Tuesday, May 31, 2011


As I sit in my office with my coat on (yes it gets cold here!), I am longing for the beautiful summer days of Minnesota.  You may also be wondering why I am sitting in my office writing this; shouldn't I be working?  Yes - I wish with everything in me that I could be working on something of importance.  My work here has continued to be pretty slow.  This month of May was definitely better than April; however, the last two weeks have become pretty void of interested travelers.  Since the majority of our travelers come from the United States, I guess there are a lot of reasons that justify the lag in tourists.  Due to the continually rising gas prices (flights increasing!), an uncertainty about the economy, and continuous natural disasters - there isn't much hope to see a big rise in the interest to spend thousands of dollars on a family vacation to South America.  I am lucky that it was very busy here when I did first arrive and have continued to have some success in booking trips in advance.  My pay is a very small monthly sum as a salary and the rest comes from commission.  I don't get paid my commissions for a client that books until close to the time before the client arrives.  This is good becasue I have a lot of clientes arriving in the next 3 months, so at least I will still continue to have an ok income through August.  However, I am beginning to get a little worried about what will happen after the summer tourist season ends.  I guess I can only hope that the economic situation improves and people become motivated to try to book their holiday travel to Peru!  (I keep repeating this in my head to try to keep myself positive; but I am finding myself growing more anxious every day)  If anyone has a great home business idea they want to share, I may be interested! =)  I've been playing with a few ideas, but to make it happen here - where I am not even a legal resident - may be quite challenging.

The following week will probably bring about some changes in Peru as elections are on Sunday.  As I have written before, the final two candidates for president are not popular and very extreme on each side of the spectrum.  I am honestly a little worried to see what will happen - especially in the smaller cities outside of Lima.  As the North of Peru is strongly in favor of Keiko and the South of Peru is strongly in favor of Humala.  There have already been some problems with riots and protestors, and I can only imagine that after the election results are confirmed there may be some conflict.  It is an interesting situation and as an outsider I am not trying to judge, but I am a little scared for the people of this country. A lot of the hope that was there for a turn around for the people of this country has been diminished as they are forced to choose between these candidates.  I hear a lot of people saying well I am going to vote for "this candidate" because they will do less damage to the country than the other candidate.  What a way to choose... Pick the candidate seen as doing the "lesser damage" to your country.

I guess the reason I haven't wrote in quite a while is that I haven't really done anything very exciting lately.  My life has pretty much consisted of work during the week plus now I have Spanish classes two nights a week.  Then on the weekends, we have pretty much just stayed in Lima.  Julio's schedule is pretty hectic between work and school, so it is hard to really get away and go do anything right now.  I know that I could plan something on my own or go somewhere with friends here, but it isn't as simple as it sounds.  I could arrange to rent a car I guess (I would never be the driver in this city!) or get on any number of buses that may be going to and from my weekend destination, but it takes quite a bit of time.  Also, I honestly wouldn't be comfortable traveling alone on a bus - and I don't think Julio would ever let me attempt it anyway.  So..... hopefully soon we can plan a a 3 day weekend so we can actually go somewhere and get out of the city.

This entire blog sounds a little bit boring and negative, and that is not the tone I am going for.  It is not that anything is persay "bad" here, it kind of just "is".  Since it "is what it is", it really is up to me to accept it and make the most of it.  For the most part I am very happy here and with the way that everything has turned out, but like anywhere you are or anything you do - you have to set the mood yourself.  Right now I guess I am just choosing to be content with "what it is" and really have no complaints.  I do feel myself getting a little anxious though.  Being anxious is not always a negative thing - I honestly think it will probably inspire some motivation.  What that motivation will be for is yet to be determined.  Maybe I will head out on a new life journey, maybe become inspired on the business side, maybe some faith and soul searching, or any number of scenarios I haven't yet fathomed.  As many of you know, I don't just sit with "content" for very long.  I really believe that I excel and thrive off of change and new challenges.  So even though right now I may be at a bit of a stand still, I know there is some excitement over the horizon - I just haven't looked hard enough yet.  =)

My apologies for the lack of pictures - as I usually really enjoy documenting my experiences with first hand photos to share with you all.  My camera has been under repair for almost 2 months now.  Apparently here in Peru, it is impossible to get a new part for a camera.  Or so it seems.... I think I will just go pick up my camera and us it as is - it still functions - the zoom just does not work due to an incident involving sand. (Julio is in no way to blame for this - haha)  Hopefully soon I will have it back!

Also, to all my friends and family - I would love to hear from you!  Look me up on skype or send me an email - I feel a little out of the loop down here.  Take Care Everyone!

