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

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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.

Salazar family

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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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my identity. It’s something that defines us, and people are always waiting for the answer to, “who are you? What do you do?”

At first I kind of stutter, and think up an answer that might appease their questioning. “Uhh, soy una profesora.” {I’m a teacher.}

They nod, smile, and move on.

But I’m stuck there thinking to myself- wait, am I really a teacher? That’s not what I do right now. What am I really doing? How can I define myself?

My whole life I’ve been identified as a daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece, friend.

When I was 10, I gained a new important identity as a daughter of Christ, a Jesus-follower, and a disciple.

Other identities throughout the years have included babysitter, coworker, AmeriCorps member, volunteer, teacher, missionary, traveler, neighbor, Linguist, yogi, sports fan, servant.

Possibly the second-most exciting identity I will ever gain will be in just a few weeks… a WIFE.  Woah.

Our identities define us in a way. They show to the world and culture, “THIS is who I am. THIS is what I do.” 

Just a few weeks ago, my fiancé and I had to put an ad in a local magazine announcing our marriage. The woman at the office asked our professions… JB said “Traductor” {Translator} because that’s what he does- he translates and interprets for people all the time. I was hesitant to answer her, but JB answered instead, “Lingüista” {Linguist.} I smiled and affirmed his answer, and then sat back thinking, wow, is that really what I do?

Although I have a Linguistics degree, I’ve never thought of myself as a Linguist before. I’ve never categorized myself into that field because I guess I’ve never felt adequate enough. And now that I’m volunteering with a Linguistics program here in Lima, I feel more like a Linguist than ever before- learning more about Linguistics in Spanish and studying the language. So I really do feel like that’s my profession… like I can describe myself as a Linguist to someone, and feel confident with that answer.

Typing this all out, I have come to realize something… we may define ourselves as a certain identity, but sometimes we may not feel like that identity really describes us.

Bear with me here as I try to explain- one of my identities is Jesus-follower. It’s something I carry in my head and heart, but sometimes it’s not how I feel I should describe myself. I’m a sinner, just like everyone else. What makes me special enough to classify myself as a Jesus-follower? Sometimes it takes someone calling that to attention for me to really feel like a Jesus-follower. It’s in those moments where I’m asked about my faith, or share my faith with someone, that I truly feel like I’m following Jesus by sharing His Word and love.


Or I may not always feel like a daughter since my family is so far away, but then I’ll get an email or text from my family, and I’m reminded that I still have a role as a daughter and they still love me. Sure it’s hard because I can’t physically be a daughter to them and treat them to dinner every once in a while, or spend time with them, but deep down inside I’m still their daughter.

 I don’t know if any of that babbling makes sense, but I’ve been thinking about my identity a lot. How can I effectively describe myself to someone? Regardless, in 13 days I will legally be a wife & a Peruvian, and in 17 days I will officially be a wife! I’m so excited to add those two new identities to my personal identity!


How would you answer the questions, Who are you? What do you do?

How do you identify yourself?

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What’s in my bag: Peru edition

Living in Peru is much different (for me) than life in the States.

Here, when I leave my apartment there’s no telling how long I’ll be gone or where I will be going… in the States, I usually have control over how long I’ll be gone and where I am going.  Here in Lima, you simply have to be prepared for any situation. That being said, my purse essentials are a little different than what I keep in it at home. Honestly in the States, it’s usually filled with at least 7 different pens, 2 notebooks, 3 squished Larabars, gum, nail polish, water bottle etc… AKA things that are heavy to carry around all day, everyday!

Take a peak at what’s in my bag, Peru edition!


Layers! Unless I’m wearing it, I always have a sweater with me, and sometimes a scarf too.

I always have a journal/paper + pens. And of course, got to have a wallet in there!


 For the first few weeks here I had my Passport with me wherever I went. No telling when you’ll need it! And it fits in my wallet, so it’s safely zipped up.

Sticky notes are always found in my bag, in addition to a sweet and a salty snack. Sublime is a Peruvian chocolate bar with peanuts, and it’s the best little chocolate pick-me-up! I also always have a hair tye with me, and some coins for bus rides.


I’ve found it’s helpful to keep some Rolaids chewables in my bag, just in case food doesn’t settle just right.

Chapstick, hand sanitizer, lip gloss, and mints are super important! I always keep hand sanitizer in reach, and am constantly using it after bus rides.

Also floating around in my bag is usually a pair of bandaids, just in case. Never know when you’ll need them! And I usually have some bus ticket stubs that I forgot to throw away.


The most important thing that I’ve had to get used to keeping in my purse at all times is… toilet paper. Lots of public places don’t have toilet paper in their bathrooms, and trust me, you ladies will want some paper in your purse or pocket just in case nature calls! One time I jacked some napkins from our table at lunch because I didn’t have any TP in my purse!

unnamedI love fitting all my stuff into my Vera Bradley cross-body bag. It holds so much, and is still lightweight and comfortable to carry all day long! I wish I had more bags like it!



