100th Day!

Happy 100th Day of school from First Grade! This was my first time on the teacher side of the 100th Day celebrations and it was a fantastic day for teachers and students alike. I remember my elementary years and how I eagerly anticipated the 100th Day because the number 100 was infinitely large in my young brain. Every morning we count the number of days we have been in school so the excitement has been building since Day 1.

In preparation for the big day, I've been scouring the web for ideas and it seems that almost every school in the US has a school wide celebration. Here, unfortunately, the day usually passes without mention. But not this year. With the help of our larger than life sign, the whole school asked about the significance of the "100" and we gleefully shouted, "Happy 100th Day of School!"

The teacher in my classroom had a marvelous day planned for our little ones. The students wore crowns celebrating that they are now 100 days smarter. We counted 100 things for snack and then grouped them by tens to make a mix of all the snacks. The students refashioned their number "100" (poster board cut outs) into imaginative butterflies, scooters, dumbbells, balloons and rings of fire. The most entertaining part of the day was when the children had to write what they will be like when they are 100. Most assumed that they will have white hair, children and a chauffeur, but one particular child is hoping to have a very special career in 93 years...

Today was the perfect way to celebrate all of our chicos being 100 days smarter & brighter. I loved seeing them so excited about learning and about reaching such a terrific milestone. We ended the day with each child receiving a small diploma noting their accomplishment. There were ecstatic, their enthusiasm and pride radiated throughout the classroom. 100 days smarter and 100 days cuter. 


My sweet cleaning lady left me fresh coffee from Chanchamayo, a town in the highlands known for their coffee, so I've been sipping my coffee, browsing the web and trying to stay warm. I stumbled across this article about a Mexican-American athlete, competing for the US, who waved both flags after winning second in the 1,500m race.

After just two years in Peru, I feel as if my American identity has been molded and changed. I have a greater pride for my country than I did before moving here. Before I never paid much attention to the things that make the United States, the United States. I saw everything as a mix of cultures, a melting pot, an identity crisis that left me without a clear understanding of what it means to be "American". Two years removed from the country has shown me that the mix of cultures, the melting pot and the identity crisis are "American". But so are long summer nights, cool fall days, football season, local festivals, diners, lakes, mountains, an evening bar-b-que, Christmas lights and country roads. These are the things that I miss about the United States, things that I took for granted because they were simply there. But here, we don't have fall nor football season. I miss the mountains and bar-b-que, I yearn for a long country road shaded by overgrown trees. 

When I go back to the States, I'm going to take a little bit of Peru with me. I do not have dual citizenship, but one day I most likely will hold citizenship in two countries. Will that make me Peruvian? Maybe a little, but not exactly. I will never be Peruvian like Alvaro is Peruvian, and he will never be American like I am American. There are cultural differences that are so deeply rooted that even years of living abroad and dual citizenships can not change. Neither of us would want those to change. We both take pride in where we come from but also find some of our identity in our adopted countries. To be called American isn't enough, nor to be called Peruvian. Instead we might one day identity ourselves as Peruvian-American and American-Peruvian.

My identity is negotiable, it is formed by the places I have lived and the place where I live now. It is formed by culture, language and tradition. For me my identity has become more fluid in the blending of two cultures, two languages and two traditions. As I venture further into this multicultural life, I hope to better understand the things that mold me- let them be American, Peruvian or something in between. Just let them be me. 

Earthquake Drill

Tonight Lima is having an earthquake drill to simulate a grade 8 earthquake and tsunami. They have set up check points through the city, with emergency tents to point residents to the right location. I imagine that the city security force will double in numbers to guide residents to the designated meeting point.

Earthquakes are still a new phenomenon for me. I grew up with fire drills and tornado warnings. Hurricanes were to be expected but never an earthquake. Whenever we have an earthquake drill at school I wonder, "Is this effective? Will this really protect us in the case of a large scale earthquake?" I really have no idea. Thankfully, since I have been in Lima, we have yet to have anything larger than a shake, but you never know. Sitting on what most call "the ring of fire," Lima is prone to movement.

I understand and appreciate the city's desire to be prepared for a large scale earthquake. With 7 million people roaming around, it's good to practice emergency evacuations every once in a while. Limeans should also be taught not to go to the shore to watch the wave, as they did after the Japan tsunami last year. Though I applaud their efforts, I won't be evacuating for this city wide drill. Rushing down the stairs at 9pm, isn't appealing to this early bird. Instead I'll calmly plot my escape while drifting off to sleep.

Flip Flopping

I have a love hate relationship with Peru. Last Sunday, 36 hours after arriving in Lima, I woke up a nervous wreck and burst into tears. It took three tries to get out the words, "I just miss you guys," when I called my family on Skype.

Fast forward to last night's commute home and I was in love with Lima. On my hour long, rush hour commute I felt like I can't give up on Peru. Even amidst the horns, the traffic and the crazy drivers, I saw all the good things that I love. Peru feels like a odd fitting dress- I try and try to make it work, but something always feels off. However, I can't bring myself to get rid of it. I surely hope this is some kind of strange expat syndrome because all this "I love Peru- I can't stand Peru-I love Peru" is making me feel like a crazy person.

In the middle of that limbo, I went to the bank to deposit American dollars. The teller told me that I couldn't deposit one $20 bill because it had a small rip in it, then she handed it back to me. I was furious. It's just $20, so it's not really important, but on the basic principle I was mad. I brought that bill from the States so I know's it's legitimate, just a little worn. Old Meghan would just take it and smile. American Meghan would apologize for the mistake. But somehow in all this, a new Meghan has emerged and I looked at her and said,

"Well, I know it's real. I brought it from the States last week."

I stopped myself there but so badly wanted to ask, "Would you like to see my plane ticket?"

I walked to the supermarket, still fuming but also thinking about how much more hardcore I have become since living here. I won't let Peru walk all over me. There's a love/hate moment for you.

Time Travel

After a restful few weeks in my beloved Nashville, I'm back in Lima. It's cold and gloomy, but I'm reunited with Emmaline and that makes everything ok. She's been lonely for a few weeks but a few new mice toys seemed to buy her forgiveness. I'm slowly processing the mix of emotions that seem to accompany me on any trip home, but more on that later.

On a lighter note, Peruvian Immigrations never ceases to amaze me. In addition to efficiency they also specialize in time travel. Somehow I managed to leave the county on July 15th and re-enter on July 3rd.   Oh the mysteries of Peru...