Friday, May 27, 2011

Pasta Mama

It has been almost two weeks of Pasta Mama madness!! Actually it has been quite good and not as crazy as I think it will get once everyone starts spreading the word. Pasta Mama opened its doors on Tuesday May 17th and we have been slowly getting busier and busier. Two of our first customers, Pat and Tam, from North Dakota, came in a few times and had breakfast and lunch. They said they would recommend us on How cool!! It's a great feeling knowing that people are content with the quality of food and service. Every day we are figuring out ways to make our service better and to dance around each other behind the bar that only comfortably fits two people. It's a challenge but it is getting easier every day. On top of that Marissa and I have fun making things and baking cakes and pies in the morning. I really enjoy her company and we are getting to a point where we don't need to even say full words to each other to know what we want from the other person. It makes me really happy.

I have never worked as a waitress before but I have to say I find it enjoyable. It gets a little crazy some times but I am getting the hang of it and the tips are always appreciated. I have been lacking in energy lately but I think it is because I just started teaching violin as well and I am making up for the two weeks lost at the beginning of May so I have had 18 classes this week and next week. (8 students with two classes a week) After next week it will get better I am sure. Anyway, back to the restaurant. Marissa and Humber hard at work!

One of the great things we have been doing is handing out samples of the pies and cakes Marissa's has been making. It has brought in quite a few people and I enjoy being friendly to passers by. We also have a few boards that we like to put fun things on like this:

Of course, we like to be bilingual as much as we can but we know where our main business is going to come from and most of them speak English. If you are interested in the website it is and there is also a facebook page for the restaurant as well. Just search for PastaMama Peru.

I am so excited and extremely proud to be working in such a great place with awesome people. If you are around Cusco, stop by and have some pasta! The following pictures are my attempt to be somewhat artistic with Pasta Mama photos.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

One Door Closes and Three Open!

What a busy couple of weeks! I had the experience of a big door being shut in my face. I was politely told via email that I didn’t get the job with Maximo Nivel. I know it’s because of my association with my friend’s company that rivals Maximo. I think it is absolutely absurd that they didn’t even give me a second interview after I received such an awesome recommendation letter from Tom, the general manager. I also think it is absurd that they thought I might share information with my friends, the rivals. I am not an idiot and I have integrity but they don’t see it that way. Oh well, I would much rather have what is coming my way behind the following three doors than be in a job that made me work almost 60 hours a week for $135 a week with bosses that didn’t trust me.

Let’s see what is behind…..

Door number 1: Pasta Mama is officially open and we are serving delicious pastas and baked goods. I personally think the peanut butter banana cake is the best. I really enjoy working with Marissa and today she was so sweet by telling me how much she appreciated my help with everything and that she really doesn’t think that it would have come together with out my help. That made me feel really good. I couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to work with her and be a part of such a fun and exciting adventure! So far some of my wonderful Maximo friends have come by to try it out and the reviews are good so far! Yay!

Door number 2: Last week I was perusing the expatriates in Peru facebook page and saw an ad for a violin teacher in Cusco at the institute Qantu in San Blas. I didn’t give it much thought considering I didn’t bring my violin to Peru with me nor do I have a Suzuki teaching certification. Well, the very next day, Angela, Michael’s daughter (Micheal is one of my bandmates), called me and asked me if I was interested in teaching for Qantu. Of course, I was to come to a group lesson and play for everyone to make sure that I was up to par. I hadn’t found out about the Maximo position at this point but I figured why not. Even if I had gotten the Maximo job I would have still liked to teach a few lessons on the weekends if possible. I decided to go and what followed was nothing I would have ever dreamed to have happened in the States. The director explained everything to me about teaching there and told me they would be more than delighted to have me teach at the school even though I have had no formal teacher training to teach violin. I have, however, gone through the Suzuki method so I am familiar with how it works and the theory behind it. They are desperate for teachers especially since Melissa is going to Holland either in June or July and another teacher lives in Colla which is 2 hours from Cusco and she doesn’t want to continue with the commute. That leaves Angela who would have to teacher 50+ students a week if it was just her, which is insane! On top of everything, I received an email from a concerned parent who practically begged me to join the Qantu family and teach for the sake of Angela’s sanity and so that more students will be able to take violin lessons. How could I have said no?

