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.