In some of my more, let’s say, loose-lipped moments (which may or may not include a couple of Cusquenas) I’ve called Lima the Cleveland of South America. The responses I’ve received from this statement have been enlightening for two reasons: it not only reveals what many of the American extranjeros think about Lima, but also what they think about Cleveland. Usually, they take my statement as an insult to one city or the other. For many Peruvians the answer is much simpler, they just ask, “What’s Cleveland?”

The main reason that I’ve associated Lima with Cleveland is because, despite Lima’s size and economic boom, it strikes me a bit like the red-headed stepchild of Latin America. Lima’s Clevelandness is more metaphorical than actual because it represents a kind of international invisibility. Lima just doesn’t have the international cache of Rio, Buenos Aires, or Santiago, just like Cleveland doesn’t have the cache of LA, NYC, or Chicago. If many Peruvians have no idea about Cleveland, I’m willing to bet many Americans don’t know a thing about Lima (except thinking it might a city popular for beans that, by the way, are pronounced incorrectly).

An example of this Clevelandness can be found in Lima’s relation to international music acts.* For most of its history, Lima has not been a destination spot for touring bands, most of which would flyover to the more global cities of Rio, Buenos Aires, or Santiago. This rejection of Lima as a destination was, I have been told, mainly a result of the instability in the city created by the horrific terrorism of the Sendero Luminoso. Thankfully, Lima seems to be gaining traction on the international touring circuit as many international performers, like Britney Spears, Elton John, and Morrissey, have all performed in Lima during the last year. Now, what you may think of performers like Spears is irrelevant; the fact that Lima was even a destination on a tour of that magnitude is what is important.

A couple of weeks ago, I gathered up some friends and went to experience this cover band culture for myself. An interesting aside about the show is that, like many cover bands, you could purchase the tickets for the show from the same booths that sell tickets for “real” shows. The cover band we went and saw as modeled after The Strokes, which I chose since the “real life” version is one of my favorite bands. The show was in a club called the Yield Bar in downtown Lima (right on the Plaza de St. Martin, which is very pretty at night). The cover band, Los Outsaiders, appears to have pretty decent-sized following–judging by their Facebook page–and there was a pretty substantial line of folks waiting to get into the club. Of course, it’s hard to interpret how much of that following was die-hard Strokes fans who, like me, had no previous connection to the cover band. That said, at the end of the show much of the audience was chanting the Los Outsaiders name and more than a few admirers mobbed the band for pictures and autographs.

Like many things Peruvian, the show started 20 minutes late but, overall, Los Outsaiders did a pretty good job of embodying The Strokes. The band was particularly excellent, which was impressive because they were also short one member (The Strokes have 4 part band, the cover band had your typical guitarist-bassist-drummer trio). The lead singer did a serviceable impression of the mannerisms of Julian Casablanca, though maybe was trying a bit too hard in places. The only real criticism would be that, since lead singer obviously learned the lines phonetically, he hit a few off notes here and there. In the end, my group went in thinking that the band would probably have the same level of skill as college garage band, but we all were pleasantly surprised by the quality of show.

*The caveat, of course, being international Spanish-speaking bands.

This post was done without the help of “Google Translate,” but does have an assist from my Spanish tutor, Fernanda.

The Most Typical Scene of St. Paddy's Day in Lima

Para el día de San Patrick, nosotros queríamos cocinar un desayuno tradicional de Irlanda. En Irlanda, un desayuno tradicional consiste de huevos (normalmente un huevo frito), tocino, salchichas de morcilla (o salchichas normales), los frijoles (blancos), tomates y panes. Para beber, hay te fuerte, no el tipo de té que se pone en Starbucks. En EEUU, este tipo de desayuno se llama “El Desayuno Irlanda” pero en Europa lo se llama “El Desayuno Completo.” Fue un poco difícil para nosotros encontráramos los ingredientes Irlandeses pero yo pienso que ella cocinó una buen aproximación al desayuno tradicional. En Perú, por ejemplo, hay muchas variedades de las salchichas y nosotros las usamos en nuestro desayuno.

