Anticuchos, Food, Peru, comida, carne

Mmmm, anticuchos de corazon!

It only took me sixteen years to return. “Why so long?” you might be wondering… you wouldn’t be the only one. In 1995, I had the amazingly strange turn of events (and luck) which brought me to Peru. I had been planning to study abroad in Chile and to stay with friends of friends. In the middle of making these plans, the husband received a job in Peru and was moving to Lima. The offer to stay with them stood, I just had to decide to go to Lima instead. Though I was a bit nervous about the change, I bit the bullet and went. Turned out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

For sixteen years, this country had held some of the happiest memories of my life. And as the years passed, I became more and more afraid to return for fear reality couldn’t live up to those memories. And then I met Brenda. Why this is Brenda’s fault

Rainbow, Punta del Diablo, Uruguay

New Year's Eve Rainbow... the promise of things to come

Actually, to be fair, I haven’t actually had all that much meat. It’s actually been a LOT of starch and my body has been less than happy with the unbalanced meals I’ve had. Rice, potatoes, noodles, calzone, pizza… a few vegetables and the slightest bit of meat. Mostly salami and hot dogs.

*note sarcasm.

Yeah, Uruguay. Everything I expected and nothing I had hoped for. I moved to Uruguay to work for a small, boutique hostel in Punta del Diablo. While I enjoyed the people I worked with, the area was a bit tough to get used to – a mere 700 or so residents, none of whom ever have any intention of inviting you to dinner or getting to know you. This was not the welcoming community I had hoped for. But alas, I went to learn and learn I did. I now know what I don’t want and that, in and of itself, is invaluable information.

Fire! Let’s see, I was evacuated from a movie theatre that caught on fire, the bus terminal burned down a couple of weeks after that (wasn’t there for that one) and in Cabo Polonio, the hotel just down from burned down. I’ve never been anywhere near a burning building, and now there’s three of them in 3 short months. Odd thing is, before I moved to Uruguay, when I was cleaning out my house, I kept telling myself, “At least you have a choice what to keep; you could have lost it all in a fire.” Some sort of sign?

  • La Pedrera. Beautiful, scenic, good company. I should have lived here. By far some of the best beach scenery and architecture I had seen. And there were trees! I was so tired of brown sand and dunes, it was fantastic to have lots of green and trees to complement the sand.
  • $6 wash and style. $8 manicures and pedicures. Need I say more?
  • All the amazing people I met at the hostel. Some truly interesting folks came through there. I managed to spend a day with Danu in La Plata, Argentina (sister city to Louisville), Brenda is responsible for me now living in Peru and I’m looking forward to seeing a few other folks here in Cusco as they make their way through South America.
  • Sand. Nope, not gonna miss it. Not really a beach person, but dunes and sandy living and never feeling quite clean… nope, not gonna miss that at all.
  • Beautiful sunrises. Most folks who know me would be surprised to know that I became more of a morning person while I was there, often working the 6am shift (which I loved). Got to see the sunrise every morning – as well as the parade of drunks coming home from the disco at 7am. It was sort of like my own little show out the front window.

All in all, Uruguay was necessary in getting me where I am now. It was the “kick in the pants” I needed to start realizing my dream of living outside the US. With that chapter behind me, I move forward with Peru and look forward to the many adventures that life will bring me here.

What a strange dream. It’s been ages since I woke up crying from a dream, let alone nearly sobbing. I wasn’t sad or stressed before going to bed, so I’m really not entirely sure what even brought it on. I’m still weepy today even thinking about it. Two nights ago I was dreaming about dinosaurs roaming the neighborhood and doing my best to rake leaves while not getting eaten by one; but not last night, no, I was dreaming about Dad dying.

He’s been gone ten years (this Christmas) and it’s the first dream I’ve had about him actually being dead. I’ve brought some of his ashes with me here to Uruguay so I can spread them on the beach on the 10th anniversary, December 26. This plays into the dream a bit.

At first, I was having a conversation with him about how both grandmothers died on the same day (they didn’t) and we were talking about the funerals and the clipping in the paper. The next minute I’m coming home to find out he’s dead. I don’t know how, I just know – and I’m devastated. And I’ve got nothing, nothing left.

