Friday, August 30, 2013


I had a full day yesterday! I started out by getting up nice and early to finish up cleaning the house and getting everything set for the brunch for expats married to Peruvians. It is a group that I became a member of after getting an email from a woman who is married to a colonel in the Peruvian Airforce because my name was passed on to her from a woman whom I met at the American Women's Literary Club back in February. (Phew!) The group is comprised of ladies from all different countries. Out of those who came to the brunch, Ireland, Australia, Spain, The UK, The Netherlands, and the States were all represented. It was really great and everyone is so laid back. We ate lots of sweet cakes and bread and there were lots of leftovers which means Marco and I are set for our bread and sweet snacks for days! I like being a part of this group because we are more long term expats and being married to a Peruvian is different that being an expat married to another expat living in Peru or an expat in a relationship with a Peruvian. Most of the ladies have kids too which is nice. Support systems are wonderful things to have whether you live in your country of origin or abroad.

Something I find interesting about hosting events and get-togethers here in Peru is how formal they are. It is pretty typical that even when you invite friends over, you don't let them do anything. Marco told me I should buy wine glasses for a toast and I told him that it wasn't that kind of gathering. We all bring food and chat and drink tea and coffee. I went to my friend Julie's later in the evening and her boyfriend was quick to apologize profusely for the lack of wine glasses. I responded by saying that it was no problem. Julie and I are good friends. I didn't need any formalities. Julie was super happy to be hosting American friends because she knew that we would just make ourselves at home. That is exactly what her friend Mia did by entering and greeting us holding a pot in one hand and a bag of food in the other asking "Who's ready to eat?". We went to the kitchen to chat, drink wine and cook food. It was glorious! Mia heard the story of how Julie and I met and later we chatted about classroom management because we are all teachers. I really look forward to hanging out with both of them soon.

I have been able to do a decent amount of socializing lately. I hung out with my yoga instructor and a friend of hers last weekend. There is nothing like wine and conversation with lady friends. We are headed out to listen to some Jazz with them tonight.

So to finish with the rest of what I did yesterday, after cleaning up and prepping for a violin lesson, I headed to Magdalena to give one of my students her lesson. We are working with a real violin now! I can't say I enjoy the commute but I really enjoy teaching her and spreading music in the small way that I can. After that I headed to Benavides where I played in a funeral mass. I only played a few songs because the couple that sings and plays piano (who have been doing it for 25 years in the same church!) were 20 minutes late. Lima traffic is a nightmare. Seriously. There was a Discovery Channel video that was just aired called "Don't Drive Here: Lima". While the host makes some good points, he also drives a bit crazy himself. Either way, there are way to many cars so more than accidents causing you harm, it will most likely be anxiety and impatience that will get to you if you drive around Lima during rush hour.

Marco and I are headed to Cañete tomorrow for a festival and to give wedding invitations to the family that lives there. I am super excited to see some afro-Peruvian dancing, listen to criollo music and eat good food.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Surrounded by Music

Last night I went to choir practice and it was awesome. I had such a great time and I really feel like I am becoming a full member. Our choir director Monica just got back from the States where she studied Jazz studies. She has all sorts of awesome information about singing technique. It is obvious that she is super happy and excited to be back as well. She has lots of plans for the choir and I am so pumped to be a part of it. She told me when I auditioned that she has plans to get us involved in some competitions. That would be fantastic and it could mean that we could be traveling in the future. I am also super excited because Claudia said that some of the girls would be able to sing at our wedding! I am excited that my family will be able to hear the choir I am a part of. We also celebrated the choir's 17th birthday with a cake and a very harmonic rendition of Happy Birthday. This choir reminds me so much of my a cappella group in college and the energy of the girls is fantastic.

