Saturday, 15 February 2020

Welcome to my new office and my new expat study

For the very few of you who are following me on Twitter (Jack Bowler Sr) knows about this already, since I have been dropping hints both big and small for the past couple of weeks. Just to throw it out there, I am at last getting my own office for all the projects that I am working on these days. The thing is that this has been something that has been in the works since late December last year, but I have kept it close to my chest for a few reasons. The biggest reason of them all has been that it hasn't been sure if it would materialize. That's why I have only been hinting about it on Twitter for the last couple of weeks, but on Monday I finally signed the contract and got my keys at last.

Yes, you read correctly, I am moving all my “business” related activities out of our apartment and into its own dedicated space in an apartment on the roof in the same apartment building that we live in. To be able to do this has been a “dream” of mine ever since I started my company back in August 2018 and now it's happening at last. The thing here is that for the longest time I have been eyeballing the area on the roof where its two apartments, one that's a full-blown family style one and one single room and bath. My luck had it that the smaller one got available back in December, where I immediately started talks with the landlord about taking it over to have my office space there.

Well, the landlords weren't hard to convince, but my partner in crime on the other hand? Just to get you up to speed when it comes to being in a relationship with a Peruvian, its the female that runs everything that has to do with the household and she was understandably worried about the financial aspects of it. This has been the real reason why it has taken so long to get things ready for my office or as I call it my loft study, but it gets even better. Because while we were inspecting the office space the landlords wanted to show us the other apartment that got available the week before and the result is that we decided to take that one as well. Or swap our current one for the roof apartment, that is.

By doing this we triple the size of our actual living space because the roof is split up in 3 areas, one main apartment, one outdoor area and one secondary apartment. So as I see it we have gotten ourself a penthouse, a large one at that. So at the end of next week, everything gets moved three floors up and I am finally getting my dedicated office space. You have no idea how excited I am about this and that it's finally happening. Just to have it mentioned, I have been dreaming about this ever since I signed the contracts for the work that I am currently doing and that pays for my good life here in South America. With this in place, it will be easier to make my other plans become a reality as well. 
The thing is that I am a very private person (believe it or not) and when I am working I hate being interrupted, something that happens more often than not as the situation is at the moment, with a shared living space and office in one apartment. This will now change come end of next week. I have already gotten my office keys as you can see on the main photo for this blog post. By Friday afternoon, everything will be in place and I will have what I need to focus and expand what I am working on. I have many ideas, both when it's business-related and when it comes to my online projects. The office isn't big by any measure, I would guess that its between 40 and 50 square meters in total. More than enough for me.

Have also made plans on the layout of the office or the study as I want to call it. At the moment, I don't have that much to fill the space with, but the plan is to spend the next couple of months completing it. Next week there will only be my old work desk and a few computers, but by the beginning of May, there should be a brand new desk, a seating area, a small bar (yes, I do enjoy my rum and coke after work) and area for entertainment (a tv and gaming area). My son has already pointed out where his desk should be, where I am planning to have my bar and the good part is that it will be next door to our apartment. I don't need to run up and down 3 floors just to get stuff that I need for my daily activity.

I am not going to spend a fortune decorating it, just make it my space, even though I don't like the colours the landlord has chosen for the walls. They have a weird taste and way of doing things, but really good people. The most important part here is that I get the privacy I need to focus on whatever that I am working on. Either it's my money-making schemes, my blog or my future Youtube channel. Yes, I am having plans to launch my channel and it will focus on the same theme as my blog do, expat and travel-related topics. Back to topic and as mentioned, you have no idea how big of an event this is for me and the level of excitement I am feeling about this change.

By this time next week, I am sitting in my empty office writing my future blog post, it feels weird to write these words, to be honest. Anyway, the idea was to invite you guys into my expat office and study and later I will follow it up by a post that shows how it looks when it's fully furnished. At the same time, I feel like apologizing for the crappy photos that I am using in this post. The truth is that it was impossible to get decent photos while showing my son the office. It's shaped in such a way that it's pretty much impossible for a photo novice like me, but I naturally I do hope you enjoyed both the text and photos as I am wrapping this post up. So welcome to my brand new expat office, hope you enjoyed your stay!

Sunday, 9 February 2020

This is the dark side of living the life as an expat

To be completely honest, this is a post that I have been working on in my mind for a few days now, just to find the correct angle for it, because I do not want to come off as super negative and scare away a potential or future expats. The thing is that in general my life as an expat is pretty good, but my experience this lifestyle has some dark sides or drawbacks. One of these drawbacks is the physical distance that you have to your family and friends. Take me as an example, I haven't been back in my native country since mid-2016 and I would say this is the worst part about living this way. Of course, I could go home for a visit, but that would mean I had to take my entire family with me.

So when things happen back home it's not that easy for me to pack a few suitcases and head for the airport. This is something I have got a taste of these past two-three weeks. First, my mom ended up in the hospital, a week later my favourite aunt on my mother side passed away and last week she was carried to her last resting place. This is also the reason why I have spent so much time trying to find the correct angle on this blog post since its of such personal character. The thing is or this is my experience that when you choose this type of lifestyle and settle down with a family and job as I have done, it kinda makes you a bit less mobile in situations like this.

So when things like this happen, it tends to hit you harder. Like it did when I got the phone call about my mom and my aunt. I would say that this is the absolute worst part of living the way I do. You kinda get disconnected for your family and friends. So you can say that these past two-three weeks have been rough, the entire burial day I was in a really weird mood. I was short-tempered, kinda depressed and snapped at anyone that crossed my path for the smallest thing. I guess that this is a reaction to the fact that I couldn't attend the “event” and be unable to support my mom through this rough time, as I used to while living back home in Norway.

