Living in Lima Peru (01/2011)
01/01/2011 (Saturday) Happy New Year Everyone
Another year has come and gone and now we stand at the threshold of 2011. What will it bring? For me if 2011 is as good as 2010, I will be a very happy camper. Retirement is going well for me. I am pursuing interests that I had put on the back burner for most of my life. Writing, photography, travel, archaeology and astrophysics were all things I enjoyed this year. Spanish lessons were a bit of a letdown for me but I hope to continue them at some point in the future. I just need to find out the learning style that suits me the best. I left ICPNA because of the teachers (some were very bad) and I have stopped the private lesson because I didn’t feel they were helping. Something between the two I guess. Anyway, I need to learn the language if I’m going to live here for the majority of my life.
Starting the book (tentatively titled “The Cinderella Murders”) with my friend Larry Pitman was one of the best things I did in the past year. We are over half way done by my calculations and I do believe for a first draft, it is turning out well. To sell it, we will need to finish it and have another one-half completed also. I have also decided to start submitting short stories to pulp magazines in 2011 to get some publishing credits under my name. Wish me luck on that one. Putting together the “Peru Writers’ Group” with Larry and Victoria is another thing that has worked out well. We have definitely helped each other improve our writing and our blog for posting short works of fiction about Peru has been fun.
I have made a few good friends here in Peru also and having a weekly meeting for a coffee and catching up on everything is one of the things I look forward to doing every week. I know how important maintaining a social network is for your mental health. I continue to keep in touch with family and friends in the US and around the world and was fortunate to have quite a few of them visit me here this past year. I should know about my Rentista Visa in the next month and once I have that I will be all set.
So I look forward to 2011 with a lot of enthusiasm. Last night I went to a “Peña” with some friends to ring in the New Year. It was loud and raucous with only so-so food but I still enjoyed doing it. Apparently wearing loud yellow do-dahs on New Year’s eve is supposed to bring you luck for the future. The photos are of vendors selling them on a street near my apartment.
I hope all of you reading this blog have a great New Year (Feliz Ano Nuevo) and it brings you great prosperity and good health.
01/04/2011 (Tuesday) Taking down the tree, writing, coffees and resolutions
I am settling into the new year like it was a comfortable old robe. Larry and I added several chapters to the book the past few days and have plotted out even more. We met on Monday morning to discuss some issues with our characters and a couple of sub-plots. Writing a book is hard work and co-writing a book is even harder. The biggest issue at this moment is coming to a consensus on what we want the next book to be. We know that for a publisher to take a serious look at our book, we need to have a second one at least half finished. They are not much interested in one book wonders anymore. Agreeing on characters and what they will and will not do is another biggie. There are lots more and fortunately, Larry and I work well together and can reason with each other very well.
I met Tim for breakfast Sunday morning, Lourdes was tired and decided to rest a little longer so I didn’t get to see her this week. They had a great Christmas and New Year but Tim is missing his family and spending the holidays with them and plans to be back in Canada for next Christmas. He has bought a motorcycle this past week and it will be delivered in another week. Stay tuned for photos. I have to admire his bravery for being willing to drive one here in Lima.
Saturday, Steve and I drove out to Sarritas for tamals and to visit the beach. I think half of Lima had the same idea. There was so much traffic that they had closed down the 3 North bound lanes of the Pan America Sur and opened them to southbound traffic. It took a while to get to Sarritas after we exited the highway. It was cloudy on arrival so we decided to just eat and skip the beach. It made for a nice little adventure on New Year’s Day. I also took down the Christmas tree and boxed it up. All the decorations have been put away and the living room is back to normal.
No photos for this entry. Haven’t had a chance to get out with the camera lately. Hope you all are enjoying the new year as much as I am so far.
