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Entries about lessons

Welcome to Peru

from Noah

We've been in Lima, Peru for a little over 24 hours now, and we have already experienced and learned a lot.

Math:

  • Mental conversion is required for all purchases - luckily, the exchange rate is about 2.65 sol = 1 usd, which allows us to do a mental exchange rate of 2.5 sol = 1 usd.

Science:

  • Any painted lines on the road or signage are mostly for color, not necessarily to be followed.
  • Cars only need about 2 inches between them to avoid collisions. That seems to be the normal buffer on the roads - sometimes less. Our first taxi driver delighted in pulling up next to cars at stoplights, reaching his hand out and slapping the back of the car next to us, and then saying "Temblor!" with a surprised look on his face. Wish I had gotten a video of the look on their faces...
  • Electricity in Peru is 220v on 60Hz. Although the plug style is the same, if you plug your US stuff into a Peruvian outlet, bad things will happen. We have a great travel converter from Helen, but this has created a bottleneck for charging our devices.
  • WiFi exists, but the backhaul to the internet is much slower than what we see in the states (about 1.5Mpbs down). Alex is learning to dislike the "Buffering..." messages on YouTube.

Negotiation:

  • Negotiate your taxi fare up front - taxis have no meters. Most rides around the city are about 10-15 soles.

History:

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  • Up until 1981, there was a huge pyramid covered by a hill in central Lima (in Distrito Miraflores). Now, it is a really cool archeological site that we visited yesterday - Huaca Pucllana.

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Culture:

  • We are white and tall. The average Peruvian is not. We draw a lot of stares, especially with our two (cute / loud) kids in tow.
  • There's a micro-culture here within the hostal (not to be confused with hostel - it means a smaller hotel or guesthouse, since hotel is used to refer to a large full-service hotel). The rooms and the people staying here are unique - Anne says it reminds her of "A Room with a View" by E.M. Forster. The fellow travelers are very enjoyable, and a great resource for advice, ideas, and storytelling.

Honestly, it's tough being here. Sure, it's cool to be somewhere else, and we embrace the adventure. But Day 1 in Lima was rough - our Spanish is poor, the city is big, we don't know our way around, we were all tired and stressed and crabby, and when we all got hungry around mid-day and couldn't find a place to eat, it was bad. But, it got better after we ate, and got better after we found our way around a bit and successfully bought dinner, and it will continue to get better as we go along and learn how to work together and deal with each other when we get crabby.

Now we're off for Day 2 in Lima, and then an early flight to Cusco tomorrow. We are telling ourselves to stay open in the moment. We can do this.

Posted by noahv 07:18 Archived in Peru Tagged lima lessons Comments (7)

Victoria Victory!

Initial steps on the path to being an international traveling family

Canada_Bear.jpgIt's been a while since we returned from our trip to Victoria, and I wanted to answer the pressing question - "did we get arrested at the border trying to smuggle in a Chilean exchange student?"

In short, no. Thanks to all of Anne's pre-work at the consulate, the border crossings in both directions went very smoothly. Lesson learned to put in the time to figure out what paperwork you need for travelling, and persevere through the red tape...

Other lessons learned:

  • Speaking calmly and smiling is your best bet for smooth experiences with Border and Customs Control officers
  • Keep ALL your documents, and keep it all handy (e.g. keep your Victoria Clipper boarding pass for parking garage discount)
  • You can usually count on your fellow traveller - don't be afraid to ask
  • Don't be afraid to say "I don't know" to the kids
  • Don't be afraid to say "Let's try it" with the kids
  • Take a chance - you might like it (like Leah with the zip lines at WildPlay - she was totally scared of the unknown; but once known, she wanted to do more MORE MORE)
  • Carry paper copies of bus schedule, a good map, etc -- you can't count on wi-fi or GPS to work.
  • Talk to the locals, get suggestions, set out without specific agenda . . . you will find the best adventures that way.
  • Kids are driven by food. The smell of popcorn, the sight of a Starbucks -- leads to the immediate need to purchase! There's always a delicate balancing act between packing food and hoping to find en-route.

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Challenges:

  • From the kids: "it's nice to travel, but I'm really looking forward to going 'home'" -- what if "going home" is over a year away?
  • Packing: we still packed big bags for 3 days... but, we were able to carry it all. Re-emphasized that carry-on luggage is the way to go (we got to get off the Clipper first while the people with checked bags waited...)
  • Being there on time: as hard as we tried, we were pretty late getting to the boat to depart Seattle. However, we did get lucky with our "special room" on the Clipper to Victoria (primarily because we were late - and that the Clipper crew took pity on us)

Overall, a great trip. The city of Victoria is a fun place to spend a long weekend. We loved Roger's Chocolate, Miniature World (as cheesy as it sounds), walking through the Fairmont Empress, having lunch at the Parliament building, visiting the Royal BC Museum, seeing Sammy the Seal at Fisherman's Wharf, and swimming in the pool at our Worldmark hotel.

We're looking forward to going back to Victoria soon!
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Posted by noahv 10:44 Archived in Canada Tagged travel planning lessons Comments (2)

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