You can say that this post is written in her memory, a fantastic and amazing 60-year-old lady with down syndrome who for the most part of her life lived with her mother or my grandmother until she passed away a few years ago. From that point, she had to kinda live on her own or she did live in an apartment complex assisted with nurses and such 24/7. the funny part is that she had a “boyfriend” for the past few years of her life and that kinda always made me smile. This special lady had a very special place in my heart for so many reasons. First of all, I lived more or less with her for like 10 – 15 years, first in my childhood home and then just with my grandmother and her while studying.

She was one amazing lady, not one evil or bad bone in her entire body and she always managed to make me laugh, even now when she is laid to rest. Just thinking back at when we played cards, out shopping for snacks or just being in the same room with her. She always lit up the room with her just being there. Since I am a Christian, the things that make it feel a bit better is the knowledge that she is with her parents and all those who went before her. I know it sounds a bit silly, but it kinda makes sense in this point in time. It's not like I am overly religious or anything. Just that I believe there is more about this universe of ours than we know and that a creator is watching over our crazy ways.

Anyway, I know this one got a bit dark. Maybe not so strange since what has happened in the past few weeks. It wasn't planned this way, but at the same time, its part of living the life of an expat and the idea is to share my experience living as one. It doesn't get more real than this I would say. Its part of life and something that everyone will go through more than once in life, but few thinks about this happened while you are living thousands of miles away from your loved ones, but this shouldn't scare you away from actually making the jump from the regular life at home and into the life as an expat. It's worth in by far, but just keep in mind that things like this might happened and be prepared for it, that's all I am saying.

I guess its time for me to wrap this post up and get it ready for my blog, but while I am at it, remember to check me out on social media. You can find me on Facebook through (Beyond the Horizon) and (JackBowler Sr), on Instagram (Beyond our Horizon) and on Twitter (JackBowler Sr). At the same time, if you like or enjoy the work that I am doing on this blog you can always support me through Ko-fi by buying me a coffee or two (Jack Bowler Sr) or just help me share my posts on social media. All help would be appreciated. Anyway, thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my post and check out my blog, I do hope you enjoyed reading this somewhat dark post about the backside of living as an expat.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

An expats thoughts on the corona virus outbreak

There is one thing that I feel like explaining and get out of the way before I get started with this article, this is the fact that I have no background or any real medical training, beside first aid in the army and nation guard. So if you are looking for medical advice or any expert information about the current Corona outbreak, you should seek this from official sources, because this is all about my opinions and observations. How I see it from the view of an expat that loves to travel and explore the world around us, nothing more and nothing less. At the same time, I do not wish to fuel the fire any more than it already has been by the media focus on it these past few days.

With that out of the way, I have to say if you listen to the media and look at how China now are treating the outbreak you can easily get the feeling that its the end of the world or a doomsday scenario. With millions of people and entire cities put in forced quarantine, not to forget the fact that an entire industry seems to have been shut down by tens of thousands of flights has been cancelled just in and out of China alone. I want to stay positive and say that this is an overreaction, but if that's the case, it's not a bad thing. As a known Youtuber said in one of his videos this week, it's better to overreact and deal with the problem than have an underreaction and make it worse.

So when I am looking at all of this through the glasses of an expat that loves to travel and has been to China, it looks horrible and I feel like the joy of travel are under attack by this. That the end result will be that it will affect travel in the long run or at least make it more difficult to move around as freely as we do today. Because of my experience, there always comes regulations after an “episode” like this in an attempt to prevent the spread in future “events”. At the same time, I am worried about how big this thing really is, because if you look at how China is reacting, it does look like an end of days scenario and things have never in history been done or had a reaction of this magnitude.

I know that my focus on my own passion in all of this might seem a bit selfish, but at the same time, its something that is very dear to me and I would call it natural. When it comes to the outbreak itself, as I see it its important to be prepared and have a personal plan to deal with it if it comes to your parts of the wood. Things like stocking up on water, food and other things you need. Not just to prepare for this, but at the same time being prepared for other events in the future. This is something that I try my best to live by myself, to have some stock of food and such stored in case something would happen. Call me a prepper if you want, I call it common sense.

At the same time, I am sitting here in Peru with a family where both I and my son has an asthma thing going and an old mother sitting back home in Norway, so I guess it's normal to worry a bit more I guess. Not that I believe this would be a major thing but it does seem like its being treated more seriously than like SARS and similar outbreaks in the past. Again this can just be how the media are treating it, to make some money on the Coronavirus, but it doesn't hurt anyone to be prepared. That is the angle I am taking, better to overreact than underreact. That way you will have what you need in case this is the big one.

If I would be giving one advice it would be this, treat this as the big one and prepare for the worst, but at the same time, it's important not to panic based on the overflow of information that's happening at the moment. Because it's not to get around, the media will over inform you with big letters just to make a few extra clicks and some extra cents. The only thing you can is to stock up on food, water, gas and whatever medicine you might need in case it hits your part of the world. At the same time and this is important, focus on personal hygiene and always have a bottle of disinfectant close by, since this one also spreads through touch, but at the same time do not panic.

I would say that being prepared is the very best advice I can give anyone and that is important not to panic, I know its easier said than done. I would also say, do not listen to the “mainstream” media as its called, but if you have any questions, call your local authorities or if it's about the development of the outbreak you can check out this link (confirmed 2019 – nCOV cases globally map) it will direct you to the American CDC official site. At the same time, I want to underline that my article is based on personal opinions, feelings and observations. Keep in mind that I am not a medical professional in any way, shape or form. Just a worried expat blogger with his own opinions and thoughts on the matter and treat me as such!

