Thursday, August 20, 2015

leaving peru

{Blake at the birthday celebration KKp threw for him.}

I'll get right to it: it’s with both heavy and excited hearts that we share that we’re leaving Peru in December and moving back to the US. There are many factors that led to this decision. There are easy to explain ones like the fact that Riley will be going into high school and it seemed best for her to do that in the US. And that we don’t have the resources here to help Brady with his learning disorders. And that our car never works. And that Krochet Kids Peru is stable and doesn’t really need us anymore. And that my depression and anxiety has gotten progressively worse while living here.

But really, underlying all of it, and the part that we just haven’t been able to overcome is adjustment to the culture. Four plus years later and we’re still just trying to survive. We can’t get used to the traffic and everyone yelling at each other, a school system that gives 6 year olds exams, truth being fluid and elusive, deadlines that are optional, mechanics you can’t trust, and on and on. I would like to think we can’t adjust because we’re old and too hard wired, but I think the truth is we’re selfish and want things done our way.

We’re bone tired. Weary. We feel like we’ve been fighting a war and it’s only a matter of time before there’s a casualty. Our marriage, my mental health, our kids’ spirits. It’s time for us to bow out and try to find some rest. We realize there’s a good chance that it will be just as hard for us to live in the US now. That we won’t feel like we’ll fit in there anymore. But we have to hope that there will still be space and resources and community for us to heal with. 

We also realize that we are taking a big risk in moving our kids from the barrio of a third world country where almost everyone on our street lacks indoor plumbing and iPhones don’t exist to the most self obsessed and indulgent culture in the world. This might be the stupidest decision we’ve ever made, but it feels like our only option at this point. I know there are days we will physically ache from how much we miss our neighborhood and Krochet Kids. Our decision to move to Peru was also a decision to always have our hearts in two places. There’s no avoiding that. We will always ache for one of the places we call home, either the US or Peru. 

It has been an incredible journey, harder than we could have imagined, but also more rewarding than we could have ever dreamed. We have seen Krochet Kids Peru grow from a concept to a fully functioning social enterprise with 45 women in the program, 4 full time mentors, 30 Peruvian production staff, a couple expat production managers, and a handful of interns. We have our own savings program and loans begin later this year.  We have a day care that costs less than a dollar a day for the women in our program. Seven women have gone back to school. We have classes once a week on life skills/business training and each woman meets with her mentor one on one once a week. 

And most importantly, a family was created. The women of KKp are deeply involved in each other's lives. Spending their free time together, helping each other raise their kids, and going to each other first for support. In February we had a "secret santa" party for Valentine's Day where each lady gave a gift to another lady in the program and said loving and encouraging words about her. By the end of the party, everyone was in tears. The amount of love in that room could not be contained. These women, all once disconnected and lonely, many suffering from spousal abuse or health issues and all living in poverty, barely making it day to day, are a family. They are no longer alone. So, while we are so thankful for the growth of KKp, the jobs created, the money saved, the skills learned, we are most thankful for this family. 

Leaving them will be heartbreaking, but knowing they have each other and seeing how much each lady has changed and grown in our time here makes every hard moment worth it. These women have been given new lives and are seeing dreams they never even dared to dream before come to life. They are so capable and brilliant and they don't need us anymore. It's time for us to move on and start the next chapter of our lives.

For those wondering about that next chapter: we are moving to Southern California because that is home to us. Blake doesn’t have a job yet and, yes, that is crazy scary. I won’t be working at first because 1) I want to be completely available to our kids as they adjust to their new life and new schools and new everything and 2) my depression and anxiety is too high right now for me to be able to hold down a job. So, we don't know much about our future, but we've gotten pretty used to that. :)

Friday, March 13, 2015

traveling to iquitos, peru with kids: belén


{This is the fourth and last in a short series of posts I'm doing on traveling to Iquitos with kids. Here are my posts on lodging, what to do, and Monkey Island.}

By far my favorite part of both trips to Iquitos was visiting Belén, a floating village. It is like nothing I have ever seen before. Getting a glimpse into life on the water was fascinating. And the kids really enjoyed it too. Seeing kids swimming and chickens running around in floating homes. I don't think there's anywhere in the world quite like Belén. 

We also visited the Belén market and like all true Peruvian markets, is quite the experience. With this market being on the river, there were mounds of fish and alligators. Belén is easily the most overwhelming experience of Iquitos, so, with kids, I would not do it without a tour guide. We went with the tour guide from our lodge and a resident of Belén also met up with us to tell us about his village. Having lived in Peru for four years, I don't worry much about our safety here, but this market is the one place you would want to have a Peruvian with you. But as long as you have a good tour guide, I would not leave Iquitos without a visit to Belén.


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

traveling to iquitos, peru with kids: monkey island

Monkey Island

{This is the third in a short series of posts I'm doing on traveling to Iquitos with kids. Here are my posts on lodging, what to do, and Belén.}

When all was said and done, my kids all agreed that Monkey Island was their favorite part of our trip to Iquitos. It is a bit of work to get there, but it was definitely worth it. The monkeys are all rescued monkeys and living in excellent conditions. They have so much land and forest area to explore in and it's obvious that the owner truly cares for the animals.

One note of caution- there are two "Monkey Islands." We visited the original one, but there is second place that has named itself Monkey Island so that tourists will accidentally end up there. From all that we have heard, the second Monkey Island is easier to get to, but they do not treat the animals well at all. The Peruvian government has shut this place down numerous times. Even though I'm not a huge animal lover, I just can't give my money to a place that is using animals just to make money and providing inhumane treatment. 

There are a few options for getting to Monkey Island. All options leave from the Puerto de Productores port. There is a boat that leaves at noon everyday and takes you to Monkey Island and it is under $5 per person. It is a peque peque (slow boat), so the trip takes about 2 hours. Since we had 4 kids in tow, we decided to hire our own speedboat. The cost was $100 and was by far the most expensive part of our entire trip, but it was where we decided to splurge. With the speedboat you can leave the port whenever you want, get there faster, and leave the island whenever you are ready. I would recommend putting it in your budget if you are traveling with kids.

It was so much fun seeing my kids interact with the monkeys. The monkeys especially loved annoying Ford and Brady and, of course, the boys loved bugging them in return. They are so playful and you get to hold them and interact with them, but in a natural environment where you know they are not being exploited. 

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