Living in the Developing World in Peru

sunset-club-photo-3Once you choose to live abroad in Peru one of the main questions you will be faced with from family and friends is to explain why. You can expound as much as you like about the culture and lifestyle, the people and food, nevertheless it will often come down to justifying why you choose to live in the developing world as oppose to the relative comfort of your first world home country. There are many positive reasons that motivate and inspire people to call Peru their home, so here are a few of mine, which as an expat in Peru you may be able to relate to.

Housing Affordability

Surprisingly enough, Peru offers access to affordable housing, a fundamental basic human right which is slowly disappearing back home in Australia. Coming from a country which has seen a 20% rise in the cost of houses in the last two years, which subsequently means inflated and often unaffordable rental prices, access to a reasonably priced rental property relative to income is not just a luxury but a necessity. Living in a small provincial town I have sacrificed small luxuries such as running hot water (although I live in a climate of eternal summer) and shopping at a modern supermarket, however I appreciate having access to housing which doesn’t force me to work like a slave just to pay the rent.

 

0021Lifestyle

Australia is known as ‘The Lucky Country’, a title it deserves due to it’s natural beauty, resources and the opportunities that it offers its inhabitants. However, it is also one of the most expensive countries in the world and the cost of everyday items from coffee to clothes is constantly increasing. When we’re not working hard Aussies are famous for playing hard, however this is an expensive luxury which is becoming less and less accessible. A couple of glasses of wine in a bar, followed by take-away and a taxi home will easily set you back $100, so we are often sacrificing our lifestyle because of the outrageous cost. One of the things I most value about life in the north of Peru is how easy and relatively inexpensive it is to relax in my free time. We go to the beach and the pool, eat ceviche and share a cold beer with friends without breaking the bank, and this ability to easily and affordably enjoy ourselves has a positive effect on the overall lifestyle one can enjoy. It’s certainly simplicity over grandeur, yet the simple things in life can often be the most pleasurable.

 

Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Peruvians, and South Americans in general, are incredibly industrious and inventive and I am consistently impressed by their ability to survive and prosper despite the lack of support and services from their government. Peru is filled with entrepreneurs and it allows its lucky expats to endeavor to do the same. A lack of regulations and the enforcement of laws undoubtedly has negative repercussions, however there is also a positive side as a less regulated society allows people the opportunity to think outside the box and start their own businesses, keeping the entrepreneurial spirit alive.

 

Life is for Living

Not only Peruvians, but latinos in general are famous for knowing how to appreciate life and seek the simple pleasures such as spending time with family and friends, eating well, dancing and laughing. Peruvians work long hours and many face a daily struggle to keep their head above water, however when they have the opportunity to relax, to celebrate a special occasion or festival or to just enjoy a beer and share a laugh, they relish it. Life here can be challenging but the reward is being part of a society where people live and breathe their culture and history.

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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. 

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How to Network in Peru

One of the most important parts of settling into a new place, whether it be for the short or long term, is meeting people and making friends. When it’s a foreign country you’re trying to find your feet in then trying to learn the local language is also a top priority. So let’s take a look at some of the best ways of making friends and connections in Peru, and improving your Spanish along the way.

Meetup

Meetup prides itself as being the world’s largest network of local groups, with 24 million members in 180 countries. Its objective is to facilitate the organizing of local groups and to allow people to participate in groups that already exist. So you can create your own group in your local area or join one of the already existing 9,000 groups.

The mission of Meetup is to reinvigorate and in a way, resurrect the idea of local community by allowing people around the world to self-organize and come together based on shared interests. This mission is based on a belief that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference.

So how exactly does it work? Without the necessity of signing up you can browse the existing groups in your area or search for groups according to their topic, such as book clubs or lovers of photography. Each group has a summary of its objective, the number of members it has, who the organizer is and you can even read reviews of the group provided by members. If you are interested in the group then you can contact them directly, which will require you to sign up and become a Meetup member first.

 

Mundo Lingo Language Exchange

Mundo Lingo is similar to Meetup in the sense that it connects people, however their mission is focused on promoting stronger links between locals and foreigners through language exchange activities. Priding themselves on diversity, they welcome people of all ages, nationalities and language levels. The process is simple, the events are free and don’t require prior registration and they’re held in the same place at the same time every week.

