Friday Things

So, it’s FRIDAY! And I’m super excited.

This week has been a long one, and I worked half as much as I usually do. Lima has been grey and icky and sunless… and we’ve been busy packing up our stuff for our move in 5 days! Talk about a lot of stress. And to top it off, we’ve had errands to run to get ready for our trip to the States! Let’s hope that all our stuff fits into our bags…

Anyways, random post for today. My mind is going lots of different directions!

- We bought coffee to take home for friends, and it smells SO darn good. Seriously. We might start keeping fresh coffee beans in our apartment just for the smells… mmm! Do you like the smell of coffee?

- I had never heard of John Oliver until this video, and minus his potty mouth, this cracks me up! Step up, Peru!!!

- Kaelene’s post : Thoughts About Going Back Home in 10 GIFS… love it!

- I’ve gotten lots of feedback on this post about How To Get Married In Peru, and I wanted to reshare it. I’m so happy that it’s helping people!

- This week was big for birthdays in my family… my aunt, my brother, and my mom’s. Of course I did the obligatory “Happy birthday” picture post on Instagram.

 bro momma

- One of my favorite bands (Milo Greene) did a cover of “Bang Bang” and while the song isn’t my favorite (at all), I love the sound of it by Milo Greene!

- My nails are officially painted RED, which means Christmas is coming up. I’m not a red nail polish person, unless it’s at Christmas or Fourth of July.

- Our neighbours were having a party the other night and this is one of the songs they were playing. We were actually enjoying their music- it blocked out the sounds of annoying Christmas lights from our other neighbours!

- Lima is decked out with decorations for Christmas, and since we don’t have a tree, I’ve loved seeing the different ones around the city. And the Nativity scenes… so pretty too! Here are some I’ve seen just the past two days. I typically don’t take my iPhone with me to snap pics, so these are special ;)

Donofrio arbol

Navidad

Navidad1

tree

Inside a travel agency from our bus!

tree1

The paper towels get their own tree

tree2

How has your week been?

blog signature

How We Save Money Traveling in Peru

Traveling can be an expensive hobby, but that doesn’t stop my husband and I. We live in such a beautiful country, and want to explore it all together. My husband is much more experienced in traveling in Peru, so I’ve been learning from him, and I think it’s safe to say we’ve actually learned from each other. It’s so different traveling as a married couple, than as a single, or with a mission team… and here are some tips we’ve learned to use in order to help us save money while traveling in Peru.

 

1. We don’t take taxis. We like to walk around the city we’re staying in and explore it on foot. Sure, sidewalks can be crowded and people can be pushy, but it’s a healthier option and it’s more fun walking around than seeing things through a taxi window. If we have to take a form of transportation to get somewhere (like our recent trip to Ica & Huacachina), we take a mototaxi. This is the way the locals travel, and it’s much cheaper than a taxi. Sure, it’s probably not as safe as a taxi, but you can haggle for the price you want. Also, this is the way the locals travel 9 times out of 10. We saw a family of 6 squeeze into the tiny backseat of a mototaxi, just in order to save some soles!

 

IMG_4564IMG_4581

 

2. Ask for a better deal. This works whether you’re in the market or checking into a hotel in the off-season. In the market you can usually haggle over the price of a kilo of potatoes, and souvenirs in the Incan markets like alpaca blankets. If you’re traveling during the off-season, when the tourists aren’t flocking to the city, ask for a better deal at hotels… this trick worked for us, and we got a room for 10 soles less than regular price!

IMG_4569

Off-season in Ica still means a booming taxi business ;)

 

3. Buy 2.5 liter water bottles to fill up a smaller water bottle. We always have a bottle of water with us when we travel somewhere, whether it’s a Camelback bottle, or an old Cielo bottle. But buying a new water bottle every time we finish one, can get expensive! In tourist destinations, water bottles can cost anywhere from 2 soles to 7 soles! Total rip off. So what we do is go to a store- grocery store or market- and buy a 2.5 liter water bottle (cost = 2 soles) to refill our old ones. We go through a 2.5 liter bottle a day when traveling, so we end up saving money in the long run just by refilling!

 

4. We eat at menus. Menus are restaurants in Peru that offer an appetizer, main dish, drink, and sometimes a dessert, for a great, affordable price! It’s where most of the locals/business people eat lunch during the week, and we always love trying a new menu. There are typically 3+ options for the appetizer, main dish, and the drink is usually a tea or fruit juice. If dessert is included, it’s usually a pudding, and really good! At menus you really get the best deal for your money, and you get to try delicious Peruvian cuisine… a win-win if you ask me!

