goodbye in that way before you really can say goodbye.  (I'm not sure if that makes sense to everyone, but it makes sense to me) My Grandpa was a very unique man, and I mean that in a good way.  I can't say I have ever known or will ever know anyone who is at all like him.  He had a very big heart, loved to spend time with his grandkids, and had a lot of great stories to tell.  I have many great memories with him.  He is now resting in peace and has no more pain. 

Last week, I talked a lot about the stress and long hours with my job.  Well I guess it is true that hard work pays off.  I had a very successful week at work and everything seems to be coming together with the job.  I have taken in so much information about traveling in Peru, I feel like an expert on places I have never been.  It must have reflected in my conversations with clients this week, because I closed 6 new sales.  My boss, and our investor, sat me down and simply asked me, "How did you do that?"  I guess in the past, it typically has taken a new agent at least a month before they are lucky enough to close one deal.  Needless to say, they were very happy with me, and are now sending me on a free vacation to Machu Picchu the first of April!  They said, if you can sell this good without even knowing the place, we'd like to see how much you can sell after you have been there.  Ok, enough of tooting my own horn!  I was pleasantly surprised with myself and feel much more confident in my abilities.  So, I am looking forward to work this week.  With all the busy hustle and buslte of doing bookings and working closely with a couple of the other girls in the office, I feel like I finally fit in.  I am getting better at communicating in Spanish, and I think they really appreciated my hard work.  Because well, frankly, the more the sales agent sells, the more everyone in the office makes.

This week, I took a taxi every day to work.  And wow, I was in such a better mood.  The taxi drivers are actually pretty nice and usually really like to talk to me.  I enjoy this because it gives me really good practice with my Spanish!  The reason I wanted to mention the taxis and being in a better mood is because I'd like to talk about the importance of putting yourself into a state of mind.  After having a bit of a breakdown last week, I simply made up mind that I was going to make some changes.  My attitude was completely adjusted and I looked at everything as an opportunity.  I smiled, laughed, and enjoyed myself more this week than I can really ever remember doing.  I know many of you have probably read books like The Secret or the Power of Positive Thinking, but have you ever really tried it?  I can't say I believe one theory is exactly correct or that it really brings extra success your way, but I think it does make your life better.  I'm struggling to explain this in words without making it sound really silly, but I think each morning we choose our destiny for that day.  If you wake up dreading going into work, you're going to mope around all day at work.  If you wake up excited about what your working on, you're going to find success and fulfillment.  My thoughts go a lot deeper on this whole subject of positive thinking and living in the now, but for now, I'll just leave it at this.  Remember to give thanks for everything you have, remember to smile at everyone you meet, and remember to take time to take care of yourself.

Again, I spent this weekend here in the city.  Since I had such a great week at work, I decided I was going to dress up and head out on the town.  On Friday night, Julio and I went out walking around the busy downtown area and stopping in a couple places to have a drink or two.  I haven't really been out to the bars here yet, so it was kind of nice just to experience the atmosphere.  We had a lot of fun, maybe a little too much fun, as Julio ended up almost having to carry me home later that night :).  I can't say that going out here is really a whole lot different than going out in a big city in the US.  Here, the parties just last until the sun comes up.  On Saturday, I had to go into work for about 4 hours.  ( I have to work every third Saturday from 10 - 2)  After work, I kind of just walked around the city, went to KFC because I was craving some "American food" and went home to take a nap.  The evening was spent pretty relaxed as well just watching a movie. 

Today, Sunday, may have been the craziest day I have ever had.  Crazy in a really good way.  I woke up without any plans really, and then saw that my landlord had emailed me about a festival going on in the city.  It was just a parade/carnival to celebrate summer.  I thought sure, maybe this will be fun.  It was a blast!  I went with Julio and a couple of his friends.  We then met up with my landlord and one of my roommates.  This wasn't just a parade.  It was a massive mob of people in crazy costumes taking up about 6 city blocks.  The parade wans't something you watched, it was something you were part of.  There were big banners, drumlines, tall charicatures, and about 10,000 hippies.  There were also several bands playing at various locations, lots of food to share, and complete happiness!  Oh, and I haven't mentioned paint!  The main attraction of this parade was the crazy costumes and paint.  There were water guns with paint, ballons with paint, and just buckets of paint everywhere.  People just came up to you with globs and paint and threw it on you or drew on you.  Everyone was covered head to toe in a beautiful canvas of paint!  No one cared how they looked or what they were doing, everyone was just dancing, singing, laughing, and enjoying! It is hard to describe this experience as I don't think there could ever be anything like this in the US.  My landlord, Gloria, took lots of pictures!  As soon as I get some from her, I will put some on here.  The funny thing about being covered in paint is that it made me feel beautiful!  I think I was more beautiful today than I have ever been in my life.

I really hope everyone is doing well!  This week, I got to talk with my family a little more than usual.  Although it was under sad circumstances, it was really nice!  I definitely miss home, my family, and my friends!  I find myself having a little bit of an internal battle.  I feel a little guilty for leaving everything behind, like it was kind of selfish for me to move to Peru.  Yet on the other hand, I am absolutely loving it and can't imagine my life without having this experience.  So I hope you all know how much I think of you and do truly miss you, please come visit me!  I can probably sell you a vacation ;) 

Unfortunately, I kind of forgot to take any pictures this week, so here is a couple more from my trip a couple weeks ago!

Sea Lions at Ballestas Islands
Chillin on the beach