Asking for Help

Today I had to do something that I’m generally not very comfortable doing… I had to ask for help.

Since moving to Peru, I’ve been somewhat independent. But when I need help with anything, my husband is always there to help me. Except for today.

Getting my paperwork done to have my visa changed to “Resident” has been such a hassle. Of course I shouldn’t have expected anything less from the Peruvian government (or any other government for that matter), but I’m an optimist. I expected things to be easily explained and there to be a step-by-step detailed list. False.

After figuring out where to start a few months ago, we got the ball rolling with my papers at Migraciones (Immigrations), paid some money, then waited a month out for an appointment. After the appointment, they directed me to Interpol to get my international record checked out. (Not gonna lie, it’s pretty cool saying, “I’ve been to Interpol.”) From there, Interpol told me I needed to return in a week to get my papers.


Yes that is an odontogram- tooth record!

So today was the day I needed to go to Interpol and pick up my papers, and take them back to Migraciones. And today, my dear husband whom I rely on so much, is out of town and could not help me get from one place to the next, safely and wisely.

I got off my bus on the PanAm this morning, walked a few big blocks, and was at Interpol by 8:40. I waited in line for maybe 5 minutes, then went in to get my papers. Super quick & easy… the easiest part of the process so far! From there, I knew I needed to get the papers to Migraciones today, before my week got to busy and I forgot.

Here’s where the something uncomfortable comes into play… I had to ask for help… from someone I had never met before!

Now I realize that asking for help is a part of life, and people do it all the time. But not me. I don’t know if it means I’m too prideful or arrogant, or maybe just flat out stubborn, but I don’t like to ask for help. Whether it’s a situation that involves emotions, information, money, a simple act of kindness… I’m not good at asking for help.

And today I had to overcome that. I had to admit to someone that I don’t feel comfortable traveling alone downtown, and that I wasn’t 100% sure how to get to where I needed to go, despite having been there four times already! I had to ask someone to take time out of their day to help me. And thank the Lord she did, because had she not, I would have been lost… physically and emotionally.

My new friend (who has known my husband for years) stepped up when I needed someone’s help, and I will be forever grateful! She taught me a new route to take on the buses to get downtown faster (my husband and I always walk, and taking a bus seriously saved us 40 minutes of walking!) and helped me translate when I couldn’t think quickly enough. She waited in line with me, and was really nice and patient about everything. And we were there and back before lunchtime, which is a huge success in downtown Lima! ;)

So I guess even though asking for help isn’t always the most fun, sometimes getting the help is the fun part. I made a new friend, learned a new route, and got my papers turned in all because I asked for her help. In the future I’m going to try not to be too shy to ask for help.

I sure am learning a lot from living here in Lima.

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Ahh, just the word summer conjures up senses filled with pure joy…

…hot rays of the sun dancing on my skin

…smelling that fresh, wet smell after summer thunderstorms

…slurping down $1.50 snocones from Pelican’s in every flavor

…feeling sweat trickling down my back as I walk to the mailbox, my car, or anywhere more than a 20-foot distance

…wearing shorts and tanktops and flip flops and pretty sundresses

…watching Durham Bulls baseball games with my best friends

…making salads, fruit cobblers, ice cold sweet tea

…sleeping with my window open at night and hearing the crickets and frogs and outdoorsy noises that I love

…resisting the urge to look cute, and putting my hair up in ponytails every day

…cooking on the grill with my dad

…going to the Farmer’s Market and buying farm fresh tomatoes, blackberries, basil, and wildflowers

…laying out in the sun, then jumping in the nearest body of water for a swim

…relaxing in my hammock reading a book, as I furiously swat away mosquitoes

Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to do any of those lovely summery things.

It’s currently the dead of winter here in Lima, and I’m missing summer like none other. Seeing pictures of my friends enjoying a summer down south or out west is killing me. At first, I didn’t mind so much… but then I saw even more pictures of friends kayaking and paddle boarding and riding bikes and hiking and surfing and reading books on the beach and having backyard barbecues and making homemade ice cream… and all that really got to me. Oh, and hearing people complain, “I can’t believe July is almost over- where is summer going?!” makes me roll my eyes because I’m all, “thank goodness July is almost over- I’m ready for spring and summer in Lima!”

I hate to admit it, but I’m jealous. I’m jealous of people getting to enjoy my all-time favorite season while I’m trying to survive winter in a foreign country.

It’s cold and damp with 88% humidity, and it makes me feel miserable. I keep hoping to see the sun, or to not shiver when I first step outside, but folks say that won’t come for a few more months. The only things keeping me optimistic are memories of summers past, and the exciting future of spending the summer in Peru with my husband! :) See, I am optimistic and happy and not entirely grumpy!