IMG_4572

IMG_5205

5. We take Peru Bus… the bus that the locals take. Instead of paying triple for a bus ride with a fancy bus company, we opted to take the local option and catch Peru Bus to Ica. Sure we had to walk a little bit out of our way to a bus stop, and wait a few minutes for a bus, but it was definitely worth it!

IMG_4657

6. Shop around. Whether it’s shopping for fresh produce, or souvenirs, we always check out a few different stores before purchasing what we want! With produce, some markets are cheaper than others, and with souvenirs, you can usually find a cheaper price after some walking around :)

IMG_2822

Beautiful pottery in Huaraz!

IMG_2823

IMG_6273

Do you have any tricks to save money while traveling???

blog signature

Parque de las Leyendas – The Lima Zoo

Parque de las Leyendas (Park of Legends) or the Lima Zoo got marked off my “TO VISIT” list in Peru.

IMG_6112

The last time I went to a zoo was probably in middle school when I was a summer day camp counselor, and with the grandma memory I have, I honestly don’t remember much about the Asheboro, NC zoo. But I do remember that I loved it… there’s just something cool about seeing all sorts of animals that you don’t normally get to see in your own backyard. Sure the “animals in cages” thing is kinda sad when you think about it, but when you’re there to herd around a group of kids you’re more focused on the neat animals!

Anyways, last week I got to re-live my childhood zoo memories by going to the zoo! I’ve been saying “I want to go to the zoo,” “we should go to the zoo,” “hey, let’s go to the zoo!” ever since I moved here in April, so when we finally planned to go, I was super happy!

To get there, we had to take two buses, and it took us about an hour and a half, but we made it and were ready to conquer the zoo! It’s located in San Miguel close to the Jorge Chavez airport. For locals I suggest taking a bus and then walking, but for tourists a taxi is easiest.

On a weekday, it cost S/.10 (about $3.50) for adults to get into the park. S/.5 for kids.

The zoo is open from 9:00am until 5:30pm. Typical zoo-rules are to come early morning, or late afternoon, and we sadly didn’t follow those rules! It was hot, and as a result lots of animals were taking siestas in the shade.

Parque de las Leyendas is divided into areas that reflect the different regions of Peru: Coast, Sierra, Jungle, and there is an International area as well, with the typical elephants, giraffes, ostrich, etc. They didn’t have maps to hand out, but here’s the online version.

IMG_5775

We started off with the Sierra, and saw a condor, eagles, vicuñas, llamas, alpacas, Andean fox & Andean cats. Everything was spread out nicely, and it was cool to see the different “environments.”

IMG_5787

IMG_5780 IMG_5792 IMG_5795 IMG_5798 IMG_5803

IMG_5808

Ignore the awkward hand – I guess I was ready to punch it if it spit on me? 

Also, a fun fact about the Lima zoo: inside the zoo are pre-Incan ruins called Huacas (sacred rocks) that have been preserved! You can walk around some of them, and learn about the culture that was Lima before the Spanish came.

IMG_6083

IMG_6107

After the Sierra, we journeyed into the Jungle, which actually was hot and moist and had the sticky heat feeling of the real Amazon jungle. Inside, there were monkeys & birds galore! Peru seriously has a huge variety of these animals, and it was so cool to see. This is also where we saw ocelots, bears, jaguar, and puma!

IMG_5814

IMG_5821IMG_5832

IMG_5846 IMG_5851 IMG_5863 IMG_5878 IMG_5894

IMG_5909  IMG_5935

IMG_5941

In the Jungle area, there were lots of covered areas and seating options for taking a break. I saw quite a few families with big take-out bags of lunches sitting around eating. You can bring anything into the park to snack on, so that was nice!

IMG_5951

IMG_5970

The Jungle was huge, and there was even a little “monkey island” with all sorts of birds surrounding it… took us a while to walk around and see each kind! And then we saw a yucky Anaconda and it freaked me out.

IMG_5986

Tapir!

IMG_5991

IMG_6028

IMG_6033

IMG_6034

The national bird of Peru

IMG_6017

The cute little parrots were whistling up a storm!

The lions & tigers were sleeping when we made our way to the Cats section, and I couldn’t blame them… the heat was wearing me out too!

IMG_6045

We saw zebras, huge hippos, ostrich, giraffe, more bears, and a giant turtle!

IMG_6060

IMG_6065 IMG_6078

Basically, the Coast animals consisted of penguins, seals, pelicans, and deer. The Peruvian Coast is all desert, so it’s not very habitable for lots of animals, unless they live at the water’s edge.

