Monday, June 27, 2011


1. What is a hot shower? Because that is one thing I miss. I could handle it if it weren't only 55 degrees before I get in.

2. How necessary is a baby toe nail? Because while trying to clean up my nails the other day I'm pretty sure the whole thing basically fell off. Oh well- now it just looks goofy.

3. Where did June go? Because I can not believe I only have 2 more classes this month and then its July! Wow. Some days sure seemed long but overall I am surprised I have been in Peru 5 weeks now.

Anyways, this weekend was fun. On Saturday I went to a little town festival a few miles out of the city with local friends. It was the 20th anniversary of this celebration and the main celebration was of a drink they make by fermented figs, similar to wine. It was interesting but they had good local food and live music.

Another exciting bit of information is I found 100 soles ($37) in my drawer that I forgot I had.

Sunday Karlene and I made a Costa Rican dish (Peruvian style due to the lacking necessary spices or extra flavors)

We went out with friends Saturday night. This is Karlene and I on the way in the back seat of the car.

                                    Here is how we dry our laundry here in Arequipa.

Hope all are well back in the U.S.! I miss you!

Monday, June 20, 2011

The weekend

       So this weekend, we finally took pictures! But first, a teaching update. Thursday was Extreme’s equivalent to “casual Friday” so that means staff could wear jeans –which I loved! And the students could order pizza if they wanted. So my first class, being high school-ers, of course wanted to and we did. It took away from class learning as I expected but at the same time, I liked interacting with the students at a more relaxed level and to get to know them a little better. It was good class bonding time as well, so I let I didn’t enforce quite as much that they only do school work. We had a review day, and a more relaxed day with pizza.

       Then Friday came. During the day Friday, Karlene and I wandered to get some lunch. The waiter laughed at us when we walked in since we are now “regulars” there. I’m sure it is not common because it is not a very touristy restaurant so I’m sure we are the only “foreigner regulars” at this place. However we enjoy it. It always has good music, usually has good food, good staff and a good price. So we go almost every day. It is called “The Meeting Point” which Karlene and I had to laugh about.

     But back to class-who wants to still go to class at 5-7 or worse 7-9pm on a Friday night to practice English? So I did my best to create fun activities for them while still learning a bit. It turned out to be a nice evening, but it was a long week so Karlene and I went out with two of our co-workers for a beer and relaxing night. It was fun to joke around with them. We ended up running into a few other co-workers and even some students! We chatted a while with them and had a nice time.

      Saturday, I had class with the little munchkins. Because they are getting more comfortable with me, they were joking around and talking a lot amongst each other. This was a bitter sweet moment. I have a soft spot for children and more so when they are playing and laughing together. It was beautiful. But I am suppose to be “teaching” English so I had to draw back their attention to the activity and then while doing it- they could still talk among each other a bit.

       Afterwards, I had some time to kill so I took a few pictures of the house- late I know, but better then never! (and by the way, some good news is that we don’t have to move out! I think the director realized part of the agreement was that we would be living here, so he is allowing that until August but no one else will be living here after us). So below are a few images of the house!
The outside

Living room that we have only used once since it's so cold. We do have a Foosball table but  no balls.

Our kitchen.

Our dinning room that is almost way to cold to actually ever sit in and eat without parkas.

A nice little computer room we have. There is internet but it is very picky about when it wants to work.

My room- can you tell which side is mine?

Here is a picture of one of the classrooms I teach in- it is also (illegally) in the house.

My students' artwork

A days hard work!

This is Karlene's room

    After sitting on our porch for about a half an hour, enjoying the few hours of sun and warmth we get, we wanted to find a new place to eat lunch. Our friends had mentioned a place over by their place that they liked so we thought we’d try to find it even though we had no clue exactly where it was. After about an hour of wandering, our stomachs gave up and said just eat anywhere. So we stopped and had a decent meal. We continued walking after and found the nicest park in this neighborhood we were in. Below are some pictures. But by now it was about 4:30 and the sun was heading down- meaning it was getting chilly to just be outside in a t-shirt so we went home to take a little nap.

The entrance

Beautiful flowers everywhere!

