My first earthquake

A few days ago we had a tiny earthquake (temblor) here in Cusco. To be honest I didn’t believe it was an earthquake until I heard mention of it on the radio the next day.

Peru is prone to earthquakes. The last major earthquake in Cusco was in 1950, I found some great photos of the 1950 Cusco earthquake on Amazilia Alba’s blog.

One of my favorite lines of the Led Zeppelin song “Going to California”:

“The mountains and the canyons start to tremble and shake
The children of the sun begin to wake”

I use this song often when I teach ESL at ICPNA. I ask the students to figure out which part of the lyrics could be about Peru. The reference to earthquakes is obvious, and the Incas used to worship the sun. Typically my students do pick up on the idea that “children of the sun” could refer to Peruvians.

Of course, you can interpret most Led Zeppelin songs any way you like, that’s part of the beauty of it. On the ICPNA teacher’s blog I wrote about how I use the song in teaching.

Going home…

I spent a few days in the US last week and returned to Peru using my carné de extranjería for the first time!!!

On the flight back, as I walked down the airstair and across the airport ramp here in Cusco, I caught myself humming “Going home”… Rather interesting subconscious association I thought, for a Belgian guy who lived in the US for 15+ years, now strolling “home” to his beautiful wife in Cusco, Peru.

Here’s the song for your entertainment. Keep in mind like all of my music on this blog it’s very artsy rock music. If you’re not into that kind of thing… well I’m terribly sorry you were born too late for great rock and roll music 🙂


Hola a todos:

Bueno por milesima vez Ward y yo viajamos a Lima para hacer no otra cosa que tramites, esperando que esta sea la ultima en la categoria “TRAMITES”. Fuimos a sacar el bendito carne de extranjeria de Ward, segun algunos conocedores del tema nos dijeron que esto no duraria mas de tres dias, al llegar a Lima nos dijeron lo contrario, todo el papeleo duraria 7 dias…pero el tiempo era muy extenso para nuestros planes ya que mi querido esposito tenia que viajar a los Estados Unidos el miercoles a las 10 am, gracias a Dios y a los poderes del mas alla su vuelo se postergo para el jueves a las 00:00 horas lo cual nos dio al menos un dia mas… tuvimos que recurrir a las oficinas pidiendoles que por favor agilizaran los papeleos porque no teniamos mucho tiempo, despues de la odisea por la que atravesamos Ward finalmente obtuvo su carne de extranjeria.

Como Ward y yo habiamos salido de Cusco el sabado, tuvimos tiempo para darnos un saltito a Ancon, este lugar que alguna vez fue el lugar favorito de la gentita cool de Lima, ahora es el lugar favorito de aquellos que no son tan cool como diriamos. Este balneario aun mantiene los condominios que albergaron y que yo supongo siguen albergando en algun momento a aquellos que convirtieron Ancon en un lugar exclusivo. Nos tomo como dos horas llegar a este lugar ya que tomamos el servicio publico el cual paraba y paraba en cada esquina y era de nunca acabar, pero al final logramos llegar a lo que se convirtio en un reto, ya que cada vez que ibamos a Lima siempre quisimos ir a Ancon pero no se daba la oportunidad.

El reencuentroWard en AnconAnconNavidad en Larcomar

Carne de extranjeria Peru

I finally got the Peruvian resident visa, better known as carné de extranjería, so now I can live and work in Peru more easily. The entire process took over a year, first nearly 6 months to get legally married in Peru and then 6 months to obtain the “carne extranjeria”.

For me, obtaining this semi-permanent admission into the fine population of Peru was hopelessly complicated by the facts that (1) we were living in Cusco, not Lima where all the bureaucracy is and (2) I am a Belgian citizen who’s lived his entire adult life in the US, which made it more difficult to get original documents. You can read the first post on this blog for the silly-but-true story of how a Belgian guy met a Peruvian girl while living in the US, and ended up back in Peru!

OK, got to go now. I have to do some work to pay for all those fees we paid to the “Banco de la Nacion” over the last year or so 🙂


IPCNA Cusco ESL teachers blog

I finally got around to putting some content on the new ICPNA teachers’ blog. Since I’ve had good luck using this blog in my classes our academic director and I decided to start a blog for use by the ICPNA teachers as a group. Here are the links:

ESL teaching is my “fun job” here in Peru, I’m by no means an expert in the field. So please, visit the blog and contribute your ideas!


My ESL students at ICPNA in front of the Qoricancha in Cusco, Peru

My ESL students at ICPNA in front of the Qoricancha in Cusco, Peru

Always a rebel – My take on corporate culture in Peru

This weekend during our staff meeting at ICPNA my boss had to devote an entire slide in her presentation to the various rules and policies I tend to play fast and loose with, such as no jeans or sneakers allowed, no food in the classrooms, etc. While she was very kind not to mention me by name, the fact that I’m the only teacher who wears jeans and sneakers 4 days a week made it rather obvious who the culprit was…

To be fair, ICPNA, which is associated with the US embassy in Lima, is an excellent place to work. There’s a friendly atmosphere, a great group of teachers and my boss is always receptive of our ideas and suggestions.

