This ain’t no Cumbia baby!

I have a “fun job” teaching English at the ICPNA here in Cusco. We had some workshops about using music in the classroom last week… The workshops were really good and the message was as long as there’s educational value the teacher (that’s me) gets to choose the music!!! So I went to the local mall known as “Molino” to buy some pirated CDs (you can’t buy the real thing here in Cusco) and now the ICPNA will never be the same again!!! I think it’s about time Peru got introduced to Lynnyrd Skynnyrd and Led Zeppelin.
Since I’m having a lot of fun teaching and we’re starting to do really good with my website business, I thought it would be fitting here to use this clip from my favorite movie of all time: I think we’re just around the corner from “the light of day”.

BTW, teacher Amparo (my lovely boss), if you’re reading this I was just kidding about that Led Zeppelin thing. We’re only using Neil Young and Paul Simon 😉

Ward Welvaert

10 Things I love about Peru.

Reading my previous post could be misleading: I love Peru!!! So in the spirit of fairness, here is a list of 10 things to like about Peru (in no particular order):

10) Scenery. The landscape is breathtaking and the ancient Inca sites are stunning. When Matt Lauer, the NBC host who has traveled most of the world, says Machu Picchu is one of his favorite places, I can totally concur.
9) Food. I love the fresh foods we get at the market here. Peruvian food is a fusion of many influences. Seafood in Lima, spicier foods in the South and all sorts of unique dishes here in the Andes mountains and further East in the Jungle. My personal favorite right now is Chicharon from a little place in Saylla.
8) Stray dogs. I wish they weren’t stray here in the city, but they’re such good dogs. Ruff!
7) Friendly people. Peruvian people are fun, friendly and exceedingly open towards visitors and foreign residents.
6) Radio stations. Unlike in the US, playlists actually have more than 100 songs.
5) Bread. Come to Peru and you will never eat the industrial variety from a US grocery-store again.
4) Natural medicine. I’m really interested in opening a health spa in the Sacred Valley of the Inca, which is about 30 minutes away from Cusco. Just one of my many ideas I lack time, money and expertise for 😦
3) Pisco Sour, Anis & Cerveza Cusqueña. Just as good as real Dutch gin or Belgian beer!
2) Adventure. Make new friends, try new foods, visit great places. You can do it all here in Peru.
1) My sweet lovely wife Patricia!!!!!

Qoricancha, the ruins of the Inca Temple of the Sun, one of the holiest sites in Cusco, Peru

10 Things I don’t like about Peru.

Since I’m going to ICPNA at 7:00 in the morning I typically see a few homeless people in the Plaza Tupac Amaru. Being that top 10 lists are all the rage, my daily walk to ICPNA inspired me to make my very own list of 10 things I don’t like about Peru (in no particular order):

10) Homeless people. Poverty in Cusco is not bad by Latin American standards, but we could still do better. I teach kids who have nicer cellphones, MP3 players and clothes than I have, so perhaps it’s a problem of priorities, not resources.
9) Papel hygenico. That is, toilet paper. Try finding it in Peruvian restrooms…
8) Stray dogs. I love dogs but hate to see so many of them run loose in the city.
7) Garbage. This is where the stray dogs and I disagree. The typical garbage pickup routine in Peru consists of throwing the garbage on the side of the street and then having a small army of city workers clean up 3 times per week. Please somebody start using garbage cans.
6) Bureacracy.

Update on Peruvian bureaucracy: it took nearly 6 months after moving to Peru to get legally married and over a year to get my Carne de extranjeria.

5) Old fashioned corporate culture. Big titles, dress codes and all sorts of junk even IBM and GE did away with in the 1980s are still all the rage here in Peru.
4) Education. People study all kinds of things, but are not always encouraged to apply their knowledge. My best friend used to say “It’s not how smart you are, it’s what you do with it.” It took me years to realize just how true this is.
3) Italian food, or lack thereof.
2) Pizza. Can someone from New York please move down to Cusco???
1) Public transportation. Try fitting in a “combi” with 21 other people when you’re 6’2″!

Typical Andean food.

Typical Andean food.

Feria de Huancaro

The annual fair in Huancaro started Thursday so we went for a visit this weekend. The Huancaro fair is one of the biggest fairs in the Cusco area, something of the equivalent of a state fair in the US. Like any fair here in Peru there is a variety of things to do and see. We watched some of the Alpaca contests, toured the stands at the fair and ate some Chicharron de Soya, a kind of soy chip which is a popular snack at the fair in Cusco. Not quite as greasy as deep fried Snickers, but then again, this ain’t the deep South either…

I think fairs and markets still have more economic significance compared to in the US. Here in Peru the fair is still an important opportunity for producers to show and sell their products, as well as an event for families to enjoy. Anyway, here are some pictures of Patricia and I at the Huancaro fair.

Ward Welvaert

Celebration in Cusco, Peru

June is the month during which all the cusquenians celebrate the Inti Raymi, which is June 24 exactly. But before this day there are many parades and activities, and Ward and I went to see some of these. Here I uploaded some pictures of parades here in Cusco, Peru

Mama Africa

I have a part-time gig teaching English at the ICPNA here in Cusco. My students are really great and it’s been a lot of fun so far. I try to use real life examples while I teach, and because Cusco is such a popular travel destination I often refer to some of the tourist places downtown.

My favorite reference is Mama Africa, a popular disco at the Plaza de Armas in Cusco, Peru. So here’s a picture of Patricia and I at Mama Africa!

Ward Welvaert and Patricia Carrasco in Cusco, Peru

– Ward

Novedades desde la tierra del sol

Hola a todos:

Ward y yo estamos tratando de seguir adelante, claro que con un poco mas de esfuerzo de parte mia seguramente lo lograremos, ahora estamos tratando de crear una agencia de turismo, y ojala salga bien… mis dos perros estan igual que siempre, ladrando a todos aquellos que pasan por nuestra casa, en la universidad todo me va bien gracias a que tengo unas muy buenas amigas, estas dos semanas seran bien tragicas para mi ya que estamos en examenes finales y tenemos tres trabajos que hacer los cuales son notas para los examenes….ah tambien estoy en busca de trabajo, haber si saben de algo y me pasan la voz …

Things you get used to.

After living in Peru for awhile I got used to doing the laundry by hand, not having hot water, my own car or things of that nature. In most houses here there’s no heat, and at night it gets cold up here in the mountains. But it’s easy to stay warm under some nice Alpaca blankets. One of these days I intend to start an export business of Alpaca and cotton goods, but that’s another story.

– Ward Welvaert

How we got here…

Once upon a time, a Peruvian girl met a Belgian guy in an Irish bar in North Carolina.  It sounds like the beginning of a bad joke, but it was the best thing ever happened to me.  Patricia and I met when she was an au-pair in NC and I was still working for GE in Durham.  Now we live in Cusco, Peru, where Patricia is finishing her degree and I am working as an independent consultant.