Mundo Lingo currently runs what they call “language socials” in 13 cities over 5 continents and they are continuing to grow. They aim to expand into more cities so that travelers can start meeting locals from the moment they get off the plane.

Mundo Lingo events are fully staffed and upon arrival at the venue you are provided with flags to stick on your chest, indicating which languages you speak, with your native language starting at the top and the other flags in order of ability. During the event the idea is that by standing up you are indicating your willingness and availability to meet new people, and once you’ve met someone you’d like to have a private conversation with, then you sit down together.

 

For those of you already in Lima, Mundo Lingo holds their language exchange n Wednesdays in Miraflores at El Patagonia, Bolivar 164 from 8pm until close.

 

Useful Sites & Pages

If you’re looking at staying in Peru for an extended period of time there are some useful websites, such as Expat Peru, which not only provides lots of useful information but also has forums where people can ask for information, post rental places available and other types of classified listings. The How to Peru website is also worth checking out, it offers interesting articles about travel destinations, useful travel-related information and experiences that you can enjoy in Peru. Facebook is also a good option; there are a number of groups such as Peru for Young Expats, Expatriates in Peru, Living in Lima – Expat Support and Expat Entrepreneurs in Peru. These groups tend to a little dominated by and more focused on expats living in Lima, however there are members living in other parts of Peru. For those looking to network with other expat entrepreneurs this group has a monthly meet up in Miraflores, generally at the Irish bar Houlihans.

 

Language Exchange with a Local

And last but certainly not least, a wonderful way to improve your Spanish and to get to know locals is through a language exchange. This can be as simple as meeting up with a local and exchanging an hour of language practice with one another, not only does this help with your language skills but it’s a brilliant way of getting to know someone and finding out about what their life here is like. More often than not you’ll be able to learn much more from each other than just some new words.

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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.

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A Positive Expat Tale About Peru

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.

IMG_4675Cindy 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.  

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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.

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Pregnancy in Peru

This is the story of Anastasia, a Russian lady who fell pregnant and gave birth in Lima.  Ellie has helped her to share her story with our readers.

This is my story about becoming a mother. I am originally from  Russia and after living in Lima for a year on a tourist visa, without work or insurance, I fell pregnant for the first time. I would like to share the decisions I made based on my own situation and beliefs, please do not take it literally as guide to follow, it was simply my personal experience.

A year ago I went to my local Inkafarma with a Google translation of how to ask for a pregnancy test and in fifteen minutes realized I was unexpectedly, but very happily pregnant. My world didn’t quite turn upside down until the next morning when I paid seventy soles for a blood test. There was no doubt about it, so my brain started to switch between yes and no algorithms, a no to having an abortion and a yes to staying in Peru with the baby’s father.

Once the decision was made I felt like the only thing I could do was completely trust in my body. I felt so stressed without the support I would have received back home, no fixed salary, no understanding of the health system, poor Spanish, a tourist visa and topped off by living in a noisy expensive apartment. All I could do was let go and enjoy the simple things; walking next to the ocean, sleeping a lot, eating tasty food and reading for hours and hours about what was happening inside my body.

From reading so widely and feeling lost in the health system here, I literally became my own doctor. I controlled my blood tests and ultrasounds according to what I had read on the internet and I also sent scans to my previous gynecologist in Russia.  So the most important advice would be to try to keep in touch with your own doctor in your country of origin. I also realized later that your mental state plays an important role in overall health, so I worked hard to stay informed, relaxed and positive.

Everything was perfect right up until we needed to decide where to deliver the baby. I needed to find an English speaking doctor in a hospital in San Isidro, and so the search began.

In the first hospital we tried the gynecologist was always busy, with her cell phone in one hand and telling me that I needed to stay in hospital from that point on as I was at high risk, as was the life of my baby. This was her diagnosis despite my tests being ok, despite having swum my daily kilometer just before the appointment and despite showing no signs of ill health. I didn’t accept her diagnosis and was then asked to submit to a huge list of tests in the same hospital which would cost around five hundred dollars. Needless to say, I never returned to the gynecologist or the hospital, as not only did I feel worried but I also felt like I was being taken advantage of.

