Sunday, May 25, 2014

Some thoughts on living in Peru

I just got back from a couple of weeks in the US. On the whole it was a great trip, especially as I was able to see and spend time with many friends from the six years that we lived in Arizona. I took N with me as he had a week of school holidays and on top of that, due to an immigration issue which delayed our departure from Peru by a day, he managed to miss a whole week of school. He had a great time playing and hanging out with several friends which was really good for him. As I've mentioned before it can be hard living here in Peru and this trip was a good opportunity to take N out of Peru for a little while so that he could have a break and have some fun for a couple of weeks.
Before departing on the trip we made our shopping list and wish list of places we wanted to go and things that we wanted to do while in Tucson. We were able to do most of them (we couldn't visit our favourite sushi place because it's on the university campus and the day before we visited, they had closed for the summer - we'll have to try again next time) and got our fix of McDonald's (doesn't take much to have had enough McDonald's to last me a long time) and Subway.
While we were in the US many people asked me how I like living in Peru. It's a question that I am asked a lot as an ex-pat, especially now that we are in Peru as it's a bit of an unusual place to live and lots of people are curious about it. I tell them that the work assignment is great and that we get to travel a lot (which we enjoy) but that Peru does have some challenges and that it's not the easiest assignment in the world. We don't have Walmart or Barnes and Noble or Trader Joe's, and we can't just go out and find everything that we need or want at the local stores that we do have. I share with them the restrictions of our security requirements and the social isolation that some of us ex-pats (especially those who are working here) experience. I tell them that it's not all bad and that there are some things that make living here very enjoyable (having a housekeeper who cooks our dinner; making friendships that we wouldn't have had the opportunity to make elsewhere) and rewarding (learning Spanish; experiencing a different culture first-hand; racking up valuable work experience). What I often forget to mention when asked about living here are the little miracles that remind me to cherish the time we have here and to try not to see it as something that has to be endured (which is how it can seem at times; how many more years?): a long-tailed hummingbird circumnavigating the garden; waking up to a clear blue sky and snow-capped mountains; the simplicity of people who live off the land and are perfectly happy with the little that they have. It can be easy to dwell on the negative things about living in a developing country such as Peru, especially when you are back in a familiar "first-world" country surrounded by lots of friends and all the modern conveniences that any "first-world" native could possibly want.