Thursday, November 27, 2014

Pumpkin Pie in a Cup!

My wonderful friend Julie gave me the best Thanksgiving/Birthday/early Christmas present ever. You can actually find American pumpkin here in Peru and make a pumpkin pie from scratch but they are not common at all. What a great taste of home!

Thank you Julie!!!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Seen in Starbucks in San Isidro

So it must seem like I go to Starbucks a lot but I would have to say it is about once or twice a month that I treat myself. I personally like Bisetti and Dedalo much more but the reason I am posting is that I saw this fantastic offering at the Starbucks on Las Flores in San Isidro a few weeks ago. There are lots of students who work in groups at that Starbucks so they put in a printer and every customer is allowed up to ten prints. Not bad!

I also say this in the newspaper when I sat down to drink my tea. Both Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner are Denison University alums. Yeah Denison pride! It made me smile. I have yet to see the movie but I have heard good things. I loved Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Very Bad Day when I was younger. I think the translation is pretty fun to say. Alexander y un Día Terrible, Horrible, Malo, muy Malo.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Art Fairs and Bazaars to go to this Season in Lima

Happy November everyone! Spring is here and the weather is getting warmer. Christmas is around the corner and there are tons of art fairs and school bazaars occurring this month. Here are a few that I have come across. You can find all sorts of cool items that are great for Christmas gifts.

Marco and I had a great time on Sunday checking out the De Nuestras Manos fair. I went back today and bought a bunch of Christmas gifts for family members. If you are in Lima I would definitely check it out! The stands will be set up through the 16th and they run from 10am to 10pm daily. Here is the organization's Facebook page.

Here are a few school Bazaars that are happening soon!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Anniversary to Us!

I have been meaning to put up a little post in celebration of Marco and my wedding anniversary. We celebrate a monthly anniversary on the 12th because were married in our civil ceremony on the 12th of October 2012. Our religious wedding, however, took place a year later on the 18th of October 2013. We love having reasons to celebrate so we celebrated both weekends with a little something.

There was a wedding of a colleague of Marco's on the 11th at the same church where we were married on the villa militar. It was super nice and the same priest married them as well. When he spotted us he motioned to his belly and smiled at us. It was super cute. He was a great person to preside over our wedding. I really enjoyed his speech. Marco did the sword tunnel and we went to the reception right around the corner at the circulo militar. The reception was a blast and we danced up a storm. There was a waitress who couldn't stop smiling while watching us dance. It isn't every day that you see pregnant ladies rocking out on the dance floor and we were having a great time.

The following weekend we celebrated by going out to lunch at Kuo Wha, a delicious Chinese buffet restaurant with a beautiful garden as you enter. We stuffed ourselves and then took a nice long nap. When we got up we went out to Plaza Lima Sur to eat and see if we couldn't get massages. Unfortunately, the massage place didn't have a chair for pregnant ladies so we had to skip out on that. We did see a movie though. Dracula, the Untold Story. It was quite good.

We didn't exchange gifts or anything like that and it was so nice. Honestly, I am so happy to spend every day with this man that sometimes random days feel like anniversaries. I hope to keep it that way.

Here is to 2 years with my amazing husband and to many many many many more to come!

These kinds of photos of Marco are rare but I love them because they show how happy he is. :)

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Dia Villamariano

Yesterday was my school's carnival and it was really really fun. On Friday we spent the afternoon setting up tables and chairs and making sure everyone knew what her job was. I had the pleasure of selling tickets for the Tombola which is more or less an "everybody wins" carnival attraction. Basically you buy a ticket for 5 soles and it either has a number or a letter on it with the number corresponding to a better prize. I bought two tickets with the carnival money I received from the school and I got a bottle of shampoo and a headband. Not bad. The Tombola had prizes from snickers bars to kitchenware to a playstation 4. No matter what you get something which is fun.

What I really lucked out with was the Gran Rifa. Marco bought 5 tickets and I bought 1 and out of the thousands that were purchased, one of our tickets was chosen for the dinner for 6 at a Chinese restaurant prize. How cool is that? There were some fantastic prizes including the grand prize of having a years scholarship to the school. There were a couple of Scotiabank 1,000 USD and 1,500 USD bank credits too.
Setting up by pulling legs apart.

The final outcome. I unfortunately didn't get a picture of the day of.

The idea behind the carnival day is to raise money for the school as well as charity programs. It is a Catholic school so they do a lot of work with other schools that need funds and food in the Lima area. I couldn't help but notice the onslaught of advertising done. The chairs and tables were from Coca-Cola, the stage had huge Movistar banners on it and all of the booths in the main patio were restaurants like Bembos, Pizza Hut, Dunkin Donuts, ChinaWok and D'Nofrio ice cream. I am pretty sure at my school's carnival days the food was made by parent volunteers and there were always tons of grills going. Hotdogs and hamburgers were the main food. I will say that it was nice to have some variety for lunch. Julie and I couldn't help but wonder how much more money could have been raised if more parents volunteered instead of having vendors come in. I don't know the breakdown nor do I know if the vendors give some percentage to the school.

I found some super cute stickers that could be personalized and bought them for my two nieces. Julie and I took pictures in a photo booth and I enjoyed watching all the teachers do their dance at the end. This year's theme for Teacher's Day was Disney so they extended it to make it the theme of the carnival as well since they already had all the props and costumes. Disney got plenty of free advertising this year at school. If you can't read it in the photo, the quote comes from Walt Disney: "If you can dream it, you can do it.". It's a good quote no matter who it came from.

Overall, it was a super fun day and it got me super excited about the future because I can imagine Marco and me along with Leah at an event of this nature when she is in school.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ley Seca (Dry Law)

It's that time of year again when the toilet paper gets piled up in front of the liquor section in Metro due to dry law. Whenever there are elections, everyone is prohibited from selling liquor during the weekend of said elections.

Dry law is hilarious to me. No one is supposed to sell alcohol during the weekend of elections. Has no one learned from the United States' attempt to prohibit alcohol? (It didn't work.) Supposedly the law is in place to help ensure that people make better electoral decisions. Oh if only that were true. I am pretty sure that there was an election of some sort going on last year around the time we got married because I went to buy alcohol with my brother and sister in law and the guy at the gas station didn't want to sell us anything. After some pleading we were able to get a few beers. I know, bad us. But hey, we are foreigners so we don't vote. Bottoms up!

