Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Residency, networking, and job searching!

What a day! I have to recount everything. It was so full and I am so exhausted but if I don't write it all out now I may never get it out. Here we go!

Today started at 6am for me and 5:30am for Marco. I got up and dressed quickly so I could make birthday breakfast for Marco before we left for work and for immigrations. I made him scrambled eggs with hot dog and fresh squeezed orange juice. We headed out and I made my way to the Metropolitano where I took a bus to the center of Lima. I had to go to Immigrations to finish my carnet retrieval process.

When I got to Immigrations, I was told that information wouldn't open until 8am. I waited in the main lobby for a few minutes before realizing that other foreigners were heading to the back. I made my way to the back where I found 30 people sitting in a waiting room. I was ushered into the line and I waited for 20 minutes. This cute baby girl was sitting next to me in her mom's arms. The couple was American but I caught a glimpse of their forms and it said Iquitos. I didn't ask them what they were doing in Peru because I was so tired and closing my eyes was much more pleasurable to me at that point. I later found out they were getting a carnet de extranjeria for their daughter.

At 8:10am I was told to go to the third floor. The security guard at the entrance asked if I had paid my form fee and I told him I had but I don't think he believed me. He had another security guard come over and verify that I had paid. They got me worried that I hadn't paid something even though I was told by the people at Interpol that I all I needed to present was the letter they gave me stating that I was not an international fugitive. The security guard made me go downstairs to the bank. The lady at the window was really nice. She said that since I was from the provinces I was good to go but if I needed to pay anything else she would tend to me immediately. That's right! Line cutting!

After going back upstairs I waited a good hour before being seen. The lady was super nice and she told me all I needed to do was pay the difference for the form fee. It went up 14 soles this year and I paid in December. I gladly went downstairs and paid my fee right away. She also expedited my carnet making process and I was called in first to get my picture and fingerprints taken.

While waiting for the carnet to be made I made friends with a man named Jose from Argentina. He is in Peru with his family because he works in mining and they relocated him. He was super nice and talking to him made the hour long wait after taking our pictures bearable. We were finally called to the window and I got my super cool multi-colored carnet de extranjeria.

On my way to the metropolitano I got a call from a man named Leo who was interested in the headsets I had put up for sale on the expats facebook group. I thought he was in Lima so I told him I would go home and check the address and be able to get him the headphones this afternoon. I later found out he was in Lima. It didn't end up being a total loss because another person in Lima was interested. I went out to meet him at a Starbucks in Surquillo but he ended up not being there because his student cancelled on him last minute. I also didn't have his correct number. That was entirely on my because I didn't make clear plans with him. I did get the benefit of seeing a new place in Lima though. On my way back I stopped in Barranco where I solicited work at Sofa Cafe and looked into another cafe down the block. Claudio is going to be in town in a week and I want to try and book us some gigs.

My adventure today is not over yet!

I hopped on a bus that ended up taking me to the front of Lima Sur Shopping mall. I had plans to go in and buy lomo (red meat) to make lomo saltado tonight. I had chatted with my cousin earlier in the day. (I managed to make it home after going to Immigrations before heading back out to sell my headset.) She told me I should look into a steady income job like Starbucks or a cafe of some sort. I took her advice to heart and inquired about a job at Starbucks. Low and behold, the manager was giving interviews at that moment. He told me to come back in an hour and we could chat.

I did exactly that.

After chatting with Alfonso for 10 minutes I decided that the job was not for me. The starting pay was less than 6 soles an hour. That converts to less than 3 dollars an hour. I would be making less than 500 soles a month and working 19 hours a week on an ever changing basis. My time is better spent working on improving my writing skills and violin skills. The gigs might not be as frequent but with two of them I can make more than what 80 hours of coffee drink making would make me. I should focus on them.

I finally made my way home and proceeded to make lomo saltado for Marco and chocolate cookies with M&Ms. was a long day but I got a lot done.

Oh! I almost forgot. I also did some networking. I went into the music store in Lima Sur Plaza and checked out their violins. They aren't terrible. The full size ones are 860 soles (345 dollars). I told them I teach violin around the corner and they said they would be happy to pass my information along. They get frequent requests for violin teachers. I will take what I can get!

Ok, that's it! Time for bed!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Ups and Downs but Mostly Up

Yesterday was a day of ups and downs. I am going to start with the downs because it is always better to end of a high note.

Two things happened. 1. I didn't get the job with and 2. I left my music stand in the taxi on the way home from shopping at Tottus for our mattress. We did get a mattress though!

