Living in Lima Peru (07/2010)
07/03/2010 (Saturday) Coffee with friends, Writers Meeting and Intermediate Spanish
I saw most of my friends this week and caught up on their doings through the past week. Nothing unusual is happening with any of them. Kathy is still waiting on lawyers to file papers and get things moving. She has settled into the new apartment and is enjoying it. I talked with Katrina and although she is still having problems at work, she is still enjoying her new apartment and has settled in nicely. Tim has made it into town for the weekend but we only managed to have a short conversation. He is busy with Lourdes’s family this weekend.
I’m still recovering from my whirlwind trip to Huaraz and Chavin but should be fully recovered by the end of the weekend. I decided to put pictures of Tim and Lourdes from the weekend into this section. I hope they like them. The writers group had a nice meeting this week. We went over a short piece of fiction I wrote and they gave me some excellent suggestions for improving the work. I have already done the revisions and sent them back to the group for their thoughts. I managed to get a lot of writing done today also. I finished Chapter 7 of the novel Larry and I are writing, wrote an article on the trip to Huaraz and started another article on Chavin and the trip there. It feels good to get a lot accomplished in one day. Maybe I will have time to head to the movies tomorrow, providing there is one I want to see.
I also started Intermediate Level I Spanish (or Castelano as they call it here) on Thursday. The first two classes were intense and the Profesora has yet to assign homework. We had a vocabulary quiz first thing on the morning of the second day. That woke me up; I will be studying all the new words more religiously for this class. There is a lot of conversation involved with this class and we are already leaning a new tense for the verbs (past imperfect). It’s hard enough for me to use present and past simple without adding the other tenses. For those of you who have forgotten your English lessons from school, simple past is something you started and finished in the past. (I ate breakfast this morning. Yo comi desayuno en la mañana). Past Imperfect is something you started in the past but will continue doing in the future. (I eat breakfast every morning. Yo comía desayuno en la mañana siempre.) Easy, right? The people in this class for the most part are the same ones from my class last month with a couple of new ones. So far there are 6 of us.
That’s it for this entry, a little boring I know – sorry! For all you Americans reading this, have a Happy and Safe July 4th weekend.
07/07/2010 (Wednesday) The gym, a movie, a lot of writing and Spanish Class
Well, a few days have passed since my last entry and not much has happened here. Steve and I went to a Movie Sunday afternoon, “Plan B”, with Jennifer Lopez. It was funny and entertaining but I would recommend that you wait and rent it. Not really worth the price of a theater ticket. The one scene where one of the ladies is giving birth is actually hilarious. I spent the rest of the weekend trying to get caught up on my writing. I did manage to finish one article and start another, start another short story and get chapter 7 of the novel Larry and I are writing done. That novel is getting harder the more we write; keeping the story line and characters consistent is proving to be time consuming. Every time I start one of my chapters I have to reread all the ones before it to make sure I don’t make any amateurish mistakes. It is fun though and a challenging exercise for me. Who knows, it might actually turn out to be good.
I am so confused about preterite and pasado imperfecto verbos in Spanish class. I thought for one brief shining moment that I understood it all, then she gave us some homework and I totally did not get it. Very frustrating for me, she gave us more to do today so I will go back through my notes and the chapter while doing it and try to get it right this time. My classmates are all nice people and I am enjoying being in class with them. So many countries are represented and we now have a total of nine people in the class. The profesora is very hands off, almost like the one I had in the first level 6 basic course I took. She tells us about an exercise and then make us talk to each other with very little correction or guidance. In some ways it’s good (it makes us talk to each other in Spanish) and other’s bad (who knows if we are speaking correctly). That’s it for this entry, once again, sorry for the boring life. LOL
07/11/2010 (Sunday) Writers meeting, Breakfast with friends, walk on the Malecon and Lima Center
Thursday we had our weekly meeting of the Peru Writer’s Group. We went over a short piece by Larry that will be published on our new blog on Tuesday. It’s a nice short work called “Second Chance”, so give it a read if you get the chance. As always, our meeting involved a lot of talk about out writing styles and ways that we can improve it. I handed over Chapter 7 of the Novel to Larry last week and gave a copy of all seven to Victoria for her opinion. I’m sure there will be a lengthy discussion about that this week. I worked on several pieces this week but didn’t complete any of them. Hopefully will get at least a couple done this week.
All my friends here are doing well. It was Katrina’s birthday this week but I missed her party. Tim and Lourdes are doing well and I had breakfast with them Saturday morning. Tim came into Lima from Huaraz but will probably not be back for at least three weeks. Kathy is well; she and Sonia went to Huacachina this weekend. They haven’t arrived back in Lima yet so I don’t know how the trip went. Larry and his wife are doing well; their daughter and granddaughter are here from Spain. I think they are moving back to Peru, they don’t like Spain that much. Steve and his family are busy as always. His Mom is planning on returning to the states next month. I haven’t seen the rest this past week but haven’t heard any bad news so I will assume all is OK with them.