I wake up crying. Hard. Like I was in the dream.

I have an hour left to sleep before getting up for work this morning, so I calm myself and fall back to sleep, only to continue the dream. But now, I’m at a big meeting, I think for our class reunion. I excuse myself because I have to get things prepared for a memorial for Dad. As I move into another room to take care of things, I’m surrounded by friends – some of whom I haven’t seen since elementary school – who in some way, were affected by my Dad. They were all bringing things that reminded them of him.

My friend, Pam, was with me, walking with me to help spread the ashes. Except, I can’t really tell if she knows I have them, since I’m carrying them behind my back, in the little ziplock baggie they’re currently in. I’m running my fingers through the ashes secretly and clenching the ashes, only to realize I’m getting cut by shards of bone and glass as I do it. I wake up, crying again and wondering why is there glass in the ashes?

And it’s off to work…

Merry, merry everyone.

I have to say, I’m feeling particularly joyous this year. It  is the first Christmas in 5 yrs that I’ve had a reason to buy presents and the first one in nearly 10 I’ve truly enjoyed. For those of you who don’t know, my father died the day after Christmas in 2000. We didn’t have a chance to open presents or celebrate that year, though Christmas Eve we were blessed to share, talk and enjoy friends for one last time together. While I still had a holiday to celebrate with my grandmother, they were never the same and she finally passed in ’05, a week before Christmas. Since then, I’ve found ways to avoid the holidays for the most part.

It may seem like a depressing way to go, but for me, it’s the easiest thing I could think to do. I’ve had plenty of invites to spend time with distant family and other friends, but as sentimental as I am, I wanted a holiday that was meant for being together with the ones you truly enjoy. I’ve been pretty lucky in that sense, even though I haven’t really “celebrated,” I’ve create some lovely memories over the last few years. In 2005, I cooked a wonderful little venison loin for Christmas Eve for myself and a dear friend. in 2006, I went to Alaska for 15 days and was able to spread a few of my Dad’s ashes at the artic Circle with new friends from up north. In 2007, I think I cooked another Christmas Eve meal for a friend and spent Christmas Day at the movies. Last year I had friends over for the not-quite-annual HO (holiday orphan) Dinner and prepared a great traditional Spanish meal for the Eve and had an out of town guest over for Xmas night and spent it watching several of my favorite musicians in a local blues bar.

This year, well, this year, I have presents under a tree, a lovely gentleman to share the spirit with and a return of holiday spirit. I’ve enjoyed the movies, the music, the season in a way I have longed to do for some time. Whether this relationship will last, or I have plans again next year, it’s just nice to know I can enjoy the season again without only the sad memories to fill my days.

I leave you with a smile on my face and a song in my heart – may each of you enjoy the same this season and in the coming year.

I’ve been thinking a lot the last couple of days about my last post and I really feel I must clarify a couple of things. Being an adult orphan (and yes, it sounds strange, but lots of people seemingly feel the same way as I’ve discovered through various google searches) creates some strange notions and feelings. The line by Sandra Bullock of “I forgot” just resonated with this sentiment so well. But upon reflection, the post may make it sound as if I am all alone, and that’s just not so.

I have a few good friends, very good ones indeed. Some are my age, some are those who were friends with my father/parents and have reached out to me, some come into one’s life quickly and disappear just as fast. I have had friends who have believed in me enough to financially invest in my new business venture. I have friends who will go out and have a drink when I just need to blow off some steam. I have a roommate who surprises me from time to time with a clean house – knowing that I am stressing about how I can possibly get everything done. I am truly grateful for the friends I do have.

But, that doesn’t change the lack of family feeling. I’ve been on my own now for almost 9 yrs – and by that I mean without parents or close, caring relatives. I’ve traveled a great deal in my life and moved around a lot on my own. And it was easy to do when I knew that I always had family back home thinking about me and providing a safety net if I needed one. Fortunately, I rarely did, but it doesn’t change the fact that at least I knew it was there. Now, I don’t have a safety net. My friends are getting married. The dynamics are changing and I don’t always know where I fit. I’m thrilled for them, really, I am. But it does place me back into a wanderlust mode – both imaginary and real.

