My plane left on Sunday at 3pm. I arrived in Arequipa at 7am on Monday.
I was happy I had either window or aisle seat on each of the three planes.
I arrived tired but not willing to miss another day of my teaching English as a Foreign Language course (TEFL). I was anxious because my cell phone would not make any calls and I was not sure who was picking me up from the airport (Pedro or Heidi).
After saying, "no gracias" to about a dozen men asking if I wanted a taxi, I put a coin worth 2sol into a phone and called Pedro's cell phone number, who informed me that Heidi, the school's coordinator, should be arriving shortly to pick me up. Just as I hung up the phone and walked around the corner back to the airport exit where the many taxi men lined the walkway and saw Heidi looking for me, she was holding a sign with my name on it. Since it was just after seven in the morning, Heidi suggested we go to the place I'd be staying. When we arrived, I met my property owner Juan C.
He spoke no English; I spoke no Spanish. However we had Heidi, who translated everything he said about my living space: here is your room, didn't expect you until this afternoon leave your key and it will be cleaned, here is your bathroom, here is the kitchen, clean up after yourself. After putting my gigantic very colorful travel suitcase in my room, I followed Mr. C. and Heidi up two flights of stairs, where he showed me the sink I could use to wash clothes and the lines to hang them. He explained there were many places I could have my clothes washed for very little money.
I wasn't listening; I was thinking through the upwardly labyrinth layout of the building. The conversation turned to money and if I had money for my month's stay. I did because I'd exchanged $500 US dollars for 1,210 Peruvian sols. Standing in the open lounge/laundry area with no ceiling, I counted 600 sols and handed them over to Mr. C.
Heidi's translations included additional information about the area. Once my rent was paid, I followed Heidi's voice and body up another two flights of stairs to the rooftop, which is open and from which I saw a volcano, whose name I can't recall, and several other landmarks in the area as well as beautiful views. She explained that the smoky atmosphere came from both man made pollution and the volcano, which has not erupted in a long time. It does provide tremors but the pollution accounts for most of the city's smog.
I followed her back down the four flights and before she left she gave me very simple walking directions to the school. It was cold; I decided not to change clothes. I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and left the key in my door, as instructed by Mr. C. so my room could be cleaned, and left for school by 8:30am. I arrived early.
My first day of school is a blur. It started at 8:30 in the morning and went until 9 that night. I met Scott, who teaches pedagogy from 9 to 12. I don't remember what I did for lunch, but I didn't leave the building nor did I eat. I met Matt, who teaches language awareness from 1 to 3. I met my classmates - there five of them and I don't know where I wrote their names. I remember what I did for lunch, I want to find a place that sold office/school supplies, and I bought two books and some yellow sticky notes.
I remember what I did in Scott's class before lunch! Everyone had to present a mini lesson on vocabulary. I watched what the other people did and decided I would go ahead and try since I had some weird supplies in my backpack. I had a package of shapes that you could peel the back off and stick onto something and about 20 small white paper bags. I bought the stickers a month ago at CVS when I was in Kentucky, working as a table leader for AP language composition because I thought they would be a good prop for the readers at my table. Since I didn't use them in Kentucky, I packed for my trip to Peru and thought, "they might be useful." I used the stickers and paper bags for a lesson I called - the shape of my family.
All I remember about Matt's language awareness class was blah, blah, PARTICIPIAL, blah, blah, ATTRIBUTIVE, blah, PREDICATIVE, blah, and I asked him if I could take pictures of what he had written on the whiteboard. I was happy he said yes.
During Scott's class, he explained that everyone needed to complete 6 teacher observations by Friday, July 11th. Since I was not here Saturday and missed observing the children's class, I would have to make all my observations of adult classes but would still need to teach a 2 1/2 hour children's class on Saturday, July 12 with a classmate. In order to catch up on my observations, I stayed for a class that met from 3 to 5 and a class that met from 5 to 7. While I knew it was winter here, I did not know it got dark about 6 o'clock. During the 5 to 7 class break, I found Heidi and asked for help me finding someone to walk back to my room with since her advice from this morning was "try to avoid walking alone after 8 or 9." She suggested Danny who teaches from 7 to 9 and lives in my building. So, yes I stayed and observed another class from 7 to 9 because Danny agreed that we walk home with him.
On our way home, Danny bought bread from a street vender and an avocado from the store that was nearly literally a hole in the wall. We discussed why I was here and what I might do with my certification besides becoming a better community college English composition teacher.
I learned he is from Scotland and had a Skype interview at 4:30 that morning because he forgot to tell the interviewer he meant 10am Peruvian time. He explained that he took taxis in Arequipa without incident. After I mentioned his high level of safety may has something to do with the fact that he was male. After a moment, he agreed. Once we made it to our house and the hallway leading to our respective rooms, he told me not to hesitate asking him any questions.
Once in my room, I ran the water in the sink for about ten minutes when it didn't turn hot, I turn off that knob and turn on the other one. When it didn't turn hot, I brushed my teeth and got under the four not so heavy layers of cover on my bed with all my clothes, my prayer mat wrapped around my calves and feet, a sweater on my body, and another sweater over my head (I'd shaved all my hair and my head was freezing - it was colder than my feet, which only my husband can intimately understand what degree of cold I'm trying to describe).