      Saturday evening we made plans to go out with a friend. We went to this nice, swanky little bar. There was about 4 levels to it and each level had a different atmosphere. Due to the prices, we each only had one drink, but we stayed a long time having a fun conversation (on the third floor). Then we went to the first level which had a disco / dance place. We went in and had a lot of fun dancing there. Because we decided to wear our new high heels out, we probably spent half of the time sitting and resting our poor feet. Our friend asked why we would even buy such shoes. Karlene and I laughed saying for one- we look cute! But also that he is a guy so he just wouldn’t understand. Besides our sore feet, we had a great night.
This was the first time we really saw Arequipa. Pablo took us on a ride around all of Arequipa. It was huge! It now seems like a city of 1 million people. I guess we just didn’t get that impression before since we had always only explored by foot. There was a lot to seem, and seems like a fun city. It was very nice of him to give us a tour of town. He also explained the good beaches to go to- so hopefully karlene and I can get over there one weekend. It is only about 2-3 hours in the bus. Only downfall is that it is winter here, so it is cold! But we have to at least go to see it, even if we don’t go swimming.

Cute girls

     Sunday got cut a bit short since I didn’t wake up until 2. I guess I needed sleep! Then it turned into a nice day. With no specific plans, we walked in a new direction to find a new place to eat at. We found a new ceviche place to eat at. The staff was friendly and it had good food. My favorite part was the wall art. There were names of all different famous music artists painted on the wall (from the Beatles to U2 to Coldplay to Lenny Kravits – a random collection). This was such a little place it was not as if all the artists had visited. Unfortunately we forgot to take a picture when leaving.

Octopus in clam shells!

      However that reminds me of another amusing fact. Famous people. There is something attractive here about name-dropping even if there hasn’t really been anyone here to visit. The restaurant above is one example. Another one is we saw what appeared to be a kinder-care or some sort of children’s care center. Yet is was called the “Bill Gates children’s place” or something to that affect. It was such a small place, and in a little neighborhood that I’m 99% sure Bill Gates doesn’t actually have any connection to the place. Secondly, we walked by a hair place that had a picture of Paul Walker on their sign, possibly advertising his hair style? But again, there is not a chance Paul Walker has gotten his hair cut there before. I’ll have to try to remember to get a picture next time. Lastly, I saw an advertisement for a local restaurant that had a picture of Brad Pitt- again highly doubtful he has been there. How funny the ideas the people have here of what will draw the people in to their businesses.

    After lunch, we explored a new part of our Yanahuara neighborhood. Below are a few pictures.

A creepy little mini door we found. We actually realized it was a house- we think abandoned. It was too creepy for us to actually walk in to explore, but it was interesting enough to capture the picture. 

Here, again, we found a odd plot of land. To get this picture, we had to climb on rocks and peer around an 8 foot tall black door. It seemed as if no one lived there. However, if you look closely- you can see a cow head. Oh goodness, how funny but really, how bizarre. We were not sure if it was their protector or just decoration. You decide for yourself.

An interesting statue of a colonel from 1880.

Lastly, some stolen flowers and a quick snap shot of the lovely Caitlin.
        For dinner, we experimented with making our own squid. We bought a little one from the grocery store and Karlene (being a better cook- I suppose I should say the only cook since quite frankly I don’t know how to cook much of anything) cut it apart and cooked it up. We don’t have many spices or extras so it tasted a bit fishy, but good.

YES- that is a squid. eye balls and all.

We found the ink sac. 

Thanks to Karlene, it turned out well!
      The only bad part of the day was that our internet is down for a couple of days so I didn’t get to Skype my dad for Father’s Day. I love you dad! Hope you had a great day. And happy (belated) Father’s day to all the other wonderful dads in the world. 

Even though it is doubtful he will actually see this and it is not from Peru, I had to put it in because I love him and I miss you, Dad!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Beans and a Broom!

Unfortunately those two things are the most exciting things since the last post. For lunch yesterday, I ordered fish and a side of (white) beans came with it. They were very good, but beans are just very rare here in Peru. Having previously been in Costa Rica and Nicaragua and eating (black or red) beans at least twice everyday, it is different to never have them here - so me getting beans for lunch was great.