Monday, 3 February 2020

If there is one thing I dislike about Peru, it has to be

Before I get started on today's blog post, there is one thing that I feel the need to address. The thing is, I am not writing this post because I feel the need or want to bash or trash talk Peruvians. That is as far away from the truth that it's possible to come. The case and point are that I do live here and in many ways starting to feel like a Peruvian myself, but there are some aspects of the culture that less attractive than others. My reality is that I have a deep respect for Peru and its culture, history and people. The fact is, this is the main reason why I started my decade long history with the country in the first place. So, in many ways, I do feel like treading carefully when it comes to this topic.

Yes, all cultures indeed have their good and bad sides, there is no exception to the rule here. Since I have no interest what so ever when it comes to stepping on anyone's feeling or for that matter nation pride, I feel like threading carefully when I talk about this. Remember, when it comes down to things, I am just a random guest in this amazing country after all. At the same time, I want to be completely honest about my experience as an expat here in Peru and when that is said, bad things have to be mentioned as well, but it has to be done with respect. So, if there is one thing that has been frustrating me for the past 3,5 years, it has to be how animals, in general, are being treated.

Because if there is one thing that I am known for, both at home and here it's my love for animals, big and small. Just to get that question out of the way, no I am not a vegan or a vegetarian. I do love my meat and at the same time, I do not see the link between diet and respect for life. Anyway, back to the topic. Animals and their welfare have been a passion for me for as long as I can remember. My clearest childhood memories are with animals, cats, dogs, wild or farm animals the like. Here in Huaral, I am being viewed as the weird gringo who goes around feeding stray animals (cats and dogs) and for me, that's nothing bad. Because as I see it, someone has to care for them

The truth is that this is a topic that has been a source for a lot of anger and sorrow, but also some joy. Especially when I am taking one of my walks around the city and see all the malnourished and abandoned “pets” running around looking for some food. For the most part, I stop and try my best to spend some time with and feed them if that is possible. My joy comes from the amazing gratitude they show when they are being served food, a bit sceptical at first but after a few hands fed pieces all of that gets tossed aside. This is usually followed by jumping and playing around if I have the time to stick around until they are done eating. The thing is that I have much more compassion with animals than I have with humans.

There is one thing that I do feel like clarifying here. Because it's not like I am in any way indifferent to human suffering, it's not like that at all. That's not the case, but as I see it. For the most part, fully grown adults can fend for themself most of the time, but a stray dog or abandoned pet wouldn't be able to fend for themself in the long run. I do get emotional when I am being confronted or witness to an individual who has ended up in a rough patch will do what I can to help there as well. I would also donate to organizations who help the homeless if that is possible. For me, my passion lays with stray dogs and cats. That is something that has come to the surface after I moved here to Huaral. 

I have lost count on how many animals (cats and dogs) who have passed through my door for a temporary and safe haven. It has to be around 50, even my Gin-gin (ginger cat) is one of these cases. They have come in all sizes and ages, from tiny newborn kittens to fully grown pit bulls. The last one started as these has to go right away to sorrow when they left for their new home. The pit bulls were rescued from a dogfighting facility of some sort and were badly malnourished on top of being badly treated, but they became my best friends during the stay. This is also why I had to go on a break when it came to be a foster home or temporary home, it broke my heart every time one of them left.

So the thing that I do not like about the Peruvian culture or mentality is how they treat their pets or for the most part lack of treatment and especially the big dogs. Because every single dog that I see in the late afternoon or night seems to live at best of cases as a semi-stray dogs type of lifestyle. They are indoors during the daytime and gets kicked out when the sun goes down and the household is getting ready for the night. This is a mentality that I do not like at all. In my world its pretty simple, if you take on the responsibility of a pet, its a 24-hour type of gig and not just when its fun or convenient for the owner. I do see this as cruelty to animals, the poor dog needs his family day and night.

This type of treatment of pets that angers and frustrate me to such a degree that I feel the need to do so much more to help. I hate seeing these poor dogs walking up and down the street hungry and cold looking for food and a place to sleep. If I could and had the financial means to do so, I would start a type of animal rescue foundation, with facilities and all, just to take care of them. The sad truth is that I am not able to do that on my own, so if there are some people out there who has the same bleeding heart for animals as I do, give me a call or send me a few lines. I would love to work with you in whatever way we can. Not that I am begging for donations or anything, just saying.

As mentioned, this is a side of Peru that I dislike a lot, but at the same time. I am not saying that all Peruvians are like this. I know many that takes pride in their pets and takes really good care of them 24/7, but then you have the worst-case scenarios. Like when their dog or cat get babies (puppies and kittens) and they end up at the roadside or by the riverbank in a plastic bag intended to starve to death. I have had a few of these in my home, both kittens and puppies. These are scenarios that anger and frustrates me and one of the reasons I want to get deeper involved in animal care type of work. You know, offering shelter, veterinarian service and such to people who cant afford to pay for it themselves.

My biggest wish or dream is that I could get to such a degree involved that I could make a decent impact and difference in this. You know, take care of the unwanted and provide healthcare service to the wanted, with that castration and sterilization of existing pets. I have tried my best to raise awareness around this, on social media and such, but with no luck at all. I know, there are so many good causes that fight for the same attention, animal rights and welfare isn't among the top receivers of such, sadly. Anyway, I am not giving up on it and I will for as long as I can, to keep on with what I am doing. Just the response from them is enough for me.

