The Adventures of April

We shall not cease from exploration - And the end of all our exploring - Will be to arrive where we started - And know the place for the first time. -- T.S. Eliot

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Cutest Child Ever. Period. No Discussion.

My nephew is now pulling himself up. Look what a proud boy he is! Also look at how big his hands are! And that torso! He is going to be one tall guy! Love the red hair.

I miss him a bunch... please get a webcam, Deidre! Thanks for the picture! Keep them coming!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

More Videos Posted

I had some difficulties early today posting my videos. Now the posts are complete for your viewing pleasure.


Right now I'm sitting in my room eating cookies covered with chocolate, writing in my blog and doing my Spanish homework. I spent three hours in combis (minivan-like public buses) this morning, got to church a half hour late after leaving an hour early and the trek royally wore me out. After a weekend of finding places, riding in combis, people, dirt, humidity, etc., I would like a momentary retreat. Sigh.

I would appreciate prayer on housing... I still haven't found a place to stay permanently. I have been trying many different avenues but to no avail. It is either an executive furnished apartment in Miraflores for $900 per month or a room without a bathroom or kitchen for $60. There is no in between!

Here's something creepy... over 9,000 people have watched the video I posted a few months back of Deidre in the hospital before she gave birth to Marek. Here is a link to all of the videos I have on YouTube. Aren't I so tech savvy? More material for my stalkers!

Also, Gabe has started his own blog, also linked on the right side of this page. If you like long words or well-focused pictures with fuzzy backgrounds, that's the page for you!


Our next stop of the day were the ruins of Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores. As I mentioned earlier, I was pretty stoked about seeing more hairless dogs since they are kept at all archaeological sites. After neglecting to turn our heads to look the other way twenty feet down the street, we walked all the way around the ruins to finally discover the entrance where we started at. We took an English tour so that I wouldn't force Gabe to translate the bits I didn't understand and also because there were these other Americans (Ohio!) and they seemed pretty entertaining.

The tour left much to be desired. What's interesting about the site is that it is smack dab in the middle of Miraflores/Lima. It was a fairly important ritual site for the Incas but otherwise, there isn't too much to look at. The guide was adamant about pointing out the holes in which archaeologists had discovered various remains and artifacts. But "this is a hole" gets kind of old after a while.

Luckily, we soon ran into the hairless dogs. The mohawk-type hair-do was pretty cool, but they unfortunately lacked the t-shirts that made the previous hairless dog so intriguing. After Gabe almost got spit on by a provoked llama, we hightailed it out of there to grab some dinner and chill by the ocean.

Dinner was a three sole ($.90) tamale from a grocery store. We took them down to one of the parks on the cliffs overlooking the ocean/huge mall built into a cliff. It turns out Gabe used to be a gymnast so he taught me some of his mad skillz. Maybe I'll rethink that career in environmental policy...

'Ello, Mummy!

Say that with a British accent! So fun!

This Saturday Gabe and I went to Museo de la Nacion, quite a monumental building with endless rooms full of ancient pottery, carvings, tools, textiles, and more. We wandered for a bit, appreciating the handiness of civilizations that existed 4,500 years ago.

The coolest part of the visit was the mummy exhibit. That's right, mummies aren't just in Egypt! In some regions in Peru the environmental conditions facilitated the preservation of bodies, including the clothes, hair, skin, teeth, bones, nails, and more. The mummies were at least several hundred years old (possibly older) and most were wrapped in a crouched position with their hands around their head. There was also two baby mummies that would make perfect horror movie fodder.

Here are some pictures that we (illegally - I'm such a rebel!) took. Here's a lovely video of the experience.

The museum was so interesting and its outer steps so appealing that it inspired me to do this little dance on the way out. I'm never one to miss a chance to leap. Or to make a fool of myself.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I have an update on U.D.E. - Ugliest Dog Ever (see previous post). Apparently this is a famous Peruvian dog almost driven to extinction. The government has mandated at least two hairless dogs at each archaeological site in Peru. So there are a lot more U.D.E.'s coming up for me and I'm excited about it!