Friday, May 6, 2011


About three weeks ago, Julio and I went on a hike outside of Lima.  It was a little over a 2 hour journey heading out of the city with a combination of combis, taxis, and a bus.  Driving through the outskirts of Lima, I can't help but be amazed by what I see.  It feels entirely impossible to leave this city.  Even as the city road begins to wind through the foothills and  up into the mountains, there are still people living in every liveable crevice.  The land is very uninhabitable in many areas, as it is pretty much dessert like rock/sand hills with virtually no vegetation.  People live all along the highway, right up to the highway, and on up the side of the mountain anywhere they can put a semi fixed structure to call their home.  There is very little regulation as far as land ownership and property lines are concerned.  You could go as far as to say it is unexistent in some regions.  To be honest, it is a little hard to see.  I realize many of these people have no where to go, probably have no jobs as there isn't much out on the outskirts of the city, but it still feels like something should be done.  Where are all these people coming from?  Even Julio commented that since the last time he had been out of the city this direction he did not recall there being this many people.  It is like you can't find the country, no matter how far you keep going.  This is a very disturbing thought and feeling for a girl who comes from southwest MN.  It also opens my eyes wide to how fortunate I am to have grown up in the United States.  I'm not trying to imply that it is a matter of being better or worse, but we definitely have priveleges and assistance in the U.S. that are not possible in a 3rd world country. 

Eventually, we did reach a point along the river valley where everything turned green and beautiful as we begin to really drive into the tall mountains of the Andes.   We got dropped off at a small village where we paid a fee of 2 soles to enter the trail.  It was supposed to be a 3 hour hike up to a beautiful waterfall deep in the mountains.  We didn't start until about 11 am and we knew the rains were expected to begin later in the afternoon, so we started out in a hurry.  I like to think I am pretty in shape and can keep up with the best, and I tried my darndest.  Julio is also quite an athlete, and I think one who is not accustomed to traveling with a girl =).  The first hour was very intense, up, up, and up.  The trail was fairly well mainted for a while, but then turned into a very jagged rocky trail and not real easy to hike.  The most amaing thing was that there were several very small villages and farms along the way.  We even had to jump off the path in a hurry as an andean women herded her cows, donkeys, and sheep down the mountain with her 2 small kids running along beside her.  This was not real easy terrain to maneuver in, and the fact that these people probably do this every day - 5 times a day - now that is the way to train for a marathan!  Anyway, we began to close in on what seemed like it should be the top as we saw a sign that said 2 km to the falls - I think the hike was 5 km each way.  I must admit - I needed a break!  I was beat and having a hard time catching my breathe in the high altitude.  After a couple granola bars, some water, and a short rest - we finally climbed up the rest of the way.  At a little slower of a pace as I think Julio finally realized he was a little intense for me.  We reached the viewpoint in record time and had about an hour to sit and enjoy the scenery.  It was a beautiful set of waterfalls in an almost rainforest like setting.  The vegetation is absolutely amaing in these mountains. I pointed to two small homes at the very top and said to Julio, "Can you build me a house there?"  I don't think he realizes that I actually am serious. A couple of the hikers we had passed on the way up began to reach the top as well - one of them was very friendly and wanted to take our picture.  He then emailed me the pictures from the hike so I have something to share.  Here is a picture of us on our way back down.

After getting back down at about 3 pm we headed out to get the first bus back towards Lima.  We were both exhausted and not feeling the best.  I began to have this pain in my head while we were on the bus - all I could do was close my eyes.  When we stopped to transfer buses I had to grab a little something to eat and drink because the pain in my head was making me feel sick.  Finally, we just decided it was better to go and get home.  We got in a combi - extremely crowded, smelly, and loud.  This was not good.  I have never felt such pain in my life - the last hour of that drive was one of the most miserable things I have ever experienced.  Julio knew I was struggling - and he was trying so hard to help, but I couldn't even look at hiim or talk to him.  Luckily I eventually got a seat and opened the window with my head almost hanging out to try to get some air.  Some guy on the bus was trying to yell at me to close my window and started throwing a fit.  Julio got so mad and got into it pretty good with this guy.  Sometimes - I am glad I can not understand all of the Spanish.  Anyways, we finally got off the bus and got back to Julio's house with him pretty much dragging me along as I was too dizzy to hardly walk myself.  I had tears pouring down my face and the worst headache I have ever felt in my life.  I guess I now know what a migraine is!  I symphathize with any and all people who suffer from this - especially my little brother who used to get migraines all the time.  I have never felt so horrible and hope I never have another!  I kind of feel like it wasn't just the hike and altitude that made me sick, but maybe a combination of all the stresses in my life that I had been holding in.   Julio took such good care of me though, I must say I am one very lucky girl!