As of now, I am doing what I can do to help stray dogs and cats here in Huaral, one at stray-pet at the time. One thing I can say is that first time around, our landlord wasn't pleased with my activity. They had this no pets allowed the type of policy and I breached it at any chance I got, but they kinda semi-accepted it as long as I didn't keep any of them longer than a couple to a few weeks. This time around they have silently accepted the fact that we have a cat, but it's all about not showcasing it to the rest of the people who rent here. That we keep it to ourself more or less, but with Gin-gin doesn't make that job easy for us, because she tries to be everywhere at once.

I have many, so many stories to tell when it comes to my experience of acting as an emergency home for abandoned pets. I could with ease write a dozen blog posts on the topic and the first one that comes to mind are the two pit bulls we had. I was so worried and sceptical at first. You know the myth about these dogs being so dangerous and unpredictable, but this was something that lasted less than a couple of hours and from that moment on, pure joy or for the most part pure joy. For the entire time, we had them I had to sleep on the sofa in our living room, every night was a fight for space. Not to forget the time that the female pit bull confiscated my dinner and dessert.

I guess this could be a topic for another time and a different blog post, but I guess its time for me to start wrapping this up. So, just to have it said. I am not writing and publishing this post for some glory or to praise myself, I guess I attempt to focus on how important it is with regulation, animal rights and laws that protect them. They are not a toy or the flavour of the day, they are living creatures with feelings and needs, just like us human-beings. That is also why we need to have a focus on this, to make sure that there are laws that protect them and that there are laws that regulate pet ownership. Of course, you can't prevent all cases, but you can prosecute those who do not treat their pets accordingly.

Friday, 31 January 2020

Looking back on my first month as an expat blogger

I have always been told that time has a sad tendency to really fly on you when you are having a good time or for that matter enjoying yourself in the company with someone you enjoy spending time with. I would say that this has been the case for me this past month. I have been working like 12 – 14 hours workdays, spending time with my lovely family and of course enjoying the first month or as I call it the birth month of my blog. Not that I have published that many posts or articles, but it do seem like it is starting to get some traffic. It's nothing major compared to my more established competition, but just shy of a 1000 visits and that is pretty good in my book.

I have to be completely honest here about one thing, this month my focus hasn't really ben on the promotion part of creating traffic for the blog. For me, it has been more about getting used to the process of creating content of the blog and getting used to the fact that complete strangers read my articles. This has been the part that has worried me the most, you know getting those harsh and rough comments from people that don't like your blog or just want to troll you. Luckily, this hasn't happened to me yet, but it is something I am expecting will happen sooner or later. I believe its something every content creator receives more often than not, am I wrong?

At the same time, there is something I regret. The thing is that I haven't been that active with my “camera” throughout January. Not that I haven't been out and around, but it hasn't felt natural to take photos and videos. This is something that I will be focusing more in the weeks and months ahead, need to get a lot of images that can be used for a different type of articles. Throughout this month, my content focus has been on already written articles for the most part, plus a personal one about the holidays. Next month I want to focus a bit different. The idea is to take you guys out and about. I have been asked to have a new office type of tour article because I am getting the keys to my new office next week!

Anyway, so far my focus has been on just getting used to the idea of having people read my articles, to run my blog daily and create new content. Do feel as I am doing a semi-good job on this part, not that I am in any position to brag. At the same time, I am trying to get my social media profiles up and running as well, because as of now I am active on sites like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, but wish to expand to Youtube as well with time. Besides all of this, I have also been working on my grammar, to the best of my ability. English isn't my native language, Norwegian is and so there is a reason why it isn't perfect, I guess. Because there is absolutely room for improvement when it comes to this!

Anyway, I am now one whole month down the road with my blog, about to publish my sixth article and during this period I have for the most part used Twitter and Facebook to promote it. No, I haven't been spamming links on either of the platforms, because, for the most part, I have shared my links on the day of publishing. At the moment, visits and clicks aren't that important for me. My focus is as mentioned to get used to being that blogger type, with all that comes with it. Basically to get used to keeping my focus on creating good content for potential readers, because my theory is that readers will come if you create good enough content on your blog. I might be wrong, but that's just me!

The thing is that the past month has been a lot of fun for me and I am actually kinda proud of the content that I have created so far. For me, that's all that really matters at this point in time. When it comes to the upcoming month of February, this will be an exciting one for me. This will be a month where I will focus on showing you guys my life here in the city of Huaral. At the same time, in a few days, I will finally get the keys to my dedicated office. It's for the most part intended for my day job, but the blog will get its place too. I have even gotten requests on doing a show run type of article on the big event. I don't know, this might be a good idea? I will do it anyway, I guess.

Anyway, I guess its time for me to wrap this post up. I never intended to write a super long blog post about this topic, just wanted to look back on my first proper blog month and share my thoughts with you guys on my experience so far. It has been fun and I hope that it will continue to be fun for a long time. At least I hope you have enjoyed reading this post, might be something I will do at the end of every month from now on. If not for anything but end the month that we are in and update you guys on what has been and what's coming. Remember you can also check me out on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Would love to see you there as well. So thank you for taking the time to check out my blog and read my article, have a pleasant day!

