Friday, 28 December 2018

I have now celebrated my third Christmas here in Peru:

From my sons Christmas celebration at his school.
Hello, again my friends here on the intraweb. I have to say wow, is it really Friday again? This time around it is the very last Friday of 2018. It is both scary and amazing how time flies. To be honest, it does not feel like a year has passed since we welcomed the new year of 2018, but the calendar to tell me something else. Anyway, since it is Friday it means that it is time for another post here on Beyond the Horizon. Today I want to focus on a more personal topic for today's post. Because today I want to share with you guys my very own Christmas experience for this year. Just to have it said, this years celebration went over all expectations and in a different league than last year. So I have so much to be grateful for.

Yes, my friends, you are reading correctly. This year's celebration has been a success in so many ways. To be completely honest with you, then I have to say that I can not remember a year with a better celebration. I am not even going to compare it with the 2017 version of it, because they are many leagues apart. So what have I been up to this Christmas? Well for me it started on Friday the 21st when we left for my in-law's house that is in Pasamayo or Chacra Y Mar as it also known as. Yes, you read correctly, I have been spending the holidays with my girlfriends family and it has been a success in my book. I had a really great time, especially on the evening itself. I am the type of guy that likes the big family happenings.
The kids at the beach in Chacra Y Mar.
So what have I done so far this Christmas? Well, as mentioned it all started on the 21st when we headed towards Pasamayo. On the day after it was time for my niece's end of school party and I had the honour of being her “date” for the day. If I am not mistaken its called something like prom in the United States, but without having a proper date with a boy from the school. Instead of either the father or godfather gets the great honour of following her through all the different ceremonies of the night, from the giving of a candle. Where the student gives the family member the candle. To dance with her or him for that matter to honour her special day. To be honest, I stink when it comes to dancing and naturally, I spent most of the Saturday being overly nervous. Didn't want to mess things up on her big day.

On Sunday we (my girlfriend, our son and me) went to Huaral for a family day trip. This one was my idea and wish for the holidays. I haven't been back to Huaral since very early January and have wanted to go back for some time now. We even went back to visit our old landlord and while being there we kinda decided that we should move back. We will be moving back to the same building, but not the same apartment. The apartment that we got is smaller than the old one but way bigger than the one we currently are living in. Not to forget way cheaper in every way possible, if you ignore things like water and light that is. Because things like that have more or less the same price no matter where you live.
At my nieces end of the school party.
The “apartment” that we live in right now is pretty much one room, but the one that we are moving into on the new year has 4 rooms in total. So it won't come as a big surprise that I am looking forward to getting some more elbow space, even more, space for my office. The only negative aspects of the new place are that there is no warm water, but that is something one can get used to. Because it's not like I am showering in super hot water now anyway. It's not like I dislike living here in Lima and that's the reason for us moving back, its just the financial side and that I miss my beloved Huaral. I just can't explain my love affair with Huaral. So after visiting the old landlord, we went for a tasty lunch, we had grilled chicken with fries and all of that good stuff.

On Monday the 24th or the big day itself, yes we celebrate the 24th. I know that especially in the U.S the 25th is the big day, but not here and it's not what I am used to from Norway either. On the big day, it was all about family time, good food and gifts for the kids in the house, plus something extra good to drink for all us grown-ups. No, I did not get drunk, far from it actually. My mother-in-law prepared an amazing meal for us containing roasted pork, roasted chicken and roasted turkey with salad and rice. To be completely honest, it was the best meal I have had in a very long time. After this amazing dinner, the kids were allowed to open their gifts and us adults could start enjoying our drinks. On top of it, we had some fireworks to put the final touches on the celebration.
Lets call this a family moment.
Sometimes early morning on Christmas day we went to bed and a few hours later it was time to wake up to a more relaxing day. For me, it meant trying to get some work done, both here on my blog and on my “day” job. Thanks to unstable internet that became a lot harder than I had expected, but despite that, The weird part is that I wasn't drunk when I went to bed, but I actually woke up hung over. I didn't really have that much to drink either, but maybe it is because I am not used to alcohol anymore? While I did my very best to get some work done, the rest of the house went to the beach. The same beach that you see in the top photo of this post and yes the beach is that close to the house. This is one of the reasons why I love staying in Pasamayo as much as I actually do. It's so peaceful and close to the ocean.

