Thursday, August 26, 2010

Los Olimpiadas

So this week of school has been fantastic! Next Monday is "Saint Rose of Lima Day" and since she is the namesake of my school we have been doing some serious celebrating... No clases, no homework just fun and games. Seriously! We have art competitions, play logic games, watch talent shows, and most importantly PLAY SPORTS!!! I was on the basketball, soccer and track team and we won gold in all three! Yayyyyyyyy ok, so maybe its not quite as impressive as it sounds because we are competing against the grades who all happen to be younger. But we were still super excited!

So, I'll start by describing the opening ceremonies... It started out with the regular Monday assembly where we all stand at attention and sing the national anthem, Maryknoll song, listen to a sermon and have announcements. The only difference is this time we were decked out in "Promo shirts" and everyone was figity and sang with gusto rather than mumbling the words. Each class of 75 students has a certain color that stays with them for all 11 years... In our case its red so we had a huge elmo costume, red paint on our cheeks, red butterfly ears, red plastic noses, red confetti etc. After the announcements each grade forms a huge mob and parades around the central patio shooting off those canons full of confetti and singing. Super fun. :) And then the entire rest of the day monday was sports. In basketball I enjoyed a serious height advantage so we won by a tonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn and I got to score a lot! Kind of felt like Dani Halberg for an hour or so :) And today was "paseo" so we spent the day at a club and competed in "athletismo" and "fulbito". Translation of these two is imitation track and soccer. For example, I ran the 800 but it was more like a 400. Two laps around this little track marked out with cones in the parkinglot. And I ran the marathon which is three laps or roughly 600 meters. Nobody else in my colegio seems to share my love of distance running so it was fairly easy to win :) Paseo was super fun though... this particular part of Lima almost always has sun and there was lots of green grass and gorgeous architecture and we spent the day taking pictures and eatting yummy food and playing games :)

Ooooooh other exciting news is that I rode public transportation all by myself for the first time on Tuesday!!! I walked from school to one of the main streets and caught a micro. They are these little crowded buses that go all over Lima and only cost about 15 cents. You can flag them down wherever and jump on and then tell the guy manning the door when you want to get off. The whole time the doorman has his head out the window looking for anyone who wants to get on and he has a constant stream of spanish too. Seriously its like a monologue of "baja baja baja sube sube sube va va va esquina esquina esquina." So anyway my mom helped me pick the right micro and I told the guy where I wanted to get off. And then I crossed over and got on the Metropolitano which is the main bus system. From there it is easy because I just ride it to the last station, get off and walk about 5 blocks to my house. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

One Month!

Exactly one month after arriving in Peru I found myself at the airport again. Only this time it was to say goodbye. I guess it was sort of a coincidence that Ale´s flight left at the exact time that mine arrived. We piled into the same two cars and filled the back with even more luggage than I had. Ale managed to fill two of the most gigantic suitcases I have ever seen! She certainly loves her clothes and shoes =) Anyway we went with all of the immediate family plus some cousins and aunts and uncles and even a few friends. We sat and talked and took pictures while Ale stood in line to check her baggage and then we said goodbyes. Luckily it was a happy fairwell because we were all so excited for her to start a new adventure. Afterwords we went out for pizza and stayed out till 2 am. It was super fun because I got to hangout with my cousins (all my age) and listen to stories and practice more spanish. I told them about snow and American Christmas and Halloween and all of those things that they have seen in the movies but never experienced.

I am so thankful that I got to spend my first four weeks with Alejandra. She helped me to adjust to my new family and meet all my cousins and learn how Peruvian teens act. It was like having a personal tour guide but 24/7. I could ask her anything and she would explain words or songs or why the sky is blue (more like why the sky isn´t blue haha). But now its fun to be able to socialize on my own. Yesterday I went to the house of one of my classmates and played wii and watched a movie in Spanish. First social activity completely unstructured with friends from mi colegio! Woot woot :) And as funny as it sounds, I am really enjoying going to school. I guess its because everything is in Spanish but I actually enjoy doing my homework too. Usually we sit at the table after dinner and my parents or sisters help me with the words I don´t understand. For example, I had this huge packet full of synonyms and antonyms that I obviously didn´t know. Or the other day we read a 5 page story and then answered questions and wrote a one page summery about it. I find it a little ironic that now that grades don´t matter the homework is fun! But really, I am understanding classes completely in Español!!! I had my first math test the other day and scored 16/20. Not perfect but definitely not the worst in my class. =)

