Day tour of Arequipa, Peru

First stop on the tour was Carmen Alto–a high point overlooking the Chili River Valley. It’s called in Spanish a “mirador,” a lookout point.
This is the awesome volcano Misti from the overlooks balcony. This is a great tourist spot–with a cafe and gift store. They even have a zipline. I may come back to try that! Originally, it was just a farm house (and it’s still surrounded by farms).

Yesterday, I took what turned out to be a private tour of the city–just me and a young guide named Stephanie. She was pretty nervous so this must have been one of her first tours. Her English was better than my Spanish, and we managed to communicate.

At the bottom, you can see the Chili River. And yes, it’s cold. In fact the Quechua name for the river is spelled similarly and also means “cold.”
To the right is Misti, an active volcano. Her last eruption was a very long time ago, but occasionally you can see smoke rising. The last serious earthquake was in 2001.
To the right are the dormant volcano chain called Chachane.
This is Casa de Retiros de la Luisa, a religious retreat center, surrounded by terraced farms.
In the far distance, the upper right hand corner of the photo, you can just make out the dormant volcano chain Picchu Picchu. “Picchu” is a Quechua (KET CHU WA) word that means “mountain.” To make a plural in Quechuan, you just say the noun twice.

I also found a short video of the area:

Chachane mountains and the terraced farm land below.
These cows only seem to have a fence on three sides of this triangular piece of ground. The far edge for them is just a cliff!
A display of Peruvian items. at the top are three fruits and vegetables: Tumbo (also called Banana Passionfruit) Papaya de Arequipa (a small, sour papaya of the area) and Macha (a small potato like vegetable that is used only in small amounts). the last item doesn’t seem to be related to the green tea-like drink. I clearly need to investigate more.
To the left is Cat’s Claw and to the right are powered preparations of Macha.
To the left is Una de Gato (the herb Cat’s Claw) and to the right are Coca leaves, which also have small “stones” of ash to be taken with them. Yes, this is legal in Peru. Yes, I bought some. No, I haven’t tried them, yet. I also got some Coca candies, which tasted like horehound and had no effect.

I didn’t buy the Cat’s Claw, but after reading THIS, I will: “With a lengthy history dating back to the Inca civilization, Cat’s Claw has been used as a traditional medicine in the Andes to treat inflammation, gastric ulcers, rheumatism, dysentery, intestinal complaints and wounds.
The tribes of the Amazon have used this woody vine as a general tonic to promote good health for 1000’s of years – a tonic that can be used to bring anyone back to health. Its reputation as a “cure all” now seems to be validated by modern science, with numerous studies on the plethora of active compounds shedding new light on this ancient herb.
A recent study showed that Cat’s Claw significantly elevated the infection fighting white blood cell count in adult men who supplemented with this herb for 6 months. Researchers also noted a repair in DNA – both single and double strand breaks.
Its effect on the immune system appears to be two fold, with the ability to both boost and dampen immune response, depending on what is needed. Hyper immune responses can be contained, whilst a weak immune system that allows disease to advance undeterred is strengthened by supplementation with Cat’s Claw.”

