Becoming Peruvian Part 1

Part one began a little over a month ago when I went to Interpol, the International Police here in Lima.  To apply for citizenship I need a document saying that I am not a fugitive wanted for illegal activity in any country. We got in line at 7:00 AM ready for the 8:00 AM opening, the wrong line. Thankfully Ana Maria found the correct line after asking many people and receiving contradictory information. After waiting, getting fingerprinted, waiting, having my teeth checked, waiting, filling out the forms again because the forms we picked up before had changed and also needed to be filled out in a different color, we were finished. We left.

But we weren’t finished. One week later I went back at 7:00 AM to stand in a different line to pick up the document saying that I am not a fugitive. I’m not, by the way (see image). I asked three uniformed people at Interpol which line to stand in and I stood in that line. Again, the wrong one. I was tempted to stand in line by the window that says “Pick up your document here” but I knew better. On my previous visit I had discovered that said window was not where I needed to go, in spite of its label. Including transportation time we had invested 6 hours into this process just at Interpol.  (There are a series of documents needed to get this document and I won’t go into those details.)

Finally, I picked up the Interpol document after showing a picture of my US passport that I had on my phone. I had been told to bring my Peruvian ID (CE) because no one in Peru would request a US passport for a Peruvian document.  Nope, that was wrong- no one except Interpol.  This only took two hours- 1.5 hours in the wrong line and 30 minutes in the correct one.

This document is valid for three months so on my next day off from school I went to Migraciones to apply for citizenship. How hard could it be?

Almost

I almost had a new student last week. Almost.

Here in Lima I am beginning my own business as a teacher of English. I would like it to expand to reading and writing instruction as well but what Peruvians want most is to be able to hold conversations in English and pass standardized tests such as the TOEFL. OK, I can help with that.

With business cards printed I began to advertise in local shops by pinning my card to bulletin boards and talking to some of the shop owners. I don’t want to advertise too far away because traffic here is a bear!

Later that afternoon the phone rang. An unknown number on my new cell phone! It must be a new student; wow, that was quick! I just put the cards up.

“Where are you? I am here in Calle 10. Can I come over now?” the voice on the other end asked rather urgently.

Because I am on 10th street too I answered, “Sure, let’s meet by the flag poles out front in the park.”

A few minutes later we were sitting on the park bench out front discussing English. “Tell me a bit about yourself,” I began.

“I am originally from the Dominican Republic and I am here in Peru with a construction company. The bosses at the company want me to learn English; it is the only way I can rise to the next level. Right now I know hardly any English so I want to start as soon as possible.”

We discussed how best to get started and decided on one hour a day every day Monday through Friday. Then he pulled out his wallet. He wanted to pay me in advance for next week’s classes. I felt uncomfortable with that. When I lived in Chile and began my English teaching business there I found that there were students with whom I could not work so I wanted to have at least one class before any money exchanged hands. As I listened, I also wondered if he were really a Dominican. I lived with a Dominican for three years and this voice sounded different.

The Dominican was rather insistent. He opened his wallet showing two hundred dollar bills saying, “If I pay now I will be more committed to the work of learning English.”

“Sir, I won’t take any money today and I don’t have change.” I was more insistent. “Let’s meet on Monday and see how things go.”

“OK.” We shook hands and he continued on his way.

On Monday evening I showed up at the appointed time and place. No one was there. I called the number he had given me. Wrong number. I almost had a new student. Almost.

What happened, you ask? After many conversations with family and friends here in Lima we came to the conclusion that the Dominican wanted to pay me with counterfeit bills and receive the change in real Peruvian money. I was on the wrong end of a scam. Almost.

Lima Sky: Panza de Burro

Speaking with someone here in Lima, Peru I asked about the weather.  You see, my experience of Lima has generally been in the winter months (June, July, August).  During that time the sky is usually gray and the sun is rarely seen.  Now it is spring and the sky is still mostly gray.

When I asked about the summer months and the presence or absence of the sun I was told, “No, el cielo panza de burro se cambia en el verano.  En el verano hay sol y hace calor.”  That means, ‘No, the sky that looks like the belly of a burro changes in the summer.  In the summer there is sun and it is hot.”

I was so glad to hear that I will see more sun and I loved the description of the sky: panza de burro/ belly of a burro (also known as a donkey).

Now in Peru!

Last Thursday night we arrived in Lima, Peru!  This will be home for the foreseeable future.

We have been enjoying the company of family and friends; we have been searching out places to live; we have been learning from and working with some amazing people; we have been looking for and creating work, ways to share what we know while continuing to grow in knowledge.

There are amazing possibilities in this city of 10 million!  If you are looking for a literacy/ language teacher and coach please let me know; I would love to talk to you about the possibilities.