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Now been living here in Peru for about 3,5 years

I am pretty sure that this with time will become my new catch fraze, but it is borderline scary how time seem to be flying these days. Because when I am looking back on the time that I have been living here in Peru as an expat, it doesnt feel at all like 3,5 yearsm but its being comfirmed by just a clance on the calender. I arrived here around July 2016 and we are now are about to turn the page on February 2020. So yes, time has flown fast and I have to say that it feels like yesterday that I walked down the bridge to the awaiting Boeing 747 at the international airport in Manila. Something like 70 hours later I walked out of custom in Lima to meet my awaiting family completely exausted. For once, I didnt get much sleep.

Hmm, 3,5 years has passed, but to be honest it hasnt been just one long joyride either. Actually, it has at times been far from a joyride. The truth is that, the life of an expat can be at times be hard in ways that non-expats doesnt seem to be going through or maybe it has just been me? I am not going to start complaining about how hard life is or how bumpy the ride has been, not at all. The thing is that for me, it has had its many ups and it has had its few downs. For the most part, this has been one hell of a ride to be honest and I wouldnt have wanted to not avoid experiencing any of it. I would say that most of my negative experiences so far has come from the fact that I was ill-prepared from the get to and for good reasons too.

Looks like my post has gotten of to a bumpy start, but the truth is simple. Yes, I did struggle with the language in the beginning, I had some issues adopting and there were some relationship problems, but its nothing I shouldnt have been expecting. The visa problem on the other hand, thats a hole different story. At the same time, when I look back on these 3,5 years living as an expat here in Peru, there are just one thing that pops to mind and this is that it has been one amazing adventure so far. So far, I have had the great pleasure of experiencing most aspects of life here and I can only wonder on whats in store for me in the future. One thing seems to be sure and this is the fact that it looks like there are huge changes in all our lives.

When it comes to the changes that I am talking about, its not something I will be going into super depth on, but there is a wedding in the near future and maybe a family expansion as well, who knows right? The thing is that through these 3,5 years, I have slowly but surely settled in. Started to get more used to talk Spanish, adopted more into the local culture and things even settled more when it comes to my relationship. On top of everything, work and work related things seems to really just be going one way and that is up. Who can really complain about anything when things are going as good as they do right now? Sure, things can take a turn for the worse in the future, but that is something you do your very best to prepare for no matter where you are living.

The only thing that has to get fixed right now is my visa situation, but its not like this is a huge problem or obstical in any shape or form. Its just that we are awaiting the final approval or dismissal, it can go both ways. What has been my problem is how long it has taken to get a result. Its not like I have plans on going anywhere anytime soon so. We also have some larger plans for the future, but this is something that depends on how it goes with my visa application. If it passes, we move on with the plans we have made and if not, we have to look for something else. The good part is that, when its approved, I do not need to stress with this for a very long time and this is something I look at as something positive.

So when I look back at these 3,5 years, for the most part I see good things and it has been a ride that I never could have dreamt up in my wildest dreams. That is why I am always saying, if you are carrying on a dream to throw yourself into the life as an expat, do it. The only advice I can say is that learn from my many mistakes and be better prepared. Start to learn the language before setting out on the adventure, make sure you have a job to come to and work on a local network on friends. All of these things are extremely important for both your short and long term happiness. At the same time, I wouldnt have wanted to miss out on any of my experiences, its what has made my expat life what it is today.

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Lofoten, my very first travel and adventure crush

I have always been that weird soul that always have had this hunger for the more exciting sides of life. Not in the way that I have been going to the north pole or exploring the Amazon, but if I got told that there was something I couldn't do or wasn't allowed to do, you can bet your sweet behind that I would do my best to achieve it. At times and especially during my childhood these adventures could be borderline insane or directly dangerous. Like the times we built rafts to cross the fjord with or went exploring in areas that usually were off limit for the public. This could be old world war 2 bunkers, old fisheries or play wargames with actual dangerous weapons that we made ourself.

In later years, this has in many ways developed into my fascination with exploring “new” cultures and countries around the globe, but I would say that the spark that lit the fuse had to be my many holidays up north in Norway and especially Lofoten. The first trip was when I was in the age of 6 or 7, but got more frequent like multiple times every year after I got married. We could spend like several months at the time and just enjoy our lives. My then father-in-law had this huge property (something like 750 acres) that included a massive shoreline, mountains and our own lake as well. It was a literal paradise for us and especially during the summer season.

The first things that come to mind when I think about Lofoten are fishing, the amazing midnight sun and insanely beautiful scenery (yes this is during the summer months). You guys that already have had a Lofoten experience would know what I am talking about here. For me, this area of Norway is pure paradise, but of course, the weather could be really bad at times as well. This would be true especially during the winter months. Because after months of almost no darkness comes months of almost no light, or the short period of daylight you get has a blue tint to it and only last for a few hours. Northern parts of Norway is something you could call the “nation” of contrasts.

For the most part, very few tourists venture into these parts during the winter season, or they usually start to slowly return around March when there is this huge international fishing competition, but sadly this is one event that I haven't had the pleasure of being a part of. So by mentioning this annual event just shows how an important role the ocean and fishing plays in this region. Think about it, when they arrange something like a world cup in cod-fishing. I am not sure how big of an event this is when it comes to attendees, but I would guess it in the hundreds coming in from all over the world. Just to have it said, when I go out fishing, its not really about the catch, but for the peace and quiet.

My love and fascination for Lofoten started as mentioned back in my early childhood, around age 7 or 8. Back then I went with my parents and siblings, but the activities were the same. Every night we went fishing, but back then it was in a close-by lake and not the big and wild ocean. I guess it was safer for us kids and yes, we always went home with a catch. For me when I think about Lofoten, my thoughts usually drifts off to my many fishing memories. Even when I look back at the ones that got created when I returned as an adult, but these are more vivid memories. The fun part is that I cant remember one day during my many trips that didn't include fishing in one way or the other.

