Monday, February 24, 2014

Baby Showers

I am not writing about a baby shower for me but I figured since we are going to have a baby shower for a co-worker tomorrow, I will write a bit about what baby showers are like here in Peru. I think I might have touched on it this past year because Marco and I went to a baby shower of a promo of his but I don't remember. (I should really tag my posts. That might be a good weekend activity)

I don't know when baby showers arrived to Peru but the fact that they are called baby showers and not something else gives reason to thinking they are relatively new to Peru. My husband tells me that he has always known them to take place since he became an adult and started going to them. I personally think that it is a fun tradition and a great way to congratulate mom and dad and celebrate the coming of a new child.

I have been to three baby showers since coming to Peru. The first one was in Cusco for a co-worker at Qantu. It was very simple and just co-workers. We had a cake and we all bought her gifts. She opened them in front of us and we chatted for a bit.

The next one was here in Lima at a promo's apartment. When we got there they had a guy dressed in a clown outfit and the dad was blindfolded guessing what the presents were. He also had a large diaper and bib on. It was pretty funny and I will have no qualms whatsoever, when and if the time comes, watching Marco be dressed up and guessing what presents we receive. After the presents were opened the clown put on an hora loca CD and passed out whistles and balloons. We had to dance around in a circle for a good 10 minutes. That part was awkward. I felt kind of ridiculous because it wasn't like we were at a dance club and there were no children around (except for two girls around 9 or 10 years old). I could have done without that. During all of this we were served drinks and food by caterers or people hired to pass out food. We danced and we chatted. It was a good time overall. I did feel a bit of us versus them with the husbands and wives. All the ladies sat together and made jokes and the guys responded. It is definitely a different dynamic than what I am used to with my male and female friends that all know each other and have a friendly relationship. It's not that females and males aren't friendly, it is that one does not have a personal relationship with the promos of one's husband. I am sure there are exceptions but for the most part it would be considered very weird. I will write about gender norms in another post. I digress. The one thing I don't like about the baby showers here is that the decorations are all styrofoam giant babies and moons. I could do without those.

The third baby shower that I went to was for one of the girls in Coro Arpegio. It was a blast! We played games like guess the baby food and wrap each other up in toilet paper diapers and race. (I was very good at the baby food guess the flavor game by the way.) We gave her tons and tons of diapers which are the most needed thing the first few years and the most economically burdening (other than formula if breast feeding isn't an option). It was a great atmosphere and super fun!

I have yet to go to a baby shower in the States but from what I have heard and pictures I have seen they seem to be pretty similar in fashion.

So tomorrow we have a baby shower at work. I made spritz cookies. I have been making them a lot lately. They are the perfect treat for gatherings. I found quinoa flour as well which makes them that much yummier.

Happy Monday everyone!

**Update: The baby shower was short and sweet and everyone aaawed after every gift. I liked that the majority of the gifts were not pink. There was an orange onesie with the Life is Good logo on it and a blue and white dress and a super cute lion bib. Also the spritz cookies I made were a huge success!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Los Comecaca

Lima has a problem. It is of the fecal kind and it is because people don't pick up after their dogs.

That is where Los Comecaca come in to play.

Barranco, a district within Lima, decided to get clever and the municipality created Los Comecacas, essentially the poop eaters. They are cartoon characters of the stereotypical Peruvians that nobody likes. They include, the corrupt politician or businessman (El Corrupto), the tramp (La Tramposa), the gossipy housewife (La Chismosa), the uneducated creep on the street who whistles and shouts inappropriate things at women (El Mañoso), the party boy footballer who drinks too much (El futbolista Juergero), and the guy who has no issue backstabbing his friends and co-workers (El Maletero).

These characters now adorn garbage bins all around Barranco. They say "In Barranco, we put poop where it belongs", and that is literally into the mouths of these detestable characters.

On the one hand I think it is a clever idea. On the other hand I think it just perpetuates stereotypes and gives people more fuel to use them. I also think that this plan did not put into consideration that most people do not pick up the excrement of their furry friends because they don't have bags with them. What they should do is set up plastic (biodegradable) bag stations next to the comecacas and then there would be absolutely no excuse for not picking up the poop. I think changing habits of its residents is a difficult task for the municipality to undertake and this is a step in the right direction.

Here is the video. It is not in English but you will get the idea. It is a very well edited video I might add.

The video function is not working right now so here is the link to the video: Los Comecaca

*Update: I passed one of Los Comecaca this morning while on the metropolitano and I saw that there was a stand that had bags for dog walkers. This campaign made the front page news on the publimetro (a free newspaper given out at the metropolitano stations) as well. Fantastic! Excellent work Barranco!