I am feeling motivated and excited these days. I feel like my days are more packed with things to do but I am surrounding myself with music. I went to the Gil Shaham concert on Tuesday night. He played the Bach Sonata No. 1 in G Minor and Bach's Partita No. 1 in B minor. They are both completely unaccompanied violin pieces that were great for demonstrating his beautiful technique. He was accompanied by the youth orchestra of Peru in the second part. They played Tchaikovsky's Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D Major. Even though the acoustics were not that great in the Teatro Nacional, the energy was felt and they did a really good job. It helped that I had binoculars from my 4th floor back row seat so I could see all of the players. The first chair violist is a colleague of mine who teaches violin where I teach music. We actually met playing a gig together in Lurin in March. I am very happy that Lima is becoming a city in which more and more international artists want to come and perform. There are big bands and popular artists as well orchestras and classical musicians. Andrea Boccelli is going to be performing at the end of this month.

I went to an orchestra practice for a youth orchestra last Sunday. It is mostly comprised of conservatory students and since it is not a paid orchestra (like the one that played on Tuesday night with Gil Shaham) the members don't come to practice consistently. That makes things difficult for cohesion and musicality. There is also only one practice a week on Sundays. That is great for me but it means more personal practice to get things sounding great. I feel like this orchestra is a good opportunity for me but it means I need to be on my game and practice a decent amount. I am not the best sight reader and I need some time to develop and practice my part. The other issue is that it takes up 5 hours on Sunday afternoon/evening including transportation. We will see how it goes. There is a concert on Sept 17th. There are 5 more rehearsals before then. I also like that Ximena is my stand partner. I really like spending time with her!

Off to practice!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Artwork, Some Bus Dancing, A Move, Family, Food and Excitement

Today I had to go pick up the form for the dispensa de disparidad de culto (so we can get married in the Catholic church even though I am not Catholic) and on my way I got off at the Domingo Orue stop. I walked over to Arequipa Ave. and during the transfer I noticed that there was artwork on a lot of the buildings. It turns out that it is called El Museo de los Vecinos and a lot of property owners have permitted the front of their buildings to be converted into public galleries. It is super cool and while I didn't a camera on me, if you look up Museo de los Vecinos Domingo Orue, you will find pictures of it.

I was on the bus today and there was an upbeat song playing. This guy next to me started seat dancing and smiling. I couldn't help but crack a smile as well and move my head along to the beat. It was an excellent moment.

The South American Explorers Clubhouse is moving to a new location. The lady who was helping with the move said they are going to be on Larco. Sounds good to me. As long as they are still around and I can still get access to their awesome book exchange I will be content. Oh and of course their mailing address makes life a lot easier for me when it comes to getting mail and packages. My dad sent a magazine over 6 weeks ago and I have received no word of it getting to Lima. However, given that SAE is in the process of moving, a notice might have come but they weren't able to send me an email. I will have to check into it. I don't want to loose all faith in the mail system here. It is peculiar that I received everything that was ever sent to me in Cusco but there have been two things that never got to me since I have been in Lima. You think it would be the other way around.

We have been so spoiled these past couple of days. Jesus, Marco's brother has had vacation and he has spent a fair amount of time hanging and playing video games with his nephew. He has also made some delicious food including cuy (guinea pig) and pollo estofado (chicken with a tomato sauce). I was going to make lasagna for everyone this past weekend but ended up only making it for my mother and law and myself since Marco and Gabriel got sick from the McDonalds they ate the night before. And everybody worries that they will get sick in Peru because of the water or the food not being cleaned well. It doesn't surprise me one bit that McDonalds made them sick. Fast food is pretty toxic.

Anyway, I am thinking of making eggplant parmesan. It's been a while since I made it and I think it would be good for Gabriel to eat more vegetables. Look at me going into mom mode. I can't guarantee that he will like it but I can guarantee that he has never been served it before.

Something that I have been doing lately is reading news that it published via Peru This Week. I love that it is not just about the atrocities and horrific things that have happened during the week but cool thins like a man giving 14,000 dollars back to a Chinese tourist in Nazca. I think that people really want to get more news about exciting and positive things that happen in the world, not just the scary and sad things. Of course, the more sensational a story, the more people will eat it up right?

