Saturday, July 14, 2012

Four goals, one day.

Bryan, Davis and I woke up on Thursday with four goals in mind:
1.  Figure out the safest, quickest bus route from my house to the office so I can know my commute;
2.  Visit the Heifer office just because and say "Hey" to my new bosses and coworkers;
3.  Buy a washer and dryer; and
4.  Meet with Davis' school again so that they could do a psychological evaluation of me and Bryan.

(I'll let you recover from the laughter and assumptions that #4 may cause many of you before I go on....)

Figure out the safest, quickest bus route from my house to the office so I can know my commute
Instead of taking a taxi or hiring a driver to transport me to and from work every day, I am considering using the bus system.  Some think this is the most reasonable solution, others think it is a little dangerous.  I am going to test the waters and just see. And I wanted to do it with Bryan first. 

Advice previously received:  take the biggest, cleanest looking bus that has the name of the street you want on it and make sure that the driver is wearing a uniform.  The buses here have a driver and assistant (my words) and the assistant hangs out of the door telling people where the bus will be stopping.  Note to self after observing the range of buses in the city:  don't take the VW van with 22 people busting out of every corner of it and the driver and assistant look sleepy and disheveled. 

We took off walking and made our way to one of the main streets and found what I think is a good, solid bus.  Big?  Check.  Clean?  Check.  Name of the correct street?  Check.  Driver and assistant in uniforms?  Check.

Our first Peruvian bus ride!
Long bus ride short, we made it.  And it felt fine and safe and efficient.  My total commute to work, including the time it takes to walk to the bus stop and walk 4 extra blocks to the office will take about 30 minutes.  And it costs 1 sole.  That is the equivalent of $0.38 in USD.

First goal complete.

Visit the Heifer office just because and say "Hey" to my new bosses and coworkers

This was fun!   I arrived at the office and was greeted by the wonderful, lovely, always helpful Julia.  She is awesome.  She knows everything and everybody and is the go-to person for all things Peru/Heifer/Lima/Life.

The office is currently having a new garage installed and was under some construction.  Lots of the staff were out.  But the Country Director (Alfredo) and the Technical Office Coordinator (Mariela) were both there.  Mariela will be my new boss and Alfredo is her boss.  So perfect!  It was great seeing them again!  When I visited Peru in March I was able to spend time with Alfredo and I had spent my last week in the USA in a training with Mariela.  I can't wait to begin work with them.

Mariela and me

They did drop a nice little bomb on me (though I was kind of expecting it).  For the first three months, Spanish is the only language allowed.  Except for two hours each day when I am allowed to speak English for the purposes of helping them improve their English skills.  Alfredo, you are a clever, clever man.


I saw my new desk and workspace, met a few more coworkers, and chatted for a while.  They got to meet Davis for the first time and gave us some directions and options for where to shop for the washer and dryer.  Mariela gave us a map that had four different stores to visit. AND, they had the Heifer driver, Carlos, take us to where we needed to go.  Thank you Heifer!

Looking at maps to find the washer and dryer.

I start work there on Monday.  I am so excited, nervous, eager, scared and hopeful.  I think Heifer and I have high expectations of each other and I am looking forward to what all this brings for both of us.  There is no doubt that the Heifer Peru office is a well oiled machine.  The staff is creative, passionate, smart and committed to fulfilling Heifer's bold mission of ending hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth.  Here is a link to the Heifer Peru website.  I will  be lucky and consider this year a success if I can add even just a  nugget of goodness to them.  I have much to learn from them.

Second goal:  Major success.  

Buy a washer and dryer
I'm pretty smart, right?  WRONG.  I don't speak Spanish very well.  So in Peru, I'm not smart.  Everyone is smarter than me.  Everyone has a hand up.  I am dependent on the kindness of strangers and the translate app on my iphone.  Shopping for something like a washer and dryer - that requires the help of a salesperson to discuss and negotiate models, price, home delivery, features, package deals - all in Spanish, is hard.  Not to mention that we had an 8-year old boy in tow who just wants to play and talk and move constantly.
Let's just say that this was a growing/learning experience for me and Bryan.  Two people who think they're pretty smart.  And two people who pride themselves on being able to do this kind of stuff well. 

We took a break for lunch and ate at a Peruvian chain called Norky's where we dined on some pollo a la brassa.  Delicious.  Every bite.  That made everything better.

At Norky's

On our last stop at a place called Tottus (Tottus is a huge department store that feels like a Wal-Mart) and we found what we needed for a decent delivery fee and price and praise the lord that is over. 

They delivered it the next day and voila!  We can finally wash the week's worth of laundry that is piled up in our bathrooms.  Davis has been wearing dirty clothes for two days now.  The hoses that came with the washer were crap so Bryan bought some replacements and as I type I can hear the first load of laundry washing.  I never thought I would like doing laundry.  This will fade soon, I'm sure.

YAY!!! This is one corner of our laundry room.  It's oddly laid out so we can't have the washer and dryer side by side and switching the laundry is a little awkward.  Oh well.
Third goal is over and I hope I never have to shop for a washer and dryer in a foreign land ever again.

Goal #4
Meet with Davis' school again so that they could do a psychological evaluation of me and Bryan.
We had an appointment at 3:00 to meet with the school counselor and was told not to bring Davis with us.  This presented us with our first real dilemma:  Finding a sitter for Davis.  In the USA I have an army of amazing people to help (you know who you are) if I ever need to be somewhere that I can't take D.  (When I went to Asia for Heifer in 2011 I was gone for 3 weeks and they all stepped up and helped and I didn't worry about him one bit.) They all love him like he is their own, and he is.  I can't remember ever paying for childcare outside of weekly daycare.  This will be a challenge over the next year.  Julia, who I mentioned above from Heifer, gave us a reference of a woman to watch Davis while we did this.  She is a translator for the Heifer office and tutors Peruvian children.  She speaks English and was great.   

When we arrived at the school, the counselor had arranged for a translator to help do the interview.  The translator's name was Ms. Sylvia and she just so happens to be the teacher that Davis will have when he starts school.  What great luck!  Some of the teachers don't speak any English.

It took about an hour and they asked us a lot of questions.  How long did I nurse?  Any problems with my pregnancy or delivery?  What are the three best things about Davis?  What do I think he needs to work on?  How often does he see his Dad?  How did Davis take the divorce?  Has he had any problems in school before?  How long did you two date before you got married?  Does he sleep alone?  Plus a bunch more.

This threw me for a loop.  A good one though.  I don't really talk about this kind of stuff a lot.  And it made me feel good about the school's interest in my son.  They want to know these things because they want to serve him better.  They will also interview D by himself next week.

It also made me realize that I am proud of Davis and Bryan and the way we've done things from the beginning.  *pats self on the back*

If you're interested in looking, here is the Facebook page for his school:  Berkeley School

SO! Missions accomplished!  Another good day and lots of lessons learned under our belts.  With each to-do I tackle, I gain a little more confidence in my ability to actually live here.

Moving on....


  1. Awesome! I loved riding the bus when I was there. It made me feel like a native. Love the posts!

  2. Congratulations on goals accomplished! I speak spanish fluently and I still wouldn't ever want to buy large appliances in a foregn country.

    Can't wait to hear about your next adventures.

    Big hugs!

  3. Jessica and Bryan, What a great start to accomplish 4 goals in one day! Wonderful photos to go with the description of your travels. Thrilled for you to have this experience! Eileen