**Another Update: There has been quite a stir on social networking sites about this campaign. Check out the article linked below for more information. I definitely think that the ladies who are upset about the home wrecker character have some valid points. It's not always the woman that wrecks the home. It is a two way street. Also, why is open minded used as a bad trait? Check it out.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Day of Love and Friendship

I really love how Peru celebrates the love on Valentine's Day. It's not just about couples. It's about love for everyone from your sister to your father to your friend to his or her friend. There is plenty of love to go around! It is called "Dia de amor y amistad" or the Day of Love and Friendship.

This Day of Love and Friendship, I tried cooking an egg on a cute little skillet that my mother gave to us. It didn't cook all the way through but the thought was very nice. My mother always thinks of cute gift ideas. :)

I hope everyone has a wonderful day of love and friendship as well as a great weekend! Stay warm my North American readers. Summer is on its way!!

Monday, February 10, 2014

First Day of Work

Look at us both uniformed and ready for work. Today was my first day of work at my new job! I am very excited to be the new English Enrichment teacher and there is so much for me to go through which is wonderful. There is nothing like coming to a job and having lots of resources. The same could not be said for starting to teach music at Altair last year. I found the programming and lesson plans from the past two years and there are flashcards to the heart's content! I made myself right at home and covered the bulletin board with blue paper and green paper making a sunny day look. I added a fun little smiling sun at the top. I also got my schedule for the year. I have no idea what our schedule is like for the rest of February but I am all set for when I actually start teaching the little ones. It's all good. I will be getting the February schedule tomorrow. I really can't complain about organization because it is on point. I received a bag full of office supplies and a notebook and binder for programming. Both Julie and I are very content and impressed. Obviously, we both had very different experiences at our old schools.

The morning started off with a mass. Julie and I participated in the ofertorio or the offering. I gave the chalice that holds the bread to the father. I really like the fact that the director of the school is accepting that we are not Catholic. We respect mass when we are obligated to go to it but you won't find me going every morning in February. (Yes, there is mass at 7:30am every morning until school starts.) I personally, enjoy listening to sermons when they are well presented and thoughtful. I have heard some excellent sermons this past year and I have also heard some really terrible ones. It's all about the father and his personality and interpretation. Also, I find that mass is a good time to have some meditation. I take time during prayer and communion to close my eyes, give thanks, and clear my mind. It's very nice.

Unpacking and organizing. I love it!

After mass we had a breakfast and the new staff was introduced. I would have really liked to do an introduction of myself so that I wouldn't have to repeat myself over and over answering the typical questions: How long have you been here? Where are you from? Do you like Peru? Do you speak Spanish...etc. I didn't have too much time to answer them too many times before heading off to the kinder building. We had a quick meeting and then had the morning to set up our rooms and offices. I have my own office on one side of a divider and there are two teachers on the other side who teach religion and communication. Both of them have been super helpful. I have felt very included and I think I am really going to like my job.

At 1pm Julie stopped by and we headed to lunch. We were free to go at 1pm which was great. She and I caught up and I showed her how to get to her place via bus. Honestly, I think the metropolitano is going to be the best option for the both of us. This morning I hopped on an expreso 1 at 7:15am and was in the door at school at 7:30am. Not bad if I do say so myself!

I am going to have to think of something to put under the welcome sign. Suggestions would be appreciated!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Home Sweet Cusco

What a wonderful weekend. On Monday of last week we made the spontaneous decision to fly to Cusco for the weekend. Both of us knew that if we didn't go for it now it wouldn't happen any time soon. I start work in a week and even though I will have 3 day weekends in February we will also have my stepson here. It was perfect timing and on top of seeing my wonderful Cusco friends I was also able to sing with Claudio again after a year! It was also Marco and my first trip traveling by airplane. We were excited so we selfied it.

When we got in we took an hour nap before getting up to be productive. Marco had errands to run regarding English certification and University information. Meanwhile I met up with my friend Elizabeth for breakfast at The Meeting Place. I, of course, had a chai tea and a waffle with fruit. It was fantastic. It was also fantastic catching up with Eli. She is 3 and a half months pregnant and definitely glowing, even though she said the morning sickness in the beginning was not fun. I really hope I don't have to deal with morning sickness when and if pregnancy happen for me.

Anyway, Marco and I met up for lunch at Yola, our favorite Sunday lunch place when we were living there. They have great criollo food and a a good price. In the afternoon we crashed for a good couple of hours since our flight left at 5:30am on Friday morning and we had been up since 3am. After our nap we made our way over to San Sebastian to see Michael. On our way we passed the new plaza real shopping mall. Actually, we only saw the back of the Plazavea and the Promart stores but it looked pretty snazzy to me. Marco is all about having a shopping mall and it was about time it was put in. Apparently, people line up just to go up and down the escalator. Hell, if you had never seen one or been on one before it would be quite a trip for you too!