So be prepared to have to make the important decisions regardless of what a medical professional tells you and always ask for a second, independent opinion. This is exactly what I did in another hospital; it cost me another three hundred soles (paid under the table of course), however it was was worth it as the doctor confirmed that I was totally fine and wouldn’t need further assistance until the labour.

These trips from doctor to doctor, answering the same questions, having the same tests taken because they don’t trust tests from other hospitals and want to make more money, was the worst part of the pregnancy.

The final decision of which doctor would deliver the baby was made easily as it ended up being a friend of a friend, a very Latin American situation in the narrow world of San Isidro. Despite there being an element of friendship, I still needed to re-take my tests, be billed again and appointments were always delayed with no excuse and the exact cost of the  delivery was never clear. These inconveniences are just facts of life here so be ready to always have extra time and money on hand.

The more contact I had with the doctor the more pressure I felt to go into labour. Although I was fine I had passed my delivery date so the doctor started giving me times that were convenient for him; not on a weekend, nor the first of May or any other day when he was busy. I was asked to come the next day at a set time to be induced, however in my country a baby comes when it’s ready to, and not when the doctor has free time. So I had to be strong and make the decision myself, to spend the next few days at home waiting for the miracle to come, which of course it did.

I was called a crazy European so many times, however I don’t regret any decision I made, as I worked hard to do what was best for me and my baby, when we were both ready. Saying that though, I wouldn’t deliver a baby in Peru again.

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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. This was originally published on the Living in Peru website as part of the “Expat Ellie” blog series. 

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Life In The Province in Peru

Once you decide Peru is the country that you would like to make your home, albeit for the short term, the next step is weighing up where exactly you would like to live. This decision may be based on work opportunities or relationships and which parts of the country you have already experienced. Lima, being the capital, is generally the most obvious choice and it certainly boasts the largest population of expats. However there is much to be said for thinking outside the box and considering living in one of Peru’s many provinces. The majority of the information available is about living in Lima so here are some things to take into consideration before ruling out life in the country.

The view from one of our favorite restaurants

The view from one of our favorite restaurants

Lima versus the rest of Peru

Lima is the most common choice for new-comers to Peru, due to its modernity and the work opportunities available, the same reasons which attract Peruvians from all over the country to move to Lima and compete to survive. Generally foreigners are lucky enough to live in wealthier suburbs such as Miraflores, Barranco and Surco, and have access to modern supermarkets and shopping centres, international cuisine and enough Starbucks to keep the homesickness at bay and to avoid experiencing too much culture shock. Lima however is not Miraflores or Barranco and neither is Peru for that matter and there is a whole country of Peruvians whose experience of Lima, and Peru, is very different. Not stepping outside of these tourist bubbles can mean your experience is limited, protected and not particularly realistic. It can’t be denied that for someone who lives in a small town there is a slight thrill heading into a Wong in Surco, excited by the knowledge that everything needed will be available, from mushrooms and blue cheese to an array of good wines, non-existent pleasures in some provincial areas. Nevertheless, living in a small Peruvian town means that one is well aware that these wealthy, American-like suburbs are not a realistic example of a typical Limeno’s life.

TEFL Certificate course teach english peru south america

This could be you watching the sun disappear over the horizon…

A Rich Cultural Experience

Life in the province offers a rich cultural experience and the opportunity to integrate and participate in the local community. Depending on the location and amount of foreign tourists and residents, it may take some time to be accepted by the locals, however once you become a part of that landscape it can feel something like home. Although the locals may be a little slower at accepting the novelty of foreigner in their town, this curiosity and apprehension can slowly turn into understanding and acceptance once they see you living the same way they do. A particularly fond memory of my Mum’s first trip to Peru was in a tiny town in the Sacred Valley, walking down the road we passed two little girls who started pointing “gringa, gringa!” and enjoying the novelty of feeling like an animal in a zoo, she began to dance down the road and put on a show, much to everyone’s delight.

