Many of my faithful readers (okay, friends) have asked questions about our day-to-day lives. This post will answer that burning question on everyone’s mind: “Matt works, Olga cleans your house, what do you do all day?”
Good question, and Matt is probably reading to find out the same thing! During the week, I get out of bed around 8:00. Note “get out of bed” not “wake up.” Given that one of my reasons for not having children is that I couldn’t stomach the idea of sleepless nights, it is pretty ironic that we have yet to sleep through a night here. Honestly. First, our street is the route for heavy vehicles and they rumble by all night long. While that in and of itself is loud, there is a speed bump in front of our house that these semis bounce over, adding to the noise. Sometimes the semis don’t slow down for the speed bump (they always ignore the stop sign) and the vibration of the truck coupled with the banging of the load sets off the car alarm of the red Toyota two doors down. (This also happens all day long.) Trucks = average of 3 nightly sleep interruptions.
Then there are the dogs. They bark all night. Sometimes it is the dogs across the street barking because a truck woke them up, sometimes it is street dogs fighting or taunting the dogs across the street and sometimes, who the heck knows, they are dogs. Dogs barking = 3. Not to be outdone by the canines, are our neighbors the roosters. It is complete fiction that roosters crow at dawn. They crow ALL NIGHT LONG! Roosters = 1. Next we have bands/music. At 10:40 last night a band started playing and marching down the street. I’m not sure the occasion, but my cabbie earlier this week told me that bands are hired for birthdays. Perhaps this person was born at 10:40 pm. Bands/Music = 1. We also have fireworks and the military. It is not unusual for the military exercises to start as early as 5:00 am, though I am not sure how safe it is to have gun training in the pitch dark. Yesterday, in an opposite direction from the band, there were fireworks (more like M80s) going off all night. Random loud booms = 1. Finally, we have a guy that pounds on a neighbor’s door every morning around 4:30. Booty call, drunk stumbling home, worker rousing a friend – no clue but it is &%$? annoying! Door banger = 1. The beauty is that no one EVER yells at anyone to be quiet. Apparently Peruvians sleep like the dead. We don’t and our average nightly tally of being awoken is 10!
After I get up, I putter around a bit, assess whether Olga has arrived so I can determine how guilty to feel over lollygagging in bed and then go on my walk, which is usually between 1-1 1/2 hours, depending on whether I run an errand or two on the way home. Once home I do my PT exercises and additional workout exercises for a half hour to an hour, shower, dress and eat breakfast, all while dodging Olga. Olga and I usually have some stilted conversation at some point in the morning, which counts as a Spanish lesson, and the next thing I know it is almost noon.
For the past three weeks, I have been volunteering at Matt’s school on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. I leave the house at 12:10 to catch a cab (another Spanish lesson!) and begin at 12:45. Each day I assist in 3 different elementary classrooms for 45 minutes each and end my day reading for 15 minutes to a class of first graders. I then hang outside with Matt while he says goodbye to the students and parents and subsequently amuse myself until we leave around 4:30. While I have always admired my friends in the education field, my admiration has increased dramatically. Well, not for those that lack classroom management skills. For those my admiration has plummeted. I know it has been a really long time since I was in grade school, but I swear we had to sit in our desks during class, not wander around to our cubbies or get drinks of water. Okay, I also have to admit that on more than one occasion, in high school no less, I had a teacher drag my desk and me to the corner because I wouldn’t quit talking, so maybe these students behave just fine!
Although I enjoy volunteering and the children are darling, I do not think elementary education will be my next career. Not only do I find it exhausting being “on” for that long (and I am only there a 1/2 day), but practicing law is very goal oriented and I am accustomed to deadlines, projects, and endings. And winning. Learning never ends and I find it frustrating that at the end of a class you can’t measure what has been accomplished and that projects continue ad infinitum. Matt notes that a child progresses over the course of a year, but I am not known for patience. While I will continue to volunteer, I plan to scale back to two afternoons a week so I have more time to focus on writing and studying Spanish.
Of course, I might get fired from volunteering as I accidentally wrote a naughty word on the board. The teacher had me lead a discussion on the lessons learned from the class’s popcorn and chicha morada sale and I got confused as the students were spelling the word “chicha” for me and wrote chichi instead. The class went crazy and I knew enough to quickly erase it. Yes, I wrote the equivalent of “boobies” on the board. Although in Spain this slang would have been much worse (think female genitalia). And what about the restaurant chain Chi-Chis? Apparently they were way ahead of Hooters!
