Monday, March 28, 2005


Things That Make Me Go 'Hmm'

There are big plastic cylinders, filled with seawater to flush down the loos, in Katuwira's toilets. I have noticed that when it's dark out and you diddle around in this seawater, thousands of little things start to brightly glow throughout the water, wherever there is motion. What this trick is due to, I'm not precisely sure, though I've often seen the same phosphorent particles wash up where the waves break when walking down beaches at night. This pretty little phenomenon of nature makes me ponder on how the ocean is absolutely teeming with life and light... it makes my life and all my little problems appear totally insignificant. I like that. Erm, it seems all these colourful sunsets, campfires, and the lack of electricity are rapidly turning me into a hippie while I wait for the sodding gringo marriage book to come up from Lima. No luck yet, by the way.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


(Mostly) Honeymooning

We're still at Katuwira, relaxing on the beach, and enjoying the excellent cooking of Señora Techi. We had, however, really hoped to be on our way before now, but as usual bureaucracy has slowed us down. Apparently there is a special book we must sign 7-10 days after the wedding, seeing as I'm a foreigner. Of course nobody told us this before the wedding, and we have to wait until it arrives from Lima. A week has flown by since our wedding already, but the book thing has been considerably delayed by the fact that this week is 'Santa Semana' - Thursday and Friday were national holidays. So, we haven't been able to leave Chiclayo, which has been a bit strange for our honeymoon. I mean, even though we haven't been staying in my father-in-law's house, we've still not been able to enjoy the kind of privacy honeymooning couples generally enjoy - friends just keep popping by... that's all very nice, but not when they simply wish my husband and I to get drunk with them all evening and then let them crash on our sofa!!!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


Señora Villalobos Reports...

The wedding was fantastico! Tito looked devastatingly handsome in his white suit, the man of my dreams. I felt fabulous in my violet/blue iridescent dress, with lots of curls and little pink roses, and a bouquet with masses of lilies. Lots of photos all round town in the much beloved and sexy Celica (we drew quite a crowd - "Look at the models!" they said - ha!), then onto Katuwira for the reception party. Think candles, sand, stars, palm leaves, fairy lights, flowers, snogging, champers... and of course good friends and family! It was just gorgeous. We reckoned the best way to keep it small was to make people pay for their plates (a decision we made after being robbed of our wedding savings), and so there were about 35-40 people in all. We had a local group play rock for the first couple hours (Dire Straits, Clapton, Police, Mana), then straight into a salsa DJ to get everyone dancing. After emotion packed speeches by myself (in Spanish, no less!) and Tito, a dramatic garter-removing-with-teeth spectacle (yes, ladies, my husbands' stripper days are indeed over, I'm afraid), and a good old cheers/salud/kampai/chinchin by Tito's dad, it was dancing all night... we were so happy. We were still up at about 11am the next day, and still having a wonderful time! But, perhaps just to show us that all happiness in life is tinged with sadness, a tragic thing occured. We went to rest, and as the room was stifling hot, I opened the window for a breeze. When we woke up an hour later, little Julito the monkey was dead, still clinging to Tito's arm. He had been totally normal all night, munching mango and pineapple... but he did have a little cold, and so we can only conclude he got a chill. We were totally horrified. After several weeks of changing his little nappy and giving him milk from a syringe, it was heartbreaking. Everyone said he might pass away when we left, as he was so tiny and so attached to us, but we had no idea it would come even sooner. We've come to terms with it now, and just feel thankful that we had such a beautiful wedding with our little monkey guest. As Tito (my husband!) and I move into our new life together, we'll always remember all the super people who joined us to celebrate our wedding. We couldn't have had a better night, thanks to them, and we have endless optimism for a bright, united future.

Saturday, March 19, 2005



I'm getting married tomorrow! Wish me luck!

Friday, March 18, 2005



It's difficult to put into words what an insanely challenging time this is. Peru has been tough to deal with at the best of times (the best of times here always tend to involve staying up all night drinking warm beer on windy street corners with old men, or something of the ilk) so trying to simultaneously plan a wedding and pack up to move country is causing my head to explode. Especially with experiences like tonight... Tito and I had been to pick up the guestbook and the little 'recuerdos' (ceramic momentos which guests pin to their lapels) that I'd had specially handmade, and were feeling very pleased with ourselves, as those were the last things on our list to do. We had a fantastic celebratory dinner of chicharrones (fried pork) with yucas and then went to the bank for the money to pay for the rock band we're having at the reception. Unfortunately (you can probably guess what happens next) Tito put the bag down with the guestbook and recuerdos during the transaction and forgot to pick it up again. Of course, when we went back in about three minutes later it had been stolen. People are just horrible, aren't they? What on earth could you do with those things, all of which had our names and wedding date emblazoned all over? They will just have thrown them in the bin when they saw what they are, stupid idiots. I feel absolutely livid.