Saturday after breakfast I went for a long walk along the Malecon. I missed the ocean and even though it was cloudy and foggy with a mist in the air, I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Of course I had my camera with me also. After I got back to the apartment Steve and I headed into Lima Center for some needed stuff. For me it was another battery for my Canon G9. My spare had gone totally dead and would not hold a charge anymore. As we were driving around we saw these guys doing stunts on their Unicycles at an intersection. It amazes me how enterprising the Peruvian people can be when it comes to making money.
Spanish class went well the rest of the week. I am still struggling with those past tenses but I don’t feel too bad about it since the teacher even gets them wrong occasionally. I spent the better part of the weekends doing homework for class. We had to read a piece of literature in Spanish and write a short summary of the story in Spanish. She gave us more practice exercises for the past tense stuff and I had to come up with 6 orations using new words I had learned from the reading. It’s all done though and I am ready for the week. Hope all of you are too!
07/16/2010 (Friday) Coffee with friends, Writers, Class, the Sun and a walk with camera
WOW, sometimes I really do have to wonder where all the time goes. It seems like yesterday that I was writing up my last entry and here it is 5 days later. Where did all those days go? What did I do that consumed my attention so much that I didn’t notice the time passing? I know that much of the time was spent going to class, doing homework for class and studying for class. My instructor for this month has thankfully provided us with a lot of practice exercises using the new tenses we are learning. It is complicated and thanks to those exercises I am slowly but surely getting more of the answers correct. For anyone interested (Preterito (simple past – an action completed in the past at a single point in time; Pasado Imperfecto – a continuous action started in the past but not necessarily completed in the past). Add to that a bunch of conditionals for Pasado Imperfect and it gets real confusing. Even our instructor gets an answer wrong on occasion. Hopefully that tells you why I have to study so much this month and I get the impression that it is not going to get easier as we progress.
During all this I did manage to get in a few fun moments. As always I met with the “Peru Writer’s Group” and we discussed a lengthy piece by Victoria. It was a nice take on an incident that had happened in a discussion with her husband’s family. It demonstrates another way in which our cultures differ. I also managed to complete a short story with two different endings for discussion at our next meeting. On Tuesday I posted the short story by Larry called “A Second Chance”. Larry has a way of making a good story out of very few words. I really enjoy these meetings; our discussions have helped me to improve my writing. Larry is finishing up Chapter 8 in our novel so I imagine that next week I will be working on Chapter 9.
I met Kathy and Sonia for coffee today. It was a short visit but I enjoyed the time we spent together. Kathy told me she is going back to the states the first of August for 6 weeks. She has some business to take care of and also needs to get away from Peru for a bit. I know I mentioned in my last entry that she had gone to Huacachina, Paracas and Ica last weekend; well she had a great time and even went sand boarding. She will be posting pictures on her Facebook page in the near future.
I also managed to get out for a nice walk a couple times this week and take more photos of things in the neighborhood. The sun was out both times and it had warmed up nicely. All the photos in this entry are from that walk. Well, that’s how my week went, I know it doesn’t sound like much but it kept me really busy. Oh, I also have learned the exact process for getting my Rentista Visa and all I need at this point is a letter from my bank stating that I am receiving more than $1000 a month from a pension and that letter has to be “legalized” in the Peruvian Consulate in Chicago first. My poor Sister is dealing with that for me. Don’t know what I would do without her. Have a nice weekend everyone, I will be working on my final project for class, an autobiography using all the tenses we have learned.
07/22/2010 (Thursday) Studying, my project and a little writing
Let me apologize in advance for this short entry. This week is my final exams in my Spanish class and I do not feel like I am doing very well. I have been studying the entire time since my last entry, working on my project for class and trying to get a little writing in. I spent the entire weekend writing the autobiography, first in English and then translating it into Spanish. I also added a few photos from my life to spice it up a little. Add to the the article on my trip from Huaraz to Chavin, studying and getting my short story ready for the writers meeting this week; well you get my point. Tomorrow is the day I present my project to the class. I’m sure it will go well, they always like my projects. Today my fellow writers went over my new story, “La Bruja”, and as always gave me some excellent suggestions on how to improve it. It will be published on out “blog” next Tuesday. Well, that’s all there is. I promise a more interesting entry on Sunday or Monday. I hope all of you have a fabulous weekend.
07/26/2010 (Monday) Museum, Movie, a Walk, Tio Panchito, Coffee with Friends and Spanish
Let’s start out with the Spanish class. First, I just barely passed the written exam and although I think I did well on my Project, today was the oral exam and if you have been keeping up on my adventures in Spanish Class you will know that is my weakest area. I am considering dropping the classes at ICPNA and taking private lessons. I have had two really bad teachers in a row now (not bad people just teachers) and I feel that I need more personalized help. I am falling behind the other students and it is really starting to frustrate me. I will have made my decision by the end of this week so stay tuned for progress on that. A friend recommended someone to me and I hope to interview her before making a move.