Ok, so two things that I just have to say are wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better over here than in the US are the keyboards and stoplights. You know how whenever you are writing in Spanish and you have to make an accent or ñ and it takes about 5 minutes to remember which ridiculous combination of buttons to push? Well over here all the laptops have a ñ button and an á é í ó ú button... YES! And the stoplights have a countdown. Yep, thats right. You always know exactly how much time is left for a green light and you never experience that ridiculous fear of "am I going to make it through the light."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ale got her VISA

MY SISTER ALEJANDRA GOT HER VISA AND IS OFFICIALLY GOING TO CANADA IN A WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its been quite a process getting through all the paperwork and interviews but I am so excited for her! :) Its kind of hilarious to see all the hectic, predeparture activities too. I must say I'm quite relieved to be through with all that.

So here are a couple accomplishments from the past week.

#1 I read a 65 page book in Spanish. Yeah it had a few pictures and it was definitely a little kids chapter book but STILL... I read a book! And understood the plot! :)

#2 Most of you know that I have an aweful sence of direction but I am proud to say that I have been paying attention over here and am pretty well orientated. I haven't gotten lost once. I know the cardinal directions. I am learning the names and position of the districts of Lima. And I can get to the track, gym, metropolitano, panederia, metro and park without a problem.

#3 I gave a 5-10 minute speach in Spanish about Wenatchee. It was at a Rotary meeting and I thought I got to use a powerpoint to help but it turned out there wasn't a projector so it was alllllllllllll oral! YIKES!

#4 I survived my first week of school. Actually I did better than survive, I enjoyed my first week of school! My classmates are super welcoming and I fit in pretty well thanks to that lovely uniform. :) Well, other than the fact that I am blond, pale and 6 inches taller than almost all the girls. But still, its been great and I am getting to know everyone really quickly since we stay in the same room all day long. That aspect makes it feel like elementry school all over again. Plus the fact that we have recess. :) Anyway, favorite classes would definitely be physics, math, art and PE. The more difficult ones are communication, religion and history.

#5 I played chess!


Monday, August 9, 2010

The Uniform

Yep... Here is the gorgeous uniform! I am modeling the standard apparel while Ale sports the Physical Education style. Woot woot. Just imagine 1000 of us ranging from age 5-18 all standing at attention singing the Peruvian national anthem (well everyone except one suspiciously silent exchange student who has yet to learn it :) )

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Random Observations etc.

Two weeks. I can hardly believe it. In some ways it feels like I have always lived in Peru and I've been here FOREVER. I have learned the habbits of my family and how the house works (wet towels go upstairs on the roof, one kiss on the right cheek to say hello, goodbye, goodnight etc, everything is later than planned, and honking at other cars is completely normal). I miss my friends, family and life in Wenatchee but I love Peru too much to feel homesick. I feel lucky that the transition has been so smooth.

Anyway, here are a few of my random observations...

You can tell a lot about a place by the bathroom. The things we take for granted in the US like toilet paper and toilet seats are not standard. In most public bathrooms you are expected to carry your own TP and some of them don't have a toilet seat. Almost all seem to lack soap. So the next time you walk into the bathroom and use nice fluffy TP and wash your hands with scented soap, appreciate it!

When you don't speak the language very well people find ingenius ways to communicate. For example, we were eatting out at a resaurant the other day and I didn't know exactly what I was eatting. My "que es eso" was answered with the name of a particular seafood but naturally I still had no idea. So my brother said (in spanish) you know the kids show Sponge Bob, well you are eatting his friend (meaning squidward). Later on the waiter kindly confirmed the conclusion that it was squid. Although this particular story exemplifies my lack of lingual skills, I have to say that my Spanish is definitely improving. I can usually follow the conversation and if people talk directly to me its even easier.

I bought my school uniform two days ago and toured my school. The uniform is, lets just say interesting. I wear black shoes, knee high red socks, a plaid dress, white blouse and red sweater. Hopefully I will post a picture tomorrow so you guys can all laugh :) And then we have shorts, polos, and a sweat suit for PE. I've never worn a uniform to school before so I guess it will be a good experience. At least now when I am asked to answer dumb essay prompts for the SAT about school uniforms I will have a valid opinion. But back to my school. Its big, three stories, connected to the church, has a central courtyard and no indoor hallways. I am in 5b and I have 37 other students in my class. I should get to know them well because we are always together. The teachers move rather than the students so I guess no one will be tardy to class. :)