01/09/2011 (Sunday) More Writing, Sarritas again, Coffees and Lunches, walks in the Park
It seems that the good times just keep on rolling in. Since my last entry I managed to get three chapters written for the book (we are up to Chapter 75 now), two short stories almost completed (one for sale) and another article with photos sent into LiP for posting this coming week. All in all, I would say that’s a good week for the right side of my brain. The Peru Writers’ Group has decided to stop posting short stories for a few months. When we went up, we were hoping that we would get contributions from other writers. Well, that hasn’t worked out and we are having a hard time coming up with quality work on our own in such short time frames. We hope to be back up and running in about three months and have enough short stories to publish for three months if we all run into writer’s block.
I met with Larry and Victoria on Thursday and we went over a short I had started. It’s far from complete and they gave me some nice suggestions for polishing the story up some. As usual the meeting involved more than discussing our work and we had a nice chat and visit as well. I do hope that we can find one or two more people to join our group. It would help with the contribution of stories and give fresh perspective to the our work. If you know any writers in Lima, Peru who would like to join a group, send them to us.
Kathy and I met for breakfast Wednesday morning. I am helping her with a short piece of fiction she is writing. Her second draft is a distinct improvement over her first. It will be a very nice story if she lets go of her inhibition about putting herself out there as a writer. We also had a nice long chat about all that’s going on in our lives. Living in Peru certainly makes for an interesting time. It’s all about learning to live with the local customs and understanding how people who live in a different culture behave.
Today after finishing up some writing I went into Miraflores and before I met my friends Tim and Lourdes for lunch, I went for a nice walk along the Malecon. We met at a place called Shahadi’s right across from Parque Kennedy. I had Turkey with fettuccini in a huacaina sauce. It was delicious. Afterwards we went by Tim’s apartment so I could see his new motorcycle and apartment for the first time. Both were very nice. We sat on his patio and had ice cream and sodas while we chatted about the events of the past week. It was a great few days and I hope all of you had ones just as good.
01/14/2011 (Friday) More meetings, coffees, the Book, Short Stories
Another typical few days has passed. I met with Larry on Monday to discuss the book and the new Chapters we had written. The plot seems to be progressing well and we are still on track to finish the novel by the end of March. We bounced ideas around concerning a couple of follow up books and a short story I had started on the main character in the book. I finished a couple more chapters in the past few days and started another short story for the Peru Writers’ Group Blog. I may have retired from a job in Information Technology but it seems that I have not escaped the keyboard. LOL
The writers’ group met on Thursday and discussed a new work by Larry. This piece was more of an essay than a short story. He was looking for a way to turn it into an interesting piece of fiction. I think we gave him some good ideas to work with. Afterwards we had a nice talk about all sorts of things and made plans to go to the Zoo on Sunday. Larry has never been before so this should be interesting for him. I’ve heard that they have added some new areas for the larger animals so I’m interested in seeing the changes they have made since my last visit. Naturally, I will be there camera in hand taking lots of photos.
Kathy and I had coffee here in San Borja yesterday morning. She drove up from Barranco to save me the trip there for a change. I thought that was nice, especially considering the traffic that time of day. We had our coffees and snacks at Disfruta, a small coffee shop on the corner of the street where I live. We discussed the piece she is writing and her trials and tribulations for the week. Nothing new to report on that front. She got a call that her husband was in Callao and needed money (unknown reason) and had to head out after a short time. I imagine that I will hear all about it at our next coffee.
My friend Steve’s older brother arrived in Lima Wednesday evening as a surprise. He came from Spain for a vacation that will last about a month. He is working in Seville as a Dentist presently. I have yet to meet him but I hear he is arguing with Mom already. Isn’t that the way it is with all sons and moms when they grow up. Well that’s it for this entry. Once again not photos, sorry for that. Have a great weekend everyone.
01/18/2011 (Tuesday) Secluded few days, Immigration, a movie and lots of writing.
