Merry Christmas!

Christmas 2011

Merry Christmas everyone! We had a wonderful time here with a few close friends. We hope you enjoyed your time with your friends and family. We miss you all.

Pictures :

Our first anniversay and vacation! Part 2

Side note/ PSA get good travel/luggage insurance when you travel, we have it through my AmEx card and they cover $500 worth of items for delayed baggage after any 3 hour delay = shopping to replace items in Argentina for us =)

After having an amazing time in Argentina we flew to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Myth to debunk – “Why are you going to Sao Paulo”.

Matthew has been to Rio, Brazil before and all he talked about is I have to try this acai. The person at the hotel said we might be able to find it in the mall down the street. So our first stop in Sao Paulo was for a bowl of acai it came with sliced bananas and a little granola. It was pretty good.  This was a Sunday, and on Sundays the mall is turned into a craft market in the aisles for local artisans. I got a cute headband that’s really artsy with all types of stuff on it. It’s a great accent piece. We also ate lunch there at a buffet that sold food by the kilo. Brazilian food is great! Even the mall food. Later that day we went to a great pizza place “Braz”- I mean the pizza was pretty darn amazing (sorry I left my camera) we got one with wild bore, goat cheese and tomato sauce. We also got the pizza recommended by Lonely Planet “Fosca” with smoked ham,  capitury cheese, mozzarella, and tomato sauce. YUMM .. oh and the bread with sausage baked into it “pao de calabresa” – yeah I’m excited all over again.

Mercado Municipal with Joana

Our next day was with our rented friend Joana. We went all around Sao Paulo. It was a great time even with it raining, we just kept running. She took us to see the city from one of the tallest buildings, an amazing market, a few awesome neighborhoods, and of course to get my new favorite shoes. Photos are worth a thousands words so here’s more from that day:

Melissa shoes

The next few days Matthew and I had the city to roam for ourselves. Joana recommended we go to a restaurant in the Paulista area where we were staying and eat feijoada- a Brazilian dish that everyone eats on Wednesday. We decided to visit another area that we didn’t get much time in Villa Madelena, and went to a restaurant from Lonely Planet “Mercearia Sao Pedro”. The place was really cool and funky looking. The book says they have a buffet lunch for 9 reals; however, when we set down our waiter said one word “Feijoada” and we said “si”. lol After that we realized everyone in that restaurant and any other restaurant really was eating Feijoada (with the exception of one or two people). Later that day we toured the famous Museu do Futbol (soccer museum), it was set up really well and it was very interactive – this was one of the few places recommended by a friend.  Pics here:


I must admit it was quite welcoming and warm to be in a city where the majority of the population are descendants from Africa. I’ve never seen so many different combinations of ethnicities – the colors of all the people were amazing. Everyone was so beautiful.  If you haven’t read my post about the Museu Afro Brasil you should read more here:  I also love the art in Sao Paulo. We were told that instead of corporations paying taxes they have to invest in the arts. And the arts are amazing there and are mostly free. Guaranteed free art is the street graffiti which is all very awesome.  Another amazing thing is that Sao Paulo was in a jungle and there is one small piece of it left – a random jungle that you can walk through while in the city. And the steak, I’m sorry but the steak in Brazil at the churrascaria’s is the best steak I’ve ever had.  Pics here:

Parque Trianon



Combi Music 1.0 … Karma Chameleon or Take On Me hmmmm

Karma Chameleon

The most common music heard on the radio in Lima, Peru is American music from the 80s. That’s right from the 80’s. I hear most of the radio played music I listen to on combis (buses) and taxis. Without fail I’m humming along to a song at least once a week that I might not have heard in 10 or 20 years. So I’ve decided to create a playlist of music that I’ve hear and take you down memory lane. To hear it just click on this link . I’ll send you the next update after the next combi ride or so =). And I’ll tell you the song that most surprised me. This time its a tie between Karma Chameleon (the album cover did win lol) and Take On Me.

Our first anniversary and vacation! Part 1

(Hey remember to post comment) =)

1st Anniversary

Matthew and I celebrated our very first anniversary on November 12th by taking a trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The expectations were set that Buenos Aires would be the Paris of South America, would have great shopping and the steak would be amazing; and Sao Paulo – umm why are you going there. Well let me throw those expectations out for you.

