Sunday, September 8, 2013

I'm Thinking of Retiring in Perú

The Main Square of El Carmen, Perú,
the hub of Afro-Peruvian culture

While chatting with Dr. Carrillo of El Carmen, Perú , an idea hit me like a ton of bricks, and that is to one day retire in Perú since I grew to love the country after so many trips. I have friends and family-like ties, and even a goddaughter there. Even better, however, is the low cost of living.  With a little frugality, I can live comfortably on half my retirement income, and save an invest the rest. After talking to some more of my Peruvian friends, I learned that I can rent a two-bedroom apartment in a nice, safe neighborhood in the capital city of Lima for as little as $300 per month, and in the District of El Carmen, where my goddaughter lives, we are talking about less than $100. According to Dr. Carrillo, I can have a brick home built from the ground up for under 10K, and can hire a housekeeper/cook, and a security guard, and pool my money with members of the community to buy food wholesale. I can even make extra money teaching English - a marketable profession in Perú, I even thought of conducting Afro Peruvian tours and doing hospitality for English speaking visitors as well as rent one of my rooms to tourists. Millions of ideas are flowing through my head right now.

I'm standing in the back (second from the right) 
with El Carmen's famous Ballumbrosio Family

Nothing has been decided as of yet as I will be in the exploration and  fact-finding stage for quite some time. I’m exploring the red tape involved such as medical insurance, immigration procedures, and other factors to see if it is all worth it. Will I get bored for things I've taken for granted in the USA? How will deal with Latin-American time? We African-Americans call it Colored People's Time (or CPT) where we are stereotypically late. It was brought to my attention that in Latin America it is not considered polite to arrive on time when you are invited to an event. Interesting! Who knows, I may be in for another culture shock greater than what I experienced when I moved from New York to California. Can I adjust? 

 My goddaughter Daniela, of El Carmen 
celebrating her 11th Birthday

A friend of mine expressed a concern that once I become a resident that I will be facing the same type of racism that Afro-Peruvians face and no longer be treated as a guest in their country. My opinion is that just as in the USA, foreign blacks are perceived as less of a threat than the native blacks, I too will be perceive differently in Perú with my foreign accent and American passport. In my first visit to Perú in 2005, I approached two cops in their patrol car seeking directions. Both seemed frightened and suspicious of me, but as soon as they heard talking “funny” expressing my desire to find a place to exchange my money into Peruvian currency, they immediately became jovial and friendly as they gave me the directions I needed. Wow, that was interesting! I do plan on supporting the Afro-Peruvian civil rights struggle once I get settled. There are three civil rights organizations that I know of already.

Cesar y Maribel
Peruvians in “the Hood”

One thing that I have in common with Peruvians, especially in the coastal region is my love for salsa and Cuban music. In the predominately black District of El Carmen, an ipod is the last thing I need because they be jammin’ on some Cuban music that will make you dance in your sleep. But I also enjoy classical music, and Lima has a symphony orchestra. There are some jazz clubs in Lima as well, but for R&B, I will have to depend on iTunes. It seems as though when it comes to getting all of my personal and cultural needs met, I may have to live in Lima and spend three-day weekends in El Carmen, or vice versa, while taking occasional vacations to the US and other countries. Right now, this is all speculation, and I have plenty of time to think about it..

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