For anyone interest in who won the Lima mayor position it was Luis Castañeda. He implemented the Metropolitano during his last term as mayor. We will see what exciting plans he has for this term. I am intrigued.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Post Office Affair

I don´t think I have ever experienced anything quite like what has happened with the post office here in Lima. In the past two weeks I have been there 5 times. Let me give you the low down because it seems kind of hard to believe that it would take this long for me to get a package. Not to worry. This story ends on a good note even though the process was a bit frustrating. This is Peru after all and after a certain amount of time all you can do is laugh at the ridiculousness because getting upset gets you no where.
The first trip. I got the tracking number from my father and checked online to see if it had arrived and apparently it was in Lince. I headed over only to find out that I couldn´t pick it up because my last name was marked as Zamudio. (I found out today that is actually said Amy Brown de Zamudio on it which is absurd that wouldn´t allow me to pick it up because my husband´s name was at the end.) Since it said Amy Zamudio on my slip I couldn´t pick it up because it didn´t match my carnet. I talked to various people and got the papers I needed to fill out in order to get the name changed. I went home and my dad wrote a letter and I got a copy of the receipt for the package from his end. I made sure to ask two times if I needed to get anything legalized. I have been in Peru long enough to know that pretty much anything with any possibility of being an important document has to be notarized. I was told no.
The second trip. I brought my papers ready to pick up my package. I was told that I was missing the letter from me that also needed to be notarized. Off I went to do that.
The third trip. I brought all the papers including the notarized letter signed by me (10 soles) and paid 36 more soles to have my name changed on the computer. I was then told it would be three days until it was processed and ready to go. Fine. A little more waiting won´t hurt. At least the package is there right?
In between the third and fourth trip I received a call from a woman at Serpost asking me to write a declaratory letter stating exactly why my father got my last name wrong. I also had to justify why my home address did not match up to the address my father used. I am a part of the SAE club and use their address because packages either go directly there to Miraflores or to the post office in Lince. I could never use my address because it would never get to me on the villa. I also sent a copy of my army ID showing that I am in fact married to a Zamudio and that is why my name was wrong. They would call me when everything was in the system.
The fourth trip. I made two copies of my carnet and had my receipt in hand. I got to the customs window to open the package and the man who was attending me told me I would have to pay 38 dollars in taxes because the package was valued at 250 dollars. WHAT?! You have got to be kidding me. No one could let me know that I would have to pay a tax at some point? Fortunately, the guy was nice and told me that since I had traveled to the United States and this was coming from the United States and it arrived within a week of me getting back into Peru, I could bring my passport and it would waive the tax because the package could be considered luggage. 
The fifth trip. With copies of my passport, my entry and exit stamps and all my paperwork I headed back to Serpost one more time. I was given preferential treatment due to a law here that states if you are pregnant, with a child, elderly or disable, you get preferential treatment in public establishments. Works for me! Anyway, I had to fill out one more form declaring the package was extra luggage but it was fast. The lady who opened the package with me told me that I would have to pay 30 dollars because even though it was considered luggage, it wasn't something like clothing or personal items. What? Why had the other guy told me I would be fine with my passport? Fortunately, he was working that day and he hooked it up and made sure that I didn't have to pay anything. Thank you kind customs sir. You made my day much better and have kept my faith in the postal service here in Peru.
Lessons learned: Never address anything to me using my husband´s last name. Never declare any package to be worth more than 100 dollars.
Without further ado. The photo in its rightful place in our living room!

And as per my father's excellent suggestion, here is a picture of us holding it to give you an idea of its size.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

No More Hanging Clothes to Dry

So the exciting news of the day is that we got a dryer!! I am so excited and I was a little nervous because when they guys brought it in it looked enormous. It is enormous when you compare it to the 7.5 kilo washing machine we have. This thing is a 12 kilo dryer. I did some calculations though and it will fit through the door. I had to unhinge the swivel door in the kitchen but it will get into the back laundry room eventually.

I have to say that I am super happy that Sagafalabella was able to deliver it to us. They didn't have a pick up option and practically none of the Sagas sell the dryer in their stores. We said we lived in Surco, which is more like a white lie than anything because technically we live right across the street from Surco. I got about 5 calls from a lady from Saga asking me for more specific directions and finally they had the actually driver of the truck call me so he could get the directions. You think they would have just done that in the first place. Oh well.  In the end it all worked out and they delivered on the day they said they would.

I felt like a dummy because the guys asked if they could have something to drink and I totally forgot that it is custom to offer something to drink to anyone who helps move stuff. The two guys, sweating after hauling the thing up three flights asked if I had anything to drink. I only had water since we don't keep pop in the house. They were happy to have it.

I had to take a selfie with the dryer. I am just that happy about it.

Now, let's hope that we can install the thing. I noticed that there isn't any tubing that came with it and that is absolutely necessary to send out the hot air. I also don't see a connecting cable to plug it in. I think we might have to call an electrician. Hmm. I will keep you updated.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Here's to 4 Years in Peru!

It has been 4 years since I packed my bags and left for my great Peruvian adventure. Little did I know at the time that I would meet the love of my life and decide to settle in this Andean country. I had no set plans when I decided on Peru. All I knew is that I was going to do the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu and work as an English teacher for 6 months at Maximo Nivel in Cusco. I had 6 months set up and I would take it from there. There is something so wonderful about leaving things open ended. The first thing is that there are no expectations to live up to and everything is an adventure. I can't tell you how much more interesting my life has been since I decided to stop trying to control everything. As soon as you realize that so much of our lives is out of our control, the happier you will be. When it comes down to it, the only thing we really can control is how we view things. If I decide to look negatively at something, it will be negative and bring me down. If I decide to be optimistic and let things go, I find that I have so much more energy for things that really need it.

Living in Peru over the past four years has forced me to let go of control in so many ways and I can honestly say that I am happier and healthier because of it. Fear is not on my mind anymore because it is a waste and life is bound to bring us difficult situations. Nothing is set in stone and change is unavoidable. I really like the metaphor that life is a series of waves and each person is a surfer who either decides how he or she is going to ride the wave or let it take him or her under. Of course, with any sport, there has to be a few crashes in order for one to get good at it. I, for one, am a terrible surfer in real life but I like to think that my metaphorical surfing skills have improved over the past four years. I have been put to the test with various circumstances while living here including testing my own identity and who I think (or thought) I am (was).

No matter what, I am so grateful for all of the events that have happened since leaving the United States. I have learned and grown and made so many connections. I spend my time with wonderful people and I have multiple jobs that are really fulfilling and I have the most important job of being a mom starting in a few months. I am somewhat nervous but more excited than anything. There are so many adventures to come with raising kids and it is so thrilling to be starting a new chapter in the cycle of my life.

With new beginnings in mind, I am thinking of either re-working this blog into one that is more focused on being a mom and an expat in Peru or taking my blogging skills over to wordpress and seeing what I can do in a new platform. I have started following some great Peruvian parents who blog and it is really nice to read their advice and anecdotes. I have also joined a group called Miramoms that is an expat group of ladies with kids mostly under the age of 6. I am going to a chat about giving birth in Peru in a few weeks and I look forward to meeting other expectant moms. I am looking forward to this new social group especially since non-baby having friends, while they will bear with a few minutes of baby talk, eventually want to talk about things that pertain to them as well. I completely understand having been there myself.