Thursday, March 17, 2005



It's Wednesday already!! I can't believe I'm getting married in just two days. We're on an emotional rollercoaster, having had to totally organise the wedding in about 10 days. I think we're almost finished organising the wedding (completed today: photographer and videographer, band and DJ, crate of champers, Tito's ring, make-up, great cebiche for lunch), but we've also got to completely pack up in the next two days... quite a challenge. Unfortunately, it's a pain for a Peruvian to get a transit visa to fly through the States, so we have to fly through Europe with a measly 20kg baggage allowance. I came here with 80kg! Of course, all my MDs and CDs have been stolen which somewhat reduces the weight; other than that I seem to have gained, rather than shed, things in the past year. The nice thing, though, is knowing that clothes and things left here will really be used and appreciated. And whilst my 5 year old jeans are more than sufficient for use in Chiclayo, I hardly think I would feel quite so cool sporting them in London... so I guess it's time for me to shed some clobber in a serious way!

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Wedding Arrangements

The problem with arranging a wedding is filtering what you do need from what you really, really don't need from all the advice you get from relatives, friends, salespeople and advertisements. We want to have a small inexpensive, simple, but very pretty do - all thoughts of anything else went out the window when we were robbed of the money we'd been saving. I knew, however, there would be a lot less pressure to get all caught up in napkin rings and string quartets in Peru... which another reason why we decided to get married here. There is just so much less to buy in this third world economy, and less to choose from. The main pressure here is to have a big, white Catholic wedding, which is our idea of a nightmare, so with that out of the question it's not been too bad. But it's amazing what you need when you get started, things that you have never thought about before. I never knew I'd need to decide how many tiers the cake would be, the pros and cons of 'elastic chantilly' icing, what font I'd use on the invites, which fillings I'd have in the little nibbles, the brand of champagne and type of cups, or make arrangements for purple and white lilies, irises and pink roses to be liberally applied to every surface, check photographers and DJs, or sample all the cocktails served and gorge (in the name of research) on the five main meals at the place where we're having the reception... It's all great fun, but easy to get ridiculously caught up in! No, I do not want someone to do my make-up, I don't want to be filmed every moment and I don't want to dance to countless renditions of the Blue Danube (a Peruvian tradition). We are getting married in the romantic old colonial-style city hall, which is naturally photogenic in a charmingly South American way, and having the small (40-50 person) reception in a rustic little place on Las Rocas beach ( - click on the satelite thing for lots of pics of the site itself) which I also thought would minimise preparation, but I don't think it has!

Friday, March 11, 2005


Lucky Shirt

It's all been going astonishingly well of late, I must say. We finally have a wedding date (March 19th at 6:30pm, to be precise) and I think it might all be down to one thing - a lucky shirt. Tito had been looking for his red shirt for ages before we went to Lima, he kept asking his mum - who insists on doing all our laundry, bless 'er - if she'd seen it. She protested she'd never seen it, but yet it was mysteriously produced, spotlessly clean and beautifully ironed, just in time for our trip to Lima. Tito's mum advised him to wear it when we went to the Embassy and Consulate, which he accordingly did. The verifications all went perfectly. Upon returning to Chiclayo Tito also wore it to the Municipalidad when we went in (albeit with some rather influential types of friends in tow) to talk to the obstinate ass who thought our British Embassy issued certificate was unacceptable. Everything went just swimmingly... and now Tito's convinced that his mum took the red shirt to the bruja blanca (white witch) for a negativity dispelling ceremony. It worked a treat - I must have her do it again before we go in to apply for Tito's UK visa!

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Monkey Madness

Took Julio the monkey to the cinema last night, since he can't be left alone. He slept peacefully through the trailers, but 10 minutes into the film he woke up and started making a great squeaking, squalking racket. Being new to monkey fostering duties, we'd forgotten his milk and banana in the car, unfortunately. As the audience became gripped by the the dramatic tension in the 'The Eye' (rather scary, suspense filled Chinese thriller) Julito let out shrieks and jumped from Tito's arm to mine and back. I sank further and further into my seat as people turned to look. Suddenly, at a particularly scary bit, as the audience sat on the edges of their chairs, the señora beside me let out a blood-curdling scream. I turned to find Julio wrapped around her arm, and blinking up surprisedly with big liquid black eyes. "Disculpe, Señora, el es mi monito!" I apologised (Excuse me, ma'am, he's my little monkey!), disengaging the trespassing mammal from her limb. I turned several shades of pink and purple and we dissolved into helpless, hysterical laughter. I wanted to leave, but Tito insisted we stay - after all, it's Peru, baby. These things happen.

