An American in Peru

It’s hard to believe I’ve been here 20 days already.  I feel like I’m only beginning to adjust to life in Peru.  I’ve had a lot of comments and email responses to my blog and wanted to answer some commonly asked questions…

On Married Life…

Married life rocks.  I’m really enjoying it.  I can’t quite put my finger on what is different from being in a long term relationship, maybe it’s just the mentality.  Nevertheless, Charlie is a great husband.  He has put a lot of effort into making things comfortable for me down here.  The little things, like getting me a phone, coming home for his lunch breaks (when he’s working in Lima), inviting me to join his work’s running club, and buying everything we could possibly need for this apartment really add up.

On Friends…

Charlie knows that one of the most important things to me is having a social life.  Last week, he introduced me to one of his co-workers, Gaby, who has become my first friend here in Peru.  We get along very well.  She is Peruvian, but studied English translation in college and has spent time in the States.  When we are together we go back and forth between the two languages so that I can practice Spanish, but get my point across as well.  When Charlie was working at the mine, she took me out for an afternoon of shopping and another night to see a movie with her and her mom.  Gaby is one of those people who can figure out how to do just about anything, being a great resource for me here in Lima.  In fact, when I’m ready to start doing some work teaching English, she has some excellent resources to help me get started.

On the apartment…

One great thing about our apartment is that it came furnished with everything we could possibly need to start our life here right down to a citrus juicer and a sandwich griller.  We live in a perfect two bedroom, three bathroom, park-front apartment that reeks of modern deco.  The dining room and living room tables and shelves are made of glass and everything in the apartment that is not glass is either black, white, silver or blood red…kind of like a scene from American Psycho and definitely not our first choice in design.

Fortunately, a trip to Mercado Indios supplied us with everything we needed to brighten the place up for less than $75.  Mercado Indios, located in Miraflores Lima contains ridiculous amounts of colorful blankets, alpaca wool sweaters, and various other hand and machine made crafts.  One needs to be a very good negotiator to go shopping there because nothing has a set price.  The blonde hair alone gets me a gringo price wherever I go, and the poor Spanish finalizes the deal.  I went with Charlie to the market determined not to get taken advantage of and used my stubbornness to my advantage.  I bought table cloths to cover the glass, cozy blankets to warm up the couch, and bright colored fruits and flowers made from basket material to put on the glass shelves.  I am happy to say things are beginning to feel like home.

On learning Spanish….

I feel like it’s pretty hard not to learn Spanish living in Peru.  I haven’t encountered a lot of people who speak English in my daily travels and find need to use the language for most daily interactions.  Gloria (our maid) is a great Spanish teacher without even trying.  She is patient and when I don’t understand something and thinks of another way to say it.  She speaks slowly and clearly and lets me follower her around and talk to her while she cleans.  Gaby is an excellent teacher as well.  When we are speaking in Spanish, she gets the gist of what I’m trying to tell her, and helps me formulate my sentences correctly.

Beginning on February 2nd, I will be taking Spanish classes at Idomas Catolica, a language school less than a mile from my house.  The classes are five days a week, for two hours a day.  Although I learn a lot in my daily interactions, a class format will help me get the technicalities of the language down a little better.  At this point, I’m able to get by with what I know, but every conversation continues to be a struggle.  I find myself acting out words I don’t know, like “energy” or “power strip”, making conversations exhausting.  When I return to the States, I’ll be very good at charades.  I see the anticipation in other people’s faces when they are waiting for me to construct my sentence.  I want to speak more than I am able to right now and it drives me nuts!  Soon enough….

Posted by Danielle L. Krautmann, 27 January 2010