I am getting more and more excited about everyone coming Peru. I cannot wait to do some sightseeing and hanging with the family. This weekend we are headed to the reception hall to have a tasting and get the final decisions made and paid. Marco and I have decided that we are going to have everything we can possibly get done by the end of this month. So far so good!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Family Reunion

Marco's family is here! It's super exciting and there is nothing better than to see the huge ear to ear grin that is constantly spread across his face as he interacts with his son, mother and brother. We are excited to have Gabriel and grandma here for the week. I like having the house filled with people. It feels great! Spending time with people you like and family is one of the best ways to spend time. I never feel like it is wasted time and when my family and friends are here in October for the wedding I will be spending as much time as possible with all of them.

Even though not all of Marco's immediate family is here, since Marco's mother got here we have skyped a lot with Gamaniel who lives in Spain. We also do it when his brother and sister-in-law come over with our niece. It is super cute to see how the cousins (Who are 7 months and almost 1 year old) react to one another and the computer. Ah technology. I love that we can keep in touch with everyone. This picture sums it up pretty nicely.

"Family isn't always blood. It's the people in your life that want you in theirs; the ones who accept you for who you are, the ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what." (I found this quote on pinterest)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


It is always good to give thanks for all the wonderful things we have in our lives. There are definitely more things I am grateful for but here is my list today. It starts with things from my day but then evolves into a random list in no particular order of things that I am grateful for in general.

I woke up to find my hubby working at the dining room table. I thought he had already left and was a bit sad that I didn't get a good-bye kiss. It was a pleasant surprise to see him in his sweatshirt and patagonia hat that makes him look like a hipster. I gave him a big good morning kiss on the eyes.

I got a ride to the metropolitano from Marco and I got a seat on the javier prado bus and on the combi that drops me off two blocks from school. I had time to chat with Allison before class.

My 2nd grade classes this week were marvelous! I didn't have to give any warnings on the board and we were completely occupied the entire class with songs and games and activities. It was a great way to start the semester and I plan on keeping it that way. I also played the piano and accompanied them as they learned the song "Oh When the Saints go marching in". I really wish I could accompany every song I teach them with a guitar or a piano. I am learning more songs to play on the piano though.

I am grateful for the kids that really try in class even though they have a tendency to get distracted and not follow the rules. I am especially proud of Diego who was quite the behavioral problem last semester. (Now, to get to work on his two buddies who like to play the drums all the time.)

I am so unbelievably grateful for all the help and mentoring that Cristina has given me this year. She is a gem and deserves a really awesome gift. I know just the thing!

I appreciate having A to talk to in the teacher's lounge. She is fantastic and I am going to lend her daughter my Harry Potter books. Huzzah! I am so happy that they are going to be put to good use and that I am going to make her daughter super happy. I am going to be the library lady for her. I haven't actually met her yet but I have a feeling that will happen soon.

I am also super happy to have V at work who is hilarious and full of really good advice/anecdotes/randomness to make the day fun.

I am grateful for my doggy who is always so excited to see me when I get home.

I am grateful for my amazing and loving husband who works his butt off but always finds time for us.

I am grateful for my parents because who and where would I be without them having raised me and my brother?

I am grateful for Peru and all that it has given me and all that it still has to offer.

I am grateful for my super comfy bed, our apartment and the neighborhood that we live in that is within walking distance to the Metropolitano.

I am so grateful for the internet keeping me connected to everyone I love back in the States and around the world. It also allows me to listen to public radio.

I am grateful to have found a play to do yoga cheaply in Barranco where the teacher only charges 15 soles a class. I always go on Monday nights no matter how tired I am from work.

I am grateful for hot showers and alfajors (a delicious treat made of carmel and cookies).