This is the front of the Yanahuara District church, Church San Juan Bautista, in Yanahuara with it’s Peruvian Baroque facade. I actually live in this neighborhood, so I’d found it the day before. It’s the highest point in the city, so basically, I just walked straight up from my house.
The church was constructed from sillar, a pearly white volcanic rock, in 1750. It was closed this Sunday afternoon, but I’d seen a wedding there the day before.
This is one of the “teaching tools” for the natives, to help them understand Christianity. Latin and Spanish was spoken inside the church for the Spanish, but outside the mass was in Latin and Quechua.
This is the overlook from Yanahuara Plaza.
One of only a few olive trees in the city, but it doesn’t bear fruit.
Next we drove back to the Plaza de Armas–the central square of the old city of Arequipa. This is the cathedral of Arequipa, which is along one side. I’ve tried three times to visit it, but it’s been closed each time. Better luck next time.
This is a close up of the clock on the cathedral. There’s a bullet hole just inside the number 9. This from Arequipa Travel: “Arequipeños like to think of themselves as being separate from, and superior to, the rest of Peru, and much of Arequipa is very traditional and regional. It is even possible to get an Arequipeño passport, although this is no more than regional pride. However, the independence of the city is reflected in its history, which has often opposed itself to directives from Lima. In 1950, students from the Colegio Independencia school went on strike to protest again central government policies. In a march in the Plaza de Armas the police opened fire on the students, killing many. Signs of this are still visible in the clock face of the Cathedral, where a bullet hole from the shooting can be seen.” My guide assured me that Peruvians are quick to go to fight when needed.
We were supposed to go inside the Inglesia de Compania (church of the Companions of Jesus/Apostles), but it was closed. This is from the nearby cloisters, now a public square with shops.
A close up of the details pillars and arches. Remember, this is an seismically active area. Arches are not only decorative, but strong in an earthquake. It’s not always enough, though. This area has been re-built a few times. The last big quake was in 2001, an 8.4 on the Richter scale! The earthquake occurred at the boundary between the Nazca and South American plates. The two plates are converging towards each other at a rate of about 78mm per year. At least 74 people were killed, including 26 killed by a tsunami. At least 2,687 were injured, 17,510 homes were destroyed and 35,549 homes damaged in the Arequipa-Camana-Tacna area. An additional 64 people were missing due to the tsunami in the Camana-Chala area. Landslides blocked highways in the epicentral area. Many of the historic buildings in Arequipa were damaged or destroyed, including the left tower of the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa.
This is the students’ cloister–much plainer, so they wouldn’t be distracted from their studies.
An exterior door of the Iglesia de Companias shows St. James fighting the Moors, with mermaids below.
Plaza de Armas, facing the basilica of Arequipa.
A lovely church garden, on my way back at the end of the tour.
And here’s what the chef recommends at Dimas Restaurante: Carpaccio of alpaca (thinly sliced, air dried alpaca meat), Grilled salmon and Lomo Saltado–a popular, traditional Peruvian dish, a stir fry that typically combines marinated strips of sirloin (or other beef steak) with onions, tomatoes, french fries, and other ingredients; and is typically served with rice. The dish originated as part of the chifa tradition, the Chinese cuisine of Peru.

We also visited the Monastery of Santa Catalina, but I’ll post those separately.

A walk through Arequipa

Today, I was organized enough to start to more seriously explore my new home of Arequipa, Peru. I left my apartment at about 9am for a 4+ hour walk. I took photos along the way, so that you could join me.

This is the entrance to my gated community–which seems to be called an “urbanization,” here. There are LOTS of similar security gates here and I’ve been warned about pickpockets.
So, there seems to be a passenger railroad station very near my house! Everything was all locked up, but I could see people doing maintenance of the groups at the station below. A quick Google search and it appears this is the train station that will take me to Cusco, via Punto (Lake Titicaca). Here’s some details.  Obviously, I’ll need some time to do this, but will try to find a break in the teaching schedule that will allow it. That is, if I can afford it. It’s pretty pricey for one person. But something to think about.
This is the view overlooking the station entrance. Notice the lamas grazing to the lower right. I assume the metal roof is the train station. You can’t see the river, located in the middle of the photo, but you can see the terraced land on the other side, rising to a highway.
Next I enter the long park along Bolognesi Avenue–one of the two main streets I can actually locate. I can’t seem to find the name of this green space–sandwiched between Avenue Bolognesi and the Chili River. I notice from the Google map that across the river is the Parque Ecològico Alto Selva Alegre (Roughly translated, the high happy jungle eco park, I think). I’ve got to check that out in the future. Not yet sure how to actually get there, but with a name like that, I really must try.
This is taken from the park, overlooking the terrace below, Club International, which has a lot of tennis courts, a swimming pool and what appears to be soccer fields as well as other sports. It’s a private club, so I probably won’t ever use its services. It’s bordered by the long narrow park and the Chili River. In the distance is Misti, an active (though fortunately not very active) volcano.
Lots of monuments along the way.
Signage from monument above. Mariano Ignacio Prado Ochoa (December 18, 1825 – May 5, 1901) was a Peruvian army general who served as the 27th (1865), 29th (1865 – 1868) and 32nd (1876 – 1879) President of Peru.

This monument is along Avenue Bolognesi, one of the main streets. It’s located right outside my gated community, and the main branch of my school is located here. Francisco Bolognesi Cervantes (1816-1880) was a Peruvian military hero. He is considered national hero in Peru and was declared patron of the Army of Peru by the government of Peru on January 2 of 1951.

A statue to Francicso Bolognesi Cervantes, located in the park along the avenue of the same name.
At the base of the previous statue. Here’s my rough translation: “The city of Arequipa, in homage to the hero and patriot of the army, Colonel Francicso Bolognesi Cervantes, for outstanding action in defense of the fatherland on June 7th, 1880.”