In other dog news, my fellow housemate right now in a dog named Buddy. Buddy has an abnormally large head but otherwise is quite jolly. He reminds me of my little sister - he follows me around everywhere, wants me to play with him and must be fed every once in a while. He sleeps in the same room as me although once in a while I have to wake him up because he's quite the snorer.

Here's a video of Buddy having a blast with his own tail.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Que Ocupado!

On Saturday Gabe and I played tourists. First, we successfully caught combis (minivans that hold about 15 or so people) all the way out to the ancient ruins of Pachacamac (say that five times fast!). Most of the ruins were pre-Inca, constructed several hundred years before the birth of Christ. The vista was quite stunning: the hot sun bearing down on almost lifeless yellow sand. On one side it was rolling dunes into villages and hills. On the other side, it was a fertile valley fed by a river.

We took a tour to the Temple of the Sun, the highest point in the ruins. Along the way we passed an ancient cemetery where you could still see (I kid you not) pieces of bone, textiles, and hair that had been preserved in the dryness of the climate. Up on top of the temple you could see the coast and the ocean as well as a set of islands. (Pictures from left to right: Looking out into the desert, me pulling a double hawk/awkward moment at the Temple of the Sun.)

The Temple of the Sun housed the highest priests. Pilgrims would fast for twenty days outside of the complex, and then wait inside the complex for a year for their opportunity to ask the priests for favors. We also head a few stories recounting virgin sacrifices and the like.
The weather was pretty intense, and our two hour tour was pretty exhausting. While relaxing near the museum at the entrance, I saw the ugliest dog ever. It shocked me. First, I admit, I was laughing at it. But then I started to feel bad for it. The poor thing was wearing a t-shirt. It was practically hairless and had been suffering from sun damage. I still managed to take this picture for you all to behold the creativity of God. (Pictures from left to right: Gabe discovering the wonder of opposable thumbs, me avoiding looking directly at the camera, U.D.E (Ugliest Dog Ever). Do yourself a favor and click on that bad boy for a close-up view!)

Later in the day we took a Mirabus tour where you sit on top of a double decker bus and see the city. Yes, this was quite touristy. But it was nice, Gabe was ecstatic, and we drove a few kilometers along the beach and saw the beautiful parks and water. Muy tranquilo!

Apologies, right now I'm too tired to write in any more detail. Having some troubles sleeping... enjoy the photos and videos! Click on the pictures for a bigger view.

Pictures from top to bottom: Waiting for a combi to take us back to fertile land, sunset over the Pacific.

Life Goal #463: Completed!

I'm happy to announce that I recently completed Life Goal of #463: Form a Kickin' Dance Circle with a Dozen Peruvian Mormons. Done!

On Friday night I was planning on going to the happy hour at the Marine's house to meet some new people but, alas, it was canceled. Instead, I went to a fiesta with Gabe at his church that brought together several regional Mormon churches for a night of salsa, Inca Cola, and streamers taped to ceiling fans.

People who know me know that my four favorite places for dancing are wedding receptions, my/your living room, fitting rooms, and circles. Salsa, however, is a dance where you pair off with a partner, and Gabe and I managed to cut the rug a bit by throwing in some swing and country moves.

But by the second time they played Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie," Gabe and I joined forces and coerced a bunch of innocent bystanders to be in a dance circle. There was some confusion as to what the crazy gringos were doing at first, but then the idea took off like wildfire.

While our circle was laying it down, another group just started to watch us, apparently in disbelief/confusion/awe. Gabe and I tried to break up the circle (end on a high, right?) but we had created a monster. Let's just say it spawned into a mambo line by the night's end.

It gives me great satisfaction to cross that off my list. I've already crossed off the previous Goal, #462, which was Lick Live Lemon-Flavored Ants off Tree in Amazon. Life Goal #464 might be a bit more difficult: Become Guinness Book of World Records Holder For Longest Toenails.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Viva Friday!

Today I had my security briefing, which I have to admit, I was quite disappointed by. Everybody told me that they were going to scare the daylights out of me so that I wouldn't even step out the door but alas, it had no such effect.

I also had a little meeting with the DCM, the Deputy Chief of Mission, who is second in command to the Ambassador and runs the Embassy while Ambassador Struble is away. She is very nice and I was impressed that she took the time to met with a lowly intern like myself.

