Out of Touch

Thank you all for the feedback and comments. While I continue to write blogs, I can’t post them until wifi is hooked up at home (Matt is handling this post for me from school). Unfortunately I used my entire monthly data plan for my phone in 5 days! We ordered Internet last Friday, but no installation thus far. All is otherwise well and I’ll be back in touch soon.


To quote my nephew Kieran, awkward! That is how I have been feeling the past few days when dealing with the service people coming to our home. First it was the Direct TV guys on Friday. They appeared to have walked here carrying all their equipment. From where, we don’t know. Once inside there was waaay too much conversation for us to comprehend. But we figured it out and, several hours later, we were all hooked up.

Saturday was more of the same, this time with the plumber, Jhony pronounced Yanni), who came to repair a leaky pump and figure out why we didn’t have hot water on a consistent basis. (Cold showers were getting old.) I’m not sure how he got here, but he arrived with only 3 tools. So we spent the day with Jhony in our house, trying to communicate. Matt got to help Jhony when the pump kicked in and spewed water everywhere and I got to go on 5 trips to the hardware store around the corner for the various supplies. That’s how it works here – I had to go to buy the parts – no getting billed for it. I felt like quite the regular when I went by myself on the last trip. It made me nostalgic for Saturdays at the hardware store with my dad and Tommy. Poor Jhony – he thought he had fixed everything, but the pump still leaks. We do have hot water, but in order to get it we have to flip the pump switch, wait 10 minutes, turn off the pump and then use the water. And apparently that us how it is supposed to work!

After Jhony we met with Olga, who is going to be our maid. She was recommended by the other principal at the school and we thought that perhaps she would have some English skills. Nope. After the most awkward moments yet, we hired her and she starts tomorrow. We are going to the store together to get a few more cleaning supplies and then I will likely hide from her the rest of the day and hope she doesn’t have any questions! She will be coming 4 days a week so it will be interesting to see what she will do – we aren’t that dirty. But the house is quite dusty and I don’t want to spend my days mopping floors and dusting.

I’ve realized that when we leave the house for an errand we are prepared for the simple conversation we need. But when people are in our home, there is a lot more that needs to be said and then we get stuck. Also, I have to remember that people tend to be nervous around us and that makes them talk faster and faster, which doesn’t help. This awkwardness should be good incentive to learn Spanish quickly!





Shop ‘Til You Drop

After three hectic days, we are finally relaxing on the couch watching TV. Yep, in our exciting new life we are watching 40 Year Old Virgin! We desperately need a mindless break after all the work and running around we’ve done. Some of the shopping highlights…

We did marathon shopping with (saint) Cruz on Wednesday. We spent hours at the mall, in the center city looking for deals (which we didn’t really find) and back to the mall. Ugh. Consider having virtually nothing in your house- no pots, pans, utensils, plates, glasses, coffee pot, tea kettle, rugs, toothbrush holders, toilet paper, cleaning supplies… you get the idea. Where do you begin? It is very overwhelming, to say the least.

Shopping here is just odd. What I would give for a Target! While most things are available, the selection is very limited. Take hangers – bet you didn’t think about buying those- and finding out there is one kind in all of Cajamarca, and they are just slightly bigger than a kid’s hanger. End of the world? No. Frustrating to spend $30 on a bunch of hangers that don’t really fit your clothes? Yes. Irritating to consider that we recycled/donated/threw out probably 200 hangers? You bet.

And then there are the things we can’t find – the elusive kitchen garbage can (for which the stores have bags), dish pan or kitchen rug. We finally found a dish pan, or close enough, today at a hole in the wall “hardware” store, which means we no longer have to wash dishes in a bucket! Still no luck on the rug or garbage can. By the time we were done shopping on Wednesday, every inch of Cruz’s Toyota Tercel was packed and we were all exhausted!

We got home around 5:30 and Matt and I set up the kitchen, our bedroom and one bathroom. We had brought one set of linens from home for our bedroom and bath and it was nice to have some of our own things in the house to make it feel more like ours. We took a break for a quick picnic dinner at our bar and finished up around 10:30.

Thursday felt like Christmas morning – we unpacked our luggage. Overall, we packed well; we have yet to find something we wished we didn’t bring, except maybe some clothes. (Less clothes and some hangers, next time!) While it feels like we have too many clothes here, we remind ourselves that this isn’t a vacation and we are living here now. I’m guessing that fact will sink in eventually!

We went back to the mall Thursday afternoon to do more shopping and to meet Cruz to set up my cell phone, direct tv and Internet. We shopped very efficiently this time and did so before we met Cruz as he had been patient enough the day before! Because we are currently on tourist visas, we are not able to buy any services. So Cruz has to enter into the contracts for us. We weren’t able to set up Internet because we need a utility bill to prove we possess the premises or something. The funny part is that the bills will be in the landlord’s name and not ours anyhow. So different from the US where you can walk in and buy anything. Once again, Cruz’s Toyota Tercel was filled when we were done.