Irish Dancers, all of which are Limenos or Limenas


Tradicionalmente, los Irlandeses comían los desayunos grandes porque, especialmente para los obreros, ellos solamente comían dos veces, en la mañana y en la noche. Ahora, por supuesto, los Irlandeses comen igual que en otras partes del mundo occidental. Dicho esto, la mayor parte de Europa y EEUU toma un desayuno mucho más grande que aquí (a excepción de España, por supuesto). Normalmente, en EEUU, durante el Día de San Patrick muchas personas comen “corn beef” (una carne que tiene muchas sal) y berza. Por lo tanto, en Lima, a mi me parece que “carne de vacuno” y berza no existen aquí. Nosotros estábamos contenta porque a ella no le gusta carne de vacuno.

An Irish Band, full of actual Irish


Después de hicimos el desayuno, los amigos llegaron a nuestra casa. Cuando ellos llegaron, yo estaba viendo el partido de futbol (era de mi equipo favorito). Después del partido—que terminó antes de la primera mitad porque un jugador tuvo un ataque al corazón—comimos bocadillos y bebimos tragos. Muchos irlandeses creen que el día de San Patrick es un día donde EEUU humillo a Irlanda y están siempre hablando de tragos. En EEUU, hay muchas personas creen que ellos son totalmente Irlandeses. Esas personas llevan camisetas verdes y siempre están tomando tragos. Los verdaderos irlandeses llaman a esas personas “Irlandeses de plástico.”

A las tres, salimos del departamento a una festiva Irlandesa en el Cricket Club de Lima. Primero, es muy raro que el festival sea en un club de cricket. El cricket es un juego que uno asocia con Inglaterra, los antiguos colonos de Irlanda. En Irlanda, que juegan un juego llamado “hurling”, que es un poco similar al hockey sobre hierba. Por supuesto, nadie juega este juego pero los Irlandesas.

The Gang

Pero, en este festival había Guinness (la cerveza de Irlanda) y que f ue una mejor razón por la que fuimos al festival. ¡Había una escasez de Guinness en Lima! ¡Que horror, que horror! En general, el festival fue interesante porque era una fusión de Perú y Irlanda. El festival fue una fiesta en la piscina, donde hijos y padres llevaban trajes de baño. Había algunos bailarines (ellos no eran Irlandeses, pero ellos eran buenos) y una banda irlandesa. En cuanto a la comida, había salchichas y helados. En total, el Día de Santo Patrick fue interesante.

This blog has been, to put it mildly, dead. Earthworm dead. I wish I could say it was due to a massive zombie outbreak in Lima or some other such exciting occurrence, but no. It was just the normal collection of life, work, and laziness. However, I’m going to try and give the blog a little life support. Somewhere, I have the last vacation post about Macchu Piccau, but I think I’ll stick with something a bit less ambitious (until I get back in the swing of things).

A couple of weeks ago, the university began the academic year. Similar to many things in the Southern Hemisphere, the school year here runs backward, if you’re looking at the schedule from the US/Europe model. The Fall semester begins in March and ends in June, while the Spring semester goes from August to the last week of November. You have no idea how many of my friends, upon hearing about the schedule in Peru, immediately made a joke about how the toilet water flushes. I blame the Simpsons.

So, to inaugurate the new semester, I thought I’d share some of my thoughts about the unique qualities and experiences of teaching in a Peruvian university.

  • If there’s one thing you learn when teaching in a country where you are unfamiliar with the language, it’s not to worry about what the students whisper to each other. I’m pretty certain some of the Spanish muttered at my direction, especially when grades are returned, is not entirely positive.  Now, however, my Spanish is slowly improving, but I’m not letting my students know that yet.
  • Many of the students I teach have an unique combination of influences that shape their attitudes and expectations in the classroom. Quite a few of my students have spent most of their academic career in International Baccalaureate schools run mainly by British and/or American ex-pats. This creates a unique classroom culture that mixes elements of Latin American culture (especially the understanding of time) with the eccentricities of British boarding schools (especially the odd formalities like shaking my hand after class).
  • One difference between the US and Peruvian systems that I was not expecting was the grading system. Peru works on a 1-20 scale where 20-19 is an A, 18 an A-, 17 a B+, and so forth. Now, this isn’t really a big deal as the scale matches the US system more or less seamlessly. Yet, the real kicker is the system of evaluation that the university uses to create that scale. Every course must have, at least, a Mid-Term, Final, and a Permanent Evaluation grade, all of which themselves must be given a grade on the 1-20 scale. So, a hypothetical student may have a grade sheet that looks something like this: 15 MT, 17 F, and 14 PE. The final grade would depend on how much of the grade was given to each section (for example, MT could be 30% of the grade). For my first semester, my grading system was based on the US A,B,C,D system and my evaluations were all messed up. Thankfully, this semester, I’ve been able to design my course to meet the Peruvian system.
  • Throughout my time here, I’ve needed to become an ESL teacher on the fly. Although many of my students matriculate from expensive colegios—those IB schools taught by Brits—they still struggle with English. I’ve really had to adjust many of my lesson plans to accommodate the students’ English abilities. Many of the students have a vocabulary limited by classroom and popular culture. For instance, in my most recent English 101 class, the students did not recognize the word “beneficial” but understood the idiomatic expression “tank an exam.” My strategy to accommodate my students is to have more in-class readings and exercises in addition to texts that have a more varied vocabulary. I hope it works.