Crime and Safety

Lima, along with other regional cities in Peru obviously have the highest rates of crime and the everyday personal safety of its citizens and visitors is a serious concern. Small regional towns and areas can offer a respite from this, and it’s one of the few things that local residents of these towns can honestly boast about when they compare their home to Lima. That’s not to say that you won’t ever be robbed; someone may still pinch your clothes off the line and you still need to be conscious of security and lock all cars and houses, however you are much less likely to be held up at knife-point or mugged by a taxi driver, so at the end of the day it’s all relative.

If at the end of the day you decide you stay in the big smoke be sure to make the effort to travel and explore the regional areas in Peru, as the towns as much as the cities are all part of the rich diverse landscape that this beautiful country has to offer.

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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. This article was originally published on the Living in Peru website

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Choosing A Cell Phone Company in Peru

In our technologically advanced world it’s all about on-line communication and being connected, so one of the first things you will want to do in Peru is get a chip and a local number. Firstly, if you have a phone from home that isn’t locked to a network, bring it with you. Like most electrical items, cell phones are relatively expensive here and you won’t find the same variety of brands and models.

Before you get too excited getting back on line, a sad truth must be told, that Peru is infamous for having one of the slowest internet speeds in the world. It is also incredibly unreliable and the connection will often be cut off without warning, especially in provincial areas.

Although the market is starting to become more competitive, there are basically two main telecommunications companies to choose from, Movistar and Claro. Movistar seems to be more popular in the provinces whereas Claro is the most common provider in Lima. Both offer similar services; free calls to other RPM (Movistar) or RPC (Claro) numbers. Claro will automatically detect another Claro number, however for Movistar RPM numbers you will need to mark an asterix at the beginning of the number. You can choose a pre-paid or a contract, if you don’t need a new phone then pre-paid is probably the best option as contracts include the monthly handset payment and you will need to commit for a minimum of eighteen months.

Both the major providers, Claro and Movistar, will claim to have better coverage although the truth is that there is very little difference. Claro seems to have a slight advantage with the quality of their coverage, particularly their internet network and service and attention in their centres is often quicker and more professional.

The new players are companies such as Entel and Bitel. Both offer very competitive phone and internet packages when compared to Claro and Movistar, however their coverage has not yet been established to the same degree and the training of their staff in their centres leaves a lot to be desired. Bitel in the provinces, fingers crossed it’s better in Lima, has a huge number of staff members who appear to be poorly trained and lacking in knowledge and expertise. Which means that purchasing something as simple as a recharge can take up more than hour of your time. What Claro and Movistar still have as an advantage over these new companies is the amount of places where you can buy a recharge or pay your bill. Bitel has very few outlets and you often have to travel to their actual customer centre instead of being able to buy a recharge from your local tienda.

So at the end of the day it’s a good idea to shop around and compare companies and their advantages and disadvantages before making a commitment.

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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. This article was originally published on the Living in Peru website.

Residency in Peru – Carnet de Extranjeria

One of the most complex and frustrating “tramites” is what’s involved in applying for your Carnet de Extranjeria, the document required to legally live and work in Peru. Unfortunately most of the information available on-line through the Migraciones website, Interpol website, and some expat websites is incorrect or at best lacking in accuracy. Having recently completed the process I would like to share my experience with you and hopefully help people avoid the same stress in the future. These are the requisites if you are married to a Peruvian, which is how the majority of foreigners gain their residency.

So, here is an outline of the steps you need to take:

  1. Go to Banco de la Nacion and pay S/. 117.60 (tributo 01814 por Cambio de Calidad Migratoria)
  2. Once you have paid this hold on to the voucher as you will need the number to apply for your interview with Migraciones. Go to their website (Citas en Linea – https://www.migraciones.gob.pe/index.php/phasellus-quis-diam-vehicula-dictum-dolor-vel/) and using your voucher number you can book an interview, give yourself at least a month so that you can get all of the documents together. Once you have booked your interview time and completed the on-line form (F004) make sure you print it along with the confirmation of your interview.
  3. Now it’s time to get your documents together, you will need the following:
  4. Original Partida o Acta de Matrimonio visada por RENIEC. This basically means you ask for a certified copy of your marriage certificate from RENIEC and it cannot be more than 6 months old.
  5. A legalized copy of the DNI of your Peruvian spouse, which must state their marital status as married, the DNI must be current with the current address and they must not owe any money to ONPE (e.g. fines for not having voted, ojo!).
  6. A legalized copy of your passport, of the main page and of the page which has the stamp of the last time you entered the country. The passport must have at least 1 year before it expires.
  7. A legalized copy of your Carta de Garantia, which your spouse needs to complete as per the pro-forma, stating that they will support you financially.
  8. The original of your Tarjeta Andina, which they give you when you enter the country, it has your personal details & is stamped by immigration.
  9. Make sure you have all of your documents in order ready for your interview at Migraciones, Av. España 734, Breña. It’s worth arriving an hour and a half early, as there will be another 30 or so people with the same interview time and they will line you up according to the time you arrived. Before your interview make a copy of all of your documents for your own records. Depending on how many people there are with the same interview time, submitting your documents will take an hour or longer. Once you have submitted the documents they will give you a document called “Requisitos Presentados Para El Tramite Cambio de Calidad Migratoria.” At the bottom it will state that you need to go to Interpol the next day to process La Ficha de Canje Internacional and that the Ficha must then be delivered to Migraciones within 6 working days.
  10. So the next day you need to go to Interpol, I was told to go super-early but there are actually less people there later in the morning. Once you get there go straight to the front desk as you will need to show that you have all the required documents and you will be given a number. Once you have the number you will need to go and get your dental records completed in the small room in front of reception, and record your personal details on the back of the last page of your documents. The actual process is very simple, your number will be called, your documents submitted and your fingerprints taken. Then you will be told to return in 6 days to pick up your Ficha which you will then need to take straight to Migraciones. When you return to pick up your Ficha you won’t need a number, there is a separate line to the right of reception for pick-ups and it’s relatively quick. The same for Migraciones, present yourself to the security guard who put you in order when you went for your interview and she will send you straight up to the third floor to drop off the Ficha, make sure you have a photocopy of it with you. The most complicated part of Interpol are the requisites so here they are:
    1. Original passport
    2. Photocopies of your passport, the photo page & the page with your last entry stamp.
    3. 2 passport size photos, it states on their website that these are taken at Interpol but this is not correct.
    4. The voucher from your payment at Banco de La Nacion for S/80.50 tributo #08141 concepto ficha de canje internacional.
    5. Don’t be confused by their website stating that you need your Carnet de Extranjeria as this is obviously not possible.
    6. Photocopies of your marriage certificate and your spouse’s DNI
    7. Copy of the document Migraciones gave you when you submitted all of your documents.
    8. You will complete the “Solicitud del interesado” document at Interpol
    9. Now for the possibly complicated part – depending on your nationality you may need to pay an extra fee to the federal police in your country, the requisites are on the Interpol website (https://www.pnp.gob.pe/especiales/interpol1/servicios.html), the amount differs for each country but you’ll need an international bank cheque and a manila envelope as you will be posting this to the federal police yourself. In my case being Australian it was incredibly difficult to find a bank that would issue a cheque in Australian dollars and all of the information I found on-line was incorrect. Only the Banco de Credito in San Isidro, which is their main branch, could issue this cheque. For Canadians you will need to go the main branch of Interbank near Av. Javier Prado, La Victoria, a few blocks from the CIVA bus terminal. For Americans it is easier as their currency is more common, although my advice is to stick with Banco de Credito or Interbank, the best one is around the corner from CIVA in Javeir Prado, they issued cheques in almost all currencies except Australian dollars. Expat websites state Scotiabank but I was told you must hold an account with them first, which is impossible without your Carnet de Extranjeria, so basically a complete contradiction.
  11. So, that’s it! Migraciones will take 30-60 days to process your request and once your Carnet is ready you will need to go back to pay a tax and have your fingerprints & photo taken and pick it up. On the document Migraciones gave you there will be a number on the bottom which you can use to track the status of your request on-line and this is how you will know once it is finalised and ready for collection. Good luck!

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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 – www.teflzorritos.com

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