Kindle Confessions

I love my Kindle. Actually, I more than love my Kindle. I can´t believe I used to read books without one.

Last July when I was visiting the States, my dad offered to buy me a Kindle because he thought it would give me access to more English language books than are readily available in Lima. Before this, I had never thought about having one, in fact, I was wary of switching to ebooks because of the "they aren´t real books" arguement. Yes, they aren´t real books, but that´s the point.

Real books are heavy, real books are bulky. Real books take up precious suitcase space that I would rather reserve for boots. Real books are simply too difficult to transport across continents. Ebooks are slim, lightweight and the perfect solution for any bibliophile traveler.

I can read and store an endless number of books. I have access to thousands of books ranging from  historical fiction to cooking to language study. It has changed the way I read. And in recent news, you can now borrow ebooks from your local library. To my surprise, it even works while out of the country. Now I can read, for free, any book available from the Nashville Public Library.

I am a confessed convert, Kindle has changed my expat experience. It´s now on my must have list for traveling. Number 1. Miss Emmaline  & Number 2. My Kindle.

What are your must have items for traveling?

The Boycott

Something I have learned about riding buses in Lima: it´s an active sport. If you choose to be a passive particpant you will never, ever get a bus to stop for you. In the race to get ahead of other buses that run the same route, some buses will not stop at a designated stop unless passengers are getting off. That´s where the active comes in. You must spot the bus, flag it down and inevitably dodge a few cars to board.

On my ride home, I make a transfer at one of the busiest stops. Of the eight or nine lines that run past that stop, there is only one that will take me towards my house. This provides quite a challenge because for some reason, this particular line rarely has passengers get off at the stop. Meaning I must flag down my bus or I lose my chance. This is difficult when you´re 5´2" and there is a wall of buses blocking your view.

Yesterday I tried to flag down Chance #1, going so far as to walk into traffic (no worries, Mom & Dad, it was a red light) to make sure they saw me. The driver looked at the coin collector. The coin collector looked at me. They both looked at each other and then simply shook their heads. I waited for the light to turn green, hoping they would fly across two lanes to pick me up. They didn´t.

I waited several minutes and finally saw Chance #2, but a few seconds too late. The bus was packed and in the middle lane. The smaller bus couldn´t see me past the sea of larger buses. I waved my arms, ran to the front, ran to the back, waved my arms again but all for nothing. They drove off.

Frustrated, I decided to walk a few blocks and catch the bus at the next stop. I was fuming at the inefficiences of the system and daydreaming of the day when I will once again have a car. I was walking using my angry stride and finally made it to the stop. As I stopped, a bus drove up. In fact, it was Chance #2. I´m certain the coin collector recognized me as "the gringa who was failing her arms like a crazy person at the previous stop". He looked at me and tried to get me on the bus. As if to say, "You wanted to get on before, why not now?"

Because I am boycotting you, that´s why. I prefered to wait five more minutes in the bitter wind than ride with those who had so boldly rejected me. Take that, coin collector guy.

Culture Confusion: Chilled Drinks in Winter

There are a few things about Peru that I am afraid I will never understand. Try as I might, I just get can´t there. Peruvians views on chilled drinks are one of them.

At the start of winter, I noticed that every waiter asked if I wanted my drink "cold" or "not cold". Of course, I said cold every time. I´m not about to drink room temperature Inka Kola or chica morada. I wondered, why are they asking me? Have they asked me the whole time but I didn´t understand until now? Then I discovered teh truth: Most Peruvians beileve drinking chilled drinks in winter will bring on a cold. Now that´s a new one...

 I stayed strong, drinking my chilled drinks and even one time drinking ice water at Alvaro´s house. As soon as his aunts heard the ice maker they rushed over warning me of my imminent cold. I walked twenty feet into the next room and his grandfather also warned me of my sickly fate. When I was still teaching at the language school, one night I brought in chilled water after a break. The students were overly worried and suggested that I change for tea instead.