So, as the new adventures begin, happy 4 year Peruvian anniversary to me and may there be many many more to come!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Santa Rosa de Lima

Today we celebrated Santa Rosa de Lima or Saint Rose of Lima (April 20, 1586 - August 24, 1617). She was a Spanish colonist in Peru and she spent her life helping those in need throughout Lima. She is the patron saint of the police, nurses, the Philippines, and the Americas among others. According to wikipedia she was a religious extremest and it was not accepted by her family who wanted her to marry. She was very young when she died and I have to say, it doesn't seem like she lived a very happy life with all the penance. However, she did help a lot of people in need so I am sure she felt fulfilled.

There is a tradition here that involves writing down your wishes and prayers and throwing them into her well at her church in the center of Lima. The girls did a really cute play today and paid homage to her with a song that is quite fun. I enjoy watching the girls act out different stories from the bible and local Catholic culture. Fortunately, the severe penance was not discussed in the play. I may not agree with some of the doctrine of the Christian church but I like that there is always time to reflect and remind ourselves that we are a part of something much bigger and that is what Villa Maria provides for its students and teachers.

This evening I was passing through the Barranco plaza and the Police band was serenading everyone in the park. The actual day of Santa Rosa de Lima is the 30th but they started the celebrations tonight! It was great. One of the many things I love about Peru. Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

It´s a......

GIRL! We were so convinced it was a boy but the sonogram showed pretty clearly that our baby is going to be named Leah. I am so excited and Marco is ecstatic. So with that announcement, here is a belly pic. I am 24 weeks and honestly, I look way bigger in this picture than I really am. I don´t feel as big as I look. I think it has to do with the shirt.

I am one of those people who really enjoys seeing belly pics on facebook and I am also that person who is dying of curiosity to see the photos of my friends who choose not to put up the photos. Come on! One shot. It is so exciting! No need to be shy!

I am right at the 6 month mark which means the third trimester is almost here! Woohoo! Bring on the symptoms to come with it (including the baby at the end. That would be nice.) Apparently, after the rush of energy and feeling great during the third trimester, the expecting mother has all of the third trimester to enjoy having to pee a lot more again, aches and pains in the back, legs, butt, boobs etc., and loss of the ability to bend over in front which in my case means having to take more time picking up Pepe´s! So far so good though. I am sleeping through the nights without having to get up to pee. I have my trusty lotion applier every night (thanks hubby!) so the stretch marks have not come (keeping my fingers crossed that I don´t get any but I am a realist and besides, they are a badge of honor!) and I am still able to keep up with my kindergartners at work. We will see how long I will be able to work. I plan on working through November and just taking off two weeks before the baby is due. If there aren´t any complications, that should be fine. Marco and realized that next time though we should shoot for having a baby in September or October time so that we can maximize maternity leave AND vacation in January.

I have been nesting like crazy this past week and for those of you non-preggers folks and new to the term, it means that I have been getting all sorts of projects done around the house. This includes setting up the stickers in baby Leah´s room, getting all of our wedding photos printed and catalogued and put into an album, buying a dryer (YESSSSS - warm underwear!!) getting a sweet new pot set for our indoor garden, making a baby registry (still in the initial stages. I am really just trying to keep it to the must haves before baby is born right now. Any suggestions are welcomed.), organizing the office/baby´s room which means getting books and papers into a new set of plastic drawers which will free up the book shelf for baby books and toys, and donating clothes. Phew! I also am also planning on taking my driver´s test so I can get my Peruvian license before we get our new car. I also have to make sure that I am set up and ready to go with EsSalud should I have any emergency with my pregnancy. I am going to check them out this Saturday and get registered in their system. While I am at it I will get a few questionable moles checked out.

This is one wall of the baby´s room. I bought these reusable stickers on Amazon for $8.95 USD. We will see how reusable they are the first time we move.

I am super excited because Marco and I are going to go to Mundo Bebe this weekend. It is a huge baby store on Javier Prado and while I know it might be a better idea to have a gift registry at Ripley or Saga, it will be nice to see what this place has to offer. A pack n play and a stroller with a car seat are on my must have list.

Other than that, things are going well. I am back to eating much healthier and swimming. I can´t wait for this little girl to come along and change our lives completely for the better. I can´t even tell you how sweet it is to watch Marco interact with my belly. I can already tell that the two of them are going to be attached at the hip. She is going to be his princess and I am totally fine with that as long as she also learns how to be a thoughtful and respectful girl.

And as I mentioned in a facebook update, I am not letting myself fall into the stress of doubts and worries about all the stuff I have no idea that will happen or not. I am looking at all the positives and remembering that whatever difficulty that comes our way with raising Leah, we will figure it out and enjoy the adventure. Happiness and joy are my top feelings and I plan on keeping them that way even when we are totally exhausted from life with a newborn (and then a toddler, small child, adolscent, etc.). Bring on the adventure!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Our Trip to the States Part 3