The Sacred Valley

The day after our visit to Cusco we had a trip through the Sacred Valley that ended in a train trip to Aguas Caliente, which is a popular way station on the trip to Macchu Pichu. The basic routes from Cusco to Macchu Pichu for what many call the Gringo Trail (some of the locals express their thoughts on the issue with the commonly seen graffiti tag Inca$). I need to begin by declaring, in all honesty, that I don’t have the language to describe the natural beauty and power of the Sacred Valley of the Incas (Valle Sagrado de los Incas). Give me the chaos of a city; I can (sorta) describe that scene. Maybe it’s my affinity for steel and concrete, but whenever I try to write about nature I feel like somebody cribbing the best (or the worst) from the Naturalists. Yet even for me, as someone who feels the futures presented by cyberpunk fictions are not all that dystopian, the Sacred Valley was beautiful. Purely and absolutely beautiful. Without a doubt it was the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever experienced.

Sacred Valley, near Pisac

I’ve always had an affinity for the idea that beauty, especially natural beauty, has a purposiveness without purpose. Basically, this means we that normally we can divine object’s purpose due to the goals or activities that object is supposed to achieve. Yet, an elemental part of the joy we experience when looking at beautiful objects found in nature we feel that they have a purpose—since they have the a symmetry and organization of aesthetic elements or qualities—but in reality the object has no discernable purpose geared towards aesthetics. A wonderful valley is not designed for its aesthetic qualities, but is the product an ongoing process of natural occurrences. Natural beauty, for me, creates a frame where all the elements are composed for the vista, the view, yet I know, deep down, that it is just a happenstance of biological development. It produces a feeling that “damn that’s purty” without being designed to be “damn purty.”

Pisac Market

The first stop was the opening to the Sacred Valley, which provided a great view of the entire landscape. It was a designated stop along the Gringo Trail where many of the tour buses unload and people take pictures. Like any stop on the Sacred Valley that attracts tourists, this area was packed with women and their children selling various trinkets or posing for photos (note: if you take pictures of any locals, be expected to pay for the photo). Every site along the Sacred Valley has its own economy of tourist-centric merchandise, basically various Inca themed textiles, hats, and curios. The view from the is cliff overlooking the valley was tremendous, it had a sense of unreality to it that made it seem like it was some painting transposed into the technicolor of real life. The day of our visit, it was a bit misty and overcast, which provided a great background to the mountains and river. It was amazing.


From this stop, we travelled to a Pisac, a small town (in the Sacred Valley, they all seem like small towns) with wonderful Incan ruins. Pisac, in relation to the town, is a nice pueblo village with a decent number of restaurants and a thriving market. As a part of our trip, we visited a jewelry store for a little presentation about jewelry craft in the Sacred Valley and how to spot fake silver. Like any tourist-centric destination, the Macchu Pichu-Cusco-Sacred Valley is a haven for cheap knock-offs of the typical handicrafts of the local people. If you take a trip to Macchu Pichu-Cusco-Sacred Valley, expect to hear people talk about how their sweaters or caps are real baby Alapaca and soandsos sweaters are “Maybe Alapaca.”