For the whole of winter, I have stayed true to my preference and indulged in an array of cold drinks. I´m proud to say, to this day I have been cold free.

What unusual or foriegn beliefs have you encoutered while traveling?

Actually, I haven't met Hannah Montana.

For all my drinking water needs, I have to buy bottled water. I usually go through about ten liters of water per week, so I buy water in a pack of four, 2.5 liter bottles.

On the days when I buy water, I ask for a bag boy to walk my groceries to my apartment. Which is another fantastic Peruvian service and definitely a Point for Peru. Last week, a young bag boy who looked about as old as my nine-teen year old brother walked me home.

Bag boy: Where are you from?
Me: I'm from the Tennessee in the United States.
Bag boy: Tennessee, really? Hannah Montana is from Tennessee.
Me: (shocked and thinking 'That's not her real name') Yes, she is. Actually, we're both from Nashville.
Bag boy: You lived in the same city? Do you know her? Is she nice? Do you like her music?
Me: Actually, I haven't met her, but yes I do like her music.

Ok, that last part was a lie. I know very little about Hannah Montana's (or should we call her Miley Cyrus) music. The only song I know is "Party in the USA" and that's just from attending all those sorority functions in college.

What a small, small world. The bag boy from my supermarket has a crush on Hannah Montana.

New Design!

I want to send out a huge thanks to Myla from Design Me Pretty for the fabulous makeover she has performed on my blog.

Lady in Lima has gone through quite a transformation over the last ten months. When I first arrived in Lima, this blog was just to keep friends and family back home up to date with my life in Lima. Over time, however, I became more interested in the expat and travel blog community and decided that I wanted to be more involved.

This required a major redesign which I was incapable of doing myself. I can do many things but let´s face it, web design is not one of them. I stumbled across Design Me Pretty and knew that Myla would be a perfect fit for me. She was patient with my constantly evolving design wants, answered all my questions thoroughly, was professional and friendly! I highly recommend her services to anyone needing help with the design of their blog.

Thanks again, Design Me Pretty, I couldn´t be happier.

To all my dear readers: Welcome to the new and improved Lady in Lima...

Hello, sunshine!

Something magical happens when the sun starts shining in Lima. Most winter days are plagued by this dreary fog that covers the city. Though the temperature usually stays in the mid-60s, the mix of fog and humidity makes for a chilly day. Add in the absence of sun and the days are downright depressing.

It's been months since I have seen the sunshine on a regular basis. A few weeks ago, Lima experienced a small tremor. Alvaro swears that when there is an earthquake, the sun comes out. For as long as he has been telling me this, I have been calling him crazy. Well, don't know you know, we had a tremor and then the sun came out. He calls it science. I say it's a fluke.

For the past ten days or so, we've been having pretty consistent sunshine and I noticed something, the sun completely changes my attitude towards Peru. In the morning fog, I might complain about my expat life and dream about how easy it would be to go home to the States. But when the sun comes out around noon, and I am drinking a cold Inka-Kola, I think, "There's no better place than where I am right now." I marvel at the dirt covered mountains and notice palm trees I had long ignored. I am intrigued, not frustrated by Spanish and find my school children endearing, even in their lunacy.

It's astounding what a good dose of Vitamin D can do for the soul. Thanks, Mr. Sun!

A lesson in function

I started crying on the way to school this morning. It wasn't really triggered by anything but what started as a few small tears soon escalated into a full on emotional breakdown. It took ten minutes of consolation for me to even walk into school and the first thing my students asked me was, "Miss, why are your eyes wet?"

During my kids' music class, I called my parents to hear  some reassuring advice. I questioned: Why am I doing this? Why not go back to the States? Am I passionate about this? I'm 23! At this point I won't be in grad school until my (gasp!) mid-late 20s.