Time for part 3 of our trip!
We made it to camp with a good hour before dinner and enjoyed walking around a bit. Marco loved the swings in front of the waterfront. (Who doesn´t?) We checked out the trip center where my former co-counselor was hanging and we caught up. She hadn´t been back to camp since 2009. It was really great to hear how trips had been going this summer.
We got settled in a peak that we miraculously had all to ourselves for one night which was surprising because usually all the peaks are filled with staff. (We were booted the following day due to a big group of visitors that came through.) Marco and I took the swim test with Jeanette after dinner enjoyed an early to bed night.
The following day we got up and went canoeing to birches after breakfast. No one was there at the time but I showed him around a bit. Marco loved the lake houses and I will admit, it would be super nice to have a lakehouse. Maybe one day! We headed back and made the rounds to different areas. It was nice to catch up with former campers who are all counselors now. There is nothing more satisfying that seeing campers rocking it as counselors, especially the campers who were super difficult. One of my former campers, Amy, told me that it was because of me that she kept coming back to camp after her first year in Friendship Lodge. Man, that cabin was my most difficult cabin ever. I had at least three girls who were a full time job in and of themselves. I had another former camper who was super excited because her three counselors from Metz I believe were all at camp again including me. I remember getting so excited when former counselors of mine came to visit camp. They had such an impact on me and it´s so heartwarming to know that I had a great impact on my campers. The cycle continues!
Anyway, we took a little trip to archery and through the nature trail and then took a nap before lunch. After lunch we (Sarah Jane really) tried getting Marco up on skiis. It was not as easy as it looked according to him. I get it. I didn´t get up at all when I was a camper. It was only when I had time at my cousin´s cottage in Wisconsin did I learn to finally ski. He will definitely have to try again.
During fun swim we had a good time at the trading post. I had to stock up on Echo gear, including the most adorable onesie that says Future Camp Echo Camper. Marco told me that he thinks it would be great for our kids to go to camp when they are older. Mission accomplished: Get hubby on board with loving camp. Oh! I forgot to mention that when Bernard introduced us to everyone he asked Marco what was one word he would use to describe camp. His word? DIVERSION! (Fun!) I agree wholeheartedly. Bernard also asked for people to stand up who were from different places besides Evanston. It was fun to see the mix of people.
After dinner we headed out to Birches and gave a guest speaker appearance to their ¨university¨ students. Their theme for the session was Birches university. Not bad! I spoke to them in Spanish about who I was and they had to translate. They did an excellent job.
When we got back to main camp we caught the last of the cheer off for olympics and then headed out to spend the night with my friend Julie´s (from Lima) parents in Newayo. What a wonderful coincedince that my best friend in Lima grew up 5 miles from camp. It was really nice of them to host us and we got tasty root beer floats!
On Saturday morning we had breakfast at camp and said our goodbyes. It was nice to catch up with Maureen who is still rock trips and teen programs. She´s a baller. Then Marco and I headed out to Fremont where we hit up the Goodwill and bought a ton of baby clothes for 50 bucks. Seriously, why pay full price for clothes that kids wear a few times, especially the under one year old clothing. I have a feeling my child will only fit in the 0-3 month clothing for a month or so. I was a big baby and I am going to guess that this one is going to be a big one too. We also went to Walmart where Marco picked up a playstation for 400 bucks. It is double that in Lima. His son is going to be so excited this Christmas.
On our way out of town we stopped at Lakeside swirl and then hit the road to get to the Michigan City Outlets. We didn´t go too crazy but we definitely spent a good 500 bucks at the outlets there. I had never been there before and it was great. I found maternity clothes, perfume, and Marco bought me a sweet Addidas track suit. We also bought fresh fruit along the ride home too.
I made sure to drive down Lake Shore Drive on the way back so Marco could see the beauty of the Chicago coast. It was a wonderful road trip and we wouldn´t have changed a thing. Marco got to see so much of the United States and experience what the typical American road trip is like. We both gained the weight to show it as well.
The following days at home with my mom were great. She planned a wonderful open house for us and we saw so many people that we wouldn´t have otherwise gotten to see. I am so grateful for the friends and family I have in the States. Marco commented as well that I am surrounded by good people. That´s the only way to live! We made sure to visit Dad and Judy before leaving and we went to a wonderful art fair on the lake where they bought us a beautiful photo print of the Chicago skyline from the water printed on aluminum. I really hope it gets here safe in the mail. It was not cheap and it was so nice of them to buy us. I can´t wait to put it up in the living room.
We made a few more shopping trips to a bunch of thrift stores, Target and TJ Max. I was surprised by how many thrift stores we found and a few of them by accident including the Salvation Army on Oakton. It was great!
We made our way to downtown Chicago on Monday and I took Marco to Millenium Park. We walked down to Water Tower Place and by that time we were exhausted so we headed home. It was a beautiful day and we really enjoyed the short tour. We made sure to pick up some Chicago souvenirs as well. I got my first Chicago t-shirt that has a the bean on it. 
All in all, this trip was everything I had hoped it would be. I was able to show Marco so much of my home country and he had a blast doing it. I had a blast watching him have a blast. We got so used to seeing each other non-stop for 18 days straight that when we got home and had to do errands separately it felt really weird. Haha. I guess that is a good sign right? We can't get enough of each other. 
I am super excited that the next time we travel to the States, our daughter will be along to enjoy the ride as well!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Our Trip to the States Part 2

All right it is time to get to part 2 of the Zamudio US tour.

On Sunday we started our trek to Washington DC along the beautiful Blue Ridge Highway. I was exhausted from not getting a good night´s sleep (Pregnancy somehow does that to you..go figure) so I slept through most of it. I did get out for a few photo ops though. I also couldn´t sleep very well through the switchbacks on the way down. It reminded me of a trip I took in Ecuador through the night from Puerto Lopez back to Quito. I literally thought we would be swung off into a ditch on the side of the road from the high velocity curves the bus took. Fortunately, mom was a better driver than that bus driver was.

When we got onto the interstate we had only gone 60 miles or so over a 2 and a half hour period. Mountain roads will do that. It was all good though. I got a cherry coke (guilty pleasure in the states was anything with anything cherry, cherry coke, cherry garcia ice cream, just plain bing cherries etc.) and was quickly driving again. We hit a major storm in Virginia about 80 miles outside of DC and I had to go 35 on the highway. Marco got his first taste of a warm summer storm.

We got into DC without any problems and my brother and his fiance so graciously gave up their memory foam bed to Marco and me for three days. It was so nice of them especially since my brother had to sleep on the floor. What a gentleman! On Monday morning Marco went running with Queen and Mom and I made use of the free Keurig coffee machine in the main lobby. We headed out to the white house via the metro. It was a beautiful day. It was sunny and the heat from the sun was offset by the wind. Monday the 28th was also Peru´s independence day so we all sported Peru t-shirts which got at least 2 responses from other Peruvians during the day. ¨Viva Peru!¨ and ¨Arriba Peru!¨ were both shouted to us. We had a great photo op in front of the White house and then headed to the Washington National Monument. My brother then guided us through the memorials in what he likes to call the Roger Brown circle tour. It was great and by the end I was ready to be off my feet. It would have been cool to go to the mall but we had no energy for that. We headed back to Roger and Queens´and Queen prepared us the most delicious feast of meat and wings and mac and cheese among many other dishes. It was so impressive and probably only outdone by the impressiveness of their bar (I have never seen so many different types of liquor in a personal bar before). We ended the night with a game of liverpool rummy. It was nice to play cards with the fam but I also found out that Marco is good for about 20 minutes of playing cards. It isn´t his favorite thing to do and I respect that.

On Tuesday Mom, Marco and I headed over to the Arlington Cemetery where we saw a special changing of the guard in which a Korean dipolomat paid hommage to the tomb of the unknown soldier. It was very cool and totally (not) planned on my part. We saw Kennedy´s grave and the eternal flame as well.

We headed up to Baltimore to see Fort McHenry where Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the national anthem after the battle of 1812. Marco and I helped take down the large flag that had to be replaced by a small night flag since it is law that a flag must fly 24 hours a day. The flag we took down was a replica of the flag during the era with 15 stars and 15 stripes. Fun fact: Originally the founding father had the idea that they would add a star and stripe for every new state added to the union but that quickly proved difficult and they decided to keep the stars for every state and have the stripes represent the 13 original colonies.

We stopped at a little crab shack on the way out of town but the lady forgot to put in our order so we were waiting for our meal for half an hour. Finally, we asked her about it and she apologized profusely. We had to leave since my mom had to get to the airport. I think they should have paid for our drinks and the hush puppies but what can you do?

We dropped mom off with plenty of time at the Baltimore airport and headed back to Silver Spring to eat dinner at Noodles and Co. Marco and I also made it to H&M across the street and I enjoyed maternity wear shopping. Maternity wear is a godsend. Seriously, I live in my long tee and leggings with an enormous panel that pracitcally goes up to my chest. No accidental crack or belly showing at all.

When we got home Queen and I had a nice chat about where we are in our lives and our plans. It was great. I am so excited for their wedding next year in Costa Rica. It is going to be a blast!