At the same time and I feel this is something that I view as important when it comes to Lofoten, fishing isn't the only “good” thing. Just look at any travel photo or video from the area. Just look at the close to magical scenery. Those insane mountains that seem like crashing into the sea, the clear blue ocean, exciting culture and rich history going back to the good old Viking days. There is even a Viking “village” that is part of what we call the Lofotr Viking Museum. This contains a full-size longhouse, animals and within opening hours also local actors and guides and yes its a reconstructed longhouse. The sad part is that I never got to enjoy it, just passing either on my way to or from Leknes.

The point I am trying to make here is simple, this is the most amazing region of Norway. Just take the pristine and close to untouched scenery. Up to this day, I have a hard time finding a place, city or country that I have visited through my many years as a traveller that can compete with Lofoten. Maybe the one destination that comes the closest has to be the Azores all the way down in the south Atlantic. I would say that both are unique and amazing, but hands down and without a doubt the winner is Lofoten. I guess this is the old patriotism playing up in me. Anyway, if you are planning a trip to northern parts of Norway, there are two items you can't forget to pack, loads of waterproof clothing and fishing gear.

If there is one thing you can take from this blog post is that you haven't visited Lofoten yet, then its high time for you to put it on the top spot on your bucket list and make it your highest travel priority. Just keep in mind that Norway is extremely expensive. One thing is for sure, when I at one point in time return home to Norway, this would be one of the first things I will do. I will more or less go straight up to Lofoten and visit my relatives that still live there and naturally go fishing. My cousins have really been nagging on me about a visit the past few years. The truth is that I haven't been up there since my divorce back in 2009/10, that is actually a decade ago.

P.s: you can actually check out my friend's blog. She has been blogging for years and have loads of exciting photos and focuses on a broad spectre of topics. So check out her blog (Mookieslife) and let her know that I sent you. Thank you for the photos Mookie. I do appreciate them greatly.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

5 street foods you have to try while visiting Peru

This one is for all you travelling food junkies out there because today I am going to focus on food or in this case the more typical Peruvian streetfood. Yes, I know this isn't a blog that has its focus on food, but if you are just a little bit like me the culinary experience plays a huge part of the travel experience. My philosophy is that the local food makes or breaks how you look back on your stay. Anyway, today I am going to share with you guys my top five list when it comes to Peruvian streetfood. One thing has to be said, many of the dishes on this list aren't isolated to Peru, but they seem to have a very special place in the hearts of the Peruvian people. As a bonus, these dishes are usually extremely cheap as well.

Papa rellena: I have to say that this dish deserves the “first” place for so many reasons, but the most important ones among them are the fact that it's such a simple and tasty on the go type of meal. At first, I kinda avoided it at any cost and went for something completely different, like something with fried chicken, but lately, I have gotten a taste for it. The best part is that its so easy to make yourself. All you need is a potato (in this case potato paste) and fill it with meat, onions, olives and one hard-boiled egg. When you have done this and shaped it more or less like a potato you “throw” it on the frying pan. On the side you can either have rice or a salad, I prefer a light salad. I usually max out after two servings of these potatoes.

Churros de manjar: I am not sure how I would categorize this one, but my foodie's heart wants to say its a light snack and my brain would say its a Spanish breakfast. Because this dish has its origin from Spain and back in the “old-country” this is a typical breakfast item. To explain this dish a bit better, its a deep-fried dough filled with some type of caramel chocolate and sprinkled with sugar. Yes, it's very sweet and that is also the main reason why I would categorize it as a snack on the go and not as a typical breakfast item. To be completely honest, I don't think I would ever be able to eat as much as it's needed to satisfie my early morning hunger. I am not saying it's not tasty, but it is not what I would call a complete meal.

Anticuchos: If I am going to be completely honest, this is one dish that so far has given me the biggest problem getting used to. It's not because of how it tastes, but this time around it's about the type of “meat” they use to make the dish. You can say it has some similarities with the better-known dish shish kebab, but the anticuchos has its origin from the Andes mountains. The dish itself is pretty simple, meat marinated in vinegar and spices (usually cumin, aji pepper and garlic). The meat that is used for this dish is beef heart, but you can without any issues replace it with the more desired type of meat. It's not my go-to street food, but I will eat it if someone offers it to me or if I get the sudden hunger for it, yes that happens.

Arroz con leche: This is a “dish” that most of you might be familiar with, the English word for it is rice pudding and you find a version of it more or less all over the world. For me, it becomes a Peruvian experience when you combine Arroz con leche and mazamorra morada. If you are curious about the dish, I will be linking to an external website that can explain this a lot better than I can. When you combine these two dishes it becomes something that locally is called the Peruvian flag and you just have to take my word on it, its deliciously sweet. Its the perfect combination of rice, milk and corn. Just to mention it, Peruvians use corn in more or less everything, from food to wine.

Marciano's de Lucuma: Okay, I have to be completely honest with this one. My girlfriend threw this one at me and I spent ages on google trying to find out what in heavens name this dish was for something. I wasn't able to wrap my head around it. I just couldn't remember ever having tried anything with such a name, but one simple photo served me a eureka moment. It's as simple as a popsicle in a plastic bag and its amazingly refreshing, not to forget tasty. If I am not mistaken you can more or less use whatever fruit juice you want with this one, even chocolate or pure milk and put it in your fridge for a few hours. Yes, you can make this one yourself as well, my girlfriend used to make it all the time while we lived in Lima.