Life has been pretty casual around here the last couple of weeks.  Work had been really slow for a couple weeks, I believe due to the hike in flight prices in April.  Luckily the last two weeks have seen a little relief in airline prices - and it sounds like gas may have reached the peak and either level off or head down - so things are looking up!  I had a really busy week this week at work and I can tell my mood is up already.  When work is slow I feel unproductive, bored, and not as motivated to even do other things in my life.  I truly prefer to be so busy that it feels like a tornado just went through the office.  I kind of thrive on the energy and fast pace - and I can tell that it directly impacts how I am outside of work.  After a busy day at work I come home with my mood up and feeling productive - it is a good feeling!

The weather here is really beginning to change.  It is a little more dreary outside and the temperatures have definitely dropped in the evenings.  I also am feeling some physical side affects to this climate change.  My allergies have always bothered, but I did get allergy shots in high school and they actually helped some.  My allergies were not real bad throughout college or while I lived in Colorado.  Here, there most be something new I am allergic too.  I semi jokingly said I was allergic to the city, but in all reality I kind of think I am.  I have been feeling a little trapped - gasping for fresh air and open fields!  Now, it's not just the emotional pull I am feeling, but also something physically telling me my body was not made for this.  Well, I'm not planning on leaving anytime soon, so let's hope I adjust quickly!

Good night to all - thanks for reading my random blog.

Monday, May 2, 2011


I know I had said I wasn't going to blog on such a regular schedule, but I did not intend to abandon my blog for this long.  You could say I've been feeling a little unmotivated as of late.  I'm not sure what has come over me the last couple weeks - well other than a lack of motivation.  Life is becoming a little challenging at times, and I am not progressing in my life here the way I had hoped.  I have very high expectations of myself and when those are not met, I have a hard time excepting the truth.  I kind of give up or get down when things aren't going real well.  It is hard for me to deal with these times, I think, becasue 9 times out of 10 in my life things have gone really well.  Everything from academics, sports, moving, jobs, or life changes - I typically handle, adjust, and succeed. 

Some things are not coming to me as easily as I had hoped - mainly language. Since language is the basis for any social or academic progression - all of that has pretty much halted as well.  I felt a real progression for like the first maybe 6 weeks that I was living here, but now, these last six weeks have pretty  much felt like a stand still.  I admit that this is mostly my own fault.  Due to some frustration and absolute boredom with trying to study on my own, I have made absolutely no efforts to study and push myself.  I have reached a point in my abilities where I can communicate and make out what is being asked of me.  However, this is on a very basic level of communication.  When it comes to social matters, local lingo, talking in groups, or understanding when someone isn't speaking directly and clearly - I am pretty much lost.  This inability to just catch on once I knew the vocab is very frustrating.  As I said before, I had high expectation and thought I would just start to pick things up and be speaking like a regular Peruvian.  It has only been 3 months, and I realize these expectations are crazy; however, part of me though maybe it was possible.  At long last, I don't have the patience to just wait around until I eventually start to speak better. (this could take like a year!)  I have decided that one of the biggest benefits I will receive out of living in Peru is becoming somewhat fluent in another language.  This will undoubtedly be a big help in my future and open many possibilities for future jobs.   Not to mention that I no longer want to be that "American" that only speaks "American". (and yes I meant to say speaks American instead of speaks English)  This weekend I began my search for a language school that teaches Spanish.  Surprisingly, there are a ton of schools that offer spanish language classes to expats living in Peru.  The problem lies in the schedule of this classes.  Most schools are targetting full time students and offering a full language immersion. (this means between 4 - 8 hours of class everyday during the day)  There are a couple schools that offer alternative class options that only require one class a day, but these classes are only offered during the hours that I am working.  At long last I found two schools that have possible schedules that may work for me.  One school offered a four hour class every Saturday, so I called to inquire.  It turns out that even though they advertise this class, it only becomes available when enough interest arises to put a class together - currently I am the only one interested. Alas, I found one school that offers a night class - Monday - Wednesday - Friday - from 6-8pm.  This could potential be a very good option.  I need to talk to my boss and possibly renegotiate my hours/wages to make room for this class.  I typically work until 6:30pm currently - I would have to probably leave work by 5:15 in order to get to my class on time.  Also, this school happens to be apparently the best language school in Lima; therefore, the most expensive.  Time will tell, but I hope in the near future I will be enrolled!  Wow - this is probably really boring for someone to read.  I apologize, but it is what is weighing heavy on my mind currently.  Fixing the language issue is really the first step for me to expand my horizons and fully enjoy this culture and experience.  Without it I basically feel like I am walking around with a blindfold on.

I think I am going to call it a night.  I have a couple stories and topics I want to touch on, but I will save that for tomorrow as I am pretty much falling asleep on my computer as we speak.  =) Goodnight World