I hear all the time how strong and independent I am. “Of course I am,” I think. I haven’t had much choice in the matter. This also proves to be a challenge when dating. I’m perfectly fine being feminine and vulnerable, but honestly, I forget how, I don’t get to do it often enough. It doesn’t help I was mostly raised by men. I have also forgotten how to be a part of something since I’ve had only myself to depend on for some time. Ot goes without saying that this is also a challenge when dating.

So, for now, I guess I’m just walking along, following a path that seems right for the time being. But my mind is wandering. And the dreams are still working their way into becoming a reality.

I feel like I’ve had a few of them lately, but none of them are completely clear. Much like that last sentence. Forgive me as I ramble.

After a week of lots of great news and business developments, littered with lots of big setbacks, I decided to crawl into bed on Sunday and stay there most of the day, watching a couple of movies. One I expected to make me cry – and hoped it would – “Into the Wild” and the other, “Feast of Love” to hopefully have a few laughs. I found both made me a bit of a blithering idiot. And in times like this, I find a movie that makes me cry to be very therapeutic. Helps me cleanse the system if you will.

I know I relate to movies in weird ways. Most of my close friends could tell you this. “The Matador,” while quite funny, did make me cry at one point. To which my friend John looked at me and in total disbelief said, “Are you crying??” I was. It’s when Pierce Brosnan’s character suddenly realizes he has no one to spend his birthday with; how alone he had become. I couldn’t help but relate to that moment. And another strange response, “The Exorcist” didn’t scare me, it made me sad as well. I didn’t cry, but I was really depressed after watching it. I couldn’t imagine such futility, desperation and helplessness by all people involved. “Seven Pounds” and “Married People” both pissed me off for similar but different reasons. Essentially, I hate the idea of people making decisions for others in a way that somehow makes them look self-less, when really it’s incredibly selfish.

So, this weekend, Father’s Day weekend, the obvious reason for my sadness was missing my Dad. But it was more than that this year. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it was more than him just not being here. Seemingly not related, but was… another “a-ha” was that I really feel I need to be living somewhere else, or that my life isn’t quite where I want it yet. It took a little line in “The Proposal” for me to put it all together.
Sandra Bullock’s character freaks out and when Ryan Reynold’s character manages to get an answer out of her, she says, very simply, “I forgot.” He looks confused. She’s angry, sad, etc. She finishes, “I forgot what it’s like to have a family.” And then it hit me.

I can’t remember the last time I was hugged just for walking in the door. I can’t remember a “safe” feeling. I can’t remember feeling like a part of something. You might be wondering what this has to do with not feeling like I’m living in the right place and rightfully so. But I think it’s because I continually imagine myself living in a small, seaside town. A place where I am a part of something. Where the town is like a family. Where I am a part of that family. When I have traveled in the past, more in my youth, that’s when I felt most at home, in a small town, where the residents wrapped their arms around me and made me feel as if I had always belonged there.

I just want that feeling again. I want to remember what it’s like to be a part of a family again. Before I forget for good. That may sound terribly sad, but in a weird way, I’m actually more hopeful than anything else.

Boy, did I do it wrong today. I got up, had my salt water flush, and then it was nearly 5 hrs before I could manage to get even my first lemonade (limeade today) of the day. I feel weak, light headed and I know I haven’t done myself any favors. I even have a bit of a headache. However, it has taught me tht while people may think you’re not getting enough nutrition and energy from the juice, you absolutely are. Today is proof of that. I will try and catch up on my juice for the day before bed, but it’s already 7 pm and we’ll just have to see.

I’ve also decided that I’m not sure I can go the whole 20, but I have decided to go through the end of the month, which is 15. That gives me time to integrate properly back into eating before the amazing Derby parties and seasonal activities of Spring start around here. Day 7 is around the corner and the one pre-confessed cheat of the fast… well, it’s here.