So I am definitely a bit bummed about not getting hired to teach, not only because I spent money on headphones that I don't need anymore but because I know that my mock teaching session did not reflect how well I can actually teach. On the bright side, I can now dedicate my time to practicing my violin more, gigging and getting students. It makes more sense to dedicate myself fully to something than to be stretched in many directions. Eventually, my work everywhere would suffer without sufficient time and dedication for each one. I am not completely getting rid of odd jobs though. I got my first job on transcribing two youtube videos! Let the freelance work begin!

As for the music stand, I will just have to get another one. You would think I'd have learned from the last time I left my stand in a taxi. It doesn't help when it's night time and you can't see the black case among the rest of the things you have in the car with you. Oh well. There is nothing I can do except be more vigilant next time and try not to go shopping with my stand in tote.

For the ups, I had my first gig in Lima last night. I played in the Church Virgen de Fatima in Miraflores. It was a funeral for a 20 year old kid who seemed to be American from what they were saying about him and his experiences in Peru. I think he may have had family that is Peruvian. Anyway, the entire gig was improvising. There were 5 singers and a pianist named Mr. Maldonado aka el Padrino (The Godfather). I was given the keys and off we went. I played with a guy named Perseo. He used to take lessons from Cecelia, Flor's daughter. He now plays in the Orquesta Juvenil in Lima. He plays very nicely. He loves to talk too. He told me that he works as an animador, which is a person who gets others hyped up about things. They typically work in clubs and other big events. All in all, it was a good experience and I made contact with Mr. Maldonado, the pianist, and his wife who was one of the singers. They organize various events and I am excited to work with them again.

In other exciting news, we are going to get our new bed today and we are going to check out the location of where our wedding reception will be. We will see about pricing but from the looks of it, I don't think it is going to be too bad.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Welcome to My New Blog!!

I am very excited to be starting a new blog. I decided to go with a name that was more general instead of a city specific blog. Adventures in Cuzco was a blast and I spent a very eventful 2 and a half years sharing my stories on that blog. I am a bit sad to see it go into the archives. It is time to move forward though and that is exactly what I am doing! Esto es Peru is a play on a few things. First, my friend Marissa, who opened Pasta Mama way back when in Cusco, always used the term "tip" meaning this is Peru. It was used when something came up and it was frustrating or different from what she was used to in the States. She would just sigh and say "Well, this is Peru." A bit negative, maybe, but on the other hand my blog is playing off the lyrics to a very popular criollo song by Eva Ayllon "Esta es mi Tierra". This wonderful montage video has the song as a background. It is a song full of pride for her country. Peru is not my country of origin but it is definitely now "mi tierra" which literally means land. I am proud to be here and living in the land of Peru. I am also proud to represent the United States as an expat. I am excited to continue my adventures with all the ups and downs that will surely come along with the ride. Get ready!

So here I am in sunny, warm Lima, Peru. We arrived two weeks ago and already I have completed two Suzuki festival courses and I have acquired two violin gigs for February. What I need to be doing is publicizing my violin teaching throughout the apartment complex. I have also managed to apply for some blogging and freelance writing jobs on It has made me want to become a better writer. I am also learning a ton about how online writing works. There is a fun term called SEO or search engine optimization. Search engines like Google have specific words that get picked up and in order for a blog or an article to move higher up on the list of found websites after a search, the writer has to make sure that key words and formatting is used. I haven't really done too much research on it so far but I am learning. I figure, if I get some freelance writing work here and there I can make a few extra bucks and lord knows I need it for everything I am saving for this year. 

In the meantime, Marco and I are slowly but surely getting settled in to living in Chorrillos. Marco has a very full course load and is studying for a test that he will have on Tuesday as I am writing. What an exciting Saturday night! We did go see a movie last weekend though. It was called SOS Familia en Apuros. In English it is called Parental Guidance. It stars Bette Midler and Billy Crystal as the quirky grandparents that become more a part of their daughter's family as they attempt to watch their grandchildren during a vacation for the parents. It was pretty funny. The child actor who played the youngest son was too adorable. Seeing a movie was a treat since there are still no movie theaters in Cusco. They are apparently working on constructing one though. That is exciting!

I have slowly been getting to know the city of Lima. I had to take an hour long bus ride to get to the Suzuki Festival in San Isidro, 3 districts away from Chorrillos. I have also been to the center of Lima with Marco. I had to find where Interpol was for my carnet, and I have figured out how to get to my friend Tito's studio in Barranco. Marco and I have gone on a run next to the ocean and I found a music school run by the University La Católica. I looked into the possibility of taking some classes there as "cursos libres" or open to the public. We will see. I know that this particular university is known to be very expensive. 