I have spent the days since my last entry hanging out with myself. No coffees of breakfasts and the one trip to the zoo has been postponed. I have to admit that the experience has been quite novel for me. I did have some fun though and wasn’t totally isolated during the entire time. Friday evening I went to the movies with Steve, Antonio and Ruben. We went because I wanted to see the new Matt Damon movie where he is able to see the future. When we got to the theater, the times listed on the web site were not the ones it was actually showing. So, instead of hanging out at the mall for three hours waiting for the next showing, we decided to see “The Tourist.” It was an interesting movie, a bit slow in places but I enjoyed it very much. There is a line in the movie that I just loved, “So, $20 million dollars in plastic surgery and that’s the face you chose?” Cracks me up just thinking about it.
I went for a few very long walks also, despite the heat wave now encompassing Lima. The beautiful parks here just draw you out, no matter what the weather is. I had the camera with me and the photos in this section are from those walks. The flowers and plants just love it here in Lima. The warm humid climate makes for excellent growing conditions all year round.
One afternoon, I watched a movie here in the apartment. It was the “Julie and Julia” film. About the girl who cooked her way through Julia Child’s, “French Cooking Made Easy” cookbook. I have to admit that I loved the movie and watching all those great recipes being cooked sent me into an eating frenzy. I will agree with Julia Childs on one thing, “butter does make everything taste better.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.
I also had to make a trip back to the immigration office to turn in my “Andina” card (tourist visa). I was supposed to have done that the last time we went but the clerk forgot to ask me for it. After giving him the card, he told us to come back the first week of February to see if my application was approved. You have to love never ending bureaucracy no matter what country you live in. I will definitely keep everyone updated on my process and will be writing an article about it for Living in Peru.
I didn’t let my writing suffer during this time. I finished two more chapters, edited one of Larry’s chapters, finished two short stories and worked on the one involving my, hopefully famous someday, detective from the book. I hope to get another chapter done this week, more work on the detective short story and get at least one more short story started. Keep your fingers crossed for me. It’s gonna be a race to get the novel done before the end of March but I have my hopes. That’s it for today. Have a great week everyone. Oh, BTW, today is Lima’s 476th anniversary. Happy birthday Lima!
01/22/2011 (Saturday) Coffees, Meetings, Writing, Walks and photos
I finished off the workweek doing my regular routine. Wednesday was spent working on chapters for the book and trying to come up with some ideas for some new short stories. I went for a nice long walk to a park and sat on a bench in the shade to help me come up with ideas. For some reason, sitting in a coffee shop, on a park bench or going for a walk with my notebook in hand never fails to help me with my writing. I also made a list of things that needed to happen before the book comes to an end just to make sure that we don’t leave anything out. I don’t think we will make the end of March deadline we set for ourselves. It will more than likely be the end of April before the first draft is finished.
Larry and I met Thursday morning before the writers’ group meeting to go over all the new chapters and the list I had made. We refined the list and decided on the direction a couple of our characters would take. It was a very fruitful meeting before Victoria showed up to go over her latest short story. It´s a nice piece but needs some development. She will take it and work on it some more, especially in developing her main character. After the meeting, Steve came and picked me up and we went to lunch at the Marriott. They are fairly well known for their buffet and I have to admit it was pretty good. Steve is off in Trujillo this weekend to see some family and have a little fun.
Friday morning I met Kathy for coffee in Barranco and we had a nice long chat. We covered all sorts of ground from politics to the things that are going on in our lives. She is still in a quandary about what to do with her life. Afterwards, I went for a long walk along the Malecon from Barranco into Miraflores. I took lots of photos of flowers for an article I am planning on writing about them for Living in Peru. Although it was a rare cloudy day for summer here, the weather was still nice and I enjoyed the walk immensely. That’s it for the past few days. I hope you all have a great weekend.
01/26/2011 (Wednesday) Writing, Lunch with Larry and Lucha, the Museum and Coffee with Tim and Lourdes
The beautiful summer weather of Lima continues. Sunny warm days with a nice breeze to keep you cool definitely beat what’s going on in northern US. Lots of snow, ice and cold seem to be the norm this winter for them. I have to say I don’t remember the winters being so bad when I was living in Illinois.