Pisac Ruins

The ruins of Pisac are stone houses and temple built directly into the mountainside. Also, it has one of my favorite features of Incan architecture, the terracing of the mountainside. It’s an impressive site, but pales in comparison to some of the other mountainside buildings constructed by the Incans. Quite a few Incan ruins are built on the mountainside, so in order cultivate enough crops the Incas terraced the mountains. When we visited the ruins of Pisac, it started to pour down rain. One of the most interesting elements of Pisac, and the Sacred Valley as a whole, was verdant character to it all. Everything is green on green, with a slate grey sky hanging close to our heads.



From Pisac, we had a brief stop at a local bar know for its chicha. Chicha is a sweet fermented drink made from a traditional fermentation process. I already knew that the Incas used spit to help the fermentation process, however, I was a chicken and didn’t ask the proprietor of the bar if she still followed this tradition. Oh well, it tasted fine. Although chicha does have a very mild alcoholic percentage, in order to give the drink some punch many locals mix chicha with beer (Cusquena Dark seemed to be the choice the day we visited). Chicha has the taste of fruit juice, but the fermentation process does alter the flavor in an unusual (for foreigners) way, as it doesn’t remotely taste like wine. If pressed, the closet thing to chicha would probably be a lambec or one of the many fruit-flavored craft beers. Also, it’s quite different from the chicha morada that you find all over Lima.

The last major stop for the day was Ollantaytambo. If I thought that Pisac was an impressive ruin built into the side of a mountain, the ruins of Ollantaytambo were fantastic and exceeded the bar set by Pisac. There are two major parts to Ollantaytambo, the large terraced temple that stretches high up the mountain and a series of buildings carved into the opposite mountainside, and they sit even higher then temple and are perched on a dizzyingly steep angle. While standing on the left side of the valley and looking up from the top of the terraced temple, you can see the large storehouses, which were built to store grains and other perishables, and the house of the engineer of Ollantaytambo.


The house of the engineer is build basically on top the third massive monument in Ollantaytambo: the face of Tunupa. Built on the more severe of the two mountains are the houses and, incredibly, this face of Tunupa, a mythical messiah figure to the Incas, juts out from the side of the mountain. Tunupa was a blonde haired and blue-eyed figure that helped the Incas unify and, before disappearing, promised to return to the Incas to bring about a golden time. It didn’t happen. Instead, a bearded Spaniard came and, in his own way, transformed the society and community of the Incas. There is a substantial debate among experts as to whether or not this face was carved by the Incas or just a happy byproduct of nature. Either way, it adds another spectacular level to the site.


When you walk up the steps of Ollantaytambo you are provided with a great view of the entire archeological site. First, you get to experience more the insanely accurate walls of the Incas, with stones that fit perfectly together without the use of mortar, like a giant heavy Tetris game played by the gods. Also, according to our guide, many of the large smooth stones that make of temple are of Ollantaytambo come from a quarry many kilometers away, which means the stones were hauled one helluva distance. Second, you also get a wonderful view of the town and the valley as well. For any trip to the Sacred Valley, I would highly recommend a trip to Ollantaytambo.

We probably spent a good hour or more at Ollantaytambo, and it was a wonderful experience. Like much of the trip, hiking up these monuments, along with the pressures of the altitude, really took a lot out of our group. Once we all packed on to the train, it was a relief to sit down and relax. In the next post, I’ll talk about Macchu Pichu and how my experience of the beautiful became an experience of the sublime.


This will be the first in a series of posts about my vacación to Cusco, Machu Picchu, and así sucesivamente (ugh, Spanglish is for everyone). The university is on break so, like many Peruvians, I went on a trip with friends and family. Our group was relatively small and was pretty diverse in terms of age, with a range of 30 to 65+. This trip was the capstone to almost a month of visitors that turned my apartment into a makeshift hostel. So, while my level of great experiences with great people increased, there was also a concomitant drop in productivity (including writing for this space). However, despite the raging academic guilt that is often present in my head when I spend any time not directly related to producing work, I wouldn’t change a thing (with a special shout out to Karen, Steve, and Bailey!).

The trip began very early in the morning, as we all stumbled, like bleary-eyed drunks, into a van at 4:30 am. From there, it was, mercifully, a quick trip to the airport, which was surprisingly busy for such an early time in the morning. I’m told that Lima’s airport is busy late at night/early in the morning due to the winds off the Andes; it causes dangerous conditions for outgoing flights. The flight to Cusco, which was the first step on our trip, was quick and painless.