Matt and I finished unpacking last night and celebrated at a local restaurant we ate at when we visited in April. Sinatra’s Fly Me To The Moon, our wedding song, was playing as we sat down and we considered it a good sign! We toasted with a Pisco Sour for me and a Chilcano de Pisco for Matt (note the flag!)

We still have some odds and ends to buy and eventually will get some bigger items we need, like furniture and rugs, but we are settled in. Thank goodness!

Note: As these posts are from my phone, I am limited when adding photos and the quality seems poor.






Heading to Our New Home

We made it to Cajamarca yesterday around 4:30 and were met by Henry and Cruz from the school. Their vehicle wasn’t big enough for our baggage and the people in charge of the cargo were “working on the plane” so we went to the hotel with only our carry ons. Last night we ate dinner and went to bed at 8:30! It was wonderful to get a full night of sleep.

It is winter in Peru, but by Wisconsin standards, the Cajamarca weather is really nice. Very dry, sunny, lows at night in the 30s and up to 70 during the day. The hardest thing will be to remember to wear sunscreen and hats given how close we are to the equator and to limit our time outside at first until we are acclimated. Summer weather will be about the same as winter weather but in the 50s at night. Summer is the rainy season, which allegedly runs from February through April although it extended much longer this past year. Regardless of season, the temperature doesn’t appear to get above 72 degrees due to our altitude (around 8900 feet).

Our next few days will be spent getting our house in order, setting up our bank account, ordering services etc. We just heard from Cruz that Henry picked up all of our baggage and it is waiting for us at home. Yippee! All the good thoughts, prayers and vibes paid off!

I am not sure when our internet connection will be live or whether we will have any wifi access at school, so this may be my last post for awhile. Hasta luego!

Hanging in Lima

We made it to Lima and so did our 13 checked bags! We were a little concerned about the bags when our flight out of Milwaukee was delayed, which reduced our connection time in Atlanta to about a half hour. We sprinted for our flight and weren’t sure whether our bags would make it, but they all did.

Where’s Kerry? Find me waiting with 4 of our 5 carts as Matt stood in line!


We went to the magic button before the customs gate and… Denied. The light turned red (no surprise given all of our luggage) so we had to take all the bags off the carts and put them on another screening conveyor. But that was it. No opening bags, extra charges or questions. So really pretty easy except on our backs.

After about 2 hours we were finally in the greeting area of the airport. Our driver, Mario, was waiting and was a very nice guy. We hired a porter (who had a larger cart) so we set off for Mario’s van each with only one cart; a vast improvement to Matt and I trying to maneuver 5 carts! As we hit the parking lot I noticed a younger guy eying us up. He followed us a bit and then veered off, but sure enough, just as we start unloading our carts (and would presumably be distracted) he reappeared. I have him a hostile stare and told him to go away. He did, but it was a good reminder to be vigilant.

Then the real fun began- cargo city. We needed to go here to drop off our bags to be cargo shipped to Cajamarca, our final destination. What a scene. It was 12:30 in the night and the place was hopping. We pulled up to a loading dock and I stayed in van while Matt and Mario went to the counter. Matt did his best, but finally had Mario come get me so I could assist. I wasn’t much help and eventually the employee asked the guy next to us to help us with the form. I’m not sure what he did besides re-write the information we had written but apparently she could read his handwriting and not Matt’s. His assistance became our theme for the next two hours – everyone helped us and tried to explain to the dumb Americans what we needed to do. Which was: load everything on a single pallet and put our shipping labels on each box only to then unload it all onto a conveyor belt after I pushed our receipt through a little slot! We understood that it was all going to be weighed “in back” somewhere, but weren’t sure how we would know when it was done!

After our bags were gone for awhile and we stood there (Mario had gone to move the van so we were on our own by this point, apart from our new friends who I think found us amusing) a guy called us to the door to explain our suitcases needed to be plastic wrapped. Once we understood he waved Matt out so I was in back trying to figure out how I was supposed to shrink wrap my bags! Ultimately, he called over another guy from the loading dock who said he would do it for me for $20. Sold! Scam? Maybe in part, although other people’s items that weren’t in perfect boxes were all shrink wrapped, but it was all so funny and I got to hang out in the cool restricted area (people who came and went were actually frisked although we were spared that treatment) that 20 bucks seemed like a deal! After I was gone about 10 minutes, Matt came in to find me as he was getting a little concerned and found me and two other guys watching a third guy wrap our bags. After some final confusion as to where to pay (upstairs, down a hallway) and experiencing our first rejection of apparently non-pristine bills, we were on our way to the hotel at 2:30 am! Mario was a slow driver and had a bit of trouble finding the hotel, but it we made it there, tipped him well for our evening’s adventure, and finally collapsed at about 3:30!  We fly to Cajamarca today at 3:30 and hope our cargo will be there as well.  Things have gone really well considering the undertaking, so we hope the good energy continues.