Secondly, we finally borrowed a broom. We don't have any cleaning supplies in the house and haven't yet made the investment to buy our own cleaning supplies. So a clean floor was very exciting for us (finally for the third week!) And furthermore, we were told we may be on the hunt for a new place to live the next 2 months, since the neighbors complain too much. We will see....

So it was somewhat sarcasm that that is all that has happened, but it has been pretty much just been lesson planning, classes, and eating. And the worst part (for you) is there haven't been any new pictures. We are hoping to get one or two this coming weekend. Last weekend we ventured to the market, used some bargaining skills and got ourselves a new pair a cute boots. You could argue it wasn't the best financial decision since we already are cut short on money for food- but you have to live your life to the fullest which includes doing fun things for yourself sometimes.

Classes have been interesting still. The kids last Saturday I had were fun however it is just more babysitting than actually having class. Sure I still speak in English and teach certain phrases, nouns and verbs but because it is only once a week for two hours- I'm sure it is difficult from them to really retain very much. Nonetheless, I have fun talking with them. The kids give me energy! For the week classes (with high school, college and adults) I had my best day and worst day so far back to back this week. I had a much smaller class than normal with one class and this resulted in great participation, joking, and "ah-ha!" moments for the students which made me excited and feel like a successful teacher. The next day, they did not listen at all, talked to each other the whole time and didn't participate. Then in the second class, they could not grasp the grammar concept that day. The more we tried to understand, the more all got confused. It just turned to be a quite frustrating and exhausting day for all. I know this is part of teaching- some days the students just won't "get it" but it was still discouraging and I'm hoping I can walk in today with double the energy to tackle it all over again.

Karlene and I met a nice couple from New York and we had lunch at their house the other day. We grilled Alpaca burgers, had a lovely lunch out in the sun and a great conversation about our previous experiences in life and the impact it has had in our lives. We compared it to Peru and really shared some great experiences and thoughts. It is nice to have a group of people to be able to take it all in individually and then debrief together since it affects each person differently. Part of the conversation we had was the challenge it is to go back to the U.S. and explaining our experiences to others. Even when people truly care and want to know- it is difficult to fully understand without actually walking the same ground as we are. For this, we decided its a really great idea to blog some of our thoughts so you all have a basic idea of our lives and then can ask about specific events that we write about or questions about the stories or crazy foods we eat. We want to share our experiences but sometimes it is a struggle to really come up with words to properly fit the story. So for that, I hope you are enjoying reading this so the "how was your trip" question when I get home can be more useful to "how was the utter you tried!?" or "tell me about being crammed in a combi with 30 people."

So I suppose I should explain what a combi is. This is basically a large mini van - maybe with 16-18 actually seats. Well these are the public transportation around Peru (and really around much of Latin America to some variation.) Anywhere you go, you see the combi's. There is one person who will stand at the door and constantly yell out where that particular combi is heading to if you want to get on or not. If you want on, you wave down the combi who will stop for about 13 seconds as the person yells "sube sube sube" (get on, get on, get on.) He or she will also collect your money for the transportation. So far, it is fairly normal- but then let's talk about how many people are actually pushed onto this vehicles. Depending on the hour, they can be so full that the person who collects the money is actually outside the van basically hugging the doorway (so that he is the door himself since it won't actually shut) so that no one falls out. Normally Karlene and I just choose to walk, but we rode one the other day. There had to be at least 30-35 people on this combi and although no one could move, the person was still yelling (while hanging onto the door barely in himself) "move back! There is more room!" This made me laugh because literally no one could move. Then it was our time to get out which was a whole new challenge because no one moves- you just need to shove your body through the crowd. A little different from the St. Paul bus system I'm used to back home.

