Sunday, November 6, 2016

My First Experience with Airbnb

My first experience with Airbnb was actually very close to my home town of Savannah, Georgia.  I was spending a month in the low country, in order to hang out with my family before going off to South America. I ended up near Hilton Head in an area called Okatie, South Carolina, an area I had never heard of it before now.  My host owned a house in a new residential area behind the University of South Carolina along University Parkway.
The weather, even in September was still quite hot, in the high 80s, but the humidity was between 70 and 100%,  which spikes the heat index to a very uncomfortable level.  Regardless of how uncomfortable it was for me to return to this type of weather after being away so many years in California, many who live here loves it.

My AirBnB  host was a lady about twelve years my senior, with a very youthful spirit.  She is an artist, art educator, and a yoga instructor. Which was the draw for me.  This AirBnB experience was the first for both of us and it turned out to be quite the experience. We were both stepping out of our comfort zones to experience new things and new people.  She seems to have been looking for like minded company, and I was looking for the peace and calm of what she posted as a "Zen House", so I could get some work done.
I believe we both got what we were initially looking for.  We are also got something that we didn't anticipate.   There are often things that you don't think of , but when you find yourself in particular situations, you wish you had thought to ask.  So one of the major lessons for both of us was not to assume anything.   She had A/C listed as an amenity, therefor I thought it would be available to keep me comfortable, especially in an area of the country with such high temperatures and humidity.

  Instead, the temp in the house never was below 82 degrees, often times never lower than 85 degrees. One night, I returned to the house almost midnight, and my host was working, the AC was off and she had cracked my window in the bedroom, so I just opened them both and pulled back the curtains, as to try to cool it off.  It was warmer in the house than it was outside, and it was still quite humid outside, even at 1:20 am.

 These conditions were pretty tough for me, but it could have been devastating for someone with Asthma, or any other upper respiratory condition. The host says that the AC makes her sick, but I think it is more financial than anything else.  Sleeping under a ceiling fan causes problems for me from headaches to mucus buildup. So even though I like her as a person as a host she did not comply with what she stated as an amenity for my stay.  
The next issue was that she didn't want to give me a key to the house, she would rather leave the side door unlocked for me to enter.  I am scheduled to stay here for solid month with the door unlocked.  Well that is not safe at all, a female entering a house at night where the doors were not locked.  Then came the issue of the things that I brought to the house, two computers, and over $40,000 in camera equipment.  I realized that I had a great deal to lose in this situation.  She is worried about my having a key and I am now concerned about my things being gone when I returned to a house that has been left unlock, in that situation homeowners insurance will not pay.
This was the next question, if something did happen to my things while in her house what recourse did I have. Well I know I can always sue her homeowners insurance, but that is not a nice way of doing things.  I did hear from her that there was some insurance for the host through AirBnB, but not for the guest. She did eventually give me a key to the house, but that should have never been an issue.

This was not a good experience for me, but I did not want to give her a bad rating as she was just starting out as a host.,I am hoping that she learned from those mistakes.
I have not used AirBnB since September 2013.  I am not saying that I would never use the service again, but I will never again stay in a house with someone, I would rent the entire place or not at all.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Incredible Food

Growing up in the South I was always quite picky about what I ate, and it drove my mother crazy.  I didn't like most southern foods because they were all bread and gravy, which later felt really heavy and uncomfortable in my stomach. I liked  the fresh corn on the cobb, that I would eat when I went to the country with my neighbor Diane and her family. I use to love going there, because that was my first experience with farming and fresh foods.

 I would watched them wring the necks of the chickens, remove all the feathers, and then cut him into pieces to cook, but I could never eat it afterwards.  If I got to Diane's grandparent's house and the food was already cooked, I could eat all of the drumsticks and wings that were visible.  The chicken was good, the pork was good, the corn was good, along with the large bowls of collards and peas;not to forget the large plate of  hot cornbread. Some of these foods were harvested fresh from the garden or the chicken coup for that days dinner, which was usually a Sunday.

 This was all before Genetically Modified food was introduced.