IMG_6094 IMG_6095 IMG_6100

It took us about 2 1/2 hours to meander around the park taking pictures, enjoying the sunshine, and watching the different animals. Overall, I really enjoyed our afternoon at the zoo… I learned a lot about Peruvian animals and was so surprised at the number of species represented! I know there are a ton more species that live in Peru, but I think the zoo had a good amount.

I recommend Parque de Las Leyendas AKA the Zoo to any tourist who wants to learn more about Peru, any family who needs a fun place to spend the day, and any expat who wants to see Peruvian animals!

When’s the last time you went to a zoo? What’s your favorite animal?

blog signature

3 Things I’ve Learned in the 3 Years Since Graduating

Three years ago (yesterday), I was a nervous wreck.

It was the morning of my college graduation, and I couldn’t eat or drink anything because of my crazy nerves. I was all dressed fancy in a dress and heels, and had straightened my hair and already complained about wearing the darn cap on my head. I don’t look good in hats.

By the time my family drove the few miles from the hotel to campus, I was shaking and dreading graduation… having to walk up on stage in front of all those people? Not cool.

Thankfully though, I knew I had a great support system in the crowd… my parents, brother, grandparents, aunt, cousin, and some dear friends.

By the time my name was finally called (after someone gave a long speech about something I can’t quite remember), I walked up as confidently as I could manage, received my diploma, and marched off that stage back to my seat. Whew.

What came next was bittersweet… the pictures and saying goodbyes to people who had impacted my life in those 3 1/2 years in college.

 Fam at Grad

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In light of being all reminiscent and such on my three year graduation anniversary, I thought I would share three things I’ve learned in the past three years:

1. Keep in touch with people! After college and moving away from your college town, it’s easy to drift apart from people… both friends and professors. But don’t lose those contacts! You might need a few of them for recommendation letters for graduate school applications or for jobs or internships. Whether it’s through email, Facebook, or a special group of alums from your school, make sure to keep in touch with people! *By keeping up with a favorite Linguistics & Spanish professor, I was able to volunteer as his teacher’s assistant at a prestigious Linguistics program here in Lima!*

2. Represent and promote your alma mater! I went to a small Christian school in the mountains of South Carolina, and while I was enrolled, I wasn’t super proud of it. Nobody had ever heard of my school, and I just felt lame saying it. Now that I’m graduated and out of the country, I’m proud to share my alma mater with people. And the funny thing is, now it’s becoming more well-known, and more people I meet these days have heard of my school! Go North Greenville!

3. Don’t stop learning!   I can’t tell you how many times over the past 3 years that I wish I had studied more Linguistics or Hindi or Advanced Grammar… I miss learning! In order to get over the “no more learning” slump post-college, I watch Jeopardy (constantly learning on that show!), read online news articles, participate in Linguistics talks on LinkedIn, and read whatever books I could get my hands on, including re-reading some of my college text books! After college it’s important to keep learning and showing off that knowledge! :)

 

Have you learned anything since graduating from college? Any other early-graduaters or Winter graduates out there?

Diploma

blog signature

Big News

Last year when I returned home from Peru with a sad heart and long-distance relationship, everyone kept saying, “I want to meet JB!” and then would ask, “when is he coming to the States?!”

Sadly, I had to reply with, “I don’t know. I don’t think he can come here, which is why I’m probably moving there.”

Months later when I DID move to Peru to start a life here and marry JB, people from back home were still anxious to meet him, and some people were angry that he couldn’t come to the States, and that I had to move to Peru.

Thankfully, JB and I trusted God’s plan for our lives, knowing that someday in the future he would be able to travel to the USA and visit all my family and friends.

And, as always, God came through… He blessed JB with a visa to the USA!

The process was a little frustrating (as with everything government/legal related in Peru) and cost us time and money. He applied for a tourist visa, since it was the cheapest and we hoped it was the easiest option!

On the morning of his appointment at the Embassy, back in September, I waited outside for him for nearly 3 1/2 hours! Needless to say, I was a little worried, and very hungry. When he came out, I couldn’t tell from his face whether he had gotten the visa or not… I didn’t want to be disappointed if he didn’t, so I was prepared for the worst.

With a smile on his face he said, “I got it.” And we hugged & laughed, and then went to find some food!

It wasn’t until days later when he actually got his passport back with the visa, that we realized how REAL it was… after months of hoping & praying, he finally got a visa!!!

So… all that to say…

WE’RE GOING TO THE STATES!!!

In fact, we’ll be home for Christmas :)

IMG_4778

celebratory dinner!