This is the main branch of my school, a 10-15 minute walk from my boarding house.
There are chess/checkers tables in the park, too. These two men were having a heated discussion, but I didn’t get the sense that they were arguing about the game.
This is a long distance glimpse of today’s destination, over the rails of the park. In the mid-ground is the bridge over the river Chili. Past that, you can see a few tall spires, from buildings in the Plaza de Armas.
There are two lamas grazing in the park (or maybe they are alpacas). I didn’t see anyone keeping them, either. This one isn’t even tied up. Of course, I don’t know the difference between a lama and an alpaca, so I could be identifying these incorrectly. I’ll figure it out. Eventually.
Here’s the second one, possibly the mother of the first, bedded down for a rest. To the upper left, you can just see the small woven structure for them to retreat to.
At the end of the park, Avenue Bolognesi hits this roundabout (called an ovalo grau on my map). Facing this direction is Avenida Ejercito (Army Avenue) the second major street I can locate, so far. It has a couple major stores and a large mall.
…but I didn’t go up hill to the shopping area. I went the other direction and crossed the bridge over the Chili River. This is the left side, showing Misti Volcano and a gentleman cleaning the roof of the swimming pool. It’s very dry and dusty here, so you often see people cleaning.
Another view of the bridge and my first real look at the river.
These are also volcanoes, but dormant, Pichu Pichu and Chachani.
On the other side of the river is this small, but lovely park. It was locked up, but some people were inside building a play structure.
This is the park on the other side of the bridge. That’s the Peruvian flag and a statue of a lama.
I’m walking down a side street on my way to the old center of town, Plaza de Armas. But found this door interesting. This is Church John 3:16.
The gated entrance to Plaza de Armas. Many old Spanish towns have a similarly named square.
By coincidence, there was a protest going on, since today is the date of Peruvian Independence. In 1821, Peru declared independence from Spain.
Here, you can see the protesters, parading around the square…..
….and to the left, to can see the riot police squad that completely ringed the plaza. This was a peaceful demonstration and while I took a few photos, I didn’t stick around long. It never seems like a good idea to be involved in a protest outside of one’s own country, even a peaceful one.
Arequipa is called “The White City” because of lovely buildings like this one. Arequipa’s main plaza is filled with buildings made of sillar--a white, volcanic stone. Impressive colonnaded balconies line three sides of Plaza de Armas. The fourth is given over to Peru’s widest cathedral, a humongous edifice with two soaring towers.
Because of the protests, the museum and the cathedral were closed. But I’ll save it for another day.
On a side street was this lovely church, Iglesia de la Compania (Church of the companions/company of Jesus, or Church of the Apostles). This diminutive Jesuit church is on the southeast corner of the Plaza de Armas. The facade is an intricately carved masterpiece of the churrigueresque style (think Baroque and then some – a style hatched in Spain in the 1660s). The church is dated 1668.
Inside, the central altar is stunning. It’s completely covered in gold leaf, and is modeled after the one in Seville cathedral in Spain.
This is a side altar piece.
….and the other side altar. To the left of the altar is the San Ignacio Chapel, with a polychrome cupola smothered in unusual jungle-like murals of tropical flowers, fruit and birds, among which mingle warriors and angels. I couldn’t take photos of that. I had to pay 5 soles (about $1.50US) but it was completely worth it. There were also gold reliquaries and other church treasures on display, with a little English signage.
OK, so it isn’t just lamas and alpacas I don’t know. Apparently, there are four similar animals for me to learn here in South America.
I stopped in a grocery store and found this fruit I didn’t recognize. The package says aguaymanto. Google identifies it as Physalis peruviana, a plant species originally from Peru. The plant and its fruit are most commonly known as Cape gooseberry. Gonna have to try this. It’s related to the choke cherry (which grew wild on the farm I was raised on in the Midwest) and the tomatillo. It’s a member of the nightshade family.
A quick photo of the Cathedral of Arequipa, on the Plaza de Armas. The protest had moved mostly to the center fountain area, so I grabbed a shot while it was visible.
The Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa is the most important Catholic church of the city and also of the larger Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Arequipa since it is the base of the Archbishop and the Metropolitan Council. The cathedral is also considered one of Peru’s most unusual and famous colonial cathedrals since the Spanish conquest.
This was a mural on the wall. Say the word on the blackboard out loud: “cuckoo”  Honest, this is a good way to figure out words you don’t know. Often they are pronounced almost the same as an English word, just different spelling.
Another interesting mural.
Crossing the bridge again on my way back home. This is the other side and I’m standing in the middle of the Chili River bridge. This is facing the left side, where you can see a small park in the middle left and a major highway on the right. Just left of center, on the horizon, you can see the spires of the Cathedral of Arequipa, on Plaza de Armas, which we are now walking away from.
Middle of the bridge, center. This shows the River Chili, with water moving downstream, toward the Andes Mountains in the distance.
Middle of the bridge, right side. Looks like a pretty rough area. I will not be hanging out here at night.
Everyone’s warned me about the packs of dogs, which seem to be sleeping off the heat of the day.
This city is dry and dusty. Some days the air quality is really poor because of dust. Also, I’ve never seen so many taxis in one city. They all seem to have spots like this one for washing the bodies down from the dust.
Another pack of dogs. Hummm. Remember how they dealt with this problem in Vietnam? Yeah, they ate the mean dogs. Wonder what they do here?

