Monthly Archives: April 2012

Lunchtime in Piura: A Powerful Break in the Day


Lunchtime in Piura, a Peruvian town of 378,000. Its major personality points are its two universities and its rising middle class.

My four-and-a-half-hour lunch period begins at a vegetarian restaurant. This place serves up delicious soy-based products that far surpass American meat substitutes and remind me of the best tofu products I ever had in China (they were terrific, if they didn’t make you sick for three days).

I climb into a moto. This automotive contraption closely resembles India’s rickshaw and is more dangerous than a Ford Pinto. He charges me two soles (less than a buck) to travel about a mile or so to the mall. This is a good price. (It’s those pesky cab drivers who cater to the University of Piura, a private university, I watch out for. They charge three times the standard rate.)

The roads are pockmarked as Swiss cheese and the moto jiggles me so hard along them that I have to brace my breasts. Momentary we arrive at Open Plaza. This is three-month old mall. On weekends it attracts families of 23 to snap shots in front of a water fountain that’s little more than ceramic blue tiles forming a rectangle around a spitting hose. The families find KFC and Pizza Hut cutting edge, though. They love to place their toddlers in shopping carts and wheel them around the two-story building.

Inside, I feel like I’ve jumped into a Surrealist film. Every interior store is darkened by a power outage. Starbucks can’t serve up a latte. Claro the telecom company cannot recharge cell phones. RadioShack cannot return useless speakers without power to their computer.

As I exit RadioShack, one of the mall’s two anchor stores, Sodimac, is illuminated. But right now I don’t need home goods from a pseudo-Home Depot. Instead it’s time for a bi-weekly grocery trip to Tottus. It too has electricity– and shoppers. Fortunately, there aren’t the throngs that appear on weekends. Tottus on a weekend makes Disneyland on the Fourth of July look like a retirement home.

A few bottles of juice and Diet Coke, four liters of water, soy milk, and a $4 bottle of Argentinian Malbec later, I’m aboard another moto on my way home. For six weeks I’ve lived with a local family in their three-story, lime green house. At less than two months old, the house already has more cracks than a my 38-year-old smoker’s face. It also has a two-year-old who cries more hours daily than I sleep. It also, however, has electricity and Internet conn–.

Shit. If only I had a battery-operated espresso machine to make a latte while waiting for the Internet to kick in again. Perhaps I’ll take join in the local custom and take a siesta.

Social Media Challenge Goals, Day 2


For the second day of the social media challenge we’re discussing our goals. My overall hopes are to continue with coherent, productive, efficient weekly schedules, breaking down monthly schedules fashioned from three months of challenges in 2011-2012. Also, because I’m a neophyte in the world of literary publishing, it’s imperative that I determine an annual schedule as well. Considering reading schedules of literary magazines, this is essential.

Here are my specific and general writing and social media goals for the month, year, and life.

Optimize my social media skills.

Gain 100 new Twitter followers each month for the next year.

Gain 108 subscribers to my professional Facebook profile.

Get published twice more this spring.

Get three more pieces published this year.

Build my author platform to a level that will pique the interest of publishers.

Build up the participation levels of the two monthly online chats I start hosting in April on SheWrites.

Become a regular member on Litopia.

Build my network of fellow writers.

Help someone get published.

Gain the focus, concentration, detachment, and patience necessary to start and complete a book– whether a collection of essays or narrative nonfiction– that I can be proud of.

Increase my blog readership to the point where more writers, those in the publishing industry, and travelers leave more comments. Hopefully it will build to the point of earning some reliable cash each month. I’d like my blog writing to be more professional, more literary, though by no means do I want one of those “This is how to be a professional writer, now buy my…”. There are so many other grand writers to do that. To help reach a higher literary quality in my content, I’m considering dropping down from 10 monthly posts to eight, especially because many people come to see as a chore those blogs which publish more frequently.

Enter (and win) at least one contest.

Enter the world of writing residencies. It’s lately occurred to me that this may just be the way I comfortably land back in my own country.

Improve my writing, por supuesto!


Much luck to all other writers participating in the social media challenge. For those of you who aren’t yet doing so, it’s certainly not too late to start.