And What Exactly Are You Doing in Lima, Megan?

Before I left New York, my friend Emily asked me what my day-to-day life would be like here in Lima. And I, jittery off of too many cups of coffee and the looming prospect of expatriation, had to answer that I just didn't know.

Two months in, I'm still figuring it out, bit by bit. The truth is that I am learning (slowly, painfully) to be more proactive. All the folks at Yuyachkani are amazing, but if I had thought that they would have a 9-5 work plan waiting for me when I landed at Jorge Chavez International, then, well, I was wrong. I'm currently working on a project proposal to send their way; more on that some other time.

Meanwhile, Rach and I are working on a piece to present next week at a performance exposition run by our roommates. The topic of the evening: "Cuestion de Fe" (Question of Faith). Our piece will involve some movement, the Nicene Creed, a bit of Hebrew, and George Michael (on accordion, of course). I will post about that next week; I am too jittery about it right now.

I've been looking for volunteer opportunities, which has been getting easier as I've gotten better at talking on the phone in Spanish. (It's harder than you'd think. I didn't realize how much I rely upon non-verbal communication- in both English and Spanish, really- until I picked up my movistar and tried to have real conversation on it.) The other challenge there has been trying to find a way to volunteer responsibly. I'm not really interested in contributing more to the non-profit industrial complex, especially on a global scale. (The non-profit industrial complex, hereafter called the NPIC, is the system in which social justice work becomes dependent on the State and private donors. This was articulated by INCITE! in 2004 at their conference "The Revolution Will Not Be Funded," and you can read more about it here.) Subject of future post: the NPIC in Lima.

Bla bla bla. Point is, I've been trying to find volunteer work on my own, without turning to the volunteer-placement organizations that show up at Idealist.org volunteer fairs (and charge you hundreds of dollars for the pleasure) (does that money go to the organizations that you're supporting, NPIC? No? Hmm. Well, then, where does it go?). And that's been slow going. But for now, I've met with two groups that I'll work with on weekends-- one, a community-based organization in Ventanilla, run by and for teenagers; and another, a weekly workshop at a home/school for kids who are HIV positive. Both groups are cool, ask for solidarity from their volunteers, and are looking for people to do arts/theatre workshops. (Subject of future post.)

During the week, I go to Spanish classes every day from 9 AM - 1 PM. That's a very good thing. I still make mistakes all the time, but I'm also getting better (poco a poco). My class is small, my teacher is a lot of fun, and I like my classmates. The only bummer is when I run into the occasional Ugly American. You know the archetype (Ipod earbuds firmly implanted; loudly jabbering in English and/or appallingly-accented Spanish, but usually English; spewing complaints about the traffic, the weather, the food, the people...), but meeting these turistas in the flesh is somewhat horrifying. No matter. I stick with the ladies in my class, who are all a lot of fun, and I choose not to speak to the Ugly Americans (and their brethren: the Ugly Europeans), or, if I must spend time in their presence, I stick to Spanish. That has the effect of shutting them up nicely, because it's painfully obvious that they've spent weeks or months here without learning a word of it.

Other Things I Do in Lima: Read. Go to museums. Exercise (though not as frequently as I had intended to do in my retirement) (eh, maybe next week). Cook Quinotto, a risotto made with quinua that is really delicious. Go shopping for exciting fruits. Eat. See shows and/or performance art. Drink with my roommates. Plan the upcoming trip to Machu Picchu with Rachel and my best friends from high school, Emily and Lauren. Study Spanish. Try to focus on living in the moment. Write the occasional blog post.

So there you have it, folks. That's more or less what I'm up to right now.

And in conclusion: if you give me your address, I will send you a postcard. If you don't want to leave it as a comment, shoot me an e-mail at megankhanley(at)gmail.com. Expect to hear from me in 3-5 weeks.


  1. I want a postcard! but, unfortunately "What is your address?" is a complicated question right now. I think the safest bet is my dad's house-- 13440 NE 29th Place
    Bellevue, WA 98005

    Can't wait to see you in a few weeks!!!!

  2. postcard, POSTCARD!!!

    918 10th St. NE
    Washington, DC 20002

    <3 Kiki

  3. I'm pleased to report that I have received post card requests (some via facebook and e-mail) from 6 people in 4 different states and 1 federal district: NY, VT, WA, TX and DC.

    I find this geographical diversity extremely satisfying. Thank you, everyone, for being so far-flung.

  4. I think writing a book must be in your future. Or articles that you try to get published - are you doing any seeking in that direction because you my dear - are funny and insightful at the same time!