Sunday, March 3, 2013

Adios Arizona y Hola Arequipa!

In my last post at Christmas I included a teaser about a big move for us in 2013. I can now reveal that the next stage of our life adventure is going to be played out in Arequipa, Peru! We are being transferred there for work and in about 2 months' time, Arequipa will be our new home.
(This map is from
We've had the opportunity to visit Arequipa for a few days and it's a very beautiful city. It's almost 500 years old and has some very elaborate, beautifully restored historic buildings. There are volcanoes overlooking the city (El Misti is about 19,000 feet tall) and due to its location (**Geology jargon alert**) close to where the South American plate passes over the Nazca plate, there are frequent earthquakes. The earthquakes are usually small but there have been some large enough to cause multiple fatalities within the last 20 - 50 years, so it's something that we shouldn't be complacent about.
This move will be challenging for a number of reasons. It is always challenging to move to another country and learn a new way of life. This will be my third move to a different country but for the first time I will have to learn a new language. Australia and the US are similar enough to New Zealand and speak the same language so it was not as difficult to adjust to living there as I expect it will be having to adjust to living in Peru, where we speak only basic Spanish and where not everyone we will meet will be fluent in English. The food will be a little different but that is also part of its appeal (until we can't find something that we really miss from NZ/Australia/USA and pine for it). We will be far from home again and there will be some restrictions on what our loved ones can send to us so we will have to be resourceful in order to make things feel like home. Fortunately we have a wonderful employer and a tremendously supportive group of ex-pat "instant friends" (some of whom are not so instant as we have worked with them before) who have reached out to us and given us so much help and advice which I am sure will make the transition and inevitable culture shock somewhat easier to bear.
Dealing with the altitude in Arequipa and where we will work will also take some adjusting to. The mine is at about 9,000 feet and visitors have to have a medical check before they are allowed to visit. We were only there for a few days so it will be interesting to see how we handle it when we are there for a longer period of time.
Now that we are about to leave the US I look back at my blog and wish that I'd written more about the culture here and what it's like to live in the US, which is what I had intended this blog to be. I still have a couple of months to make up for lost time and when we move to Peru, I'll try to include lots of pictures and regular posts so that you can join us on our culture shock/transition into life as Nuevos Arequipenos (hopefully my Spanish will get better too).