I’ve made it to Arequipa!

That’s a volcano in the background–Misti.
The climate of Arequipa is predominantly dry in winter, autumn and spring with a climate of a cool desert. There are sweaters and moisturizer in my future. Arequipa has 300 days of sunshine a year on average, but temperatures do not exceed 25 °C (77 °F) and rarely drop below 5 °C (41 °F). The wet season lasts from December to March, marked by clouds in the afternoon and low rainfall. It is now the end of winter. Winter is June and July in Peru. Remember this is the opposite side of the earth, so the seasons are reversed. The weather now is a little cooler and the low temperature drops to an average of 6 °C (43 °F). The average relative humidity is only 46% and can drop to 20%.

July 26th, 2017

I arrived in Arequipa this morning, but it was such a bad trip here, that I didn’t get much done today except find my new digs, unpack and catch up on sleep.

As with most long distance, cheap travel—it was frankly horrible getting here. All in all, it was about 27 hours, 3 flights, delays, and long lay overs–including overnight in the Lima Airport. It’s official. I’m now too old to try to sleep on the floor of an airport. My suitcase is completely trashed and a few small items are “missing.” The most important ones are my Imodium (I never travel without it) AND I’ve lost both my professional yo-yos! But at least I’m in one piece, if cranky and sore. Short Version: NEVER fly with Spirit Airlines. Never.

The school says they sent someone to pick me up at the airport, but no one was there. After the entire arrivals area cleared out, I gave up waiting. I hired a taxi (20 Peruvian soles, about $7US) and found my way to my boarding house. Luckily, Trista (Leo’s American girlfriend) was there to let me in. If she hadn’t been, I don’t know what I would have done. I didn’t have phone service or internet. I didn’t know where the school was and couldn’t go hunting with all my luggage in tow.

I started my mountain climbing exercises immediately–My room is on the 5th floor. That’s 10 flights of stairs. No, of course there isn’t an elevator. The room is pretty spartan, but at least it has a private bath for a change and a respectable number of electrical plug ins (all on the European system).  I have a lovely, shared balcony and a messy kitchen-in-progress–basically, there’s a sink. I’ll be using the one on the 4th floor until the one on the 5th is finished. IF I can ever figure out how to open the door.

I’ve got an 11am teachers meeting at the school tomorrow and orientation August 1. That’s assuming I can find the school tomorrow. (Why does no one ever give you a map?) I’ll try to get a new SIM card and phone number in the meantime. And I’m going to check out the downtown, walking distance from here.

Left side view from the balcony. That overpass blocks the view of Misti Volcano. It was built about five years ago and sort of ruins the view.
I’m in a small “urbanization” unit called Paisajista Chilina. It’s really a gated community, though it looks fairly easy to get into without the one guard noticing. Gated communities seem fairly common and most homes have either large fences or at the very least bars on ground floor windows and doors.
Center view from the 5th floor balcony. Just left of center in the photo is a small, colorful building, green and yellow, with a corner store (tienda) on the ground floor. The owners were very kind and patient, but didn’t understand my Spanish at all. I did a lot of pointing to buy things.
View from the right side of my balcony–fifth floor. At the moment, I’m the only one living on this floor, but there are three other rooms available.

My initial impression of the city is that it’s very dry, fairly poor, and that Peruvian Spanish sounds completely different to me from Mexican Spanish. AAAhhhhgggg! How will I ever learn this language?