Side note on the money: Peruvians want American money but will only take currency in perfect condition. We had taken out money from our bank at home and it looked good to us, but two bills were rejected. One for a minuscule tear and one because the crease had worn out Ben Franklin’s face too much for the clerk’s liking. Peruvians also want cash and not credit cards, so that will take some getting used to for us.

Final note on Peruvians. Very nice! People were helpful, friendly, not in a rush, let us skip ahead in line; clerks didn’t get impatient. While there is no American efficiency, nor is there the constant rush. I imagine this pace will drive us crazy at some point, but when we are the hold up, a slower pace and time to understand things are nice.




First mission accomplished – our 13 bags are all checked to Lima! Everyone’s well wishes, prayers and good vibes worked wonders as the experience couldn’t have gone more smoothly. The baggage agent was super nice and turned a blind eye to the few bags that were a half pound too heavy. What a relief to have that process done without any glitches! A big thanks to LeRoy for chauffeuring us to the airport.

Thanks to everyone for all of your well wishes, calls and emails over the past few weeks. Your support means a lot to us. Keep up the positive energy – we still have a long journey ahead of us!




We ended our two week stay at the cottage  with our annual visit with the Arpins.  By great luck, Matt and his family were in Wisconsin from Spokane, WA, and they, along with Pat and Jackie and Tommy and the kids, joined us on Friday for some good family time.  The weather was perfect and we all enjoyed the lake.  Thankfully, while Pat and Matt kayaked, no open water rescue was needed this year!

We left the cottage on Saturday afternoon and headed to Jen and John’s house.  It was odd not to have the cottage as a home base any longer and that made us feel a bit homeless despite many options for accommodations for our last two days.  We had a fantastic send off from the Geiger family even though John didn’t let me win at cribbage.


On Sunday we had brunch with good friends Angela, Ann and Tim and then headed to Tom and Sue’s for the Dwyer send off.  Per tradition, an Italian feast was our last meal before our departure.

We are so excited to finally start our adventure after 7 months of preparation.  Sue’s dad is taking us to the airport and his van is packed with all our worldly belongings (okay, besides those in my trunk and at Matt’s mom’s and Tommy’s house).  Fingers crossed that the trip is a smooth one and our belongings arrive with us to Cajamarca!

One Week to Go!

Our first full week at the cottage was great. Getting here last Sunday was not- a full day of progressively more panicked packing, followed by a trip to Tommy’s to unload our boxes ready for retrieval on the 15th, and then off to sell the car. Our good friend Ann was waiting here when we arrived at 11:15 pm with stiff drinks and a very late dinner. Leaving Milwaukee knowing we no longer actually have a home there was a strange feeling.

But Monday brought a new perspective- peace. The hard part was done: our belongings were packed and everything in place for the move. So we celebrated with a round of golf and a day of relaxing on the lake. Tuesday was a work day- we watched four movies as we spent the day unpacking and organizing all of the boxes we moved to the cottage. On Wednesday we started entertaining family and friends and continued to do so through the weekend. The weather was great and we enjoyed lots of lake time and fun with friends.

This week brings a little different feeling- a week of lasts. Our last Monday here, our last round of golf for a year etc. It’s a little bittersweet but we still plan to enjoy every day and not dwell on the finality each day brings. If I can add the “first” of catching a muskie before I leave, the last week will be perfect!




Saying Goodbye to My Childhood

We have said a lot of goodbyes during the past month.  For the most part, they haven’t been too bad – I will be home in September for a wedding and both Matt and I will be home at Christmas.  So most of the “goodbyes” are really of the “see you later” kind.  The more real goodbyes are those to some elderly relatives (because it really could be the last goodbye) and to the events that we will miss: the family St. Patrick’s Day party, Markesan June Dairy Days at our cottage, Lakefront Festival of Art, Milwaukee’s Irish Fest, etc. But saying goodbye to “The Lake” – my aunt and uncle’s home on Lower Nemahbin Lake – was the hardest goodbye of all.

My dad’s family rented a cottage on Lower Nemahbin since the mid 1950s.  Initially, the Hayburn sisters owned the property, but my uncle and aunt bought it in the late 1970s.  Regardless of ownership, from the 1950s – early 1990s it was a cottage with an outhouse and only a kitchen sink for running water.  And it was my version of paradise.  Despite the outhouse.  Despite the blistering hot upstairs where all the kids slept on the 5 old, saggy beds.  Despite the blood sucking mosquitos. The Lake was Wisconsin summers at their best -even if my family spent multiple cold, rainy weeks there for our only vacation of the year.  The Lake was family – the open Sundays when anyone could come out after noon is the sole reason I actually know a majority of my 56 first cousins.  The Lake was being a kid – lying on the raft all day with a book, playing board games and card games during the rainy days and catching fireflies at night.  

The Lake is up for sale.  My childhood is truly over.