Cusco has many of these charmingly narrow streets

Cusco is an energetic little town tucked up in the mountains with charmingly narrow streets and an abundance of hostels, pubs and restaurants. Cusco is, and yet not, a resort town; yes, much of the industry of the town revolves around the tourist trade, but the town still has a rough-around-the-edges feel. It’s a town that appears geared towards backpackers, not jetsetters. Like most of Peru, the weather really damages the town, as rain, earthquakes and the altitude wears down buildings, treating the concrete to one crushing blow after another. My guess is that you either like this beaten-down charm or you don’t. I think our group was split.

Central Plaza

Truthfully, we didn’t spend much time in Cusco and most of our first day was spent acclimating to the altitude. Any travel book or website will tell you about the horrors of the altitude in Cusco, and they’re all right. Every single one of them. It’s no joke. I don’t think I really appreciated the changes to my body caused by the severity of the differences in altitude between Cusco and Lima. Not only was I often out of breath, but also my legs ached and I had stomach cramps. I tried to follow the rules provided by various travel sites, such as drinking plenty of water and purposefully walking at a slower pace, but I still felt pretty much like how Mickey Rourke looks. In other words, I was a big bag of mashed-up asshole.

Our tour of Cusco began with the town’s main plaza—the Plaza de Armas—and the main cathedral, Santo Domingo. As anyone familiar with Latin culture can attest, the plaza and the cathedral are always connected, forming a conjoined space that represents the merger of a community’s secular and spiritual interests. Cusco’s plaza is one of the more charming ones I’ve encountered: compact and lively. Outside of Santo Domingo, there is another impressive cathedral, Iglesia de la Compañía de Jesus, in the plaza. Both cathedrals are best viewed from the second stories of the many pubs and bars that encircle the plaza. For our visit, the hustle and bustle of the plaza included the arrest of some thieves by the police, which compelled a couple of youths to yell when the police van was safely beyond the plaza, “Hijos de putas” and (I think) “pedazos de mierda.”

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo is a large Baroque cathedral that features a unique blend of colonial and Andean religious iconography. For instance, many of the church’s paintings of the Virgin Mary depict her as having what our guide called the “triangle shape of Andean mothers.” The real showpieces are the large canvases from the Cusquena Escuela that best exemplify the merger of Catholic and Andean cultural symbols. From a postcolonial perspective, it would be easy to signal these canvases as moments of hybridity, which they probably are. However, these murals also present how hybridity can be contained with the larger symbols of empire—a framed hybridity. The colonial space and pictorial symbols enclose and dominate the Andean influence in the paintings. Or at least so I thought.

From Santa Domingo, we travelled to the outskirts of Cusco to some of the Incan structures that exist in the hill country. The first was Saqsayhuamán, a large temple that stretches out over a plateau in the mountains above Cusco. The view provided by Saqsayhuamán was tremendous, the site offers up a picturesque vista of the city and the surrounding mountains. The long rock formations that compose Saqsayhuamán form a zig-zag pattern that our guide suggested was meant to signify a lightning bolt. The archeological site was our group’s first exposure to the two main elements of Incan architecture: astronomical symbology and precise masonry. The main wall of Saqsayhuamán—the “bolt” of lightning —has blocks of smooth granite so precisely placed together that it reminded me of a giant Incan game of Tetris. Every block, most of which were not uniform, was so snuggly placed against its partner that the wall gave the impression that it wasn’t made from blocks at all, but was one solid piece carved to represent the shape of brick of wall.


The other memorable monument at Saqsayhuamán has a more modern history than the rock wall. Cusco has a decent number of Arab immigrants who, according to our guide, have been more or less tolerated by the local (highly Catholic) population. In one of the less tolerant periods, the Arab community offered the citizens of Cusco a gift to help express their commitment and gratitude: a large white statue of Jesus in the vain of Rio’s Cristo Redentor. The statue comes at the point of Saqsayhuamán lightning blot, if you will, and is illuminated at night as if it were keeping watch over the city.