On the second day of Christmas, it was time for us to return home to Lima and halfway back I got the regret of even thinking about going on this trip to Pasamayo because we got stuck in some really horrible traffic. When I say bad, I really do mean it. I have gotten used to traffic jams and stuff like that, but this time it was really crazy. Do not think I am wrong if I say that we spent 2 hours in one long “rush hour” from the outskirt of the city and to the bus terminal. In the end, I was hungry, thirsty and close to dying for a quick cigarette. I know that I might come off as extremely negative right now, but that bus ride back home was horrible in so many ways and all I really wanted was to get back to my babies (my two cats) that had been home alone for a few days. Yes, I was worried about them.
The view from my "office" in Chacra Y Mar.
It's not like I left my babies home all alone, but there was a person that was supposed to be checking in on them and this seems to not have happened at all. I got this feeling much earlier, but I couldn't go home. So on my way back to Lima, I was in a hurry to get back to my babies. Trust me, I didn't like the sight that met me. Gompina and Gompen were good, but wow what a mess they had made. Both of them went crazy when they saw me, especially Gompen. He has had problems with leaving my side ever since. Yes, Gompen has returned to our little family, but this is something that I will get back to in a later post. Just not gotten around to write an update on the cat situation in this family.

Now that I am back home I have the pleasure of looking back on what I will call a successful celebration, as mentioned it has been the best in years. First of all, I had my own family around me, we had some amazing food, the kids got some really nice gifts and us adults got our needed party. None of us got drunk or anything, but it was nice to sit back, relax and enjoy the moment. When it comes to a holiday like this I do not demand much, the most important ingredients for me are good food, something good to drink and my family around me. This year I got all these ingredients for my own celebration and that makes me both feel happy and good because isn't this what Christmas really is about?
A family selfie, sorry for the bad quality
When it comes to how I am going to celebrate New Year's Eve, I am not sure yet. I have not made any plans as of writing this post. As I see it I have to options. 1. I can stay home in San Miguel working or catching up on lost hours while I was away for Christmas. 2. I can go to Pasamayo and welcome 2019 while partying like a crazy man. To be honest, right now option 1 feels more natural since we are moving in the new year, from Lima and back to Huaral, something that costs a nice sum of money. Both options are very tempting, but since the first option will give me more peace of mind it will be the most likely candidate. Do not misunderstand me, I would love to go to Pasamayo and have fun, but as mentioned I have not made up my mind just yet.

Well, my friends, this post got a lot longer than planned. Originally the plan was just to update you guys on how my Christmas has been and nothing more. Instead, you have gotten a pretty detailed story from me this time. I hope it isn't too personal and if you enjoyed it, maybe this is something I can do more often? Anyway, thank you for stopping by and giving my blog some love. I also hope you enjoyed what you find and that you will come back for a later post. So while you are here, why not check me out on Twitter (Beyond the Horizon), on Facebook (Beyond the Horizon) on Youtube (Beyond the Horizon 2.0). When it comes to my Youtube channel, this is something that I am working on, so there is no content there right now, but I do hope to see you there as well.

Friday, 21 December 2018

This is why you should consider becoming an expat:

Photo taken on the Azores, Portugal back in 2008.
Hello again my friends here on the world wide web, today it is Friday and that means the long-awaited weekend is around the corner for the most of us, for me, it is also time for a brand new post here on the blog Beyond the Horizon. Today I want to cover a topic that is very dear and close to my heart. This is something that has been the main inspiration for starting this blog and an inspiration for every single post I have posted since. The reason for today's post is very simple, I want to answer the most asked question and at the same time tell you why you should follow your expat dream. The question has been how I got to the point of realizing my lifelong dream about living abroad or becoming an expat?

The answer I usually give is split up in 3 part. The first part is that I always have enjoyed travelling and exploring the world we are living in. The second part is that I got to the point by taking it in small steps throughout several years. The third part is that my Peruvian family has been a strong incentive for me to realize it. I could have included a lot more here, but this is just my way to explain why I moved and how I got to the mentioned point. So on to why you should pursue your expat dream and what should you do to make sure it doesn't end in failure? For me it is very simple if you are sure that this is something you want to do, then just do it. As I see it there is no reason to over plan such an event, just make sure that the important things are in place.
Photo taken in Malaga, Spain back in 2013.
There are a few important things you have to make sure is in place before going through with it. 1. update your vaccines according to the region you're going too. 2. Put aside some money (recommend 10.000 dollars) just in case. 3. start to learn the local language. 4. Get a good international health plan. 5. Connect with a local expat network. 6. Find a job before arrival. 7. Get an apartment ready for you. 8. Do some research on local culture and norms. 9. Just pack basics, usually, you can buy clothing and such cheaper at arrival. 10. Apply for a work-visa before leaving, that way you won't get into trouble with the law. Could easily add a few more things to this list, but that kinda contradicts the whole thing about not overthinking it right?

