Sunday, February 5, 2012

6 Month Recap

I took a stance about 6 months ago that I didn't need to share my life with everyone through my blog.  I closed the book and kind of wanted to keep my life private.  I have always been a more private person - I like to tell stories of my adventures, but naturally leave out any real personal anecdotes.  I have never really needed/wanted a lot of support, encouragement, or advice from other people; thus I avoid situations where people will feel they need to give me those thing.  It is not to say that I do not care or don't truly enjoy the company of others, I just don't like to make everything about "me".  I would rather sit, enjoy hearing all about the trials and triumphs of all my friends and family, and offer my support and advice if asked for.  In regards to this blog, these feelings have put me in a bit of a hard spot.  I do want to share my experiences because I know it is important for my family and friends to feel in touch, I also do want to keep a record for myself of the experiences I have had, and I actually do enjoy the writing aspect of this.  I also do have a new reason for continuing the blogging - that will be touched on soon enough. =)

Lodge at Puemape

Rewind to my last blog:  It was the middle of winter here, and I was preparing for a get away with Julio and another couple, Andrea & Pato, whom we are friends with................. At the end of July, the four of us headed out on a 8 day trip to the North of Peru.  It was about a 10 hour journey or so, but we were traveling with our own vehicle so it wasn't too bad.  We were able to stop and enjoy different things along the way.  In general, the entire coast of Peru is dessert; however, it is still the most inhabited area of Peru because it is along the ocean.  Outside of Lima is much MUCH different than in Lima.  Basic infrastructure - meaning roads, water, electricity, sewage management, garbage disposal, etc... - exists, but it is hard to find and usually is in disaray.  We arrived to our destination, which was a famous surfing point called Puemape.  To my surprise, there was nothing here - literally some brick buildings half built/fallen apart, a couple of nice houses, a shack that was a surf shop, and our lodge - which was in an old train car.  Who knows how this train car was ever left along the dessert coast, but it was my "cabana" for the week.  Nonetheless, it was a quiet place to relax outside of the city - which was exactly what I wanted.  We went on several day trips from this point, including visits to Trujillo, local villages, a great oasis to hike to, and most importantly to Cajamarca.  Cajamarca is an amazing historical city tucked away in the Andes Mountains.  It was a little over 3 hours to get there, but we enjoyed amazing views along the way as we made our way up the curvy roads as we ascended into "heaven".  This is one of the few areas in Peru that still has a real forrest within the Andes.  The area was so lush and green, with full size trees everywhere, fresh air, and breathtaking scenery.  We visited a couple of the local sights and enjoyed the city's historical main square.  The city of Cajamarca is much like a smaller version of the ancient city of Cuzco - with so many historical buildings over 500 years old.  We found a little hostal to spend the night in and enjoyed our time in Cajamarca, which was obviously the highlight of the trip for me!

For the next couple of months, I pretty much just worked and continued with my regular routine.  Julio and I did get away one weekend to the South with some friends, but other than that I can't say we did a whole lot that was really noteworthy.  I was begining a short lived fitness regimen with my new 3 month gym membership and Julio was busy with the start of his next semester in school. 

Playing with Hud!
My next trip, the most important one of all, was finally almost here!  On September 29th, I boarded a midnight flight back to Minneapolis, MN.   It had been a LONG 8 months without seeing my family and friends.  My favorite little man in the world was even waiting to welcome me at the airport.  I was so glad to get to spend time with my nephew, Hudson, and even more excited that he remembered me so well!!  (probably in large part due to his Mom & Dad reminding him - thanks guys!)  I enjoyed a wonderful 2 1/2 weeks back home with my family.  The majority of my time was spent just at home enjoying my parents new house, babysitting Hudson, spending time with my Grandma, and of course getting the chance to check up with old friends.  I forgot how nice it is to speak ENGLISH with everyone I am around.  To have a conversation without my brain straining to understand and be understood was definitely the best part of the trip.  It was also just so wonderful to see everyone and catch up on old times.  To be honest, it really didn't even feel like I had been gone very long.  I think that is one of the best and the worst things about a small town - nothing really ever changes :-).   It was so easy to pick up right where I left off with everyone and hear about how everyone's summers had been and what was new in life.  I am very blessed and have the most amazing family and friends a girl could ask for.  After an exciting time back home, I guess you could say I was ready to return back to my schedule and mostly to see Julio.  Although it was probably a good break for each of us, I think we were both surprised how much you miss just having that person around.