Well I should probably start figuring out how my night will play out with my students. Have a great day!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


      Clean clothes and sheets was definitely the highlight of this week. As plans continue changing, we didn't have anyone to do our laundry as we were hoping. We searched places around town but finally (week 3) decided we would just do it ourselves since Karlene and I were being a little cheap. Anyways, we bought powder laundry soup, filled the kitchen sink and washed a few loads. When we went onto the roof/patio/deck to hang the clothes on the chairs to dry, we found the real laundry station with clothes line to hang things. It just happened to be located where the beast dog sleeps, eats, and poops so we didn't want to go near there. Nonetheless, we now have clean, starchy wrinkly clothes- yay! Better yet, we had someone come and wash our sheets. Karlene even found a lovely 8-legged crawling friend in her bed as she was taking her sheets off.

    Other good news- we completed week one! It was a lot of work and we're happy to have a day off tomorrow. Yesterday at lunch we were discussing how we are not sure how we are going to go back to the US to work a 40 hours week if we are exhausted from week one of 23 hours. (Technically it is more because  we have to lesson plan and prepare, but we are only in the class 23 hours.) Tonight we are going to relax!

    Food.... unfortunately our food arrangement has changed. Instead of the deal of getting 2 authentic meals a day, we now get a small amount of money a month to either go out or buy food on our own to cook. Oh well, we will make do. We have found a nice little place by our house that is good price, good food, and clean. But Thursday we found a place by the plaza. On the menu, there was "ubre" so we asked what it was. The lady from the next table over simple put it as, (in Spanish) the cow's utter. She then proceeded to cut a piece off her plate so that Karlene and I could try it. (more peruvian nice-ness in action!) We tried it, decided we didn't love it and got the cow tongue in stead. I have tried this before, but it was good. It is not a typical meal in the U.S. and so I have got to try new things when I can!

Off to the market again. We got a used cell phone but need to get a charger. Once we do that, we'll be like real peruvians and can interact and socialize. :)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


So now I have actually started teaching with the older kids-adults. I have a range of anywhere from 14 to 31 year olds in my class. This makes interesting dynamics with the range of maturity, interest and motivation. Nonetheless it is the job and I need to make the best of it. The first day was great for both of my classes. There was good participation and I felt we had fun. The second day turned to be more frustrating with lack of participation or energy. I tried to keep mine up and still have fun but it was more challenging. Finally today was a mix between the two. As it is my first time, I will need to keep adjusting my ways of teaching to find out what works best with each group.

Another thing is the organization. I knew I was coming to Peru and was expecting things to change- as they had already changed multiple times before arriving- but things just continue changing each day, not just with teaching but also housing, food, politics. Anything. For example, since the first day of teaching, my classroom has changed 4 times each for both of my classes. But "asi es la vida" would be a fitting phrase basically meaning "such is life" you just have to roll with it and make the best of what you got.

The days have been filled with lesson planning so far, but as I get more practice hopefully I will have more free-time to have more adventures. Hope all is well from wherever you are reading from. :)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday funday

So today we woke up to go to a church service only to discover it was canceled today (or rather rescheduled for last night) because of the presidential elections today. Instead we decided to go exploring around Arequipa some more. Locals had told us about this pretty view point of the city so we walked up there. It was right by a nice, pretty (and clean) park called 'Parque de Yanahuara'. We talked with a nice older gentleman there. All the people here are so nice and friendly. Everyone just wants to start up a conversation to say hello and know where we are from. Below is the picture of the park from both sides.

There was also a pretty church of some sort of the side. There are so many throughout the city.

Then the actual "viewpoint" was these huge arch ways with the view of all the city with the mountains and volcano in the background. We weren't sure how new it was but very well taken care of.

A totem pole

Then  we found a cute arch-way off to the side that looked quite picturesque so we took a picture and then started wandering down the cobble stone road.

Along this road, we saw a cute little restaurant that we thought might also be a hotel so we walked in to check it out. Of course the people were very friendly (first explaining it was only a restaurant) but let us wander down to take more pictures, since it also had a good view. Here is one of Peru's pine tree on the right with the Volcano in the background on the left.

Here are some of the flowers that were surrounding the restaurant. 

It was so nice we decided to eat there and had delicious fish. The last picture also shows a typical Peruvian drink called "Chicha Morada" which (depending who makes it exactly) includes purple corn juice, anise, apple/orange juice, cinnemon, nutmeg. It is very good.