Tomorrow is el cumpleanos de mi mama (yep ANOTHER birthday!) So I tried to make chocolate chips cookies this evening. They certainly weren't the same as at home but they turned out surprisingly well. First of all, Peruvians don't use their oven much so we had to begin by removing all the pots and pans stored inside. Then we lit the oven with a match and set it to high (there was no temperature gage). Next came the measuring of ingrediants without a measuring cup and substituting of one thing for another. We used margerine instead of butter, white sugar instead of brown and baking powder instead of soda. It was a little challenge getting them to cook without burning on the bottom but in the end they were delicious! :) Woot Woot. A little bit of traditional american food. I am continually reminded of our lack of specialty food but I realised three things that are quite American. Waffles, chocolate chips, and bagels.

So I don't think I have talked about the climate yet. Obviously this is South American so we are in the middle of winter. And it is surprisingly chilly. None of the houses or buildings have heating so I have been wearing a lot of coats and layers. In fact, I am planning to buy one of those long poofy winter coats this week. Still this morning I went for a lovely run in shorts and a t-shirt under a beautiful blue sky and shining sun (rare but all the more enjoyable).

Ooooh, one more thing before I snooze... We went to visit el Palacio del Gobierno! This is the equivilant to the White House and absolutely gorgeous inside. We toured the part where Alan Garcia doesn't live and got to hear all about the history and artwork and decorations. Fascinating and fun because I could understand a lot. I have come to appreciate tour guides because they speak slowly and clearly... :)


Sunday, August 1, 2010


Ica. What a place :) Not only does it have blue skies, sun, and stars at night (all things that Lima sadly lacks) but it has Huacachina. Huacachina is a small oasis in the middle of sand. The sand dunes of Ica are world famous and put our small dunes in Wenatchee to shame... We went to Huacachina twice. The first time we scaled the largest of the dunes and rode down on our sandboards like sleds. And when I say scaled I truly mean it. It takes a good twenty minutes to get to the top of the dune and you get an incredible view. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise that all you can see for miles and miles is... SAND! Anyway, the second day we went in sandbuggies farther into the dunes. These buggies seat 12 and go zooming up down and all around in the sand. Its really like a rollercoaster ride because you strap in with a seatbelt over both shoulders and legs and your stumach drops out everytime you decend. :) Wahooooooooo

It takes about 5 hours to get to Ica so on the way there we stopped in several places to see the surrounding area. We stopped in Pisco, a small town where my papa grew up and I got to see where his house used to be. There was a huge earthquake 3 years ago that destroyed just about everything in Pisco... It's sad to see how much remains in ruins and how little has been rebuilt. Much construction in Peru is adobe and this does NOT stand up to terremotos! We also went on a boat ride in Paracas to see the sealions and penguins. Yep I said PENGUINS! Unfortunately birds that produce guano for fertilizer also nest nearby so part of the time we had a lovely guano perfume. The last stop was to see the sights of a Peruvian national park. It is obviously an arid, costal climate so the vegitation is minimal but the beaches are fabulous and the rock formations too. Anddddd we saw flamingos!!!

Tomorrow is Max's birthday and the custom in Peru is to stay up until 12 to celebrate with cake and singing. I'm slowly getting used to the stay up late type of culture but it's 1 a.m. and I'm kinda tired so I'll finish up with a few highlights from the past week.

1) Lots and lots of delicious food because Cami (my papa's sister) is a WONDERFUL cook! We had arroz con pollo, Carapulcra, tamales etc.

2) Visiting Cachiche, the witch town. A little 7 year old boy was our guide and told us the story of the witches and showed us various important sites. These included the seven headed palm tree and witch museum.

3) Getting to know my cousins... Adriano (2), Sebastian (9), Renato (13) We played futbol, tuti fruti, and ninja!

4) Running for REAL! I left the house on my own, chose a direction, and rannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! Yahoooo I didn't get lost and I got to be in shorts and a t-shirt (its winter so I've been wearing pants and coats) and it felt fabulous :)

5) The 5th birthday party of my cousin Valentina. EVERYTHING was Hannah Montana themed and the was a clown and tons of sweet candies and new foods to try and the hora loca. Apparently the Hora Loca is a Peruvian custom but it was my first experience. Everyone dances around with music and strobe lights and confetti and silly string and hats and whistles and balloons and blinking lights... kinda CRAZY!

So now I'm really going to sleep! But if you want to see photos I've uploaded some to facebook. They don't upload very well to this blog...