That's it for now. Post something you are grateful for below. Spread the good energy. I would love to hear about it.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Wedding Planning

Marco and I had interview on Friday with the father who is going to marry us. He is a nice man and he approved our request for a dispensa por disparidad de culto. I don't have to convert to Catholicism to get married in the church. His first question was if I was atheist. I think it is interesting that he assumed I was atheist instead of asking if I believed in God first. I told him that I am agnostic because I don't believe that there is only one right way to believe or practice faith in something larger than ourselves. I do believe in an energy that flows in all of us and that energy is what connects us all. That is my version of God. Love is at the heart of it all and he agreed with me. He asked me if I was being coerced into marriage which of course I am not. Libremente entro el matrimonio. The last question that he asked me was about abortion. I told him that I don't believe in abortion for myself but I cannot judge others who choose to have one. It is a personal choice. He offered me some pamphlets but I told him it was OK. I am appreciative that the Catholic church is open to inter-faith marriages. They do ask that the non-Catholic agree to raise the kids in the Catholic church which I was already aware of. I grew up going to church as well and I don't think it did any harm. I always liked the stories in the Bible and while I don't believe that the Bible should be taken as historical fact, I like the message behind a lot of the stories. Our kids will learn about all sorts of religions and come to their own conclusions about how they believe in God (or if the believe in God). As Marco says, we get to pick and choose how we want to be Catholics (referring to Peruvian Catholics). I like it.

So we are on our way to getting things all in order for the ceremony. We have to attend two Saturday counseling meetings at the Obispado. They are two all day activities. I am intrigued by what they include. I will definitely relate my experience. We have to have two testigos de solteria  each or two witnesses of our singleness who will attest to our character. They are supposed to know us for 5 years but 3 is good enough. The only thing is that they have to have an interview with the father as well. Other than that we just need 4 witnesses for the actual wedding. I am working on getting all the music/musicians together for the ceremony as well. If all goes well we will have some of the girls from the chorus I sing in.

I found a salon called Voce on Benavides that has suites for brides and a packet for S/. 350. It includes hair, make-up, mani-pedi, an anti-sweat shot (no thanks). Sounds good to me and the place is super nice. There is another packet that allows you to have an appointment to try out hair styles and make-up. I will just have to have faith that whoever does my hair and make-up doesn't screw it all up. Haha. Worst case scenario, I do my make-up myself!

We have to get invitations made and deliver them (by hand) to everyone (in Peru) at the end of this month. We would send them in the mail but that costs more and it is not guaranteed that they will reach their destination. The mail service here is not great and the only things that are sent to your home address are the water and electric bills. (You have to go to the bank/store where you have a credit card to see what your statement is. There are some online services but it is on the customer to know what he or she owes.)

We have a cake maker! Jessica Cure. I found her on the Expats in Peru group and she has a website She is going to make a fondant sword and violin to put on the top of the cake instead of a bride and groom. Cute right?

We have to make an appointment with the circulo in order to have a tasting and make sure everything is good to go for the reception. That will happen sometime this week or next at the latest.

I think I am doing a good job of not stressing out about everything. I am lucky to have the majority of my mornings during the week to run errands and go do things that are necessary. I really want to make sure that my family and friends enjoy themselves while they are here in Lima. I know that I can't do everything and I also realize why people have maids of honor who help them out with all the planning. Haha! Fortunately, Marco is taking up that role quite well by putting in his two cents about things. :)

My mother-in-law is in town and my awesome niece Patty is here so I am off to play with her and eat lunch with the fam before reviewing what I am planning on doing in class tomorrow. It was a nice three week vacation but it is time to get back to work teaching music to the kiddies!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Feliz Día de la Pachamama!

Today is a day to remember that we are from the Earth and she is our home. We have no other (as of yet!) so we must respect what she provides us and give thanks for all the wonderful things we have because of her. Too often we are taken away from nature and stuck in a world of material things and cement buildings. I hope that everyone gets the chance to get outside today and say thanks whether it be by taking a run (which is what I did), reading in the park, or offering a pago a la tierra like the natives of the Andes do.

Oh, how I would love to be in the mountains and celebrate dia de la Pachamama every day but the ocean is a great natural beauty I can enjoy here in Lima!

This is from the summer but it captures mountains and and the ocean.