This vacation was not our traditional adventure to a far-away land with 4-wheelers and hiking boots, this time we visited two big cities. Sao Paulo being the largest city in South America, and Argentina a city that is loved by a lot of Peruanos (Peruvians) that we know. We were given a list for things to do in Buenos Aires, so we decided to wing it without a guide there. For Sao Paulo we weren’t given that much information, apparently most people just visit for business trips. While looking for ideas I stumbled upon an amazing idea

So Buenos Aires- Its a beautiful city it actually reminds me more of New York until you look up and the buildings aren’t 50 stories + high. They even have a SOHO, that reminds you of SOHO. Hmm there is some architecture that reminds you of Paris and one major street that is tree lined that does too but I wouldn’t equate that to the Paris of South America. The steak was good but, I think I’ve had equally as good steak in the US unless I’ve just forgotten. What was really good was the wine! Drink lots and lots of wine if you go. Fine eat steak and drink wine! People order bottles of wine with every lunch and dinner in Argentina. Oh and the shopping yes! The shopping was great- if you are living in South America and don’t have access to American / European clothing. But the leather was exceptional – I did get a new leather jacket that was on sale for less than $100 (it needs to be cleaned but what the hell). I also got a great pair of shoes, Matthew did too. But ooh the other things that I have read about being a black woman in Buenos Aires are true to- they thought I was a prostitute from either the Dominican Republic or Brazil. Taxi drivers wouldn’t give me a ride unless I was with my husband, one even kicked me out after Matthew was with me to get it. And two men tried to pick me up.  When I finally asked another woman about this, I was told it was because I was downtown and that’s where the prostitutes have there apartments.

My new butter yellow leather jacket

A few restaurants we went to:

Marcelo – ate the chicken and vegetable risotto (not on the menu lol)

Tortoni – a cafe and we saw a tango/comedy show

Cabrera –  we had a great steak here for our anniversary – reservations are a must!

La Brigada – a fun friendly atmosphere with great steak

Te Mataré Ramirez – ignore the bad reviews the food was amazing and the sexy show was great too

I let the photos tell the rest (click the links for the photos):

Buenos Aires Wine Tasting & dinner at Montego Bay:

Day trip to Colonia, Uruguay; Dinner at Marcelo, Tango at Tortoni Oh fyi if you go to Colonia don’t book the tour with the lunch, just buy the ferry ride, go walk around the city, and get your passport stamped.

Theater, graveyard, food, love and more

Market, food, Japonese Garden and anniversary dinner!

Sao Paulo to be continued…..

Learning to teach English and Teaching English

A potential student for the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Institute emailed me last month about what I thought about taking the TEFL course online. I thought I’d share my response:

The TEFL course online was pretty easy. I’m a classroom learner but I felt it was still very interactive. It’s still up to you to make the most of it. In the beginning of the course I was definitely more involved – reading everything. Towards the end I was really wrapped up in my move.  So I would suggest giving yourself buffer time in-between ending the course and your move. The student advisers at TEFL  were really helpful with questions about getting to Peru. And the TEFL Institute Alumni Group on Facebook was really helpful too. However, I don’t need a TEFL at any of the places I teach at. Some places in Lima require it but all of them don’t. If you get with a good school/institute with good course material its pretty easy once you start. Honestly if you speak English, and you have a personality you can do this.  But I’m still glad I have my TEFL certificate already because my husband and I are considering teaching in Asia and you need a TEFL there. I couldn’t see myself stopping to take the time to take the course now. TEFL Institute has also been pretty helpful with all of my questions about the next destination that we want to go to.

I think the practicum (real class observation/teaching) helps a lot as well. It really helps you see what your learn in the course applied. I did my practicum at Drexel University and have used some of the things they did in their classes.

  • I use for conversation classes – one of the teachers taught with NPR
  • I have had the students bring in a song and talk about what it means – one of the teachers did this in her class
  • I had a student draw a map to their house and explain the directions – another teacher did this
  • It was also helpful to see how teachers organize their class time and interact with the students.
Two of my students! Martin and Ursula

Teaching has been great. I actually teach professional adults for the most part which I didn’t expect, and I have just begun teaching kids. I have a few lawyers, an owner of a company and an HR manager as students.  They are all pretty interesting and in some of my classes I end up learning quite a bit. Some of my classes are really going through the book, some are conversation classes, one of my classes I’ve had to prepare my student for a meeting in English and a speech in English, and with the kids I try to be . Oh with that I should say that the majority of my classes are 1 on 1. I have one class with two students. Two students actually makes it very interesting because they can talk to each other and correct each others mistakes. The kids are absolutely fun and there is just a little bit more prep work involved. Right now I teach 5 days a week, with classes that are 1.5 – 2 hour blocks. On average I might teach 3 – 4 hours a day.
Overall, I’m glad I took the course with the TEFL Institute. The most helpful thing to me is their assistance while I’ve been abroad, and knowing how to create my own lesson plans.