Being in Peru reminds me very much of my time in the country. Where the fruit tastes like fruit and the chickens look like chicken.

 Where I can eat rice and potatoes in the same meal and not gain weight. Where the families process their food and not factories.

In Peru you can watch them make the chorizo sausage, using various spice combinations,and they are, oh so very good.   I throw them in the freezer and use them to cook many of my vegetable with as well as eat the for breakfast with eggs. 

 You begin to understand how these skills are necessary. Small scale food processing is a dying skill in the USA, one that people today will pay big money for because the population is craving better quality food.

The eggs pictured below are stacked in a warehouse store front. I believe it is where most of the restaurant owners go to buy their supplies, but you as an individual can buy here as well. 

When I first saw eggs stored like this or on shelves in the supermercados (grocery stores) and not in the refrigerated area, I got a bit nervous.  Then I remember my mom telling me that when she was growing up, they would store their eggs on the counter and not in the ice box.  I then realized that these were fresh eggs and not GM ones. When I first broke one open, I was amazed at the color of the yoke,, a bright orange.   

They sell everything by the kilo, so a kilo of eggs is about S./ 3.50- 5.00 ($1.16 1.66) and it comes out to about a dozen eggs depending on size.   They are fresh from the farm  and you can tell how they were raised by the color of their yokes.

Also in these markets you will find all sort of grains.  I have not learned to cook them all but I am working on it for sure.  Learning to cook this food is a great experience.  The fact that I can eat all of this and still lose weight is beyond me. I must admit that I did some research on this and I realize that being in Cusco at such a high altitude is one of the things that  really made the difference.  The food being free of hormones, fillers, and other chemicals is the other.

The food is one of the reasons why I want to live here forever.  I went home to the states for just a few days back in April of 2014, and in 4 days of eating the food, my digestive system was in distress.  It was not until I returned to Peru that it cleared itself.  Now it may have cleared itself if I had stayed in the states a bit longer, but I am sure that I would have had to find a way to help it along,  with things like Activia or something of the sort.

Peru is also the home to many of the wonder foods of the world. One being the noni fruit.  When you enter a market you can smell the noni fruit.  The juice is what most people are familiar

It is exciting for a foodies like myself and my daughter to experience such good food..  I have always  loved going to restaurants and trying something new on  the menu and coming home to try to replicate that same dish. 

 My ex-husband was really good at telling you which spices were in a dish just from tasting it  He is a  true foodie and a fabulous cook who introduced me to many culinary delights.

Now I have moved to Lima from Cusco, Peru, and am loving the fresh seafood here.  Not as much seafood in Cusco, because it is in the mountains, but now I am eating ceviche everywhere.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

My Dream

We all have dreams of what we want for our lives and most often those dreams are postponed. When the opportunity comes for us to work toward that goal we are often driven by what we believe the end result will be, the money, the recognition, or whatever we believe that our lives will look like when we finally reach our goals.

We are often frustrated by the road that takes us to this anticipated end.  Most often, that end result is different from what we anticipated. What we forget to do is to enjoy the journey of getting to the well anticipated end.The journey is where we learn and grow and cross many hurdles, which are small successes. Many times we see these small successes as merely stepping stones, but we need to celebrate them just the same. I want to be photojournalist and blogging is how I decided to begin the learning process, along with taking pictures of course. I know that photojournalism is merely telling stories through photos. Sometimes it is just photos and other times it is photos with words, but it is always telling a story.  I have always loved meeting people from all walks of life and I love hearing their stories.  I love celebrating their lives, the successes and the failures, the challenges and the triumphs, it is all what makes us who we are. Even though I would love to be recognized for my work, wanting others to see and feel what I do.  I want people to respond, to have a reaction of any sort. I have been intentionally living my life and enjoying every step of this journey.
 Even the three years where I was recovering from several surgeries and all I could do was plan and research, as well as search within finding my strengths and weaknesses and asking what path am I to take.  I had to get the other voices out of my head (parents, society, church, etc) in order to hear His and I had to be Still.  Those three years I was Still and I had a deep desire to live a more meaningful life.  I ask Him everyday to guide my feet, my heart and my tongue. This is where I am being lead too, this life, and I am so at peace with it.