On Wednesday morning Marco and I got up and on the road by 9am so we would get into Painesville around 5:30pm. We were right on time. We visited my mother´s cousin Peggy and George and had dinner at their daughter and son in law´s long cabin. We also visited the Sugar Pines Christmas Tree Farm. What a cool experience. There is no such thing as a Christmas tree farm in Peru as far as I know and it was quite a novelty for Marco and for me really. I had never seen one in real life before even though I knew they existed. We used to buy real trees when I was little but then got a fake tree in middle school. It is a lot less work and a lot less sticky.

Jane and Fritz were so gracious to host us for dinner and show us around their place. We saw my other second cousins too who had their son and one of their daughters with them. Jane and Fritz´s boys Fritzel and Sam gave us a night hike and showed us the sugar pines from which their maple sugar is made from every March. We were able to take some home with us too! Marco tried a s´more for the first time and they presented us with a cookie cake that said Bienvenido on it. My family is the best. I loved how George woud get up every time he saw that Marco´s glass was empty of Jack Daniels. I am so grateful for the hospitality they all showed us.

On Thursday morning we headed to a cafe for breakfast with George and Peggy and our server had just so happened to have studied in Lima a while back so she was happy to use a bit of her Spanish with Marco. What a small world. After breakfast Marco and I got on the road and headed to Camp Echo!

(Part 3 to come soon!)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Our Trip to the States Part 1

I didn´t write at all while I was on vacation and I have to say that while it would have been nice to record the trip a bit more, I lived it up and enjoyed every moment in the moment. I literally had either no time or energy to write and I am not sad about that. It was a whirlwind 10 state trip with the most wonderful travel partner who was a blast to watch as he soaked up every new site and experience. It was so exciting and pleasing to see how excited and pleased he was with meeting people and visiting different sites. It was an unforgetable trip. I would like to do a large summary of this trip and then if I find the time, I will create specific entries for certain parts of the trip.

Our trip got off to a somewhat bumpy start at Lima when we were informed that the plane we were originally supposed to take didn´t have enough space for us. The lady at Avianca helped us get on a later flight with LAN to Miami and United to Chicago. It meant we had to stay an extra 6 hours in the airport but we were given VIP passes for the lounge with a free buffet and we got lunch. We were supposed to receive vouchers for 200 dollars each to be used on future Avianca flights but no one ever found us before we left. We made an inquiry about it in Chicago but the lady told us there was nothing marked on our account. I am going to call Avianca today to see what I can do about getting those vouchers. It would be super helpful for mom´s trip here in December. Finally, my bag came out on the trolley at O´Hare completely open with no zipper. Nothing was missing but it was so weird. It had to have happened between coming off the plane and getting onto the belt. They offered to have it fixed but it was a 2 to 3 week deal and I figured we could find someone to get a zipper put on. My dad was the best and got that done while we were on our road trip. Yay dad!

Anyway, we got to Miami where we got through customs super fast. I was feeling great because we had an hour til our flight right? Wrong! I just so happened to look up at the clock while I was getting change to make a phone call and I noticed it was 6:20 and not 5:20pm. Our flight was set to leave at 6:30pm. YIKES! I gestured to Marco and said we had to run! So we ran hard and made it to the gate just in time for the flight crew to quickly open the door and let us in. If it had been literally a minute later, we probably wouldn´t have gotten on our flight. Phew. The flight was great to Chicago other than the girl next to us having to throw up upon our landing. Poor girl. She was really nice though and let me use her phone to call my mom and dad. (Marco and I managed to get through our entire trip without using a cell phone. We had a netbook to use skype if there was internet but we really didn´t need a cell phone and it was wonderful being cell phone free.)

Dad picked us up and took us to Wendy´s for a late night snack. It was super humid and hot when we got in but it was the only time we felt that kind of weather because that night a storm came in bringing a cold front with it. Lucky us! Marco was spoiled and he went running the next day. ¨Your entire city is a park¨ was his comment. It is true especially if you are coming from Lima where cement dominates and only a few parks give a bit of green. We headed out towards Kentucky on Wednesday morning with mom along. Driving through Indiana isn´t that great but Kentucky was beautiful. It was Marco´s favorite place with the white fences and horses (in Lexington). We visited my wonderful college roommate Amanda who served us a delicious curry chicken dinner. It was so great to catch up with her and she gave Marco some bourbon beer to try. He loved it. I can´t believe it had been almost years since we had seen each other. Time has flown.

After Kentucky we headed to Asheville North Carolina where we parked ourselves for three days to celebrate my cousin´s wedding. It was awesome. We had a yummy buffet dinner the night before the wedding and caught up with family. We took a cousins picture on the steps too. We had a tradition of taking Christmas photos with all the cousins every year that we were together as kids. It was nice to get a picture of all of us now. Later that evening we met up at the Hilton and played Blitz, a super fun card game. Ahh, playing cards just like old times.

We went to a place called the Fun Depot the day of the wedding and rode go karts and played mini golf and bowling. Marco didn´t think he was going to have as much fun as he did since he thought it was a place for little kids when we walked in. What´s not to love about an arcade with mini gold and go karting?

The wedding was beautiful. It was held at the North Carolina arboritum and while we were in the scorching sun for the ceremony, it was still beautiful. I translated the entire ceremony live to Marco which was a first for me. I think I did a pretty decent job of listening and translating simultaneously. It was a Jewish wedding too so there was a hupa and a glass to be broken at the end. My cousins had a really ecologically friendly wedding with recyclable everything and their gift to everyone was a piece of paper with wildflower seeds in it. All you have to do is put the paper in dirt and water it. It was a cute idea. I was also impressed that there was bluegrass music for the entire thing. People didn´t really know how to dance to it but there were a few fast songs that had a cumbia beat so Marco and I tried our best. My favorite part was the hora, a typical Jewish song sung at weddings. The bride and groom are lifted up in their chairs and the parents of each are as well. It was a blast. I think it was the longest hora I have been a part of too. Haha.

Since the wedding was a dry wedding, we all met up at a place called Thirsty Monk´s afterward. It was great to meet up with the fam. It was also wonderful having my cousins on my mom´s side at the wedding too. The following day we got up and went to a bagel breakfast at a park nearby. Marco went off wandering for a good hour and I had a little more time to chat with cousins and family. It was great to have bagels too. I get plenty of bread here in Peru but I love bagels and cream cheese. After breakfast we headed to the Biltmore, Vanderbilt´s 250 room mansion. We took a tour of the gardens and the house and it was incredible. I have never seen anything like it and it is supposedly the largest house in the United States. It wouldn´t surprise me. Mom bought Marco and I matching Biltmore shirts. We also had the most delicious black cherry ice cream from their creamery. Yum! Marco had no idea what I was talking about when I said that ice cream is a million times better in the States until he tried the black cherry ice cream. I probably ate ice cream or custard every other day on this trip. I have no desire for it now because it is just not the same here in Peru. It isn´t as creamy.