So, I am now in the process of observing and absorbing as much as I can within the next week. I have a meeting tomorrow with the parents of the teacher who lives in Colla. We are going to chat and set up a schedule to start lessons as soon as possible even though I would love to have a bit more time to prepare and rack Angela and Melissa’s heads and notes from their Suzuki courses they have taken in Lima. We have a study session/crash course set for Monday evening. I am super excited! After observing a few classes of Angela’s and Melissa’s, I know that I am getting into a big challenge but not something that is beyond me. I know I will make mistakes and there will be flaws but my intentions are good and I know that I can give my students, at the very least, encouragement and excitement about learning to play the violin. I also have the fun task of learning all the technical terms and songs and rhythms in Spanish. ☺

One of the coolest things about all of this (not including the ridiculously good pay for the amount of time I will be working) is the opportunity to get certified to teach the Suzuki method in Lima in January of next year. Every January Qantu closes and all the teachers go to Lima to take a few methodology/certification classes. What’s really awesome is that by getting certified there, I will be able to teach in North and South America. Never, ever did I think I would pursuing violin here but my violin has always had a way of getting back to me. It happened in college after I decided not to bring my violin to school with me. I joined bluegrass ensemble and ended up having an amazing experience. Again, I did not bring my violin with me and now I have found myself in the process of learning to teach and teaching violin! Fortunately, Angela has lent me an extra violin she has. I can’t wait to get my violin when my mom comes to visit in October or November. In the meantime, I definitely want to try and get my books and a few things sent to me soon, including my shoulder rest.

Door number 3: The Experiment in International Living Abroad finally got back to me about an interview. They said they had the wrong number or it didn’t work. Anyway, they wanted to know if I could make an interview in Chicago but I responded to them explaining that I currently live in Cusco Peru and an interview in Chicago was not going to work. They responded with a thank you and a “we will be in touch with you within the next week or so to schedule an phone interview”. It has been 6 days since I received that email. Considering it took them 2 weeks to respond to an inquiry question I had about my application, I have a feeling I might have to wait another 5 days. I am not complaining! If I get this job I would be ecstatic! Qantu knows about it to and said that it is OK as long as I make up all the classes that are lost while I am gone. DONE!

Life is so good right now. I can’t complain one bit and I know that things happen for a reason. Call it God’s will or karma or good luck, all I know is that I am super happy and excited for everything that has happened and that is to come!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bolivia Round #2

I made it back to Peru! Thank goodness. I hate border runs. They make me nervous. The immigration officer was only going to give me 30 days but I begged him for 90. I really wanted 6 months but that was out of the question. Bolivia itself was nice though. Copacabana is a nice little town on Lake Titicaca so it has a beach and lots of boats. I only spent one night there and I really didn't do much. When I got into town around 1:30pm I crashed at my hostel (which only cost 40 bolivianos (under 5 dollars) for a private room!) for a few hours and then took a little walk around the town. I couldn't, for the life of me, find a working cash machine. I was going to take out a little bit to buy a few things but that didn't happen. Fortunately, the 100 soles I brought with me was the perfect amount for accommodation and food. I only had to use my visa in the morning for breakfast. I headed back to the room around 7:30 and watched a little bit of TV, read, and went to bed. I spent Sunday morning reading and waiting for my bus at 1:30pm. I met a really nice couple that was biking around South America and they were headed to Arequipa but they are coming to Cusco eventually. I gave them lots of suggestions for places to eat and check out. I also gave them my phone number so that when they are in town we can go out for a drink maybe.

After crossing the border and making it to Puno we found out that we would be on a bus at 6pm as opposed to the 4pm bus we were supposed to be on. Oh well, another hour and a half to wait wasn't much. The long wait was to come. As soon as I saw the bus we were going to be riding to Cusco on I knew that our 6 hour bus ride would not be 6 hours. As it turns out I was right and it took us almost 9 hours to get to Cusco. The bus smelled horrible and stopped at every bus station there was on the way to Cusco. There was no bathroom either so people continually got off at the stations to go to the bathroom. While in Puno I made friend with an Argentinian couple headed to Cusco. They were on the same bus and since I knew they had never been to Cusco before I offered them a ride to their hostel. Marco was a sweetheart and picked us up at 2:30am. We dropped Mauro and Julieta off at Pirwa and then I was dropped at home with chifa in hand. I have the best boyfriend in the world.

In other news, I had an interview today! I might be working for Maximo again but in the international office. I would be working with volunteers, projects, and host families. I think it would be an awesome job for me and if I get it I will be in Cusco for another year and a half. I had a good interview today with Cathy but she has to present it to Tom. the general manager, and we will see if I get a second interview! Keep your fingers crossed for me because there are three other candidates. Nothing is guaranteed until they say "you are hired". Some of the benefits of this job will be higher pay and getting a carnet or ID by making me legal to work here for another year and a half without having to make more border runs. Oh man, I would love that!! I look forward to working with volunteers and host families and improving my Spanish. Also, it means I get to stay with Marco longer. There is nothing bad about that. :)

Pasta Mama is almost ready to open. I have been helping Marissa buy the last of the appliances and necessary items for the opening. She hopes to be open by Monday. I will be working the mornings with her and I am happy to have something to fill my mornings. I have been so lazy lately waking up around 9:30 or 10am. I am not complaining because I love sleep but I also feel like a lazy butt. I will be up at 6am starting in June if I get the job with Maximo but I am not jumping ahead. Right now I am super pumped to be a part of the restaurant. It's gonna be awesome!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Love is All you Need

I have never posted a video on the blog before but this one made me super happy so I thought I would share it with everyone. Enjoy!