Me in Cusco, Peru

 I have wanted to explore other cultures for as long as I can remember.

It actually all started with this picture book my mom bought me on Thailand.  No I have yet to gotten to Thailand, but I have always wanted to go, and I will get there I have also have had this love affair with every thing Latin.

  Moving to Los Angeles gave me that extra courage I needed to make things happen and not just talk about it.  I saw people there who were very  happy not living the status quo. I saw people make a living walking dogs. Yes, some are making over 50k per year doing just that.  Now that I am in Peru, I see people making a living doing everything. I don't see a great deal of industry jobs here like in the states. These people learn skills and market themselves.  There are hundreds of small restaurants, hundreds and hundred of shops for clothes, shoes, food, everything.  These people are entrepreneurs, they are smart, and they are skilled.    

Tell me about your journey or the journey you dream about?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Language Barrier

It was never my intention to move to Peru, but here I am, My intentions were to come and stay for the 183 days they allowed me and move on to some place else.  I had spent the previous two years building a travel business that I could run from my computer in order for me to be able to work from anywhere that has internet access.  This way I can travel and see the world and pass on this first hand information to my clients, I then fell in love with the beauty of Cusco, the art, the food, and the simplicity of life. Almost two years later, I am still here n Peru.

Visiting and knowing minimal Spanish is fine, but not when you are trying to conduct business.  Business, like looking for an apartment, negotiating the price, and setting up utilities is quite difficult. Even though I had met a couple of people that could help me with these things, they were never available when I needed them and I was on a time constraint as my daughter and granddaughter were arriving in December and I needed to have a place large enough for everyone.  So I ended up going to one of the hotels and asking for anyone that spoke English wanting to hire them as an interpreter.  I did find this young lady whose mom was Peruvian and she decided to move here after living in Europe with her parents.  She agreed to help me and we set up a time to meet.

At our first meeting I bought her breakfast as she read through the classified and made several calls from my cell phone.  When my phone rang and it was a friend that lived in Urubamba, we discovered that she too knew my friend, and decided to help me for free.

Whenever we would meet she only had a couple of hours to help me and then she started to push me toward a property that I was not sure about even though I liked it very much. When it came to talking and making plans with the property owner, they talked a great deal more than was being translated to me, and that made me uncomfortable.  It ended up being to my detriment as I was not made aware of all that was in my contract by my new friend, my interpreter.  It is a good thing the laws in Peru makes it hard to evict someone, because this made the property owner more willing to negotiate my moving out of her property, even with the harassment of her mother in law and the threatening emails from her husband, I was able to move away not having to worry about being taken advantage of.  Understand that they do work together here and against you the foreigner.  You can't trust the attorneys either, because the one that I had look over the contract,  called the property owner behind my back.  He says that he wanted to get the whole story, and all they do is lie when they are trying to  stick it to you, and when they are caught with that, they say it was a misunderstanding. Even though this attorney advocate that he works with a great deal of Americans, once he talked to my landlord, he no longer wanted to give me any advice.

So I do advise when doing business here, know the language, because the prices are always more for the Foreigner, the markets, the taxis, the apartments, etc. You are a Target for Financial Gain, even if that means theft. The laws are different and just being a foreigner can get you deported if you violate any of the laws. It is not often but always possible.          

Once you know the language the job market opens up for you. You can do something other than teach English and work in a call center.  If you have western education from a university, you can get the better teaching jobs, like with a masters you can automatically teach at the universities and some will accept you with a bachelors.  It all depends on the need.  In Lima that opportunity increases exponentially and so does the income.            

Monday, October 20, 2014


Illa Wasi

This is a rather beautifully developed property,but all that has lived there, has had bad experiences for one reason or another.  One person lived their for a couple of years before the other houses were built and she says that she had bad luck the entire time she was there and that the owner was just not an honest man. He was one that said what was necessary to get what he wanted.  Unfortunately that is the norm in this area.

Everyone wants to take advantage of the Gringo.  