After the tour we headed to the winery where we tasted different wines and bought various things from the shop. I bought this wassail spice mix which can be drunk by itself or added to tea, apple cider, wine or rum. We got wine too but decided not to bring it back with us because we had plenty of other things to give us our maximum weight allowance. We said our goodbyes to the Reeds and my aunt gave us the cutest bibs in blue and pink since we still don´t know the sex for sure. She also gave us a passifier with a mustache on it so it looks like the baby has a mustache. It is hilarious.

We ended our Asheville stop with dinner at a steak house with the Winklers and the Gemeinhardts. Marco had a red snapper and I had risotto. Mmm. It was delicious. We walked around quaint Asheville for a bit afterward and then said our final goodbyes to everyone. We will see everyone again next year in Costa Rica for Roger´s wedding so less than a year to go before we are all reunited again. We have also discussed family reunion ideas for future years too. I am all about it!

(Part two to come later!)

Friday, August 8, 2014

Tired but so so grateful

Marco and I had a wonderful 18 days in the US and we got back early this morning to Lima. I plan on writing a more comprehensive blog post about our trip (or maybe a few since some events could definitely use their own posts). Right now I just want to take a minute to thank everyone who made us feel so welcomed and made Marco feel welcomed. We visited so many friends and family during our 10 state trip and he enjoyed all of it. I am beyond grateful to have finally taken my husband to where I am from. He can understand me better and he has a better sense of where I am coming from when I refer to different things back in the States. I am beyond happy to have had this amazing experience. I am also beyond grateful for my mom who hosted an amazing open house for us and allowed us to see a bunch of people we wouldn't have seen otherwise. I am also grateful for my dad who lent us his car for our road trip and got our luggage fixed. Judy and he also bought us a beautiful photo printed on aluminum that will be going up in our living room as soon as it arrives. Thank you to my wonderful brother too who hosted us and gave up his bed for three nights. The circle tour of the monuments in DC was pretty fantastic too.

To everyone else, thank you for your hospitality and warmth. Marco loved his first trip to the States and we are excited for the next one that will include at least one more family member!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Te de Señoras 2014

I have to write about the te de señoras and the dinner for material de guerra that happened last week. It has been a month full of celebrations and I have to make sure to get them all written down! The best one is to come with a great celebration in Asheville North Carolina in which two wonderful people are going to get married! Hurray!

On Thursday afternoon I made my way over to the Circulo Militar to the Te de Señoras of Material de Guerra. If translated it would be the Tea for the wives of ordinance officers. We were greeted by the wife of the general who represents material de guerra and she gave us a gold pin that has a heart on it with the insignia of material de guerra. It was a very sweet door prize and I will definitely wear that pin when Marco gets promoted to Lt. Coronel. I found my girlfriends Liz and Suhail who had saved a seat for me. Thank goodness they did because there ended up being at least another whole tables´ worth of ladies who had to be seated as extras at the tables since there wasn´t enough space. Not everyone RSVPed like they should have. Last year there were tables left empty and raffle prizes for almost everyone who came but this year they wanted to make sure not to spend as much or have any empty tables. I find that it is more embarrasing if you don´t have enough tables but it all worked out. We ended up with 11 at our table when we started out with 6. Oh well!

We danced and ate and danced some more. I love love love how everyone gets up and dances as soon as the food is done being served. There was a toast with pisco sours and wine at each table but by no means is it necessary to get tipsy before getting on the dance floor. I love that. The music was decent but the singers we just OK. At one point, one of the girls try to sing I Will Survive in English and ended up singing lots of la la las because she didn´t know the words. My girlfriends told me that I should get up and sing. Haha. I do love karaoke!

Throughout the dinner the general´s wife got up and presented raffle prizes to 50 lucky women and I was fortunate enough to be one of them. I would guess there were about 120 wives at the tea so the odds were pretty good but definitely not as good as they were last year. I am pretty sure there were over 60 prizes and only 80 or so wives who showed. (I got super lucky and won a Blu-ray player last year.) This year I received a silver bracelet with flowers and hearts on it. It was super cute and simple and the type of jewelry that I will definitely wear.

This year was a lot more relaxed for me since I knew more of what to expect. Last year I went out and bought a suit jacket because that is what I thought I had to wear. This year I wore a super comfortable brown skirt and shirt. I can´t fit into any of my dress pants anymore anyway. Haha bring on the maternity clothes!!

One of my army wife girlfriends commented on how I have adjusted to married life and the lifestyle of the army. I told her it was either adjust or leave. There really isn´t any other option unless I wanted to be miserable. She explained how there are many wives who complain and complain about not being able to adjust to the lifestyle and they make life hell for their husbands and everyone else around them. That wouldn´t fly for me. I made up my mind last year that while I won´t always be super comfortable with moving, everything needs to be looked at as an adventure. Plus, I have the most amazing husband who makes it all worth it. My happiness levels have increased exponentially since last year and I chalk it up to making the decision to be happy and find happiness in things everywhere I can. If I don´t like it, I find a way to avoid it and ditch it from my thoughts and just focus on the good things. Optimism is the key to a happy life. Here I am this year with multiple jobs that I love, great friends, a step-son who has grown on me, an amazing husband and a baby on the way. Life is good!

*We also went to the dinner the following Saturday for all of the Material de Guerra officers in Lima and we had a great time dancing and watching traditional dances from Puno and Arequipa. We shared a table with Keith, Marco's promo, and his wife.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Happy Belated Teachers´ Day!

I am almost two weeks behind so I better write about Teacher´s day before I forget! When I got to work on July 4th, I was greeted by Mariale, our social worker. She gave me a Mickey sticker that said #1 teacher on it. I also got a donut from Pilar, the secretary. I headed up to my office to find my desk filled with gifts. It was so nice! I got a post it dispensor in the shape of an apple, chocolates, a stapler, a two-hole punch, a cookie with Olaf from Frozen on it, Bible verse pop up notes (which I used to thank the girls for their gifts) and a hand written note from my director. Three girls gave me gifts as well. I also got earrings and a necklace (4 leaf clover) from administration and a packet of notepads that the mothers of the kindergarten class made. All of the pads says VM Prom 2025 which stands for Villa Maria class of 2025. I especially love the pends that double as higlighters and say ¨Beginning a new family¨ on them. What a sweet gift. There is a pad that has days of the week on it and you fill it out for whatever week you are on. I was using some that my co-worker gave to me earlier this year until I got my Camp Echo calendar to put up on my bulletin board. It is so exciting to know that I will be visiting camp in two weeks!

Anyway, the entire school went to mass except for pre-kinder and afterward we were given gifts from the mothers of students. It was a beautiful red white and blue scarf that is super soft. Everyone went back to their respective rooms and in kinder we had our own little celebratin. My boss read cards aloud to each teacher that said what the girls would like to get her and what they wish for each of us. The cards were then presented with a cookie by one of the girls. It was really cute.