High Five for First Kiss

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Found an Apartment!

Hurrah! After only one day of searching I found a place to live! I started my search last Tuesday, checked out two places and decided on the best option and moved in on Thursday! The first place I found was closer to the main square but she was asking $185 a month for it and the room didn't even have any windows! Also there was a small kitchen on the top floor and no laundry space. Absurd if you ask me. The second place I found is where I am happily sitting right now. It is in the neighborhood Mariscal Gamarra which is only a minute from Avenida de la Cultura (one of the main roads that goes through Cusco and has all the combi and buses on it). I can walk to the center in 25 minutes or I can take a combi and get there in 10. I am directly across from a park and a church. The atmosphere is really great and there are tons of families and people around all the time. I feel really safe and I am happy to be sharing an apartment with a woman named Rocio. She is from Lima and she owns a shop on Triunfo Street (right off the plaza) that sells leather handbags but they are super unique and different than the majority of handbags you see here made of alpaca or cotton. She is super nice but doesn't like having any company over. She is just nervous about the seƱora getting upset if there is any noise. Also she has trust issues with men. Corey came over to visit for a minute and had some tea and she was very obviously upset about it. I could tell she was upset so I addressed it head on after he left so as to keep the communication doors open. She explained that she doesn't have any problems with Marco coming over because he is my boyfriend and she will soon have her boyfriend around too , but she doesn't know if Corey can be trusted and she doesn't want there to be any big parties or anything. I told her that both Marco and I trust him completely but she has her own prerogatives (Marco nodded in agreement to trusting you Corey! We got cha back!). I asked her if it was OK to have my girlfriends over and she said as long as it wasn't for anything more than tea and chatting. Darn, no big rowdy parties at my place! Honestly, it's all right with me. I was kind of hoping to have a dinner party at some point but it seems that it might be out of the question. I think I still need to gain more of her trust before that happens.

Then, there is Warmi, a cute little shitsu that is super sweet and doesn't bark at all. Fantastic! I am happy to have a dog to play with and possibly walk when she is feeling better. She has been a bit sick for a week so the walks have been non-existent. She'll be a good excuse to get out and explore the neighborhood.

I am very happy to have my own room again and a HUGE closet, although I only use half of it since I only packed what I thought I really needed. Erica did hook me up with some new dresses though. The big part is having some privacy again. Being able to close your door and to not have any obligation to open it for 7 of your roommates is priceless. I also have my own bathroom. No stinky boys to share it with! Also, Rocio has a main that comes three times a week to cook and clean for her. She cleans my bathroom which is very nice. I wonder how much she pays for Susanna. I am only paying 350 soles or $125 a month but Rocio was living here by herself for a while before that. She must do well with her business. More power to her!

Speaking of Erica, the poor girl god robbed last Wednesday coming home from Elias' place. It wouldn't have been terrible had it not been for the fact that she had her passport, credit cards, keys, and phone on her. The worst is losing the passport. She has to wait a few weeks in Cusco before she can get the new one sent here. She is in the jungle now on a little trip with Jake, both of whom I would love to be traveling with. Ah well, I get to head to Bolivia this weekend for a border run so I will get some travel. I am going to see if I can work some magic and get a 6 month visa. That would be excellent. We shall see. My worst nightmare is that they decide that I can't come back into the country for some reason and I am detained in Bolivia. Bleh, that would suck immensely.

In other news I am teaching two classes right now in the afternoon. I am still at Viajes Pacifico via Excel and I am teaching a tourism class to two students at Peru Volunteer and Travel. I'm super pumped about it because we are going to visit different places and they are going to give tours for all of it. If I can do the ruins for free I would be stoked. I am not getting paid nearly what a teacher should be paid but it's all good. It's my friend's company and they are just starting up so they don't have the money to pay a regular teacher's salary. It's all good because I thoroughly enjoy my students and I am sure I will enjoy the tours.

I sent an email to the Experiment people on Sunday and I haven't heard back from them. Two days is kind of a long time to go without responding to an email, especially if it is the info email address. I am not feeling too hopeful about it all. Hell, part of me just wants to get it over with so I can find a full time position that is more secure than Excel. This month is going to be pretty hectic though. I told Excel that I am available to teach the morning class and the last class of the day. If people matriculate, I will have 4 classes a day. That's not terrible but I am also going to be working in my friend's restaurant when it opens in the next week or so, which will fill the down time that I would've had. I am going to do it because I need the money, but I know that I will be spent at the end of every day. I have truly enjoyed waking up around 9:30 - 10am every morning. No more of that starting Thursday. I will have my weekends though and I think that will make this month doable. Whatever happens, I am happy and in love and living life to the fullest. :)