Even though this wasn't a hotel (looking for a place for Karlene's parents to stay), the waiter thought that next door was something similar. So we wandered over to ask. We were very warmly greeted by the "administrator" there. She gave us a lovely tour of the place and told us all they had to offer. It was more of a bed and breakfast than a hotel. We were probably there 45 minutes talking to this woman. This goes to show how friendly the people are talking to us and wanting to show off their city and culture. It was lovely. This is one side of it.

We finished the afternoon by taking our picture with the bronze bull statues in the city. 

And right outside our house, I caught a glimpse of the mountains through the trees so I made Karlene take a picture of it. The sun was hitting it just right to make them stand out. I just don't get bored of looking at them- they are always so pretty to me. However none of the photos ever quite do justice to the beauty I get to see!

[All these pictures today are thanks to the lovely photographer Karlene :) ]

Saturday, June 4, 2011

El mercado

We found a wonderful "outdoor" market (with a roof). It is huge with a variety of anything and everything you could ever want to buy. It felt somewhat intrusive to take pictures everywhere but this is an example of the "fruit aisle." So much to choose from! 

[And just a side note- if you want to see the pictures bigger, just click on them and it opens a separate page.]

First week in Arequipa

The internet has been down for a while so I haven't been able to write but I sure have been busy the first week in Arequipa. Karlene and I have been walking everywhere to get to know the place, and just as something to do. Last Friday night we went out with some of the teachers from the school which was nice to get to know them and some of our co-workers. We went to the only "Mexican" restaurant in town (in Peru). Better yet- it was started by a Canadian. Hmm... The following night we went out with our roommate and his girlfriend to get to know the night life a bit. Our other roommates also moved in- a couple from London. All a fun, relaxed group- but I suppose it makes sense since not anyone would just pick up to go to Peru for a long period of time.

At night we have often wandered up to the local mall, again just as an activity to do. We frequently find our selves singing or just being goofy. We have quite compatible personalities which helps since we're sharing a room in the house. In the mall, there is a walmart- type store which we walk around. In the produce section, found some very large kiwis that we thought impressive enough to photograph.

Speaking of food, Karlene and I have gone out to eat a few times. We were recommended to go to a ceviche (for those unfamiliar with this food, it a basically fish cooked in lime juice). Anyways it was delicious! Karlene tried the octopus and I had a combination of fish, shrimp, calamari and some other tasty sea creature which I don't know what was. These were our dishes:

The combination (it is covered with onions but there was a good variety below.)

It was a delicious dish and a filling portion and we later understood why due to the prices. So we then started to look for a bit cheaper of places to eat. We have eaten the last 3 days for $1.25 a plate- much better!

While walking around town, we got some pretty shots of the city. We even made a friend named Alonso.
The alpaca wasn't super fond of how close we got.
We also found some tennis courts! Too bad I didn't bring my racket. However it is a private club.
I believe I counted 12!

Karlene and I even got our first picture of us together! More importantly- look at the beautiful background.
    Starting Tuesday, we started with training. We had just a basic- get to know you- meeting with the Staff. Then Wednesday and Thursday they did a quick crash course or it could even maybe be called boot camp- to get us "ready" to teach. (I later learned it was the first time they did that. I was surprised because I would think they would always want to train the teachers with their methods or ways. However some bumpy areas gave it away that it wasn't the first time- still good to have for us!) It was a lot in two days and on Friday we got to observe another teacher. This helped to see the good and bad. Then this morning I got to hop into my own class of 6-8 year olds. I had 7 of them. Being that no one told me what they had been previously taught I was on my own to decide what I wanted to teach. That was good for my own creativity but it turned out they had known more than I thought. We improvised and had fun! I even got a "Welcome, nice to meet you!" picture from one student. Very cute.
To finish this off, here are some pictures of the city. I'm not sure what all the buildings are called, but they are pretty. The buildings still have a very Spanard feel to them from the conquer so many years ago.

A library (thought mom would appreciate) we even went in and climbed on the roof!

Pretty garden in a park.

Main Plaza

Mini door- still unsure of the purpose.

Overview at night.

Another night shot.

Woman feeding the pigeons- they're everywhere!

shopping area
Off to the market now! Enjoy the pictures! Bye