Then there was this couple. The woman was an artist but suffered from terrible depression.  Her situation seemed to be worst since she moved to this property, to the point where she didn't trust herself.  She did however trust a young New Yorker like I did. I later discovered this New  Yorker  would not know the truth if it slapped her in the face. This became more and more evident the longer I was there.  She drew people in like a magnet, and the men were defenseless.  Personally I think she was a witch.  A month after she returned to the property, after being gone for about four months,the owner of the property got sick suddenly and died. He was also very taken by this young New Yorker.  

 I understand she is now looking for another property to Haunt.

The Egg

Yes these are eggs that are just stacked up in a room to be sold.  These are from free range chickens because the egg yolks are a beautiful deep orange color. I understand that chickens that are free to range are healthier than those that are feed only corn, which gives the yoke that light yellow color. This is the color that I believed egg yolks to be because when I purchase from the grocery store that is the color of the egg yolk.  Now I know so much more.  

The eggs that are stacked here are not pasteurized eggs, that is probably why they are able to be stored this way.These eggs can be stored this way for a few months without chances of contamination.  Once you wash the outside of the egg, it breaks a membrane that is protecting the egg from contamination.
Salmonella contamination doesn't come from how the eggs are stored, it comes from first from the way the laying hens are cared for, and we all know how many of these animals are cared for in the USA.

A health issue associated with eggs is contamination by pathogenic bacteria, such as Salmonella enteritidis. Contamination of eggs exiting a female bird via the cloaca may also occur with other members of theSalmonella genus, so care must be taken to prevent the egg shell from becoming contaminated with fecal matter. In commercial practice in the US, eggs are quickly washed with a sanitizing solution within minutes of being laid. The risk of infection from raw or undercooked eggs is dependent in part upon the sanitary conditions under which the hens are kept.

Health experts advise people to refrigerate washed eggs, use them within two weeks, cook them thoroughly, and never consume raw eggs.[38] As with meat, containers and surfaces that have been used to process raw eggs should not come in contact with ready-to-eat food.

A study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2002 (Risk Analysis April 2002 22(2):203-18) suggests the problem is not as prevalent as once thought. It showed that of the 69 billion eggs produced annually, only 2.3 million are contaminated with Salmonella—equivalent to just one in every 30,000 eggs—thus showing Salmonella infection is quite rarely induced by eggs. However, this has not been the case in other countries, where Salmonella enteritidis and Salmonella typhimurium infections due to egg consumptions are major concerns.[56][57][58] Egg shells act as hermetic seals that guard against bacteria entering, but this seal can be broken through improper handling or if laid by unhealthy chickens. Most forms of contamination enter through such weaknesses in the shell. In the UK, the British Egg Industry Council award the lions stamp to eggs that, among other things, come from hens that have been vaccinated against Salmonella.[

Now that I understand this, I understand why these eggs are stored the way they are here, and why they were stored in a similar way, on the kitchen counter, in the country when I was growing up.  In the country they raised their own hens and gathered their own eggs everyday.

The Baratillo

El Baratillo

If you are looking for a place where you will find many locals and those looking for a bargain, El Baratillo is the place.

This is the equivalent of the North American Flea Markets.  It is huge and happens every Saturday in Cuzco, Peru, in the Santiago barrio.  As you look down the path of all of the blue tents, there are many side streets that takes on the same look to add to this rather large meeting place.  Here you will find anything from used clothes, toys, books, tools, antiques, handmade items, and many food vendors. This is an easy walk from San Pedro Market.

Also in this area, there are many narrow streets of stores selling used clothes, sewing and knitting machines, furniture, and much much more.  Yes I was addicted for sure, especially when I was able to find jeans and pj's for my granddaughter for little of nothing.
Be careful when I are navigating through all of these stalls, as there are many who will snatch your bag and pick your pockets. So you will see many people hugging their backpacks in the front instead of on their backs.  So do not put your money or passports in your packs, have that on your person with some in your pocket for easy access.  Use your backpack for the things you purchase.  Enjoy this open market and most of all enjoy all of the typical foods.