We had been planning to visit in January, and had already told family to plan on us being there that month. But when we looked at tickets a few weeks ago, we realized the cheapest tickets were at the end of December over the holidays! So we quickly booked our tickets (with financial help from my parents- seriously, without their help we wouldn’t have been able to get the tickets! #poornewlyweds ) and surprised them with the dates!

We will be in the States for 6 weeks, and already it’s kind of stressful planning things out for while we’re there.

There are SO many people we want to see/they want to see us, but everyone is scattered all over the States, and we can’t afford to travel to see everyone. We’re for SURE spending time in DC (with my in-laws), NC (with my family), and driving at least to SC and GA.

Even though it will be winter and maybe snowy, I am looking forward to driving and showing my husband around my hometown and the East Coast! And I’m looking forward to people meeting JB for the first time! And I’m looking forward to BBQ and Mexican food and Thai food and milkshakes and Chick-fil-A!!! Mmm, my mouth is watering just thinking of all the yummy food we’re going to eat! (And let’s hope we don’t come back to Peru with a few extra kilos of body fat ;) )

Now here’s where I need some help… what are some awesome DC restaurants? What are some must-see places for someone visiting the East Coast/South of the USA for the first time? Any suggestions appreciated!

 blog signature

Four Facts

I’ve seen this Facts post around on a few blogs (Unlocking Kiki, Purely Twins) and I wanted to participate too! I’ve been super slack on posting lately, so here’s a fun, random post for today!

 

Four names that people call me other than my real name:

1. Mere

2. Baby

3. Tía Meredith

4. Marina – my Spanish name ;)

 Mauricio y yo

Four jobs I’ve had:

1. Spanish Tutor

2. AmeriCorps LiteracyCorps member

3. Administrative Assistant at UNC Hospital

4. English Teacher

Photo on 2013-05-09 at 17.35 #2

My face when the tutors wouldn’t organise the supplies after class…

 

Four movies you’ve watched more than once:

1. Wizard of Oz (movie AND play)

2. Singin’ in the Rain – I’m a sucker for old, classic musicals!

3. Frozen

4. Star Wars (all of them)

 IMG_9464

Four books I’d recommend:

1. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers (any of her books, really)

2. Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

4. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (listened to this on audiobook… so good!)

IMG_3090

Four places I’ve lived:

1. North Carolina

2. Greenville, SC

3. Lima, Peru

4.  —

 

Four places you’ve visited:

1. San Francisco

2. Los Angeles

3. Machu Picchu

4. Disney World (and I wanna go back!)

 

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Four places I’d rather be right now:

1. Eating Thai food at a restaurant in the States! I miss Thai and other exotic cuisines.

2. Soaking up sunshine on a quiet, sandy beach.

3. Cuddling with puppy Max (and my husband!) back home in NC, in front of the fireplace.

4. Baking cookies and cupcakes in the States… in a legit kitchen with real kitchen supplies and ingredients! (hah, expat problems)

 IMG_0219

IMG_6912

IMG_0120

Four things I don’t eat:

1. Mayonnaise

2. Cole Slaw

3. Sausage or cold cut meat… ick

4. Mustard

 

Four of my favorite foods:

1. Peanut butter – being an expat is rough, but thankfully we have 5 jars in our pantry ;)

2. Plantains

3. Fruits – any kind! Lately I’ve been loving watermelon & pears.

4. Chicken – a la brasa, fried, fingers… yes please. Oh, and don’t forget the fries too.

 chicken

Four TV shows I watch:

1. Downton Abbey

2. Friends

3. Arrested Development

4. Do National Geographic and PBS Nova shows on YouTube count? We’re really into educational documentaries these days!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Four things I’m looking forward to this year:

1. Going to the States with my husband and seeing family/friends!

2. Traveling to more of Peru!

3. Watching our little nephews grow bigger… they’re only 5 months now, but it’s so fun seeing them grow.

4. Seeing where God leads us!

 

Four things I’m always saying:

1. “Ahh ok.” – when people say something to me in Spanish that I don’t understand or don’t know how to respond to.

2. “You’re weird” or “she’s weird” or any variation of people being weird… because people ARE weird, y’all! Especially in Lima :)

3. “I want ice cream.” -yep. Real ice cream like mint chocolate chip or chocolate chip cookie dough!

4. “Riding the bus is crazy.” One of these days I’m gonna record/take pictures on the bus at night on my commute home. It’s INSANE.

IMG_9437

IMG_5091

 

Hope you enjoyed those random facts! What would your answers be to these questions?

blog signature