This is my shower. There’s no central hot water heater–for example, sinks only give cold water. So that contraption embedded in the shower head (with a few electrical wires showing) is an on demand heater. The switch is to the left–which you have to turn on while standing in the shower. Unfortunately, it seems that when the water heater is on ONLY hot water comes out. I run the risk of both being burned and electrocuted. Yes, my life is always interesting.

July 27th, 2017

I’ve managed to meet Juanita and her boyfriend Santiago here at the boarding house. I guess Peruvian men must be something special because the only two women I’ve met here so far are young Americans who have fallen for Peruvian men. Both are extending their stay here in country. Unfortunately, Juanita and Santi are moving out in a few days. Also, as they move out, the stove and refrigerator on the fourth floor are to be moved to the fifth-floor balcony. I hope the few kitchen appliances, plates, cups, flatware, pots and pans will also be moved. I’m fairly certain that there will be at least a few days with no kitchen, however. Not excited about this as it’s clear from everyone that Leo, the owner, doesn’t get things done as quickly as promised. Even with a kitchen, it’s not going to be much to cook with. Only one burner works on the stove. The oven works, but never comes to a high temperature. There’s no microwave. But there is a coffee pot, electric kettle and a wine opener.

This is the front of the main branch of the school. There’s a second branch, but it seems to be very close by.

I’ve found the small neighborhood grocery and managed to buy a few things, but our Spanish isn’t compatible. Apparently, my Mexican accent is so strong they don’t understand what I was saying. I asked for tuna with no luck (Tienes atun? Pescado en lata? Do you have tuna? Fish in a can?). Similarly, with eggs (Puedo tener un doce huevos? Can I have 12 eggs?). I finally pointed to them, but they asked if I wanted ten, and I just agreed. I don’t remember the word for toilet paper, so I just said papel de bano five times until they got it. I believe the only words they understood in under three attempts were “coffee” and “all” (café y todos). This is going to be difficult.

It’s very dry here, sunny but cool. Overnight I added a third blanket to my bed. My room is on the top floor and exposed to the elements, so very cold at night. I’m lucky we are moving into summer here and not winter.

Arequipa is the capital and largest city of the Arequipa Region. It is Peru’s second most populous city with 861,145 inhabitants, as well as its second most populous metropolitan area as of 2016 (after Lima). It was even briefly the capital city of Peru from 1835 to 1883.

With Juanita’s help, I found the main branch of the school and met Lillian and Emma, who seem to run things. I then sat through the monthly teacher’s meeting. The very fact that they have a teacher’s meeting tells me I’m in a better school than I’ve been in before. Teachers were recognized for things they did well, new teachers were introduced. They even have a Teacher of the Month. There was actually a short, understandable teacher training session. This bodes well. There’s an orientation for new teachers on Tuesday, August 1 at 9am and classes begin on Wednesday. I should even know my class schedule later today and I have on line access to the books. Naturally, the teacher I liked the best, Ben, is leaving next month. Isn’t that always the way?

Along one side of the street from my apartment to the school, is a long, narrow park. It has lots of benches and statues. The city is built in “steps” since this is a mountainous area. To the right side of this park, the ground drops to another step–a country club called the International Club. It has tennis courts and lots of activities, but I’m not rich enough to become a member.
I’m actually living in the neighborhood of Yanahuara , located 2 kilometres (1 mile) from the city center. It is supposedly famous for its churches built in Andalusian style alleys.

With Juanita’s instructions, I found the Metro Store—Two floors, half grocery and half household items. I bought several things I need (pretty much all I could carry) and am set for the next few days. I also found a store that should have been able to help me with phone service. I asked for a SIM card (tarjeta de SIM de telefono), but they said they couldn’t do it until Monday (No hoy. Lunes. Not today. Monday.). I suppose they are out of SIM cards? Or they don’t want to work with a gringa?

It took me until almost 3p to make it back to the boarding house with my purchases and climb the formidable stairs with my numerous bags. I’d planned to go out again, but find I’m still very tired. Not sure if it’s the travel or the slightly higher altitude. Maybe I’ll check out downtown tomorrow.

…And the park even had lamas grazing in it. Maybe that’s done instead of mowing? Coming into town from the airport, my taxi was stopped by a small herd of sheep and again by three cows and a mule crossing the street.

Planning ahead

My stay in Mexico is almost up. My job ends in about a week. After that, I’ve got a week in Mexico City where I’ve planned some day trips. Then to the US to take care of some business and visit friends in Atlanta. (For my ATL friends: It’s my first trip back in 3 years! I’m going to post a restaurant where we can meet up, probably Saturday, July 22nd, from 6-8p, somewhere in downtown Decatur. SAVE THE DATE!)