A few days ago I met Ambassador Struble. I went to an economic strategy meeting. Did you know that you must stand when an Ambassador steps into the room and wait until they invite you to sit down? Learn something new everyday! He advised me that I should change my name to 'La Cruz" while I am here. (Cruz and Croix is cross in Spanish and French, respectively.)

The Embassy has summer hours so on Friday we are off at 12:30 PM! Nice set up. Gabe and I went down to central Lima and walked around the Plaza de Armas and the area surrounding. We also went to Cathedral San Francisco, which was fascinating because of its ancient library with books from 1450 and its catacombs. The picture is of a little happy bird in the fountain in the Plaza de Armas. Below is a little video of the same local.

Beneath the church, two and three levels beneath the ground through little musty and damp passage ways are huge receptacles of the bones of over 70,000 humans. Skulls, legs, arms, hip bones, etc. Some arranged in circular patterns going 90 feet deep. Very creepy and very claustrophobic at the same time.

After our tour at the church we wandered around a bit and Gabe befriended some security guards who took this very blurry picture of us.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Today was a good and productive day.

1. I researched offal exports, which is ironic since the cafeteria today was serving a lung stir fry.

2. I had a meeting at the Peruvian Ministry of Finance, which was a challenge for my Spanish abilities. Luckily, the office driver is very nice and he helped me with my questions on the way over.

3. After my meeting, we had some time to walk around central Lima. It was surreal to be in a suit amongst backpackers in dirty mismatched outfits and flip flops. I miss my people.

4. I have a Spanish tutor starting next week!

5. That is all. Hope you all have a lovely evening.

.... And now... En Español....

Hoy fue un buen y productivo día.

1. Investigué exportes de 'offal', lo cual es irónico porque hoy la cafetería estaba sirviendo pulmón.

2. Tuve un reunión en el peruano ministró de comercio, la cual fue un reto para mis abilidades de español. Con suerte, el chofer de la oficina es muy amable y el me ayudo con mis preguntas durante el paseo.

4. Después de mi reunión, tuvimos tiempo para caminar alrededor de parque central. Lo fue estrange estar en un traje entre viajeros en ropa sucio y 'flip flops.' Echo de menos mi gente.

4. Tengo un maestro de español empezando el próximo semana!

5. Es todo. Espero ustedes tienen un lindo noche.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Mi Trabajo

I officially am working at gainful employment! Maybe next year I can actually file taxes, as opposed to this year when I had no US income... ah, the life of a vagabond.

(Si quieres leer la mayoría de este en español, se puede ir al ultimo parte de este carta para la translación.)

Everybody in the office is very friendly and everyday I met about a dozen more people who work in the Embassy. A couple hundred work here in total. Later this week I will meet the DSM (second in command to the Ambassador) and Ambassador himself. That picture is of the Embassy; I found it online, obviously you can't take you camera into the Embassy so that will have to do for now!

Embassy life is very fascinating. Every facet of central building is designed with security in mind: small, bullet and bomb proof windows, fortified doors, Marines at the entrances, codes for entering areas with classified information, etc. Friday I have a security briefing where they attempt to scare the daylights out of me so I won't do anything stupid. There is also a commissary where you can buy grocery products from the US that you can't get in Lima. I've got two words for you: Diet Coke. It's better than Coke Lite, and I refuse to debate the difference further.

Parts of the Embassy do look like how you'd imagine it in movies and whatnot with black marble walls and floors with huge golden US emblems and flags. Other parts, however, not so glamorous. Take my cubicle. Need I continue?

Today I had lunch with 50% of the interns at the Embassy, which means Gabe. We're making some plans and hopefully there will be more interns in the future to join us!

Finding housing is one of my biggest concerns right now. Definitely need to employ some strategery these next few weeks to find a place. Also I'm still working on a church, Spanish lessons, and a place to volunteer.

Lima is surrounded by mountains that can best be described as huge mounds of dirt. Since we are in a desert (see picture), the land is incredibly dry and nothing grows there. However, within the city there are flowers and trees and many birds to sing and wake you up in the morning.