My kids came back from music class and the Spanish teacher came into the classroom. She took one look at me and asked, "Are you ok?" I was able to say, "Yeah, I'm fffiiii..." and then the tears came again. I was so surprised at the onslaught of tears that at this point I was half crying, half laughing at my pathetic self. She took me to the bathroom, calmed me down and offered some very motherly advice.

After pulling myself together, we started to leave for the field trip nightmare. Any field trip induces way too much excitement in six year olds, but especially ones where they get to go shopping to learn about purchasing food. To make matters worse, we were walking on this field trip. The supermarket is close to the school so walking is logical, except when you think about walking with 23 overly excited, unaware six year olds.

We split the class into two groups. I took my group towards the main doors and waited there for the other teacher and her group to come. We were waiting and waiting, the children were chatting and suddenly I hear: "MISS!!!!!" and see six children point to the ground. I look and see what appears to be a splatter of liquid right next to me. I begin to think "What could they have carried that would make this mess? Water? Some kind of fruit? What could they have thrown with that much force...." And then I see it. I look up and see a sweet, six year old face covered in liquid and mysterious chunks.

The liquid was vomit. He had vomited. Without warning. Right. Next. To. Me. 

Immediately my teacher instincts kicked in and I worried about the kid, but he seemed unfazed. Laughing it off as a normal bodily function. This is the same kid who weeks prior, peed on himself then took the plastic bag of urine laced khakis and threw it up and down in the classroom, as if playing a game. Someone needs to tell him that bodily functions are gross.

Of course, at this exact moment, the other group shows up. So now there are 23 children screaming about vomit in an echo inducing overhang. Oh yes, and simultaneously the other teacher realizes she left the money in the classroom and leaves me alone with 23 children screaming about vomit. I am yelling, my voice amplified by the overhang, and trying to get the children away from the vomit. A fifth grade teacher comes out of her classroom and gives me the death stare as she closes her classroom door as if to ask, "Can't you control your students?" Hey, Miss, it's vomit. You come and try to fix it.

From that moment on there were no more tears. A kid had just puked right next to me without warning. No sign of illness or complaints of a stomach. Just a good old fashioned upchuck and then he was fine. The whole situation was too hilarious for more tears. It was all I needed to turn my whole day around.

Weekend Patterns

I have a love/hate relationship with my weekends in Lima.

I love them because for two full days I don't have to listen to twenty three children simultaneously yelling: "Miss! I need a pencil! How do you write cousin? Martin just said stupid!" A weekend is two days when I can feel like an adult and don't have to spend my day babysitting Lego Ninjas. I can read and cook and watch an obscene number of episodes of Friday Night Lights.

But, my Peruvian weekends are monotonous and predictable. I have fallen into a pattern of doing the same things, seeing the same people and going to the same places. Sometimes I want to do something new, adventurous and Peruvian, but it usually doesn't get very far.

When I studied in Germany, I felt invincible. There's really no other word for it. If I had a day to myself, I spent time reading in the park, or eating a sandwich by the river or taking a tram to some as-of-yet-unexplored part of Dresden. I reveled in my freedom and basked in my alone time. I was able to do a fair bit of traveling, most of which I did by myself. Embarking on long train rides, waiting in airports and making friends with my hostel roommates. Being alone was refreshing.

I am experiencing the complete opposite in Lima. About two weeks after I arrived in Lima, I walked by myself for the first time. I distinctly remember thinking, "There is not a single person in the whole world who knows where I am right now." It felt like a very small girl in a big, scary city. Never before had I felt such vulnerability.

My common sense is sending me contradictory messages.
1. You are over exaggerating all your fears.
2. For one thousand different reasons, Peru is not Germany.

I think there is truth in both of those statements and now my challenge is to find the middle. I might not be traveling alone or eating lunch by the river, but that doesn't mean I have to get stuck in a pattern simply because things are different. Peru isn't Germany and it's not the United States. So my life here will look different. I need to give myself a little push, just a nudge, and step a tad bit more out of my comfort zone.