At 11 we were called back over to primary school where an enormous Disney castle was set up. Cinderella´s fairy godmother came out and started the show which included numbers from various Disney movies and the grand finale was of course, Frozen. It was an elaborate and impressive show they put on. All of the teachers were then presented with polar bear stuffed animals and every danced. What a wonderful day.

Elsa and Olaf from Frozen

After the girls left at noon the entire teaching staff headed over to La Bistecca in San Isidro where we ate and ate and ate from the buffet. There was every kind of food you could want including a delicious mango ceviche (lime, onion and mango) that I could not get enough of. They really know how to feed us well here. I have nothing but good things to say about the amount of food they give us. Well fed employees are happy employees. That is a fact!

Lovely friends with our new polar bear besties.

I am beyond grateful to be working where I am and the staff make it even better. I hope to be working at this school for some time to come!

Friday, July 11, 2014

An Amazing 4th of July

Last Thursday was an exceptionally happy day for me. My school puts on a huge 4th of July celebration for the sisters and the American teachers. That included Julie, myself, my director and one other sister. We were treated like royalty with front row seats for all of the presentations.

The morning started out with my boss putting a 4th of July Mickey pin on my shirt. Everyone told me happy 4th of July and the girls sang the blessings song to me which is typically reserved for birthdays. Hence, one of my girls made me a birthday card. It was really sweet. What was even more fun is that the girls were all dressed up in their costumes for the show. Kinder put on a show and dance related to American TV shows. One class dressed up like I dream of Genie, another like Wednesday from The Adams Family, cowgirls from Bonanza, 50s girls from Happy Days, and sailors from Gilligan´s Island. They were too cute.

After giving all of my classes I headed over to primary school and the 4 of us Americans were received with applause by our colleagues. The multipurpose room was decorated with red white and blue and there was a BBQ awaiting us as well as an enormous cake that the cleaning and personel staff bought for us. How sweet (no pun intended). I stuffed myself with salad, hotdogs and chorizos (Peruvian style brats). I know I technically only need to eat 300 calories more a day but I indulged a bit.

After lunch we headed to the patio where all the girls who were born in the US marched around with the American flag and the teachers sang the national anthem. The choir sang Proud to Be and American (which actually made me tear up. Not so much the lyrics but the fact that everyone had put so much love and time into presenting all of this to us to make us feel at home.) and another Hallelujah song.
Afterward, each grade put on a song or dance for us. I could not stop smiling. I clapped along and gave reasurring looks to all the girls (especially the 1st graders who found themselves somewhat lost with the cotton eye joe dance).

At the end of the presentations, a group of mothers came over and presented us with a carved watermellon that looked like a flag on the back. It was full of strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and RASPBERRIES! Huzzah. Julie and I went into the principal´s hallway at the end of everything to get some of the fruit. We were both so happy to be eating raspberries. I wonder where they found them or if someone brought them back from the states. Ahh the little things. Anyway, after the presentation of the watermelon, all of the girls born in the States got a balloon and we all released them at the same time. What a fun tradition!

This 4th of July was by far my best 4th of July in Peru and right now my all time favorite. It is one thing to celebrate with your fellow compatriots but to be given a show and celebration from people who want to make you feel at home is like nothing I have ever experienced. I have such a feeling of gratitude towards my coworkers and my school. I could not have lucked out more in finding the job that I did. I am beyond grateful.

I hope everyone back in the States and fellow ex-pats alike had a wonderful 4th of July. Feel free to comment and let me know how your 4th of July went! I would love to hear about it!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Starbucks Got My Name Right!

This normally wouldn't be such a big deal because Amy is a super common name in the States but when everyone assumes your name is spelled Eymi, Emy, Eimi, or Emi, it is a happy day when someone gets it right without having to ask how it is spelled. This isn't the first time this has happened in Starbucks. I have found that out of the 20 or so times I have bought starbucks drinks since coming to Peru, more than 50% of the time the barista gets my name correct. 

Why might this be you ask? I think it has to do with education and exposure to the name. Many of the baristas are college students. I actually had an interview with this particular Starbucks when I first got to Lima because I wanted to see what my options were. The guy who interviewed me told me that the majority of baristas were college students working part time in between classes. Unfortunately, a part time job with Starbucks in Peru means you will be making around 600 soles a month for 19 hours a week that vary every week. Starbucks employees are also more likely to come into contact with foreigners because it is known throughout the world and people are much more likely to go to a coffee shop where they know exactly how their drink will taste.

I typically try and get coffee drinks from local cafes such as Bisetti, San Antonio, or La Baguette for a number of reasons. Coffee from Starbucks is overpriced and not the best tasting. Also, there is a great ambience in Bisetti (which is two doors down from the Starbucks in Barranco) and more options in San Antonio and La Baguette. I am a fan of supporting local business as well. It keeps things interesting and varied. I am a sucker for the chai latte from starbucks though and every once in a while I will treat myself to one and that is what I did today. I am trying to stay away from caffeine while pregnant but I read that up to 200 mg a day won't hurt you or the baby. Fortunately, I have never been a caffeine addict. I do like the taste of coffee with milk though so I occasionally drink it in the morning and for anyone who has suffered the lack of regularity while pregnant, a little cafe con leche will do the trick in no time!

I will be updating about the 4th of July and Teacher's Day very shortly. Both were absolutely fantastic! 

Happy Monday everyone!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

A Fun Weekend

This past weekend was quite fun. We did a lot of home cooking and I met up with a friend Melissa from my trip to Spain last year. She is from Belgium and we met her while we were in Valencia. She has been in Peru for a little over a month but spent most of it in Paracas. Apparently, it is very easy to get stuck there as a traveler. I have yet to check it out but it sounds great. We met up in Barranco and I met a fellow travel friend of hers whom she met at her hostel. We talked about travels. I gave them my story about how I found myself in Peru. We talked about babies as well.

I guess it would be a good time to let everyone know that I am 4 months pregnant! We are going to have a December baby and we couldn´t be more excited. I put up a somewhat subtle post on facebook about it and it was fun to see how many people didn´t get it right away. I definitely don´t plan on being one of those people who puts up weekly baby bump photos but I will make sure to get a few photos in from our trip to the states. I am sure I will have a nice bump by then. There will be future posts about pregnancy in Peru.

I am headed to The Corner Bar today to catch the second half of the USA vs. Belgium world cup game. I think it will be fun to be around other Americans to watch the game. I have never done it before and I already know the energy is going to be strong!

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

We were on TV!!!

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting Bartola, a well-known criolla singer here in Peru. She has a show on Chanel 7 (TV Peru) called Una y Mil Voces and it features criolla singers and bands. Since Coro Arpegio has a criolla repertoire, we were invited to sing on the show. What an honor! We had a great time and even though the weather wasn´t the best in La Molina the day we filmed, we still rocked it and we looked pretty great too. (My hair, on the other hand, had a mind of its own.)