During my trip back home, I had made some choices about changes I needed to make to my life in Lima.  I realized that so much of my time and energy was being focused on a job that was really just a job.  The main reason I moved to Peru was not so that I could work my life away making $1000 a month.  This was hardly enough money to justify working 40 hours a week and not having the freedom to travel when I wanted, go out and meet other people, have free time to just explore and learn about the culture, or to enroll in school to actually really start learning more Spanish.  Work was beginning to get slow, and that $1000 I was earning a month had turned into about $500.  It was time for some changes.  I shifted my priorities and talked with my boss about changing to a part time schedule.  Not only would I be able to still manage just as many accounts and make just as much money, but I would have free time and could finally enroll in a school.  I don't think anyone at my job was real happy with this decision, but it was the only thing that made sense to me and the only way I would have stayed at the job.  So I began having classes every morning from 9:00 - 11:00 am in a school close to my house in order to learn Spanish.  My work schedule was switched to 30 hours a week and I worked from 1:00pm - 7:00pm with just a small paycut.  (Almost all of my income comes from commission anyway, so the cut to monthly salaray was less than a $100 - totally worth it!)  From the first day of my class on October 31st, I knew I had made the best decision and could not believe I didn't make this change earlier.  Enrolling in school meant new challenges to work toward, meeting other people (expats) in the exact same situation as me, and gaining a whole new level of confidence in my Spanish speaking abilities.  I felt a new energy, happy and motivated!!

New Year's Eve on the beach

The following months of November and December were very enjoyable for me.  The climate had changed and the sun was back out!!  What a huge difference sun  makes in your life.  I can't even express the happiness I feel walking outside enjoying warm temperatures and the sun beating down on me.  Lima really is composed of two seasons - 6-7 months of gray skies with a cold wet dampness in the air, then 5-6 months of warm weather with plenty of sunshine!  My attitude had done a complete 180; I was loving my classes at La Catolica, enjoying the changing seasons, and feeling so motivated.  This bit of freedom from my job had really opened my eyes to how much I could accomplish myself.  A lot of ideas began flowing in out as to how I could make money without going to a job everyday that provides me with no new challenges or satisfaction.  The job was good in a sense that it taught me a lot about Peru, I love working with my clients, and it was a good starting point when I arrived to Peru.  However, why I am settling for a job that limits my abilities and earning potential when I could do so much more.  Although this may come across like a "white supremicist" statement, the fact is that it is true.  I simply have more resources and opportunties available to me than a normal Peruvian because of where I come from and the opportunties I have had available to me in my life.  That is not a popular or socially correct statement, but my eyes were being opened to the fact that I don't have to just settle for what I have now.

Christmas Eve - with Julio's mom, Adela.
I think my new found motivation and desire to take action to change my situation was a bit of a surprise to Julio.  It was probably the first time Julio had seen me not so dependent on him, and this was definitely a good thing.  I was starting to meet people on my own, could finally communicate on a social level in Spanish, and was working towards some career changes.  I have no doubt that these changes have brought Julio and I much closer and more in touch as a couple.  He has given me endless support and is working hard to help me move forward with future projects in my life.  During the past two months. Julio and I have also spent a lot more time together and talking about plans for the future.  We have been spending most of our weekends heading to the beaches in the South, traveling, or enjoying the holidays.  My Christmas was spent with Julio's family at his house on Christmas Eve.  It was just his parents, two sisters, brother, and me.  I am so thankful that his family has welcomed me and made me really feel like part of the family.  His mother always looks out for me and treats me just like I am one of her kids.  The communication hasn't always been easy, but it just goes to show that love and support does not necessarily need a lot of words. 

Finally, we arrive to the present.  Friday was my final day of work at the travel agency and yesterday was my one year anniversary in Peru, so I celebrated by doing absolutely nothing.  I have had the majority of this weekend to myself as Julio left yesterday morning for a one night camping trip with some of his high school buddies.  I actually feel relieved to just be in Lima with nothing on the agenda this weekend.  As I stated before, the last two months have been filled with plans for every weekend, so it is a nice change to just do nothing.  Apparently the SuperBowl is in a couple of hours, haha - who knew!, so my roommate and I will be getting back to our American roots by watching the SuperBowl with a six-pack of beer. 

Look for more updates soon as life continues to bring us surprises!

1 comment:

  1. So glad you're back!!!! Loved reading about the past months and REALLY look forward to where you go from here!!
    A little note... Aleela will be having her baby sometime in the next few weeks. Her due date is 2/25, but there is a good chance it may be a week or so early. YAY!!! We are just so excited!!
    Be well, my dear. And take good care of yourself!!