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What are your favorite things about summer?

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One Month

It’s hard to believe it’s been one month since my husband and I said our vows in the Andes, and made a covenant to stick together through whatever God brings us in this life. Our day was amazingly perfect (don’t worry, I’ll share more! ;) ) and it really is mind-boggling that it’s already been a month. IMG_5443 Instead of doing a “what I’ve learned in 1 month of marriage” post like I’ve seen around on other blogs, I’m going to do more of a “what we’ve done/accomplished in 1 month of marriage” post. I realize they’re kinda the same, but just go with the flow! :)

- learned to live together :: we haven’t mastered this, per se, but it’s getting easier to constantly bump into each other in our small one-room studio-esque apartment. We each have places our stuff belongs, and we like for it to stay there. He doesn’t complain when I make the bed first thing in the morning, and I don’t complain when he leaves food or spices out. We don’t argue over who is washing the dishes, making dinner, or taking the trash out… we split jobs evenly, and it’s working out well so far!


a delicious soup we made!

- shared a bed :: although he says I still kick him during the night, I think it’s safe to say we both enjoy having another warm body to curl up to in our little full-sized bed. I don’t think I’m going to ever want to sleep along again!

- getting government paper worked on :: we spent an entire day trying to find the correct office to get our paperwork started at (him to let the government know he’s married, and me to get a resident visa, among other things!)… each office sent us to another one, and it took 4 tries before we finally found the place to start- the Immigration Office! Paperwork is always a stressful process in Peru, so we are both glad we were able to get the process started within our first month of marriage.

- welcomed two baby nephews into the family! :: our beautiful sister-in-law gave birth to twin boys a week after our wedding, and we couldn’t be more excited! Of course, I’m probably more excited than he is, but come on… babies are always exciting!

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- worked and made schedules :: for two weeks out of the past month, I was a substitute teacher. I left home at 7:10am, and was back home around 4:00pm each day. JB was wonderful and woke up with me each morning, made me breakfast and helped with lunch, and even walked with me to school! Just having him there was a great support, and it helped us to get on a schedule… up early, work, working out, early bedtime! I know I was exhausted those weeks, and my husband was so supportive.

- celebrated my birthday! :: my birthday was July 8th, and my husband was so sweet to me on my day. Despite the fact that our afternoon didn’t go as planned, the evening was perfect and I was/am so thankful. Once we were rid of the family, we went out for Chinese at the place we went for his birthday, then grabbed a delicious chocolatey-peanut-buttery dessert at Tanta. And he even surprised me with flowers and chocolates!!! Yep, he’s a winner.


- fought :: unfortunately, we had a little (dumb) spat during our first month. We never really fought before, so this was new to us, and we had to learn how we both cope when we are angry/upset.

- haggled prices with taxi drivers  :: self-explanatory. And I guess it’s only going to get worse for JB since he’s married to a gringa!

- gotten sick together :: ok, so this one is random I know, but neither of us had really been sick since I’ve moved to Lima, until last weekend… JB woke up with a sore throat and stuffy nose, and two days later I had the same symptoms. Nothing like a good old fashioned cold to help you bond with your spouse! Oh, and we went through lots of tea bags and honey!


- been to a parade :: I legitimately think the Wong Parade was my first ever parade, and I’m glad my husband wanted to go and be tourists and take pictures.  Yay for Peru’s Independence Day!

- walked a lot :: there’s no telling how many miles we covered this past month walking around Lima! Every day we walk somewhere… a park, grocery store, bus stop, school… and it feels so good to walk around and talk and learn new backroads in our neighborhoods. Also, we want to be a healthier couple in general, and walking helps us to get exercise daily, even if we’re too tired to run!


talked :: we’ve talked lots about our pasts, present, and future, and prayed about where God wants us. We’re always learning something new about each other… or at least I’m always learning!

splurged on ice cream :: there’s nothing better than a soft serve ice cream cone! It’s a little treat for us that we like to splurge on every once in a while :)


  It might not sound like a lot when it’s written down, but the past month of marriage has helped us to accomplish lots of little things that are only the start to the rest of our lives together. I’m so thankful for my husband and our one month of marriage! IMG_5893 blog signature

Our Civil Ceremony

After sharing how to get married in Peru (the civil ceremony), I only thought it fitting that I share some pictures from our civil ceremony (four weeks ago!) on June 24, 2014.

Our ceremony was planned for 2:00pm, and we were told to be there 15 minutes early, so naturally, we got there at 1:30pm. Peruvians are on Latin America time (AKA things never start on time), so we wanted to make sure we got there with plenty of time to straighten things out, if needed.

