Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Nothing to do in Peru?

Recently during a conversation with a visiting American I was asked how I occupy my time. The gist of the discussion was that he had formed the opinion that retirement in Peru would be boring for him. And it probably would be…for him. Enjoyment anywhere in the world is dependent on individual interests and preferences. I can understand for instance how someone whose life is socially focused could be bored in Peru. We don’t have much in the way of live entertainment theater or lounges, golf courses, or country clubs. Those fraternal organizations that do exist are not very active. I can also understand how someone who is locked into a particular lifestyle would find it difficult here. Peru and countries like it are certainly not for everyone.

That’s not to say that Peru is a total cultural void. Last week a group known as the GRIPS (Gringos Residing In Peru) and their wives the CHESGRI (translates to Chiclayo spouses of gringos) met for Thanksgiving at the Pimentel home of one of the member couples.

For me personally I don’t think I could live long enough to be bored in Peru. I enjoy traveling. Within an hour’s time by road I can be in the foothills of the Andes or strolling an ocean beach in any number of coastal towns. By air travel, in addition to the Andes and ocean beaches that same hour can include the Amazon rain forest and the metropolis of Lima. Probably the majority of our traveling is short day trips to different towns. There are still many towns in the area I haven’t seen and nearly all of them have something to offer in the way of a festival, specific object such as the cross at Motupe, or even a unique individual to talk with. There is always a ‘highlight’ to each town that makes the visit worthwhile.

I enjoy history of all eras and subjects. In the Lambayeque and other nearby regions I have at my doorstep the history of the Inca Empire, pre-Inca cultures, and the Spanish conquest – all brought to life in hundreds of archeological sites.

Even though Peru’s economy has shown steady growth during the past six years there is still abject poverty in much of the north. For several years we’ve been involved in charity work, primarily focused on Christmas parties and helping provide the means for kids to attend school in remote villages. It takes time to organize these activities but the reward far outweighs the effort.

Traveling, Peruvian history and charity work are only a few of the activities I enjoy that are unique to Peru. With the advent of the internet several of my major interests are not limited by geographical location. Genealogy is a good example.

I spend several hours on the computer every day chasing ancestors. I am part of the 2% of the population who are not bored to death by family history. When, after weeks or months (sometimes years) of searching I finally discover the identity of an earlier generation in someplace like Bridgewater Pennsylvania in 1785 it is one hell of a thrill…even better than a Green Bay Packer win. Which brings me to another interest provided for by the internet.

Peruvians generally couldn’t care less about American football. Sunday and Monday night NFL games are broadcast on television here unless they are preempted for a soccer game, but on the internet there are ‘feeds’ that allow me to watch on my computer just about any college or pro football game I want to see. During the football season I usually watch 2 – 3 games per week.

Writing is another pleasure the internet helps me with. I enjoy writing. This blog and several other outlets, plus a book I’ve been working on sporadically for several years but will never finish consume chunks of my time each week.

One of my favorite activities not dependant on Peru or the internet is reading. I enjoy reading and normally curl up on the sofa with a book for an hour or two before going to bed each night. I can borrow books from an English language institute here in Chiclayo or can buy used paperbacks inexpensively at local book stores, although there is not a lot of choice in subject matter. I suspect most of the books were left behind by traveling missionaries. I also have books sent to me and load up when I visit the US. I haven’t graduated yet to the electronic book readers and probably won’t do so. For me each book has a unique soul and individuality. I would rather turn pages than push buttons.

As to what we will do on any given day; that is usually determined over coffee in the morning. There is no need to plan unless we’re considering an overnight activity. And we don’t feel compelled to do anything if we’re feeling lazy. There are some days when I don’t leave the house except for a brief walk in the neighborhood… and even then I usually see something of interest.

And that’s how I occupy my time. We have no schedules, plenty of enjoyable activities to do, and all the time in the world to do them. What could be better than that?



  1. you should get a Kindle if you like to read. I was hesitant at first because I like actual books. But being able to order a WW2 book in English in 10 seconds (while in Lima) = priceless!


  2. I check your blog once in while and I really enjoy reading your stories about your journeys in Chiclayo. I am from Chiclayo, currently living in San Diego, CA. My husband was born in Canada but raised in SD. We will spend Christmas there in Chiclayo. I hope we can meet you. Have a wonderful weekend, Flor. BTW my email address is florencia_otero@hotmail.com

  3. Have just discovered your blog - and what a delight it is. Have only red a few of the past posts, but look forward to "reserching" the archive. With photos and your gifted writing, well "Wowzer!" Its very good. My six trips to Peru over the last five years have kept me almost entirely in Lima ( a few short side trips) and working Colegio San Mateo in the District of San Juan de Lurigancho, and a small bit of work with an ambulante child of El Augustino District who vends her candy near Ovalo Gutierrez in Mira Flores. (see "Lima Times and Andean Mail" English on-line paper for poetic effort to capture that experience with the Urban poor. Search terms poem/Ovalo/Gutierrez in their past issues brings it up). Would love to visit Chiclayo and see work of Promesa Peru. Thanks

    1. Thanks for the comment and kind words. If you ever get to Chiclayo look me up.

    2. Thanks for the comment and kind words. If you ever get to Chiclayo look me up.