Monday, March 07, 2005


As Recommended in Marie Claire

'It's Peru, Baby' has been reviewed, and recommended, in this month's UK edition Marie Claire. Many thanks to Katie. I've been writing this blog about Peru for the rollercoaster ride of a year that I've been here - a year in which I've learned Spanish, become part of a huge extended South American family, eaten guinea pig and rabbit and boatloads of tasty sea creatures, spent my time roasting on the rugged northern beaches of Peru and teaching English to unruly adolescents, had nine weeks of explosive arse due to a parasitical infection, been robbed of almost everything, raised a puppy and fostered a monkey, and fallen more in love with my fiancé, and this crazy, impoverished, culture-rich country, than I ever thought possible. Stay tuned to see if Tito and I ever manage to finally get wed, visit Cuzco and Machu Picchu on honeymoon, get Tito a visa for the UK and make it out of Peru... alive and with (some of) our sanity and possessions!



Tito and I just went to the bank and I noticed with alarm that he hadn't signed his cash card for his new account. I whipped out a ball pen so he could sign it right away. "Oh no", he protested, "in Peru no-one signs their bank cards". A Peruvian friend, Cecelia, who was with us, agreed. I was absolutely gobsmacked - for the love of Dios - why??? "So that if someone steals your card they don't know your signature" they informed me. "Um, but that person could sign it themselves and use that fake signature instead, surely?" I protested. The two could not be swayed, however. Peruvians are completely mental. I get more sense out of the monkey, you know.

Sunday, March 06, 2005


Monkey's Mummy

We've got a real, live baby monkey! It is a gorgeous two-month-old squirrel monkey from the Peruvian Amazon that needs foster parents until it is old enough to go to a zoo. His name is Julio (he came with that name!). He was apparently given as a present to a teenage girl, who is studying in university, by her aunt. However, the monkey acts very much like a human baby and requires absolutely loads of attention - the girl's mother thus ended up giving the monkey to a pet shop when she found her daughter was totally neglecting her studies. Tito's sister Perla is a veterinarian, and when she heard there was a baby monkey in need of a substitute mother she grabbed the opportunity for me - since I am happily unemployed at the moment! Ahh, Julio is extrodinarily cute ... he's just like a little person and has proper hands with nails, not claws. Squirrel monkeys cling to their mums from the moment they are born as a survival instinct - so it absolutely impossible to put him down for one minute. We even have to sleep with him attached to an arm, and he wakes several times in the night crying for milk and attention. This morning I awoke to him grabbing my lip and biting my nose - little monkey! For the past couple days Tito's been experimenting with nappy material - we've now found nappies fashioned from sanitary pads work best. Lovely. Julio's poop isn't too bad though - he only eats soft fruit like banana and papaya. Tito was in hysterics the first time I changed Julio and he peed, fountain-style, all over my arm - just like a human baby! Anyway, we'll be looking after Julio until we leave, at which time he will hopefully be mature enough to go to a zoo. It's a brilliant end to our time in Peru to have this experience looking after him... wish we could take him with us to London but it would be impossible.

Thursday, March 03, 2005



We're back in Chiclayo after a horrendous 17 hour trip up from Lima last night (we stopped four times; twice as the electricity on the bus went out, once because some peasants outside Chimbote had piled rocks in the road in some sort of protest, and once inexplicably) - arriving a good 6 hours late! Blah. Got my documents sorted though - excellent - all we have to do now is book the wedding! And we got to see some different sides of Lima, which was quite exciting. We went to the Museo de la Nación and saw lots of v.old pottery (some rather racy!), intriguing stone carvings, and dried shrunken heads. Then, some Peruvian friends who we know from Japan came to pick us up, and wanted to show us Callao, the suburb where they live. Callao is the kind of place that is the real Lima for most of the population... it's a bit rough and ready. The friends fancied some non-prescription pharmaceuticals in the evening, and so we took a drive through the kind of area where the houses are just sheds made of wooden planks with gaps where the light shines through (at least they have electricity!), everyone is hanging out on the stinky mud street, and you can't tell if the women are all pregnant, or just fat. Just round the corner was a place we've seen on television documentaries - where transexual prositutes flash you as you drive by. Then we went to a salsa club in a rather more attractive neighbourhood, and had a beverage and hip wiggle - until 5am on a Monday night! Lima is anything but dull...

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