There might be one last thing to keep in mind while considering making this life-changing leap and that is taking a dry run or a test run. What I am thinking about when I am mentioning doing a dry run is that you take a break from your job and spend a while in the country that you are thinking about. Go there for an extended period of time and live like a local, to check if this is something for you and how it feels like. This is something that I did several times before ending up here in Peru. First, it was Canada, then Portugal, Spain and the Philippines. You do not need to do as many test runs as I have, but at least one is something you should consider. This way you have a general idea of what you are heading into.

So why should you pursue your expat dream? The truth is that this is a journey of a lifetime or an experience that you will grow greatly on. It is one thing to live safely back home with all your friends and safety nets, but living on your own in a strange country is a test and experience out of this world. Yes, it might seem super scary and a journey like this will be far from a dance on roses, not without a lot of thorns anyway. You might fail and all of that, but this is life. Most likely you will only live once, so why not make the absolute most out of it and make sure that you do not have any regrets when it comes to opportunities you passed on? A famous actor once said, just fucking do it. Make the leap, but prepare as good as you can without overplanning it.
A more recent photo from Lima, Peru.
I can promise you one thing, no matter if you fail or succeed in your attempt you won't regret it and you will look back at it as warm memory. Like my self do with both Canada and Spain, both where more or less in the category of failures. The Canada “trip” I would even label as a massive failure, especially since it marked the end of my marriage. No there was no cheating involved in the breakup. It just ended, so trust me you won't fuck up as big as I have done in my dry runs. What I am saying is that if you are carrying around on a potential expat, just go for it. Make the needed preparations and just make the leap. It will be a memory of a lifetime and you will love every minute of it. Just do it and regrets won't be any issues.

There is one thing more if you have made the leap already I would love to hear your story. Either leave it in the comment section or send me an e-mail ( Trust me on this, I would really love it and who knows, maybe your story ends up as a blog post sometime in the future? Anyway, I think its time for me to wrap this post up and get it ready for publishing. I hope you enjoyed reading my post and found it interesting or inspirational. If you did why not share it with your friends. You can also check out my blogs Facebook page (Beyond the Horizon), may subscribe to my future channel (Beyond the Horizon 2.0) and follow me on Twitter (Jack Bowler Sr). I would really love to see you there.

P.S Remember, just fucking do it, okay!

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Five things that I do miss about Christmas in Norway:

Photo credit: Nasjonalbiblioteket
Hello, again my friends here on the world wide web. I have to say one thing, wow isn't it crazy how time has a tendency to just fly away from you? For me, it is so hard to believe that the end of 2018 already is fast approaching for us. It feels like it was just yesterday that I was walking the streets of Lima kinda semi-homeless for 30 hours or so. This didn't happen over financial problems or no place to crash for the night, but because I managed to lock my self out from the apartment that I was staying in and no access to keys. Yes, I managed to lock my self out on Christmas Eve. Anyway, this is by far water under the bridge and I am not going to focus too much on this in this blog post, will return to the topic later in December for a recap on 2017 and 2018.

Well since we are already on the topic of Christmas I feel it is natural to continue on the path because today I want to tell you guys and girls the top five things that I miss about celebrating this holiday back home in Norway. Yes, I am limiting my self to just five 5 things, but believe that I could have made a list of 100 things without any problems. These are “things” that's spans from seasonal weather to simple things like candy, meals, sodas or snacks You know the small details that really make up your entire tradition? Do not misunderstand me, because it's not like I dislike celebrating here in Peru, far from it. As I see it is just that you miss some things that are very important for days like this and for me these are hard to get hold of. So maybe I should get started?
Photo credit: Juozas Šalna
1. Snow and winter weather: Well if there is one thing on this list that I have a very split attitude towards it has to be the winter and snow. I have always joked around and said that I have been born in the wrong part of the world. You can say that for the most part, I hate the snow, but for one day a year I hope for snow and that is Christmas. I know that it might sound a bit strange, but this has to do a lot with childhood memories I think. Just the idea of sitting in the comfort of my home with a warm drink and looking out on all the snow outside puts me into the Christmas spirit. This is something I have been struggling with after moving to South America since there is no snow here. So naturally, this is something that I really do miss.