FYI, chicha morada is a fermented, non-alcoholic drink made with purple corn, pineapple rinds and spices. I’m not a big fan as it is cloyingly sweet.
On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons I usually run some errands, sit outside and study my Spanish, work on this blog and other correspondence, and research random things. Most exciting random thing to date was finding the NFL Game Pass, which will allow us to watch Green Bay Packers games!
While none of that sounds too difficult, everything here takes longer than it does at home. For example, our plumbing issues continue and about once a week the plumber shows up and we engage in difficult conversation (Spanish lesson!) for about 15 minutes before he leaves, promising to return to fix the things that are broken. Last week Tuesday we were discussing a leaky kitchen pipe for the third time and he said he needed a de-clogging product. By some small miracle, I actually understood him and had some, so I retrieved it for him, fully expecting him to dump it in the sink. Nope, he took a towel and swabbed some on the outside of the pipe. As you can imagine, this did not fix the leaky pipe and he has not returned to date despite saying he would be back last week Thursday or Friday to fix the other faulty items. In the States, we would simply call another plumber, but as this is our absentee landlord’s plumber, we are uncertain of the protocol, and she has not responded to us. So here we sit with a leaky kitchen pipe that stinks up the cabinet and leads me to fear bugs, a broken toilet, a non functioning cold water pump (the same one spewing water in a prior post) and a broken shower head. ARGGG.
Then there is grocery shopping. We shop at Metro, which is a Target-esque “little bit of everything” store but smaller, in the El Quinde mall in Cajamarca; the Castope grocery store in Baños, which is tiny compared to a US grocery store; the other Castope near our house, which is the size of a very small gas station convenience store; the Central Market in Cajamarca; the market in Baños; and sometimes a fruit or vegetable stand on the street. Why so many stores? Because none of them has everything we need at any given time. Castope doesn’t have any decent fish (although yesterday it also didn’t have any chicken) and sometimes no lettuce; we can only find fresh nuts at the Central Market; produce is hit or miss, even at the grocery stores, so sometimes you need to go several places; for two weeks no store had Matt’s favorite soda, Inca Cola Zero; the list goes on. You cannot assume that because you found an item at one store that you will ever find it there again. Add the fact that trips to Cajamarca require cab rides and we can only buy what we can carry, and shopping takes a long time. Not infrequently I go to Castope multiple times a day just to get everything I want (because I know it might not be there tomorrow). While I try to do most of the shopping while Matt is at work, we usually run some errands after work at least once a week on a day I am volunteering and on the weekends.
Our evenings are pretty boring. It gets pitch dark by 6:30 pm, which puts us in hibernation mode. So unless we are invited somewhere or running errands, we are usually home by dark, eat dinner and then work on the computer or watch tv for the evening. We have yet to find a bar in Baños and vanishing restaurants are the norm. For a week I thought I was losing my mind as I passed this sign, which had me very excited!
The first night at 6:10, Matt and I walked to the place and . . . I couldn’t find it. We walked around a few blocks while I insisted that I had seen this nice bar (I didn’t have the photo at the time). The next afternoon, I again attempted to find it with no success. On the third day it miraculously appeared and I took the photo for proof. That night, Matt and I again set off, but no bar. We subsequently did see the door open one weekend afternoon, but there was no one inside. I did some internet sleuthing and believe this bar is actually in Cajamarca, so I am not sure why the sign is in a place in Baños. Many restaurants have no signage and irregular hours so unless you know where you are going and when a place is open, you wander about feeling like a fool! We found one place that looked very nice and asked the woman who was cleaning when it was open. 9 to 5, Friday through Sunday. I repeated it twice to make sure we understood and indeed, those are the hours. So we eat and drink at home for the most part.
Weekends have had no set pattern. We were in Lima last weekend (stay tuned for that post) and Matt is off this Friday so we plan to do a long walk or excursion at least one of the days and likely will run some errands. A gardener from school is coming over to cut our grass (we think by hand with a clippers) and trim our bougainvillea (which requires him to climb out our second story window and perch on the porch roof) at 2:00 on Saturday so we will need to be home all afternoon while he is here. And who knows – maybe the plumber will show up!