“How long are you staying in Peru?” Probably two dozen people have asked me this in the past month and I’ve got no better answer than “I don’t know”. Maybe “I have no idea” could work but that sounds more flailing and directionless. (Doesn’t it sound flailing and directionless?) I’m definitely staying through mid-April (see below.) And I may stay into the 2nd half of the 21st Century. (I can’t exactly live here after that, but I could still be here…)
Why do people crave an end-date? Why is there an assumption that I’m “coming back”? Maybe it’s just small talk and I’m still not used to it, despite several decades of exposure.
Something’s wrong with my face. When I was in Austin, I went to my sister’s dentist who referred me to a specialist for non-urgent oral surgery. My dental insurance would cover all but about $6,000 of it so that would be the cost. It’s not urgent-urgent, but sometime in the next few months would greatly increase my chances of having my 28 chompers with me when I’m 115. (That’s right. I see no reason to die before that, so I don’t plan on it.)
Dental surgery in Peru? Maybe. I’m not one to willy-nilly just cruise into an underdeveloped country and give anyone who calls himself a “dentist” free reign over the bottom third of my face while I lie unconscious and hope for the best. However. Fiona got impressive results from a US Embassy-recommended, US educated dentist here in Lima. She got some pretty involved dental work done, which included correcting some US dental work. After closely inspecting her pearly grill (imagine my head tilted and craned into her mouth as closely as humanly possible, without touching her left bicuspid to my right eyeball…) I made a consultation appointment for April 11.
Can I work in advertising in Peru? Who th’ heck knows! Not willing to wander off my career path, it’s either find an advertising job here in Lima, or move along! There are countless reasons advertisers and marketers at any given place in the world would need materials written in native English. By “materials”, I mean anything from B to C (TV, radio, print, web) to B to B (trade pubs, promotions) to internal communications. My job title is copywriter, which covers a huge spectrum; but I’m a specific type of copywriter, which takes awhile to explain. I’ll spare you.
First contact: Flavio. I started cold-messaging Lima creative directors (CDs) via LinkedIn when I was at Tara’s. Flavio, the most senior CD I contacted was actually the first one to write me back. He’s been a huge help. He doesn’t have a spot for someone like me, but helped me land an interview at another Lima agency or April 10th.
Even if you work at my firm, if I don’t know you, I won’t reply to your email. I appreciate Flavio’s replies and assistance even more, now that I’m learning at bit about Peruvian corporate culture. In the US, Fiona worked for a multi-national corporation and she explained that inter-company email sent to their office in Peru would go unacknowledged and unanswered, simply because Peruvians don’t reply to people they haven’t been introduced to.
As an advertising veteran who’s worked In all four hemispheres, Flavio knew I’d be going nowhere fast without someone to “introduce” me to other ad people, so I’m really grateful. Things I noticed while sitting in the lobby as people showed up to work:
• Mohawks (with side hair short, but not shaved) and faux-hawks are in fashion among males.
• Leggings can be worn as pants.
• A bra can be a top if there’s a sheer shirt on top.
• As they arrived, 85% of the employees turned and greeted me as I sat in a chair against the wall. I thought that was nice. I can’t imagine that happening at an agency in Hong Kong or Vietnam.
Here are my pics from my time waiting I the lobby:
Question. Why is the default question about how long I’ll be here, rather than the existence of a timeframe? I would ask someone: “Are you staying in Peru for a certain amount of time?” Rather than: “How long will you be in Peru?” What am I missing?