A Week-In-The-Life of Srah Howell in Peru

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Srah Howell wandered away from her home in Canada and at different times ended up in different places. Today, she works as a journalist in Lima, Peru, where she is spending six months. Hopefully, just enough time to sample all of the country’s nearly 4,000 varieties of potatoes. Please enjoy this week-in-the-life of Srah Howell based in Lima. All events are true.

This post was originally published in 2012. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.


Day 1: Tuesday

10:40 am: Alarm didn’t go off. Another late morning. Rush to get dressed and grab my Spanish books. Walk over to school, located one block away from the apartment I’m renting with my boyfriend in Lima.

11-1 pm: Spanish class. Private lessons are a blessing and curse. Today, it’s a curse: when tongue-tied, can’t rely on other students to answer for me. Gibberish ensues for the next few hours.

See also: How to Become Fluent in Spanish

1:30 pm: Go home for lunch and begin checking the day’s e-mails. Knock off some translating and editing work I do for a French fashion magazine based in Canada.

3:30 pm: Walk 25 minutes down to the beach. Rent surfboard and wet suit. For s./30 ($12 USD) and two hours of surf it’s well worth the price. Chase waves until the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Walk home.

Srah Howell surfing in Peru with seals in the water

Srah Howell and friend floating in the water in Peru with seals in the background

7 pm: Make dinner and prioritize my homework as such: translation, research, and Spanish review.

Day 2: Wednesday

11 am: Spanish class. Not much progress worth reporting here.

1 pm: Lunch with Japanese and American schoolmates. The Japanese guy insists on picking up the tab saying it is courtesy in his culture. Make mental note to befriend more Japanese.

3 pm: Walk over to a nearby park where I have scheduled to meet and interview a local known for his amazing skills with Peru’s national drink, the Pisco Sour.

3:40 pm: Still waiting for him to show up.

4 pm: They say Peruvians are always late. I’m never sure what the appropriate waiting time is, but after one hour I give up. On my way home I stop to get an express pedicure for s./16 ($7 USD). Once home, do research for this week’s article I am putting together for Yeity.

8 pm: Head out to dinner. Keeping with tradition, every night out is at a new restaurant. Peru is considered one of the best culinary places in the world. There is no lack of restaurants in Lima vying to live up to the country’s culinary repertoire.

Day 3: Thursday

9 am: No Spanish class today. Heading out for a road trip to the Southern Coast of Peru. Pick up rental car and head off along the famous Pan-American highway with my boyfriend.

10:45 am: Stop at kilometer 52 at the very best bread place in the country. Pick up two fresh cheese breads and a coke.

11:30 am: Pulled over by the police. Apparently it is mandatory to have headlights on at all times while on the highway. The fine is s./292 ($115 USD) and the cop asks we pay upfront. I ask for a receipt. He says he won’t write one in order to “save me the trouble”. I insist.

After about 10 minutes of this going on back and forth in my broken Spanish, another cop walks up to the car. I ask him if it is normal procedure among the police to take money and not hand out receipts. He asks us to wait a moment while he goes to talk to the first police officer in private. A minute later the full sum of s./292 is back in my hands with sincerest apologies for the delay.

3 pm: Completely lost. Road indications are only ever optional.

4 pm: A few hours after scheduled arrival time we make it to the Huacachina Oasis. It’s a beautiful lagoon surrounded by rolling sand dunes. We hop on a buggy and blast through the desert at full speed and go sand boarding down some hills. Get back to the oasis just in time to catch the sunset over the desert.

Day 4: Friday

7 am: Drive two hours further south along the coast to Nazca, an archeological town known for thousand-year-old gigantic drawings on the desert ground.

11 am: Board a 4-seater Cessna airplane and go for a 35-minute tour over the Nasca Lines. Absolutely breathtaking and vast in size. Once safely back on ground, we head out to explore other archeological sites around Nasca.

1 pm: Lost, again. Another police officer pulls us over. Asks where we are going and offers his help. Leaving his partner and police car behind patrolling on the side of the road, the police officer hops into the back seat of our car and begins his tour. We are directed to a not-so-exciting lookout point and then to ancient aqueducts built by the Nasca. After a few group pictures we drop him back off at his car and waiting patrol partner.

3 pm: Drive back north to the Huacachina Oasis just in time to catch another amazing sunset over the desert sand dunes.

Day 5: Saturday

10 am: Spend the morning taking last pictures of the desert for future articles.

12 pm: Drive north to an area called Ruta del Pisco, known as the wine region of Peru where they also famously make Pisco. Do a tour at the “oldest vineyard in South America”, Tacama, and sample their wines and piscos.

1 pm: Leave happier than we came. Continue north on the highway to a natural reserve for some outdoor exploring.

The following details are very detailed.

2:30 pm: Arrive in small beach town called Paracas. Park car along main road. Find the first appealing restaurant and order ceviche. After lunch drop by a tourist shop to book ATVs for a sunset drive around the park.

4 pm: Make a quick stop at our car to grab camera and swim suits. Pop the trunk, everything is gone. Left rear window is smashed open. All doors unlocked. Clearly, we have been robbed. Cameras, credit cards, cellphones, iPad, and passports, all gone.

4:20 pm: File a police report.

5:30 pm: Cut the trip short and drive back north to Lima.

10:30 pm: Arrive home. No keys. A key man has to be called to come unlock our door.

12:30 pm: After two hours of fidgeting with the lock, the key man is finally able to unlock the door. Cost for new lock, keys, and services: s./250 ($97 USD).

Day 6: Sunday

10 am: As soon as the car rental shop opens, we return the car and deal with the insurance mess. We pay about $250 USD in damages. Then we head out to the shops to get essential things that were stolen like shampoo, toothbrushes, and underwear.

3 pm: Home to work on editing and translations that are due for Sunday night.

Day 7: Monday

11 am: Spanish class.

1 pm: Come home to find that the electricity is out in the entire apartment building. Have to walk up and down 17 flights of stairs to run errands.

2 pm: Walk down 17 flights of stairs and over to the Canadian Embassy to file for a new passport. Turns out I’m lucky we even have one in Lima; my partner has to go all the way to Santiago, Chile, to file for a new Norwegian passport.

4 pm: Electricity still out at home. Walk up 17 flights of stairs. Grab swimsuit and head to the beach. Take the opportunity of being completely disconnected from the Internet and cellphones to go surfing. Catch waves until sunset.

sunset in Lima with surfer

7 pm: Walk home. Elevator is working again.

Srah is still in Peru, only now with a new passport and Chile checked off her to-do list. She plans on going diving in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, very soon. In the meantime, there are still a lot of Peruvian potatoes left for her to try.

Go to www.yeity.com for the latest on Srah’s potato – and non-potato – related work.

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4 thoughts on “A Week-In-The-Life of Srah Howell in Peru”

    • I also admire how you held your ground with the first officer the day prior! (Note to self: always ask for a receipt).


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