I start my new job in Peru on August 1, but will arrive a week earlier to get settled in. I’m ready for the next adventure!

Peru is only 6 months, though, at most. Visas are limited and it’s tough to make plans until I’m positive of the length of the stay. But I can dream now! I’m making a list. If I’m lucky I can do many of the things I want to do.
The following list probably seems aggressive to most people, but I’m still in good health and have a lot I want to see. Also, I’m not getting any younger and hiking is only for those with good knees (So far; so good!). I’m lucky mine have lasted so long. And, let’s face it, life is short. Here are things I’m considering over the next two years:
  • Taking a tour of Peru in January 2018, before I leave the country. I’ve found one that will let me see Machu Picchu and the Amazon, but still get me out of the country before my visa expires. I have a few short breaks in my teaching schedule while in Peru and should be able to do some touring, but nothing this extensive. One of my mistakes in Mexico was not taking a full country tour before my visa runs out. In the future, I’ll try to get a full country tour before I start a new job. It will give me a better orientation to the country and besides, it’s a shame to live in a country for a year and see so little of it because you work 6 days a week!
  • The Annapurna trail in Nepal. It would be best for me to do this in February 2018, just as I’m returning from Peru, since I’ll be more accustomed to high altitudes. Altitude sickness and hiking is a poor match and I’m very susceptible to it’s affects. I’ve had an interesting email exchange with a trekking company and I feel really good about this possibility.
  • Taking a teaching job in Ecuador. (This is likely i​f​ the next adventure doesn’t work out) They like new teachers to start in January or May of most year​s (Remember they are in the opposite cycle of seasons to the USA), but most seem to only allow 6 month assignment​s. It’s an interesting country and I can probably continue my Spanish learning and see the Galapagos Islands.
  • I’ve applied to The Peace Corps to work in Madagascar. My odds are probably low, but my application has been accepted. If it works out, I’d go in June​ ​2018 for 27 months. ​This is a long shot, but who knows!​ I find my life is more exciting if I have a few odd possibilities in my future. And some of them even happen! If successful, obviously, my life is planned out for quite some time (at least by my standards!). Not getting my hopes up. The worst part is that I probably won’t know until December 1 if I’m accepted as a potential candidate, and will still have to pass various physical exams, learn the language and more.

Author’s note 6/29/2017: I applied to The Peace Corps 3 months ago, but today got a note saying that the starting date for the position I applied for (they only let you apply for 1 at a time) has been pushed back. It is now listed as “indefinite.” My application is being withdrawn. If I want to try again, I have to reapply from scratch. Again. This is the 2nd time a program has been blocked like this. Additionally, 2 programs (in 2 completely different countries) were announced in a press release last year. I was very interested both. These should have posted in January, but they haven’t. When I inquired I was told that these also had indefinite start dates. I assume this means the programs are on hold or have fallen through.

The current administration isn’t too crazy about helping its own citizens (the health care program, cuts to various social programs etc.). Perhaps The Peace Corps anticipates budget cuts and/or a reduction to the countries it will support? All I know is that an organization that makes promises and doesn’t follow through isn’t a good place to risk a couple years of your life on. I hope it will gain stability again, but this just doesn’t look like a good time to enter The Peace Corps. I tried not to get my hopes up, but am sad and disappointed by today’s email. 

  • An African safari (photos only, of course). I’m very interested in Kenya. A couple of my favorite books are West With the Night by Beryl Markham and Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen). Both are based in the former British East Africa.
  • The Mountain to Sea trail in North Carolina.
  • The Coast to Coast trail in the UK. I’ve practically memorized Pride and Prejudice and they talk about the wonders of The Lake District. This trail goes through it. I could see the United Kingdom in a way few people do.
  • ​One of the nicest teachers here has a (remote) possibility of a short term teaching job in China (maximum 3 months), living in an apartment one of her family members owns. ​In a perfect world, we’d get lessons in Mandarin as part of the rent. If she decides to go, I might be able to get a job there, too. It’s another long shot and we really just discussed it in passing. Still, sounds exciting. I’ve avoided teaching in China because they have a reputation for violating their contracts, offering substandard housing, and because of the limited internet (a.k.a The Great Fire-Wall of China). If I had secure lodging, a short time span, assistance with the language and a friend, it could be a great adventure.

OK, so it’s a lot. But what is life without our dreams!