I guess that this wraps up my top 5 about Peruvian street food or snacks. I am fully aware of the fact that I have been throwing around a lot of weird sounding names in this post, but if you wish to learn more about the many dishes I have “talked” about in this post, I have included links to external websites. That way you can read more in details around the dishes that I have mentioned in this blog post. Maybe you even find yourself making one or more of these yourself or chase down a street vendor so you could have a taste of it, my best tip would be gone for the churros first. Its the one that would have the best first-time experience. Anyway, for me its all about sharing my love for food, travel and the experience I gather by living as I do.

Anyway, I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post because I have had loads of fun writing it. Must say at times it has been a minor struggle to complete it. Not a difficult topic to write about, but the hard part is to narrow the list down to just five simple street dishes. When you live in a country like Peru with a rich culinary culture, it becomes a big problem. I have heard that Lima is the new Paris or Paris of the South Americas when it comes to food. At the same time, if you did enjoy my post, why not check me out on social media? I have linked to my many profiles beside my page bar and I do hope to see you there as part of the Beyond the Horizon family.

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Been enjoying the holidays with family and friends

For me, Christmas is a family holiday where the focus lay on the somewhat cliche of spending true quality time together. What I am thinking about when saying quality time is things like just spending a good amount of time together playing games, eating good food, watching a good movie, go out or just have a lot of fun together. With other words, maintaining the family dynamic and that is extremely important to me since I am a typical family guy. Days like these get extra important when you keep in mind that I do work a lot, usually between 12 and 14 hours day. So this Christmas it was important for me to spend as much time with my loved ones as possible and I do feel we kinda succeeded with this.

The sad part I would say is that I wasn't able to spend the entire 10 days of Christmas without logging into my work-related systems, its how it is when you are your own boss and the only provider in the household. I know that this kind took a semi-dark turn but just wanted to explain a few things before continuing on the main topic. Anyway, we had a great celebration and spend the most important parts of it with my in-laws at Pasamayo and staying there usually gets followed by some pretty fun parties at night. Yes, they are that type of people who knows to enjoy the lighter side of life in many ways. Christmas eve was like a calm event with the main focus on the kids and their enjoyment. Gifts, good food and a few drinks.

Sadly I didn't get to take many photos from this day or I did, but they are of the more personal character. It doesn't feel right to use them if you know what I mean. I would say the day was a success in so many ways and on top of it I got the honour of being part of a tradition where they give to those who are less fortunate in the community. For me, this is something that really put me in the mood of Christmas. Its usually some very light entertainment, some food, a warm drink and gifts for the kids. It's my mother-in-law that is the organizer behind this event, she always does things like this and its all year round. For dinner, we had a barbeque all you can eat and the evening ended with a light firework show by me.

The days between Christmas eve and New years ever were, for the most part, spent working, but for the first time since the first of August, I took a day off for the big event. This is something I have been needing for some time now and I loved every minute of it, from the moment I woke up to the very moment I stumbled semi-drunk into bed. Yes, I got a bit drunk as I usually do on this day, but never so bad that I am a problem or anything. Just in a good mood and happy, but kinda felt it when I woke up the very next morning tho. To be completely honest, I am not really used to the alcohol anymore. The main thing is that we all had a great time and we also spent this day at the in-law's place in Pasamayo. Didn't really have any choice.

Our day of celebrating the new year started with us going to Chancay, a town maybe 20 minutes away for some awesome seafood, or to be more precise some amazing ceviche and they make the best ceviche in Peru there. After eating a huge portion we went for a while to the beach, to enjoy the sunset and then returning to Huaral to do some pre-celebration shopping. We needed some yellow shirts, glasses and fireworks for the evening. I cant celebrate new years eve without at least some of the fun stuff. With all of this done, we went to our final destination for the day and that were as mentioned Pasamayo and my in-laws. Because of all our shopping, we came kinda late to the party, but what a party it was.

That's the good part about living here in Peru because whenever there is an event or celebration, a lot of people turn up to join in. Usually, they come from both near and far to be a part of it. The big welcome of the new decade wasn't any different for us and that makes things just that much more fun or interesting. At the same time, you always get introduced to new people as well. Anyway, the day was amazing in all aspects of it, from start to finish, the only regret is the fact that I woke up feeling a bit beaten up, but that's just to be expected I guess? The good part is that we got to spend some quality time together as a true family, a really big one at the end of the night. Then again, it took me a couple of days to get back on track.

Yes, it has taken me a couple of days to get back on tracks and that is also the main reason for this blog post to be as delayed as it is. I am really not used to party anymore. Anyway, looking back on the holiday, I have to say it was a fun and successful event. I have not eaten, had this much fun, had this much to drink or been this relaxed in ages. What's lucky for me is that events like this don't come around that often. The important part is that we as a family have been having fun and enjoying ourself and that is for sure something that will keep me energized for weeks or even months to come. Well, this has been my Christmas “holiday” and how did you guys celebrate yours? At least I hope you had a good time!

Anway, I hope you guys have enjoyed reading my first proper blog post and because of that decides to stick around, maybe even check me out on social media while you are looking around. I am currently active on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, but I am also working on getting my Youtube channel up and running with frequent vlogs. When it comes to my channel, I am having a hard time finding editing software that I enjoy working on. Have had this problem since Microsoft took away their window movie maker. That one was so easy and convenient to use, for me at least. Not really important at this point in time, since my focus is at my blog and the channel only would have a supplemental role, if you know what I mean by that?

Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Welcome to my expat world, Beyond the Horizon

Greetings to all you lovely ladies and gentlemen out here on this great world wide web, at the same time it does seem like as I have the honour of welcoming you into my very own private corner her one the internet. So at a time like this, I do feel the need to express my gratitude for the fact that you are taking the time off from your daily routine and busy schedule to check out and read my newly started blog. With this in mind, I do hope that my work lives up to your expectations and that you enjoy reading about the topics I am focusing on. At the same time, if you by any chance see anything that needs to be improved, I would appreciate the constructive feedback.

Anyway, I guess its about time for me to get started on the part where I am introducing myself and the blog you now are visiting. First of all, my name is Jack Bowler Sr or just Jack for short. I am at the time of writing this post a 44-year-old Norwegian male who is living out his dream in South America and have done so since July 2016. Here I am enjoying my life together with my small family (son, a partner in crime and cat). Yes, my friend, you did read that correctly, because I have left my safe-haven back in Norway to live the exciting and challenging life as an immigrant here in Peru. I guess you are wondering why at this point. I would say that the most important reason is my family

I would say that the second most important reason has to do with my life long fascination for this part of the world (when I am saying this part of the world, I am thinking about Latin America). Because the truth is that for as long as I can remember I have had a dream about travelling and exploring South America. For me, it has to do with the people, food, language, culture and its rich history this region has to offer. Back in 2009 – 2010 I made my dream come true and spent a whole month just exploring the streets of Lima. You would be correct if you said I was sold on the idea and that was from the moment I landed at the airport. This was an experience that kept me coming back for more until my decision to move more permanently.

So who am I as a person and what do I prefer to fill my everyday life within the form of activities and such? As it is at the moment and for the more standard mundane days of the week, these are for the most part spent as a stay at home dad. The main reason for this is because I do not have my paperwork to be able to seek employment outside the household. At the same time, I have been for a while now struggling with something called a language barrier. Let's say that learning Spanish has been a much longer road to travel then I at first had expected, why it has been like this is something I am unsure about. Might be because most people I talk with would do it in English and not Spanish.

When it comes to me just spending time with myself or enjoying some good old fashion daddy time as its called, I do enjoy wasting time on computer games (these days its more likely to be on my Playstation 4 and games like Grand Theft Auto Online or Fishing planet). Yes, I am an avid gamer or the correct is used to be, since its a lot less time spent on it these days than it used to be. At the same time, I do have a huge fascination for photography or capturing the everyday small moments as I like to call it. when the opportunity arises I am unable to turn down spending time outdoors. Either just walking around in the city, hiking in the woods or go real-life fishing.

If there is one single thing that I love doing when time and finances do allow it, it has to be travelling and exploring new cultures. This is one fascination that has brought me all over the world. I have travelled all over Europe, North America, Asia and now started that time in my life where I want to see as much of South America as I possibly can or can experience. So far it has been limited to Peru and Equador, but there are plans for Chile, Bolivia and Argentina sometime in the future. At the same time, I do want to visit Africa and Australia, just to be able to tick those boxes of as well. Anyway, way before this becomes a reality I want to take my family for a while to explore Europe.

When it comes to the content of my blog and the plans that I have for it, I have to be completely honest. The idea here is to focus on sharing my everyday experience as an immigrant and expat to this amazing country. Focusing on how I am experiencing how it is to live here and how it was to visit as a tourist. This is something that I am going to do through text, photos and videos, but the focus will be on the text and photos. At the same time, I will do my best to portray it as correct and factual as I can do. I will not sugarcoat anything and I will also avoid using things like photoshop. At the same time and as I see it, the Peruvian people do not have anything to be ashamed of.

When it comes to the “intensity” in the post publishing process, it is an area that I do not wish to promise more than I know is possible to deliver on. I am for the most part thinking about my inexperience when it comes to “working” like that and in that regard doesn't want to bite over more than I can handle, short term. As I see it with my very limited experience in this field, publishing a post once or twice a week might be doable and with time also start working on videos for my Youtube channel. Yes, I do have a Youtube channel as well, but not been very active on it in the past. Have uploaded a few videos last year, but it's only meant as an addition to the blog itself.

I have a confession for you guys and girls. This is not my first attempt on having a blog, I had this one running for a while and felt like I had painted myself into a corner. At the same time, I had issues with extremely low numbers when it came to traffic coming from search engines and such. So I took a break and work kinda got in the way, after a while I felt maybe a restart and rework of the most important posts would be a good idea. Not sure if it is, but the result is that I closed the blog, took down all posts and now been working on them for a while. At least I hope that I haven't made a crucial mistake with this strategy, not that it matters since I am doing it mostly for the fun anyway.

I guess its about time for me to start wrapping things up and at the same time, I want to end this one by thanking you guys for taking the time to check my blog out and for reading this post. I do hope you did enjoy the read and that I will have the pleasure of seeing you back at a later point in time. Before you close the tab, why not check me out on social media. The links are as following, my Youtube channel (Beyond the Horizon 2.0), my blogs Facebook page (Beyond theHorizon), my Twitter (Beyond the Horizon), my personal Facebook page (Jack Bowler Sr) and my Instagram (Beyond our Horizon). I hope to see you guys there, you might find the content that you enjoy.

As a side note, the photos that I am using in this blog post is from my hometown and to be honest, I felt that something from the past would be a perfect way to kick things off. I do feel that opening my blog again after weeks on weeks working on its content is kind of a big deal for me personally, hope you feel somewhat the same way.