The second Incan monument, we visited was Tambomachay, an aqueduct placed at the top of a small, but very steep, hill. The end of the aqueduct leads to small fountain underneath four of ceremonial nooks or, as we called ‘em in kindergarten, cubbyholes. These nooks are trapezoidal with the base being slightly larger than the top. They can be found many Incan monuments and are believed to have held mummies or gold-plated idols. Also, they’re another example of the precision found in Incan architecture, as each nook is the same size and the same distance separating each hole. The fountain at Tambomachay is a traditional spot for the citizens of Cusco to have marriage ceremonies where the bride and groom each drink from the fountain.

After Tambomachay, honestly, the rest of Cusco was numbing blur due to the altitude and general travel exhaustion. We ate a restaurant, Incanto, which was okay (though I have the terribly snobbish gustation of a true Limeño). I think everybody in our group, myself included, was asleep by 9:30 or so.

Cusco at Night

Essentially, my experience in Cusco and it’s surrounding areas left me wishing that we’d spent more than just a day in the area. One of the downsides of being a part of a guided tour is spending the trip on rails, being led from one destination to another like the character in an old Nintendo game. Of course, there are upsides to a guided tour and it was probably for the best since I was the only person who could, at times, pass for a reasonably coherent Spanish speaker. My role as translator was, as my teacher would say, good for my Spanish but annoying for everyone else.

First, before I begin discussing my trip to Lima’s Interpol branch, I want to make a quick statement about the weather: It’s really nice. I mean really, really nice. As a lifelong Midwesterner, I’ve basically become accustomed to crappy weather. In Winter, it’s too cold and snowy; in the Summer, it’s too hot and humid. In the Midwest, you really get only 1 nice month in the Autumn and then another one in Spring. And that’s it, that’s the list. Hell, I was so inured to these craptastic seasons that I had convinced myself that everywhere else on the planet only had 2 good months of weather. Right now, Lima is transitioning into Summer and it’s absolutely gorgeous. And, though I still don’t believe this because my native Midwesternness won’t let me, it’s supposed to stay this nice for months. Months, I tell you! I’m worried I might turn into one my Midwesterners-turned-Southerners-or-WestCoasters friends who can no longer handle crappy weather.

So, my continuing search for a Peruvian work visa has taken it’s next, and hopefully second-to-last, step; namely, a visit to Interpol. In this step not only are you required to pay money to the Peruvian government but also are required to send some cash back to Good Ole Uncle Sam. I’m still not quite sure why the FBI needs to keep tabs on me while I’m living in Lima. Though I can assure you it’s not because I’m some super-secret drug smuggler (oddly, the FBI wouldn’t accept my “cross my heart” promise). I’ve been told it’s because the US government wants to keep track of me in case of an emergency, but I can’t really see US government being that concerned with British/Postcolonial scholars. I don’t see us getting on one of those big ships in that dumb John Cusack movie.

In relation to many of the other steps throughout my visa process, the trip to Interpol was relatively painless. Essentially, the process is a simple trip to a small government building tucked out in Surco where you’ll get poked and prodded by bored officials in dusty suits. It is a wee bit depressing, with these folks in their dusty, faded military green suits working in a dusty, faded military green building with bad tile. The key bit of advice I can give is to be prepared and get all the necessary documents finished before you get in the cab to head out to the building (which only does Visa stuff on Monday and Tuesday, btw). Unfortunately, like many steps in the visa process, nobody really tells you what you need, so it can become a frustrating guessing game. Therefore, allow me to help out, in the smallest way.

The key documents required by US persons seeking a visa are as follows:

  • Passport
  • 2 copies of your passport, including your front picture and contract stamp (ideally, I would suggest a person bring 10-15 copies of there passport before even coming to Peru, given the amount of places in which you need to hand out copies)
  • A receipt for 73 soles paid to Banco Nacional for the Canje Internacional
  • A check (giro de credito) for 30 USD given to you by BCP/SoctiaBank for the FBI (you give them the cash, they give you the check)
  • 18 soles for photos to be taken at Interpol
  • And a bunch of forms to be filled out that they’ll give you at the office.

