More of the same

I have bouts of optimism that typically last anywhere from half a day to a full 24 hours. Then I wake up the next morning and realize that nothing significant has changed during my time in Lima and just like that- my optimism is gone. The most frustrating part of my entire experience here is feeling like everything comes with complications.

Obtaining my work visa has been an epic struggle. Thankfully it is now in Immigrations as I wait for my application to be approved. Getting it there was no easy task and I still don’t have it in my hand. I won’t scream victory until I am holding my card in my hand. Which is still anywhere from 3-6 weeks away.

I have now lived here for three and a half months and am better able to understand the reality of my expenses. After taking a closer look, there is no way for me to survive off my soon-to-be job with this particular institute. I had hoped that other Institutes would pay more, and they do, but only handful of soles, which is equivalent to, more or less, one American dollar.

I can’t look for other jobs because: a. I am still not able to legally work and b. I don’t speak fluent Spanish. I feel like I have been sentenced to work in an underpaid, under appreciated job as an English teacher for the rest of my time in Lima.

Teaching private students was both interesting and financially promising, that is, until most of my students decided they were “too busy” and started canceling all of their classes. A private teacher doesn’t make money if there isn’t a class. I went into Business Meghan mode and developed new payment and cancellation policies. These new policies were too late, all my students were long gone by then.

I can’t make friends my own age because the English speaking, 20-something year old, Expat community is small, if not simply limited to me. I need friends but then we have to speak Spanish. Which I could most likely handle at this point, but then comes to issue of transportation. I simply can’t move around in this city. If it’s not close enough to walk, I have to arrange a fleet of taxis to take me to dinner and frankly, just the thought of this arrangement makes me want to stay home.

Even if I decided to deal with the taxis and traffic and stress of going out without my own car, most likely Alvaro’s mom and Aunts would jump in before I could do so. His mom would probably drop me off and pick me up. A sweet gesture because I then feel safe and don’t have to deal with the taxis. However, that also means that I feel like I am 15 again and that I have to coordinate with my parents for every social event. Only this is worse because I’m not 15, I’m 22 and my “parent” is a woman that I hate to inconvenience and that I can barely speak to. His Aunts shudder at the thought of me doing anything by myself. What if I want to walk thirty minutes to their house by myself? It’s unacceptable. What if I want to walk ten minutes to a larger grocery store? It’s too dangerous. What if I want to wait fifteen minutes for Alvaro at a nearby Starbucks? Again, too dangerous, I am to wait in the car with them. Just as I have begun to overcome my fears of this strange, scary city, his Aunts jump in and tell me that what seems perfectly safe to me is simply, “too dangerous”. Even when I am feeling brave enough to embrace my independence, it is strictly forbidden.

If one more person tells me to “be patient, it will all work out,” I just might lose my mind. From what I have learned so far about Peru, being patient provides zero promises.