Sadly, expat forums, groups and websites are often filled with cautionary tales of negative experiences in Peru; getting robbed by taxi drivers or thieves on the street or being cheated out of money by locals. However, when we have a decidedly positive experience here we are not as inspired to take to the social networks about it. This article is about one of my TEFL trainees this month, who for the purpose of this article we’ll call Cindy. Cindy had a stroke of good luck and positive karma involving locals and I promised her that if this story had a happy ending, I would share it with our readers, so here it is.
Cindy is an ex-horse-riding instructor from New York who has come to Peru with her Peruvian husband and crew of young children to take a TEFL course. Her idea is to get qualified, gain some experience and then step into the world of English teaching in order to be able to live in Peru long-term. She speaks some basic Spanish and each day she seems to discover something new about this little provincial town which makes her smile; her positivity is quite inspiring. Due to an important meeting, Cindy needed to fly back to New York so she travelled across the border to fly from Guayaquil to Quito and then on to JFK. The whole trip went smoothly which was a relief as it was the first time she’d travelled alone in South America, and her time schedule was so tight that it left no room for error; so many things could have gone wrong but they didn’t. On the way home she decided to buy a new laptop; although she wasn’t very computer literate she was two weeks into a course which required using one every day so it was definitely a necessity. When Cindy finally arrived in Zorritos she quickly hopped off the bus, excited to see her husband and girls again, and without realizing it left the bag with her laptop and her iPad on the seat of the bus.
By the time Cindy realized what she had done the bus had already left, so she quickly hailed a taxi and made the forty-five minute trip to Mancora, which was the bus’ next stop. Unfortunately, by the time they’d arrived the bus had already continued on its way, so they explained to the man in the office, Jorge, what had happened. Jorge made a call to the bus attendant and she confirmed that the bag was on the seat, but didn’t mention what was inside. So the next day as Cindy was working away in her TEFL course, her husband Santiago went back to the Cifa office in Mancora, only to be told that the attendant who had found it was now in Tumbes and that he should come back in the afternoon. He spent the morning killing time, however when he returned to the office Jorge told him that there had been some misunderstanding and the bag was actually now in Tumbes. He began to feel suspicious and felt that he was getting the run around and said “If you don’t have it, just tell me, don’t play games.” Jorge, however, assured Santiago that it wasn’t a game and that if they hadn’t wanted to return the bag they would have told him the in the beginning. So Santiago put his trust in Jorge’s words and caught another bus back up to Tumbes which was an hour and a half away. When he arrived at Cifa’s office he almost couldn’t believe his luck when they handed over the grey zip-up bag containing his wife’s brand new laptop and iPad.
Cindy returned to her class the next day and amazed her classmates with the story; they were all foreigners who had lived or traveled in Peru and the majority doubted that her possessions would be returned to her in such an honest manner. Not only was this outcome dependent upon the honesty of Jorge in the Cifa office, but also upon the attendant who had originally found the bag and every other employee that had come into contact with the bag throughout its long journey.
The internet has made the whole world more connected and allowed us to communicate in a way that was undreamed of in the past, however it is all too often an infinite space which can be filled with negative stories and tales. Without a doubt, it is important to be conscious of your personal security in Peru, but to also remember that it is a huge country filled with good honest people too, just like the countries we’ve all come from.
About the author: Ellie Ryan is an Aussie expat working and living in Peru. She is the Founder of TEFL Zorritos, a TEFL training institute which trains people to become English language teachers and places them in positions in Peru and abroad. She is also the Founder of TEFL Zorritos English Institute, the first ever English institute in the small northern town of Zorritos. This article was originally published on the Living in Peru website as part of her Expat Ellie blog series.