What are some essentials you keep in your bag???

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I’ve been finding it hard to blog or share much about my life here in Lima, because after a month of living here, it just feels so normal. Sure, there are things that make me shake my head, roll my eyes, or make me wish I weren’t a Gringa, but that’s just part of everyday life now. It feels so normal that I hardly ever take pictures of anything anymore… signs, traffic, graffiti, meals… it’s hard to share with people what my “everyday” looks like because it feels so “everyday” and boring to me. Here are some bits about life lately…

* I experienced my first Peruvian earthquake Tuesday afternoon. I had just sat down on the bed and all of a sudden I feel shaking, and JB exclaimed, “it’s an earthquake!” I got up and went to the window, while he opened the door about to go downstairs. My neighbors all came out of their rooms, and there was lots of loud talking out on the street. It lasted all of 6 seconds, and didn’t feel too serious, so I wasn’t worried. Apparently a shaking ground stirs up panic in Peruvians after so many disasters in the past.

* We FINALLY got all the paperwork done for our civil wedding, and will be legally married June 24th! I have a whole post coming with a step-by-step on getting married in Peru for foreigners (since it actually does happen a lot here) and oh how I wish I had a straightforward list before starting the paperwork process!

* I led the second half of the Spanish Semantics/Pragmatics class the other day. (Oh yeah- I’m a teacher’s assistant! It’s only volunteer work, but I’m still enjoying it.) I enjoy teaching, but I’m not cut out to teach college classes!

* I bought some leather coasters from the Inca Market, and they have Machu Picchu on them! I love seeing them sitting in my apartment.

* A movie ticket to see the newest X-Men movie cost me 8 soles, which is about $2.88!!!

* The weather here has been cloudy (as usual) and gray (as usual) and in the low 70s (as usual) and I am missing my North Carolina summer weather SO MUCH! The low 70s are cooler here than in the States, because of the moisture in the air… it feels more like low 60s. Nights get surprisingly chillier, and when we go for runs I thrown on a long sleeve shirt over a tank top. Oh how I want summer weather!

* Bread!!! Wong (grocery store) has the yummiest selection, and I stop in at least once every other day to pick out some breads for breakfast/lunch/dinner/snack. Current favorites are sweet potato bread and mini buttery croissants!

* I paid my second month of rent on Tuesday! Funny how something so simple makes me feel so adultish.

* Our wedding announcement was in the paper yesterday! My title is a Linguist, which is pretty neat to see :)

* Every day I eat at least one serving of rice, half an avocado, a tomato, and an egg. Other foods added into the mix are cucumbers, potatoes, spinach, bananas, apples, fried plantains. We have a sort of unofficial rotation of veggies or salad with rice and the occasional meat. Mondays are spaghetti days though, and JB makes the BEST spaghetti sauce. Seriously, it’s the best. I could eat it everyday.

* I attempted chocolate chip cookies a few weeks ago and they came out as one giant cookie blob. It’s hard to control the temperature of a gas stove, so I hardly use it. But oh how I want fresh cookies and brownies!

* As much as I hate it, I’ve learned to ignore the whistles from men and the cat calls. I was called “dulce princesa” (sweet princess) the other day, so at least that was somewhat respectful.

* Papa John’s delivery is my last minute go-to meal. In the States, my family has pizza at least twice a week, so I’ve missed it here in Lima! I can order a pizza online and it’s here in less than 30 minutes. That’s much less time than it takes me to grocery shop and cook food!

* Lines in grocery stores are ridiculous. There will be 15 lanes open, and at least 10 people in each line. Even in the “rapid” lane, I have waited 30 minutes to buy water, bread, juice, and some produce. It’s such a test of patience to go grocery shopping, especially after 5:00pm!

* Bus rides are sometimes so uncomfortable being squished in between so many people. The nice thing is, I’m a few inches taller than most Peruvians, so I can keep an eye out on when my stop is!

* I paid an exorbitant price for a meal last week at a tourist restaurant. A simple sandwich + Coke cost me 28 soles – $10! Might not sound like a lot, but 28 soles can pay for a meal out with JB, AND groceries for a day.

* JB and I finally picked him out a wedding band the other day. Thankfully, it will be delivered this week to my parents, and they can bring in in TWO weeks! :) Yes, we are procrastinators.

* I’m done with my teaching responsibilities in the afternoons (except Mondays) and the past few days I have been so lazy and taken a nap every afternoon! It’s felt amazing, but I’ve always woken up disoriented and wondering why I was sleeping in the middle of the day! I’m definitely well rested.

* It took me 6 minutes to unlock my apartment door this morning. I still have issues with that darn lock/key after a month!

* Washing clothes by hand is a major chore. Especially towels. I hate hate washing towels. I never feel like I get all of the soap out, or like I wring them out enough. I don’t necessarily mind doing the laundry by hand, it just takes a lot longer than I expect. Thus, I end up wearing things over a few times before I feel the need to wash them.

And now for some pictures, mainly of food!

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