The past few days have been filled with my normal routine. On Saturday I met Tim and Lourdes for an early lunch/coffee at Café Z in Miraflores. It had been a couple weeks since I had enjoyed their company. We had a nice chat about everything that’s going on with our lives. They are both working a lot but still find time to enjoy life. Tim is still working on getting all the paperwork for the motorcycle he bought. He is planning to return to Canada in July and they are going to try to get Lourdes a Visa so that she can go with him.
On Sunday I took a walk over to the Museum of the Nation to see if they had really completed the renovations. They had not and the exhibits hadn’t changed. I spent some time in the Indigenous Art Gallery, admiring the paintings of students from an early art school here in Lima. Then it was back home to pound on the keyboard some more. Another walk a little later and a nice lunch at a new sandwich shop summed up the day.
Lucha, Larry’s wife, invited me over for lunch on Monday. So, instead of meeting him to discuss the book at the Patio behind Madre Natura as usual, I went to his house early and we worked there. It was a good meeting and we were able to talk through the next 30 chapters, which will put us very near to the end of the book. As with my paintings, I have looked at the book so often now that all I see are my mistakes. Still, I think it is a good read and I hope that others will feel the same when it is done. The lunch itself was marvelous. A vegetarian delight. I also got to meet their daughter, Claudia, and grandson Sebastian, both of whom were a delight.
Tuesday I spent most of the day writing and outlining the new chapters Larry and I discussed. I made a lot of progress on the chapters but none on the short stories I have been working on. I really need to spend some time this week on them. Hopefully, today and tomorrow will prove to be good days for that project. No photos again for this entry. I probably need to take a few photos of my friends and post them. I hope your day is going well and you have sunny skies for the rest of the week.
01/31/2011 (Tuesday) Writing, a break, meeting new people and coffees with friends
The beautiful weather has continued since my last entry. We even had a little rain one night, which helped pull the fine desert sand out of the air. Although warm at midday to about 3pm, we have nice cool breezes and plenty of shade trees in the parks for sitting and enjoying the beautiful summer. I’m not really a beach person but my friend Steve goes often with his friends. It’s apparently a very popular activity here in Lima, especially on Sundays. Although traffic in general throughout Lima is very light on Sundays, the roads out of town to the southern beaches are bumper to bumper. I tend to prefer rocky shorelines with waves crashing into the boulders. There’s something very soothing about that to me.
I took a couple of days off from writing this week. I just couldn’t get in the mood. I tended to just sit staring at the blank page in word and somehow magically I was playing solitaire. Fortunately, that ended on Sunday and I am back in the groove again. Larry and I have finished up through chapter 90 now and will have the book finished in 30 – 40 more chapters. I love writing this book but will be ecstatic when it’s finished. Mainly because I can then say, “I have written a novel.” WOW, it’s amazing to me! I also got some work done on a couple of short stories and an article submitted to LiP.
A young man, Morten Jenssen, who is a friend of Carstens met me for coffee on Friday. He wanted to quiz me about my trip to Iquitos last year. He and Carsten are starting up a travel agency and he wanted to know about my experiences with Explorama Lodges. He’s a nice guy and our talk ranged over a whole group of my experiences here in Peru. It was interesting hearing what he was having to go through to start up this business here. I met Kathy the same morning before he arrived in Café Z. We had our usual chat and discussed the short story she is working on. It’s turning out to be an interesting piece.
Victoria, Larry and I also met for our weekly writers’ group meeting where we discussed an article I had written for submission to LiP. I was having some trouble with it and needed a little guidance from them. They helped me to struggle through a rewrite that made the article sound a lot better. Hopefully it will be published in the next week or so. I met Katrina and her boyfriend Oswaldo Sunday morning for breakfast and we caught up. Katrina had been in the states visiting her family and now they are here in Peru visiting her.
Well, that’s it for January. I can tell that my friends up north are anxious for winter to end. I hope spring comes early for all of you dealing with lots of snow and ice. Have a great week everyone. See you in February.