I love all things Peruvian and I’m sure there are many great leaders and great places to work in Peru. However, I’m not naive to the poverty and needs of many people here, and I believe Peruvian corporate culture is a major reason why many in Peru live in poverty or have a miserable work experience:

  • Employees are not regarded as a valuable asset to the business and leadership in many places is totalitarian. As a result, employee participation and individual accountability is very limited, as is innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Discrimination on the basis of age or sex is commonplace, as is lack of opportunity for people with disabilities. Just look through any employment classifieds.
  • Lack of employee development. Many of my students are not allowed a flexible work schedule to attend class, even though they are learning a skill which is absolutely vital to any business here in Cusco.
  • Lack of environmental awareness and occupational safety in some industries. Read Corey Laplante’s blog about the La Oroya case.
  • Old fashioned and petty rules, such as dress codes, which don’t add any value to the business. Even GE and IBM, some of the most conservative companies in the US, did away with dress codes 30 years ago. Their thinking was employees should have something more productive to do than look at the pants or shoes their coworkers are wearing.
  • No long term vision or leadership. While India became the global IT hub and Asia became the world’s manufacturing base Peruvian middle managers were mired in bureaucracy – not to mention, busy worrying about their employees jeans or sneakers! Read this blog entry about out-of-touch leadership.

Class exercise for ICPNA I-12:

So what do you think, agree or disagree? What are the high-level values businesses in Peru should have today to be successful and improve the way of life in Peru? Read about the culture and values at some successful companies such as SAS, Southwest Airlines or GE – where I spent nearly 5 years.

Speak your mind, what are your thoughts or comments?

Visit to Accha, Peru

We visited Patricia’s grandmother “mama Vicky” in Accha this week. Accha is a very traditional Peruvian town about 4 hours outside of Cusco.

We see “mama Vicky” regularly here in Cusco, but this was the first time I was over at her house in Accha. She gets around great for her age, and is obviously way more in her element in Accha than at her other house here in the city.

The trip to Accha is a bit of an adventure in itself, with the Peruvian bus drivers apparently unfazed by the steep ravine along the side of most of the unpaved roads that lead to Accha. Once there, Patricia and I had a good time just relaxing in the sun, taking walks, and generally acting like city-slickers do out in the country.

Accha is a traditional Peruvian agricultural town, where the locals mostly raise sheep and grow corn and other typical Andean crops. Most of the work is still done by hand, I only noticed 2 or 3 farm tractors in town and we rarely saw more than 3 or 4 cars in one day. The tranquility was absolutely refreshing compared to life in the city.

All the locals were very friendly and greeted us everywhere. Since gringos don’t get out to Accha very often, the little kids in town tended to stare at me and tell their buddies “mira un gringo!”

I uploaded more pictures on our Flickr page.

Patricia and "mama Vicky" in Accha, Peru

Patricia and mama Vicky in Accha, Peru

In Accha, Peru

In Accha, Peru

Stories and traditions in Cusco – ICPNA AV2 writing exercise.

This is the writing exercise for AV2 9:05 at Icpna Cusco.

The Cusco area has a rich history with many great traditions, myths and legends. In the comments to this post, write a story about any of the legends or traditions in our area or Peru in general. This can be a well known story (e.g. origin of Cusco, Señor de Huanca, etc) or a story only you know (e.g. someone in your family who believes they saw a ghost). I especially like the less well known stories, the kind that a typical tourist would not hear about.

Make it interesting and entertaining. Above all, use your own words!!! Everyone in the class writes one story, but you get extra points for commenting on your classmates entries (or any other entries on this blog).


Starting a business in Cusco, Peru (ICPNA I-12)

Since I’m teaching about business in my current class at ICPNA, I decided to start a class project to open a coffee shop on the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. We already have a McDonalds in Cusco and will soon have a Starbucks, so let’s give them some competition.

Our fictional business will be a fancy coffee shop with yummie breakfast, snacks, etc. We will have wireless internet, friendly service and a hip atmosphere.

Here’s what I need from my team, that is, the class:

  • Ideas for names.
  • Ideas on how to set the place up (decorations, themes, uniforms, ….)
  • What kind of things we will sell.
  • Legal stuff: how to set up a legal entity (EIRL, SA).
  • Financial plan and accounting policies. Let’s not get in trouble with SUNAT or my uncle Alan Garcia.
  • Marketing plan.
  • A good location in anywhere in beautiful downtown Cusco Peru.
  • Employees, employee manuals, policies, procedures, …
  • Ideas on how to reward our employees.
  • Policies / ideas to prevent theft from customers and employees.
  • Suppliers: where to get good food, coffee, drinks, ice cream,…. Also furnishings and furniture to open our place.
  • Lobbyist to have lunch with the mayor and governor of Cusco once a month.
  • Business plan.
  • Exit strategy, meaning, what to do if our business doesn’t work out.
  • Any other advice or items I’ve overlooked.

Write at least 2 or 3 comments before the end of our class next Friday 9/26!!!! Any thoughts and ideas are welcome, explain/justify your ideas.


My I-12 class at ICPNA

My I-12 class at ICPNA

what’s new and exciting??

Hello people:

Nothing is new and exciting here in Cusco. I am in my last semester if I can say that because next semester I’m just going to do my intership…I’m really ready to finish my studies and start working as soon as possible because my lovely husband doesn’t want to buy me nothing. He says if we can’t eat it we won’t buy it.

Two weeks ago Ward and I went to one of my friends wedding, we were late for the ceremony but we were on time for the reception party. Ward was trying to shake his booty but I think he needs to take some dance lessons even if he says he is good on the dance floor…hahahaha….

On the other hand we are planning to travel to Bolivia so Ward can get his peruvian visa, we don’t know exactly when are we going, but I think it will be a nice trip.

By the way I uploaded some pictures, one is when one of my fans decide to put a billboard up with my picture, another one is when Ward was dancing at the wedding.