Friday after class I came home and walked over to the Museum of the Nation which is about 10 blocks from my apartment. They were having a group of Peruvian Artisans from all over Peru at the museum showing their work and offering it for sale. Some of the stuff being sold was truly amazing. The textiles and woven products were particularly beautiful. The ceramics were stunning and the jewelry and other products showed excellent craftsmanship. I purchased a few small items and enjoyed the show a great deal. Afterwards, Steve, Antonio and I went to a movie at Jockey Plaza. We saw the Wizards Apprentice, an extension of the tale of Merlin and his arch nemesis Morgan la Fey. The movie was in Spanish but I still enjoyed it and the special effects were enough to keep me interested. There was one scene that was a tribute to the movie Fantasia and the part were Mickey Mouse lost control of a spell trying to get the castle clean. I am going to have to purchase the DVD and watch it in English to see if I missed anything.
Saturday I went for a nice long walk and got some photos of a new park area they are working on. It’s going to be beautiful when they are finished. I also took a shot of the guys working on the new elevated electric tram system that seems to be a big joke among Peruvians. I also passed a shop where they were making and selling beautiful balloon concoctions for the Fiestas de Patrias celebration that will start on Tuesday. It’s the July 4th of Peru. I love going for walks here because you just never know what you will run into and what fantastic photo op will present itself. On my return to the apartment, Steve and I went to find Tio Panchito with his Mom because I need a new pair of shoes and my favorite older ones need new soles. He lives in Los Olivos which is considerably north of here. On arriving we got really lucky, he wasn’t home and we were in the process of leaving him a note when he came strolling down the street. He had been in Chorrillos visiting his brother. He agreed to fix my old ones and make me a new pair. I also found out that a young man had read my article about Tio and had written asking if he could come from the USA and take lessons from him. Tio is very happy with my article; it has gotten him a lot of business.
Sunday morning I met my friend Raafat for coffee at Café Z. He and his wife Estrella had a new baby recently and I wanted to hear about it, not to mention see some photos. He was born healthy by Cesarean and his name is Yasin. If I understood Raafat correctly (we communicate with a combination of English and Spanish), that is the name of one of the books in the Koran. He is a beautiful baby with all the best attributes from his Mom and Dad. After that I went to Sarrittas in Punta Hermosa with Steve and his family for a late lunch. I was having a craving for their Tamals (muy rico). It was great fun having lunch with them and we enjoyed a few laughs as well. All too soon it was time to head back, Steve and I had to go to Plaza Vea for food (empty fridge) and then we watched the new Karate Kid movie. It was cute but I am glad I bought the DVD and did not pay theater prices to see it. Also for those who remember the well traveled Babo, here he is with his new friend Pedro.
Well, I promised all of you a more interesting entry this time and there you have it. I hope your weekend was as rewarding as mine. Time with family and friends is always precious. By the way, I passed my oral exam today, so I passed Spanish class. I am not really comfortable going to the next session so I am looking into hiring that private tutor for a few months. We’ll see how that goes.
07/30/2010 (Friday) Writer’s Meeting, Lunch at Las Mesitas, Working on Articles, Spanish Lessons
Another slow week as far as exciting entries is concerned. I did a lot of writing since I had this week off from Spanish Classes. I got a new article done on Peru’s National Museum, started a new short story, worked on the Novel, critiqued Larry’s latest work for the Peru Writer’s Group blog and worked on a second idea for another short story. It was really nice being able to get up in the morning, make my coffee and sit at the computer and put my ideas down on paper so to speak. One of these days I am going to have to start working on promoting myself and making a little money from all this work.
I also interviewed the private Spanish (Castellano) instructor this week. She seems like a nice person and her lesson plan sounds good; the only thing I worry about is her English. It is not the best but that can be either a good or bad thing depending. As long as she can explain something to me in English when I am having trouble understanding, it should be OK. Anyway, she will start on August 10th and come to the apartment two days a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays) for two hours each session. If you did not deduce it, I will not be going back to ICPNA for now. If she’s any good at all, I will start with two months and see how I am doing at the end of that period.
I met Kathy this week for a coffee. We talked about her upcoming trip to the United States. She is going back to San Francisco for a couple of months to take care of a little business and see family and friends. I hope she has a good time. Afterwards I walked along the Malecon for a bit to get my dose of the ocean and then walked up to Parque Kennedy to see if they had anything going on for the holiday. I managed to get some shots of people in native dress. I love the colors here in Peru.
It was only Larry and I at the Writer’s Group meeting this week. Victoria had family commitments as it was the official holiday. It will be nice to hear how her family spent the holiday at our next meeting. We spent almost the entire meeting discussing the novel we are working on. In rereading the chapters I had noticed some inconsistencies that needed addressed before we continued with anymore chapters. We also needed to lay out our vision for the direction of the book and develop some of the characters in more depth. After 2½ hours we had done a fairly good job of laying out our direction and were happy with the decisions we had worked out together.
I didn’t do much to celebrate the holidays here. The one thing I managed was going to Barranco and having lunch at Las Mesitas with Steve. I was missing the delicious Aji de Gallina they serve there and as always it did not disappoint. For an appetizer I had a Papas Rellena con Carne and so I left the restaurant very full. As we walked down the street, we made the mistake of stopping in one of the pastry shops. We ended up coming home with some delicious goodies which didn’t last the evening. That’s it for this entry. Not as interesting as the last but a full week for me anyway. Have a great weekend everyone.