"El metro es una película porno. Las aceras son un desastre. Yo sé que usted me ha apoyado durante mucho tiempo.De alguna manera no estoy impresionado"

First, these are the requirements for USians and, I think, Canadians who are seeking a visa. If you’re from Asia, Europe, or another South American country, some of the items you need will be different. I would highly suggest you visit the banks–and, of course, you can’t do it all at one bank–a day or two before you plan to head to Interpol. The weekend is particularly helpful because if you can go early enough (around 11), many of the banks aren’t that crowded. Also, I would avoid the Banco Nacional in Surco because when I was heading to Interpol there were 2 lines that stretched around the block, full of pissed off people waiting to get into the building. If you can get the copies and bank documents in order before you head to Surco, then the experience at Interpol can move quickly and smoothly.

The rest of the trip is essentially a documentation of your body and appearance. I felt a bit like a horse, being examined for a sale as my teeth, face, and fingerprints were all given a good once-over. The teeth examination is particularly strange because the only reason I could think of as to why they’d need to take notes on my teeth would be to identify my body after something terrible had happened. It was unnerving. All the other examinations will be pretty routine to anybody this far in the process, just another round of pictures and fingerprints. Honestly, given the amount of times I’ve had my prints taken there must be 15 or so copies of my fingerprints floating around Peru.

Overall, the trip to Interpol should be one of your easier Visa experiences, as long as you have all the documents prepared ahead of time. My last suggestion would be to have somebody who speaks Spanish accompany you if you’re not that familiar with the language. The staff at Interpol, like all government officials, are fairly abrupt and don’t really like answering questions that begin “I’m sorry, can you help me with…” I felt fine with my level of Spanish, and I’m by no means fluent, but I did have to ask a few questions, which received a sigh or two from some sclub behind a desk.

Hello, it’s time for another lovely edition of random musings or, by it’s fancier sounding name, unrelated observations of Peru. The random musings tactic is like the clip show of blogging; it’s something that the blogger can do to provide content without the structured thinking that a normal post requires. Or when your life is just a bit boring (really, how many times might people who are not my family want to read about getting taxis and grading papers). Essentially, this is the lazy person’s way to blog and, if you notice the time between my posts, I’ve been pretty lazy. Of course, like all lazy people I’ve got a ton of great excuses, like “I’m super busy at other things!” Well, the semester here is winding down and plenty of students need help on their final projects so…on with the show:

  • Well, even though it’s not quite summer yet the weather has definitely changed. The temperature has risen and it gets pretty sunny (more or less). The most unusual aspect of the weather is how most days begin overcast but changes into a brighter day with slightly clearer skies. Even when it stays a bit overcast, it usually warms up to a comfortable level, even if most days start of a bit gloomy.
  • A few weeks ago, we hired a maid on the suggestion of one of our friends. Her name is Teo, and she does a fantastic job with the apartment. The thing is, I still feel a bit awkward about having a maid (or limpiadora) in the first place. My family never had a maid nor did we ever rent a cleaning service, so it’s a change to have someone in my house cleaning up after me (Comment from my mother below in 3…2…1…). I don’t know if my feelings about Teo are leftover baggage of bourgeois guilt or just one the new cultural differences with which one must be accustomed.
  • My new favorite food here are anticuchos. I don’t want to spoil them for anybody, but if you happen to meat eater they’re delicious.
  • I feel like my Spanish is definitely (or at least hopefully) improving. A lot of times, I can understand what is been asked or said to me, even if I can’t necessarily translate the words verbatim. Of course, I still get a little lost whenever a person uses too much slang or mumbles. Yet improvement is improvement, so I’m just happy that the language blocks are getting fewer and fewer.
  • After quite a few experiments, all done in the interest of science mind you, I’ve discovered that Cusquena is much better in a bottle. Though, if you must, drinking it in glass is still pretty good.
  • Finally, on a bit of a home sickness note, I absolutely miss Autumn. As someone who grew up in the Midwest, this time of year (calendar wise) has always been my favorite part of the year. The changing flora and fauna, along with the opportunity to wear all my cool sweaters, puts me in a good mode. In Lima, the opposite change is, of course, occurring as the seaons is getting warmer. I feel all discombobulated as my body seems to expect the weather to get colder. Yet, whenever I’ve mentioned this to any of my friends back in the US–especially the ones living in colder climates–they tend to give me a fairly snarky remark. I think I can actually hear them roll their eyes through the computer.