We sang three songs: Cuando Llora mi Guitarra, Chabuca Limeña, and Negra Presuntuosa. Bartola did an interview with Monica, our director. The only downside to the publicity is that she touted us as a philanthropic choir and not a professional one that sings in weddings or other function. We do charity work, but it is only a part of what we do. We might get another chance to go on the show again sometime in the future and honestly, the publicity is nothing bad!

A quick side-story. A few days after the show aired, my downstairs neighbor´s daughter who has to be 7 or 8 years old, yelled out of the window ¨Tia!! Te vi en la tele!¨ Translated she said, ¨Auntie, I saw you on TV!¨ I asked her if she liked it and she nodded her head vigorously with a resounding ¨Si!¨ It was really cute and just what I needed when getting home from a day of work. She is also so sweet and everytime she sees me she waves. She gets super excited when she sees Pepe too. I appreciate her happiness and friendliness.

Anyway, here are the videos I found on youtube! Enjoy!

Sorry, my computer is not allowing me to embed the videos so here are the links:

 Chabuca Limeña
 Cuando Llora mi Guitarra
 Negra Presuntuosa and interview (Please excuse my disgusted face a 1:07. I had issues with the brightness. I really was trying to listen and be supportive of Moni! Also, you never know when the camera is going to hit you. Lesson learned.)

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Playing Tour Guide

One of my favorite things to do is show people around town when they come in for a visit. I had the opportunity to do it twice in one day last Saturday with a friend of a friend who had an 18 hour layover in Lima between Chile and Chicago, and a former TEFL certification classmate.

I met up with Michelle in Miraflores for brunch and we ate at Cafe Cafe. It is a Peruvian chain that serves somewhat pricey but definitely delicious food. We shared a Spanish breakfast that came with a butifara (meat sandwich), a tamale, sweet potato chips and onions doused in lime. We also shared churros. We got to know each other a bit. Michelle is a friend of a friend and she is going to finish her last year of college in DC this next year. She studied abroad in Chile and went back for a visit. She is helping out my friend find a place in DC for his biodiesel company and she also does a lot with urban agriculture. She is a pretty cool chick if you ask me.

It was uncanny how her laughter and smile reminded me of my friend Chanel from high school. I love when people remind you of other people that you like. I am always happy to hear when someone says I remind them of someone as long as they like the person. It tends to put them at ease with me.

We walked to Larcomar where Michelle tried a Peruvian pisco sour. She said there wasn't much difference between a Peruvian one and a Chilean one. I enjoyed a delicious chicha morada. We then headed over to a woman's apartment who was selling some things since she is moving. Michelle helped me lug a big shaggy white carpet back to my place. She also got to meet Marco, Gabriel and Pepe.

I didn't manage to get a picture during our time together in the day but we ran into each other in Barranco while Marco and I were waiting for my second friend. Michelle had spent the afternoon and evening bumming around Barranco. She was exhausted but looked happy.

Tired and happy!
The next person I met up with was Stephanie. She and I took the same TEFL certification course in Chicago in October of 2009. She then went on to live in Lima for a while before I came to Peru. I followed her blog which was great. She then went on to get a masters degree in London before landing her job that she has now. This particular job is what allowed her to come to Peru. She was here for a conference on practices in the mining and natural resources sector. She explained to us a bit about what she was doing but I can't remember all the details. I do know that she had to give a presentation on digital security.

Anyway, we took her and her co-worker to the restaurant Javier on the boardwalk towards the ocean in Barranco. It is our favorite seafood place close by and they have great drinks. Marco and I shared a chicken chicharron and Stephanie had lobster causa.  We were only able to hang out for a few hours because it was 11:30pm when we met up and they had a flight to Juliaca early the next day. It was fun nonetheless!

I didn't remember to get a picture with Stephanie. Oh well!

So if anyone has some time in Lima coming up, let me know. If I am not working I would be happy to take you out and about!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Eating Out with Friends

This past week I had the pleasure of eating out with expat friends at Chili's in Larcomar. I had the biggest craving for nachos and wings and they are exactly what I got. I also had a frozen lemonade and a sparkling mango strawberry drink that was delicious. It was really nice to hang out with my English speaking friends. I definitely get a good amount of English at work but it is different chatting with expats. There is a different connection there and I am super grateful for it. We all decided that it would be a good idea to do this on a monthly basis. I am all for it!
Some of my kindergarten colleagues
I also had the pleasure of eating chinese food with my colleagues last Friday for lunch. The director of the school takes all of the staff and teachers out to lunch once a year to celebrate everyone's birthday. It is a great way to do it and it was so delicious! I stuffed my face with orange chicken and fried wantan.

I have decided I am going to take up swimming twice a week at the pool in the complex next to the military school. I miss swimming a lot and it is such a great workout. I just hope that the pool isn't too cold and that maybe there is hot water in the showers afterward. Worst case scenario, I will just wait to shower when I get back home. The best part is that the pool doesn't cost me anything and it is a short walk away. Beggars can't be choosers!

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day. I was super tired on Sunday so I spent the majority of the day in my bed and it was glorious! I had a nice chat with my mother in the evening as well. Mother's Day is a big deal here in Peru and if it weren't already on a Sunday it would be a national holiday. I witnessed my kindergartners put on a show and a half for their mothers on Thursday. It was absolutely adorable and we never did anything like that when I was in school. Maybe we made a picture but we didn't learn choreographed dances and sing songs. I think it is great that they do that and I think that mothers should be recognized more in the States. I am sure my mom would have been super happy to get a dance, song and present from me when I was in kindergarten.

Anyway, I am going to put up a recipe today for my mother's famous cottage cheese pancakes. She might not take credit for them (since the recipe comes from The Vegetarian Epicure by Anna Thomas 1972) but she sure made them famous for me. You can't imagine how excited I got when I found cottage cheese in Plaza vea last week. Hurray! I had to buy it even though a cup costs 10 soles. It was worth it. I miss the cottage cheese that is a bit more moist but it worked and I was able to make delicious cottage cheese pancakes!

Here is the recipe a la Mama Chamberlin:

6 eggs, separated
2 cups small-curd cottage cheese
2/3 cup flour
2 TBS sugar (I add a bit more for a bit more sweetness)
Dash of cinnamon (I definitely add more than a dash.  J)
1/8 tsp cream of tartar (don't worry if you don't have this)
Oil or butter for frying

Optional garnishes: sour cream, preserves, honey, apple butter, powdered sugar, fresh fruit or our family choice: maple syrup

Beat together the egg yolks, cottage cheese, flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they are stiff but not dry.  Fold the beaten whites gently into the cheese mixture.

Drop the batter by large spoonfuls onto an oiled griddle or skillet.  Fry the pancakes until golden brown on both sides and puffy.  Serve at once (important) with choice of garnishes.  (Do NOT try to make this recipe ahead of time.)

Perfect protein breakfast for a morning sweet-tooth!

Serves 4 generously and is very easy to make a half recipe for two.