The room was an average size, with a table at the front and 4 chairs in front of it, and a big chair behind it. There were windows to let natural light and air in. About 20 chairs filled the rest of the room… seats for our guests, family, and friends.

People we invited began showing up a few minutes before 2:00, and we were getting nervous and excited! I hadn’t eaten anything all day besides a blueberry Larabar, and my stomach was in knots because I didn’t know what to expect. (Heads up, it’s really nothing to be nervous about!)

By 2:05, a few friends were trickling in, and we began wondering where the judge or man marrying us was. At 2:15 we went into the office down the hall and asked what the deal was. About 2:30 the judge/official walked in and finally we got started.

He read through all the marriage laws in Spanish, asked that our witnesses each read a little bit and insert our names into it, and then asked us individually if we accept, to which we responded, “lo acepto.” The papers were slid across the desk for me to sign first, then JB, then our witnesses, and we were declared official and were asked to kiss!

It lasted no longer than 15 minutes, and I think there were a few hundred pictures taken by everyone who attended! (No, really.) Here are just a few from before, during, and after the civil ceremony, when a group of our friends went out for chicken! :)



with our little nephew & niece

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My family + new family!


With our witnesses

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In true Peruvian fashion, Padre made a toast  and then he proceeded to gulp down the pisco sour that the waiters had brought for us! It was hilarious because he didn’t know it was alcohol… or maybe he did?! :p

padretoasting2 pollo

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How To Get Married In Peru

Having just completed the civil marriage process in Peru as a foreigner, I thought about how helpful it would have been to have a step-by-step guide when I started the paperwork back at the end of April. Sure there was some information available online, but I am a very list-y person, and wished I had a straightforward list of the to-do’s to get legally married in Peru.

Our situation happens a lot in the country – a foreigner marrying a Peruvian – and we found that people who had gone through the process before were very helpful, when we didn’t know the next step.

1. Foreigners will need a current copy (within the past 6 months) of their birth certificate. This can be obtained from your state capital, or a vital records office. If you are located out-of-state, you can order a copy online and it will be mailed to you. I went to the office in Raleigh, NC and it cost me $40 cash.

2. Your birth certificate needs to be apostillized (authenticated with an official seal). This can be done by the Secretary of State office in your home state. The cost is $10, and you’ll need a cover letter. Drop it off in the morning, and it should be ready that afternoon.

3. Your birth certificate needs to be translated from English to Spanish by an official translator (list can be found here, and I can give you contact info for the man I used, if you email me or comment asking!). The translation itself was 100 soles (about $37) and he had it ready for me in two days.

4. Your newly translated birth certificate will need to be legalized by the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Why? Not really sure, other than the fact that practically everything in Peru has to be legalized or notarized. I paid a friend of the translator to take it to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for me. The legalization fee was 32 soles (about $12), and he charged 50 soles (about $18) for the fetching and carrying of the paper. Some people prefer to take their papers to be legalized themselves, but honestly it’s easier to pay someone who knows what they’re doing! Lima is a tricky city.

5. You need a solteria paper, stating that you are single or divorced. This can be obtained at your country’s embassy in Lima. For the US Embassy, I had to make an appointment in advance, print off the confirmation, and show up the day of my appointment 15 minutes early. In reality, I was there an hour early, and they let me in without a problem. Of course you have to wait in line, then turn in your cell phone and any phone cords/chargers you have on your person, and then walk to the main building and wait in line yet again. You’ll want to print off the solteria paper beforehand, and fill your information out. It’s in Spanish, so be careful to enter the correct information in the correct spaces! Make sure you write your current address in the States, as well as your current address in Peru. You pay $50, wait for them to verify that you are single/divorced and that your passport is correct, then you swear an oath and sign the paper. They stamp and seal it, and you’re good to go.

6. Your solteria paper needs to be legalized from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Pay someone to do it, or take it yourself. (And if you’re smart, you can get both this and your birth certificate legalized at the same time! I clearly didn’t do this.) Legalization fee: 32 soles.

7. You and your partner need a prenuptial check up from the local clinic. In our neighborhood of Santiago de Surco, we were sent to Surco Salud. We paid 35 soles each (about $13 each) for the entire checkup, and were in and out of the clinic in 45 minutes the first day. They draw two tiny tubes of blood, you sign a paper allowing them to test for AIDS, then they take an X-Ray of your chest. Come back the next day with your receipts to get the results read to you, then wait in line at the main entrance for your papers to be stamped and signed. I think the checkup is basically just to checked whether the two people are “healthy enough” to be married, and it’s just another kind of silly thing Peru requires for marriage.