Aside from clouds of smog and dust, Lima has a lovely smell of summer that is difficult to describe but reminds me of Cone City, Lake Michigan, and relaxation.

Twilight is the best part of the day - relatively peaceful and cool, with the sunset always in view. It's also very short due to our location on the equator where the sun sinks very fast, but nice nonetheless

Overall, everything is going well. I'm excited to learn more and met more people. Thanks to everybody for their prayers and support!

... And now... En español...

Todo la gente en la oficina es muy amable, y cada día encuentro aproximadamente diez mas personas a quien trabajan en la embajada. Creo que 100-200 personas trabajan acá en total. A finales de este semana voy encontrar el DSM (el segundo mas alta persona en la embajada) y el embajador.

La vida de la embajada es muy fascinante. Cada parte del edificio central esta diseñado para seguridad: pequeño ventanas, fortificado puertos, Marines en la entradas, clave secreta para entrar áreas con información clasificado, y mas. Viernes tengo un reunión sobre seguridad cuando ellos van a tratar a espantarme asi que no voy a hacer algo estúpido. Hay un 'commissary' donde se puede comprar productos de los Estados Unidos que no se puede comprar en Lima. Tengo dos palabras para ti: Diet Coke. Lo es mejor de Coke Lite, y la diferencia mas.

Partes de la embajada son como se lo imagina en películas y mas, con paredes de mármol negro y pisos con grande emblemas y banderas de los Estados Unidos. Otros partes no son atractivo. Por ejemplo, mi 'cubículo.' Necesito continuar?

Hoy, almorcé con 50 por ciento de los "interns" en la embajada, solamente Gabe. Estamos haciendo planes y esperanzado va a estar mas interns en el futuro!

Encontrando un lugar para vivir es uno de mi mas grande preocupaciones ahorrita. Tengo que usar "strategery" en los próximos semanas para encontrar un lugar. También, estoy trabajando para encontrar una iglesia, lecciones de español, y una grupo para voluntario.

No tengo la energía necesario para traducir el ultimo parte... lo siento... voy a mejorar... quiero dormir ahora.

En total, todo esta bien. Estoy conmocionada aprender mas y encontrar mas gente. Gracias para su oraciones y apoyo!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Skype Me!

For the next few weeks, if not my entire trip, I'll have access to Skype and you will be able to catch me in the evenings. You can find me by going to 'Contacts' and searching for Skype users with my first and last name. My user name is my first and last name with a period in the middle. Click on the button below!
Skype Me™!

Get Skype and call me for free.

If you don't have Skype , you should get it! Visit www. It's very easy and free. If your computer is a crappy Dell that won't even hardly run iTunes (Amy...), don't worry, I can just call you the old fashion way!

Estoy en Peru!

Buenos tardes! Estoy en Peru!

It is warm and sunny summer day here in Lima - the grass is green, the flowers are in bloom, and palm trees line the streets. My body is in shock.

Yesterday was a very long day. I've forgotten that an 8 hour plane ride is quite long. Despite the fact that there is a blizzard in the Midwest, all of my flights went perfectly fine. In fact, when I was flying into Newark, it was sunny and I had a lovely view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty!

When I arrived in Lima, I needed to find my ride, Julio, who had a sign with my name on it. It was pretty funny and overwhelming, as developing country airports usually are! You step out of customs, and there is a big space partitioned off by a metal rail. Behind the rail is about, oh, 400 people looking at you and waiting for the person they are picking up.

I finally did find my ride and another intern at Embassy came along which was nice. His name is Gabe, he's from California, he went to BYU and he likes to line dance. Go friends!

This afternoon I am relaxing. I met with my supervisors at the Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) and they seem very nice. Everybody so far has been so welcoming. I'm excited to learn more about the Embassy system and Lima. So far, so good!

Goodbye, Michigan!

Hello, Lima! My backyard, next to the pool.
Anybody care for a jump?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Leaving Grand Rapids

Right now I'm sitting in the airport in Grand Rapids, waiting for my first flight. It is very snowy outside and it's hard to believe that by tonight I will be stepping out into the summer and temperatures in the 80s.

Today is Gloria's birthday (5 years old!) and yesterday was Sarah's (26). Happy Birthday!