Tomorrow, our plan is to go for a run and then head into the center to buy a printer. I am going to print some awesome color flyers and start my rounds throughout the Torres of Matellini. Let the students come!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Recapping the Move

January 14, 2013
All right. It is time I put down on my screen all the adventures of our travels from Cusco to Lima. The 36 hour trip was full of world music and Pepe’s hair along with a slight mishap with fallen rocks and a leg that should have been over at 2 in the morning but ended at 6:30am instead. Here we go.
We left Cusco at 5am with Pepe in tow. Unfortunately, the night before, Pepe had some diarrhea and it got all over his butt. Marco had to cut off a lot of hair that ended up being a good thing because Pepe had problems with diarrhea for the next 12 hours. You can imagine how nice it was to get whiffs of Pepe’s excrement every once in a while. We stopped every few hours to stretch and let Pepe out and we made it to outside of Arequipa right on schedule at 5pm or so. We found a place to eat a late lunch/early dinner and I had the pleasure of taking care of baby Pepe. Wiping a dog’s butt is not cute.
We hit the road after a fill up on gas and started the more than 12-hour leg to Acari. I always though that Marco’s mom lived closer to Arequipa than to Lima but she is pretty darn far from Arequipa. A few things slowed us down. One, the headlights on Marco’s car are terrible and on top of that they were not positioned towards the road. It looked like we had a ghost above us because that is where they were shining. We eventually stopped to adjust them but it didn’t help too much. Second, the lights from cars coming the other way were absolutely blinding and at times Marco would have to come to almost a complete stop to let them pass because he couldn’t see. One of these instances almost cost us a tire. Marco was looking away in the mirror and didn’t see the fallen rock that we ran over. I was half asleep at this point since it was 2am but after that I was wide-awake. I wanted to be Marco’s co-pilot for as long as I could but eventually around 3am or so I couldn’t keep my eyes open. At 5am Marco couldn’t keep his open either. We took a half hour nap and then finished the last hour to Acari at 5:30am.
When we got into Acari, doña Ynes welcomed us with open arms. Marco almost forgot which house was his. He hadn’t been back to Acari in 13 years! 13 years!! That is such a long time to not go home. He spent all of his adolescence in Acari and many of his childhood friends live there now. I cannot imagine going 13 years without returning to the States. That is such a long time and I also want my kids to know where I am from.
I got to see the ducks, geese and guinea pigs that Ynes keeps. I also met her doggy Chiquito. He is seriously, the sweetest boxer ever. I almost exchanged him for Pepe. Haha! Just kidding! I wouldn’t get rid of my baby. Ynes fed us some caldo de gallina, we took showers, and we went to bed until 12:30pm.  When we got up Ynes had prepared duck for us. I also checked out pictures of Marco’s youth. What a hotty! There was one picture with his hair down to the middle of his back. He had to have been 5 years old or so. Ynes didn’t want to cut off the curls.
We made our way to Cañete where we spent the night with Liset, Marco’s half sister. In the morning I met Marco’s dad. Marco is definitely a mixture of his parents. I couldn’t tell you who he looks like more. He is tall like his dad but has his mom’s smile.  He is a wonderful mix of the two and I am happy he is alive!
We got into Lima around 8:30am and headed straight to the apartment. I feel the need to describe the apartment complex that we live in now. It is a villa but it feels more like a mixture of a hotel and a dormitory from the outside. Everything is super close and there is no green space. Apparently, the park that is outside of the gates and in front of the apartments that were also built on military property but sold directly by the constructors. It is so obvious that the army got ripped off. They sold some of the land for the constructors to build apartments on to sell to the public while they made super cheap apartments that don’t even come with cabinets or closets hence, there being men in my apartment constructing cabinetry for the kitchen. We also have a closet. We are in desperate need of more bookshelves though. Thank goodness for my dresser because the closet we have is very small for the two of us. Hopefully, our stay here won’t be too long but nothing is certain. Depending on where we are on the list for a house on the villa we could be renting for the rest of the year. I hope that isn’t the case but we have to be ready for it. 

So here we are, living out of boxes until we can put the majority of our stuff away in the kitchen. We were not expecting to have 3 and a half bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. For the price we are paying it is a pretty good deal. The worst part about being where we are is that there is a mall/grocery store about 100 meters from our apartment but there is no way to get there except to go all the way around. It takes about 20 minutes on foot. The nice thing, however, is that we CAN walk there. There are also mototaxis that charge 2 soles if we don't feel like walking.
 *Since this was written we have finally taken everything out of boxes and are completely moved in. I got certified to teach book 3 Suzuki violin and I got my first inquiry about classes from someone from the Expats in Peru Facebook group. I am super excited!