8. Your passport and your partners’ DNI (Identification Card) will need to be notarized. This cost 3.50 – 5 soles per copy (depending on where you go), and it took us less than 10 minutes.

9. Find two Peruvian friends who are willing to be your witnesses at the civil ceremony. For us this was hard, because a lot of our interpreter friends were traveling at the time we were getting the paperwork done. Thankfully, we had two friends who were available and willing to help us out. :)

10. Take paperwork to the municipality in your neighborhood. What you need varies depending on the municipality, so find out their specific requirements. Make sure you have EVERYTHING you need before going!!! Check and double check information, names, addresses. Also in this giant pile of documents, you need to have a receipt from a light or water bill. This can sometimes be a problem if you’re renting, but the owner might be understanding and let you take a receipt for a few hours. Get your witnesses to tag along on the trip to the municipality, as their signatures will be needed. 

11. Proofread and sign all the official papers the municipality worker slides across the desk. Be patient during this time, because it might take them a while to enter your information into the system and print off the necessary papers. It took us about an hour from start to finish.

12. Pick a date and time, and pay the municipality 275 soles (about $100) for the civil ceremony. That’s the price for a simple ceremony, but there are costs for extras (outside of the matrimonial room, and if you choose a weekend date.)

13. Pay for a newspaper edict about your marriage. The municipality will tell you to “come back in X days to get the edict” and then you take the edict to a local newspaper office. Pay the fee of 40 soles (about $14) and look for your announcement in the paper the next day.

14. Take the WHOLE paper with your announcement to the municipality. This is one of the last steps in order for them to “close” your case. If no one calls to complain about your upcoming marriage, everything is perfect! If someone does call and opposes your marriage, the municipality can cancel everything and you have to repay and set a new date.

15. Show up on the date and time you selected for your civil ceremony and ya- you’re legally married in Peru!

I hope all of this information doesn’t overwhelm or scare you… it’s just real life and the Peruvian government and lots of requirements that make it sound tricky. In fact, I hope it helps you manage the process a lot easier than my experience! Just keeping it real- it is a stressful process, but it’s totally worth it! We’re now currently figuring out the process of me getting my Peruvian citizenship and changing my visa to a resident, so lookout for that post in the future! :)

If you were married outside of the States, what was the process like?

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la Copa Mundial

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I have never been a soccer fan until last week. Granted, I do live in a South American country now, where they live/eat/breathe/sleep fútbol. And my fiancé is a huge fan, so I guess the soccer craze about the World Cup wore off on me.

Regardless, last week for the opening game between Brasil and Croatia, my eyes were on the TV screen the whole game, cheering and getting into the action. It was a fun game to watch, surrounded by other South Americans. Of course they were cheering for Brasil, but I secretly wanted Croatia to win.

Last Friday I was at home all day, frantically searching for a website that was streaming the games. I couldn’t NOT watch. I finally found a site and was so happy to be watching! Let me just say that I prefer watching soccer games in Spanish rather than English, because they yell “Goooooooollllll!!!!” and it’s epic. The Spain & Netherlands game was AMAZING, and I was hyped up that Netherlands beat Spain!!! Totally unexpected for me! I was texting my family during the game asking if they saw “that goal” or “that play” and of course, no one else was watching ;)  

Probably the most exciting game for me so far was Monday’s match between USA and Ghana. 

Now like I said, I’ve never been into soccer before. I didn’t know any of the US players, their reputation as a team, or Ghana’s background playing. I was clueless as to who was expected to win, but golly I sure wanted the USA to win! My Peruvian almost-brother-in-law bet 20 Soles against his Gringo brother-in-law that Ghana would win. So naturally, I was nervous that USA would lose.

Some of the family (my almost-in-laws!) went to an English (as in, from England… Ye Old Pub) sports bar to watch the game Monday afternoon. I’ve never been to a sports bar, let alone to watch a sports event, so I was excited!

The place had maybe 30 Gringos watching the game on 4 different screens, and our table of 5 was a rowdy one! There was yelling in Spanish, cheering in English, and high fives after each US goal. SO MUCH FUN! The entire bar erupted in cheers after every goal. We were all thrilled that we were winning.

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Never have I felt such camaraderie with a group of strangers. 

Something I’ve learned about life in Peru… there’s always a first for everything. First time in my life enjoying watching soccer games for hours. First time in a sports bar. First time feeling a part of a community since leaving the States. First time feeling like I’m surrounded by family, whether it’s my almost-family, or fellow Americans in a sports bar in Lima, Peru.

I can’t wait to cheer on more teams as they play in the World Cup, but especially for the US against Portugal on Sunday! :) Vamos USA!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch France kick Switzerland’s rear ;)

Have you been watching the World Cup games???

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