The hotel pool is peaceful at this time of the morning - there’s panpipe music in the background, and apart from the staff and I, it feels like the world is still asleep. A double-decker bus just pulled in, I guess they’re having breakfast here. Sometimes they stay a few nights, sometimes we hear the music and laughter from our rooms and by the time I come out, it’s quiet again.
I just heard the word “promociones”, which is a bit like an end of year school camp. There must be at least 70 people in the restaurant, inside and out - even the hotel manager, Cindy, is in the white Pinamar t-shirt. Feeding people is serious business in Peru. Maybe I should have had breakfast earlier!
Yesterday marked my third week in Zorritos - and I have slowly ventured away from the hotel to try some of the locals’ hangouts. I tried a new restaurant called Pollo de Anthony which serves pollo a la brasa (Peruvian rotisserie chicken) - I ordered 1/8th chicken, which was served with fries and salad for 9 soles (NZ$4). The pineapple juice pushed my meal to 13 soles (NZ$5.85). After dinner, I walked to a nearby bakery, ordered a few sweet treats to take back and share with the teachers. It was essentially someone’s house with a display cabinet at the front. The woman was so nice and patient with me, speaking clearly to explain the cost and the different portion sizes. I walked away with slices of chocolate cake and local biscuits.
As I stood waiting for my sweet treats, I noticed a few of the local men waiting. At five feet tall, I am average height here which I’m sure will amuse people who know me back in New Zealand.
Eating locally also gives me an idea of how much to budget for food when I start earning in soles, plus it forces me to practise my Spanish. When I’m with the other teachers, it’s obvious we’re foreigners, but on my own, they look at me strangely when I speak hesitantly with my basic Spanish. Even in just three weeks, I am understanding more and maybe also getting used to the local accent.
I taught two of my classes in front of students this week - that’s because no students turned up when I was assigned the Basic Adults class on Wednesday. To pass my TEFL training course, I have to teach 10 hours of classes, and because no students turned up, I had to do a demo class for one of the trainers. Potential TEFL employers can ask for a demo class, usually about 20 minutes where you explain the goals and methodology of your lesson plan.
Back in New Zealand, exercise was a big part of my life. Here, I make do with running on soft sand, squats and biometric exercises to make sure I keep my arm strength. At the gym, I can easily work out for an hour, yet here I struggle past 20 minutes. My workouts focus on cardio, though if I can find a decent sized driftwood, I could probably use that. You make do with what you have, I guess that’s how urban street workouts evolved. The view at the beach during my sessions is stunning - the massive birds of prey glide just above the breaks and I stand there in awe at their gracefulness. Why did I never worked out like that back home?
On Thursday night we were invited to party with the staff of Pinamar, celebrating the birthdays of two of their own. The hotel has been pretty busy for most of our time here, and it was great to learn some basic salsa and karaoke the night away. As I have written before, Peruvians know how to party, and seem to exist on very little sleep! At least the staff here do anyway. I also liked their piñata - it was shaped like a champagne bottle but what was inside was the most interesting part. Apart from the usual chocolates and candy, there were also packets of cigarettes and shavers. It took awhile to convince Amelia that the cigarettes she had picked up were actually from the piñata - which was lucky for her because she needed some more.
There are days where I have experienced a cloud of loneliness come over me for no particular reason. It was like a sense of disconnect that I had to ride out. Sometimes I would turn up the music in my room, close my eyes and sing away the melancholy. I don’t think I’m homesick - maybe it’s because I recognise that this is just another temporary place. In my quest to satiate my wanderlust, I need to get used to temporary places, connections and even friendships. In the temporary, my walls are slowly crumbling. In the temporary I feel free.
Ronna Grace Funtelar is a thirtyish storyteller, creative, writer and slam poet currently travelling in Peru. She is a hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.
Basically, a shorty who knows her life purpose.