Our night was rounded out by a trip to La Justina Pizzeria. I ran into my friend Cristina (who got me the job at Altair this past year) and her boyfriend and a massage therapist I met a while back named Maureen. I love running into people I know. It is the best! After we finished we confronted the rain and ran into Alvaro, whom I played jazz with at the fancy hotels in Cusco at the end of 2012. Seriously, I love small town life.

We slept incredibly well on Friday night. It was chilly and dry and perfect for snuggling. It's been a while since we have actually fallen asleep in each other's arms. Summer heat isn't conducive to very much snuggle time. I forgot how cold toilet seats are as well. I took one shower while I was there too. I hated getting out of the shower in Cusco. I would stay under the hot and incredibly under-pressurized stream of water until I finally got up the nerve to confront the cold waiting for me.

On Saturday Marco made his way to the Señor de Huanca sanctuary in the sacred valley and I did some shopping and walking around Cusco. It felt so good. I stopped by Dragon's Palate to find that it no longer exists. Fortunately, I had some El Hada ice cream and tried some bread from the bakery that is at the front entrance now. They don't use traditional yeast and have a cool process that makes delicious bread. I wish there was something like it closer to us in Lima. I think that the place Madre Natura in Lima sells things like it but it is far from our place.

I headed up to the healing house and met up with Niki for a bit. It was so nice to catch up with her and see how things are going with the house. They are still looking for donors so that they can buy the place. It would be a shame if they got kicked out because someone else came along and decided to buy it. They do tons of spiritual and energy work as well as programs for local kids. They house travelers and put on great events. Check out their website and if you are really generous maybe you will make a donation!

I met up with Marco again for lunch at Yola. We had plans to meet up with Emily and Claudio at their place in the afternoon but decided it would be a good idea to eat lunch before hand and it turned out for the better. We ended up eating around 7pm.

The gathering at Emily and Claudio's was fantastic. They invited the mother of Claudio's daughter and her partner and 3 year old. A friend of Emily's named Katy and her 3 year old and another buddy of Claudio's whose name escapes me. We also met Bob Dylan, their dog. He was not really a fan of mine and decided that growling and bearing his teeth was a better way to interact with me. That's fine. I kept my distance.

We practiced a few songs with our bassist Carlos and proceeded to have a grand old time drinking beer and wine and chatting about schools in Cusco. Katy, who is from Australia, had quite the opinion about schools in Cusco. She was a riot and I really enjoyed her. We ended up having a great conversation later at the Museo de Pisco. It was also wonderful seeing Emily and while we didn't have a ton of time to catch up just us, our conversation was great and comforting to the both of us. I adore her and she is one of my oldest friends in Peru. She is also a freakin blast to go out with!

After taking a quick (and I mean quick) shower back at the bungalows, we met up at Museo de Pisco and rocked out. I can't even tell you how good it felt to play with Claudio again. It was like no time had passed at all. We had only practiced a few songs at the house but Marco said it was like we had never quite playing together. That was great to hear. I love singing with Coro Arpegio now in Lima but there is nothing like belting out some blues tunes solo.
After we played a Criollo band came on and they stole the show. They had us playing percussion instruments and dancing. It was glorious. Before the bar closed Katy, Claire, and Caroline all showed up. All of them are long time Cusco expats. It was fun to chat with them. Thank goodness Marco was so patient. He knows how excited I get when I meet up with people I haven't seen in a while and I get super chatty and talk really fast in English. I appreciate him not getting annoyed with me.
I played the quijada...
...and so did Marco

We wanted to keep the party going a bit so we headed over to Ukukus and danced. Marco and I both bought bottles of water which turned out to be a very good idea. Neither of us was super hung over the next day but it would have been really bad had we had more to drink instead of water.

Our last night in Cusco was a great one and we left the club with smiles on our faces.

The next day we slept in and took our time getting packed before heading to the airport. We were a bit delayed but eventually we got back to Lima where we saved 30 soles by taking a taxi to the metropolitano and riding it all the way home.

I have to say that there is nothing like visiting a place that you have lived. You know how to get around. You know how much things should cost and you get to spend your time seeing people you like and miss. It was a wonderful weekend.

Phew! What a weekend. I am excited to be back and ready to start work. I had my first violin student of the year today and she was great. I am really looking forward to having lessons with her this year.