2. Pinnekjøtt or salted and dried lamb ribs: Okay, if there is one Norwegian tradition that really screams out Christmas for me it has to be this meal. Norway has many traditions for this holiday when it comes to food and such. What you usually eat on the big day usually depends on what part of the country you or your parents come from. It spans from regular cod to grilled pork ribs, my pick falls on salted and dried lamb ribs, something that I have from my father, or he usually made this for New years eve, but I have it on both days, or at least I did until I moved to Peru. Its a really simple dish to prepare. The first thing you do is putting the meat in water for a few hours, when most of the salt has been “dragged” out of the meat its time to boil it and for the final touches it goes into the oven for a few minutes.
Photo credit: Prillen
3. Marzipan and marzipan products: For me, this is the snack overall snacks when it comes to Christmas, but from what I understand its an acquired taste. For me, it is the one single non-religious symbol for the holiday, but the sad part is that I haven't been able to find any marzipan outside Scandinavia. So if I am going to be able to enjoy the snack this year I have to make it my self or at least give it a good try. All I need to make it my self are almonds or almond flour, icing sugar and egg whites. I do not have the machinery to make it so I have to do it manually and as mentioned I have never made this before. So since I haven't made this before I can't guarantee the end result at all, but it will be a fun ride.

4. Julebrød or Christmas bread: This is not a unique tradition or product for Norway since we have something similar here in Peru called Paneton, but the difference lays in how it looks and that kind of changes how I experience it as well. A Norwegian Christmas bread is as the name say shaped like a bread and the Paneton is shaped more like a cake, this is also why it kinda feels different when its eaten for me. I also eat it kinda differently. While I eat the Christmas bread as sliced bread with butter and brown cheese I usually eat Paneton just as it is, more like a snack. For some strange reason, I also have a hard time getting full on the Peruvian version. Anyway the Norwegian version I usually enjoy on the morning of the 1st day of Christmas.
5. Dinner for one: This is a short film or movie that has a very special place in my Christmas heart you can say. It's a movie that I have to watch without exception on the day before Christmas or little Christmas eve as we call it back home in Norway. This is a tradition I have had since childhood and it really doesn't feel like Christmas without this, sadly I haven't been able to watch the show or movie in the past two years. So this year I have made sure to be able to watch it when the little big day comes around. Okay, it's not a Norwegian production, but a British one and more or less every European country seem to have it as a part of their holiday celebration. I am looking forward to watching it on my computer this year.

Well, this is my top 5 list of things that I miss about celebrating Christmas back home in Norway. Feel like coming clean on something, because this has far been an easy post to write since I have had so much to choose between. As mentioned at the beginning of the post, I could easily have included about a 100 different “things” but I had to limit my self to just a few and this has made writing it much harder than it really should have been. Anyway, the post is done and my top five list is ready for the blog post. It does feel like I should have followed up with a part 2 and a part 3 as well, but maybe for next year? Most of the things on this list are childhood memories and that's why they are so important for me.
There is actually one thing that I am thinking about right now. Maybe I should document the first time I make marzipan, either in photos or videos? What do you guys think? Through videos or photos, what do you prefer? Anyway, this is something I am looking forward to and I will do it together with my little Prince Edward. Because for some weird reason, he enjoys cooking together with me, at least when I make my pancakes or the Norwegian version of it. Actually, when I am thinking about it, I do like the idea of filming us while making marzipan, but you guys will decide how it will be done, right? Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post, just as much as I enjoyed working on it.

Just to have it said, working on more posts and future videos for my Youtube channel as well. One of these posts is meant as a recap of the year 20017 and 2018, just to wrap up all that has happened in my life the very weird past year. Yes, I can promise you it has been a crazy weird year for me in so many ways. On top of this, I am also working on a brand new Youtube channel. Since I have completely forgotten to work on the previous one throughout most of the year I thought it would be a good idea to start all over again with a 2.0 version. So keep your eyes open for the upcoming channel. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this post and if you did, why not leave a line in the comment section and share it with your friends?