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Archive for the ‘Journal Entries’ Category

Everyone runs in Iquique. That’s the first thing I noticed when I arrived here 17 days ago.  They run early in the morning, in the afternoon when the sun is burning, and in the evening when it’s dark out. You can run here any time, really, because all of the cars are new! There are no big trucks leaving behind thick clouds of black smoke that burn your lungs like in Cusco. The air is clean and filled with the musty, salty scent of the sea.

Atreyhus and I have been staying here with his cousin, we’ll call him El Gran Jefe. He was nice enough to let us stay at his place, which is right near the beach.  I’d never been to Chile before, and since my 3- month visa was up in Peru, we figured it’d be a perfect opportunity to get it renewed again by going to Chile and then re-entering Peru.

Iquique’s a beautiful town, pleasantly sprawled out along the coastline. It’s got a movie theatre, big shopping malls, bars and restaurants, even a Casino (Iquique’s a port town so it’s a tax free zone). The only problem is getting around. Their bus system is seriously limited and a “collectivo” taxi, which you share with other passengers going to a destination near you, costs 500 pesos a person. So whenever Atreyhus and I want to go somewhere it ends up costing us 6 soles just to get there. That might not sound like a lot, but compared to the 3 soles I’m used to paying in Cusco for a private taxi, it is.

Chilenos are very nice people, though I’ve only met a few of El Gran Jefe’s friends. Their accents were tough to make out at first, but I’ve gotten the hang of it, po. They eat a lot of red meat and (much to my delight) drink a lot of red wine. Chile seems more developed than Peru- at least in Iquique. Like I said, everyone drives new cars, the cars actually yield to pedestrians, and supermarkets have frozen goods like meat and vegetables. The streets are clean and well- lit, there are bike lanes on the sides of the roads, Iquique’s even home to South America’s biggest skate park (which Atreyhus was just thrilled about).

Despite all this modernity, I miss Peru. Neighbors aren’t very neighborly here. I don’t even think El Gran Jefe knows his neighbors. Everyone on his block is so concerned with keeping people out. They have high metal gates and high tech security systems. A lot of them also have aggressive dogs that bark at any passerby. In Peru, you’ll see friends hanging out on street corners, neighbors dropping by to say hello, children playing in the street. Chile reminds me of the U.S. a little in the way that it has a lot of nice, expensive things but it lacks the grit and grime that I love about Peru. It’s like comparing Brooklyn to Boston.

One thing I never realized was the large divide between Peruvians and Chileans. In the 1800s there was a big war between Peru and Chile, which resulted in Chile gaining some Peruvian territory, now called Arica and Iquique.  Apparently, both sides are still pretty sore about it. So much so that our first few days here, Atreyhus was speaking Spanish like a gringo, so no one would know he was Peruvian. El Gran Jefe seems to like it here and when I asked if he felt like Peruvians where discriminated against, he said no. But then again he owns a successful auto parts business, so I doubt anyone treats him badly. Chile has a pretty strong army and just a few months ago there was a big scandal when it was discovered that a Peruvian military official was giving insider information to Chilean spies. Now that’s just downright playing dirty.  Atreyhus told me a quote Peruvians often say, “Chile makes a great student, but an awful classmate”. Well, maybe in politics anyway.

Unfortunately, I can only stay in Chile for a short while, so that doesn’t give Atreyhus and I any time to visit Santiago or any other Chilean cities. We’ll just have to leave that for another trip! Well, that’s all for now- time to hit the beach!

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The rainy season’s begun in Cusco! That means choclo, mangos, and mandarins aren’t far away!!! Luckily, it’s mainly been raining at night, which is fine by me. It lulls me to sleep. But I also think it’s been making me lazy. Somehow as I lie in bed at night and listen to the rain drops pitter-pattering on the rooftop I lose all determination to go running in the morning. At least that was the case all last week and this morning. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

January is when it gets really bad. You’ll wake up and it’ll be a sunny, clear day and then by lunch the rain will be coming down like the sky cracked open and the ocean fell through, turning the streets into rivers. Really. There’s no way to keep from getting wet. It comes in from the sides, from above, and from below. So you either settle for getting your shoes wet, or you wear rain boots every day, rain or shine. The rain usually only lasts for about 15- 20 minuutes, then the clouds part and the sun breaks through, and it’s hard to believe that you’re standing there soaking wet. It’s like a temper tantrum. Strong and ugly, but short.

Luckily, Omar and I will be in Lima come January. Hopefully the hotheaded rains will hold off until then. Then you’ll hear me complaining about humidity. But we’ll deal with that when we come to it. I’m getting excited about life in the big city…a new place to explore, new restaurants to check out (granted they’re not too expensive), I’ve even been thinking about trying to learn how to surf- I hope I don’t chicken out!

On another, completely unrelated note I just learned the word for handcuffs in Spanish. Esposas. “Wives” in English. And no, it’s not slang. That’s the actual, official word. That says something about Latino mentality. Maybe that’s why Atreyhus hasn’t proposed yet…….

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For those of you who may not know what a Fiance visa is, it’s a visa that allows your foreign fiance to come to the U.S. before marriage. Upon entrance to the U.S., you and your fiance must get married within 90 days. It’s a pretty serious commitment, and because of this, Atreyhus and I have been considering it for about a year.

 A good amount of my journal entries will most likely be dealing with this, so this is a good place to look if you’re interested in how the process goes. After consulting many people who have either gotten married here and then gone to the states, or who have done the fiancé visa, we decided the fiancé visa is the quickest and cheapest way to go. With marriage, not only do you have to apply for an Immigration Visa, but you have to deal with all the wacky local laws regarding marriage. Sure, I love Peru, but I’m getting eager to get to the states and begin our life (and law school for me)!

We went with a lawyer for the sole reason that I am also in Peru. Eventually Atreyhus will need to get an interview at the U.S. embassy in Lima, but, according to the USCIS representative I spoke with, if I were to need an interview, I’d have to go back to the states to for my interview (how ridiculous!!).  The lawyer we went with was cheaper than the last plane ticket I bought from Cusco to the U.S., so we figured we might as well have a lawyer help us do the paperwork as perfectly as possible so that it’s not necessary for me to have an interview.

Right now, we’re in the beginning stages. Atreyhus and I are collecting all of the evidence we have to prove we’re a couple; pictures together, emails, phone records, our joint bank account statement, letters from friends who know us as a couple. Lots of stuff! I can’t wait until we actually file the petition!! The whole process takes anywhere from 6-9 months, but I’m banking on 9 months, just so I don’t get my hopes up.

On another note, Atreyhus and I are seriously considering moving to Lima. The tourist agency he opened up about 9 months ago isn’t making any money, and he can’t find a part-time job here, so we might be moving in with his sisters, living in their house since childhood rent- free, and Omar already has a job there. The idea is exciting; I’ve always wanted to live in Lima, but I wonder if I’ll miss the serene mountains, the powerful sun, the small- town feeling, and, of course, my job. I guess we’ll see!

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