I’ll Stay Until the Wind Changes

We’ve owned our house in Peru for twenty years, quite a long time by any reckoning. We never tire of watching the sun set over the ocean, or sitting in the garden listening to the birds in the trees. We’ve gone from being here with a cast of about 40 people, leaving to work on archaeological excavations at 8:30 am, and returning in the late afternoon, with more note-taking after that, to living here with no schedule at all, happily retired.

There was never any chance we would stay forever, it’s just too complicated to live outside the US as an “older” adult. We have never tried to get residence in Peru. It may well have been possible, but we always planned to sell our house on the beach and return to the US. Somehow, that time has arrived. This week we met with a realtor recommended by a friend. We’ve had photos and video taken, we’re getting a contract reviewed, and by next week, our wonderful house will officially be on the market.

Ours is truly a wonderful house, as I’ve alluded to in other posts. It’s big, originally used as a field station for our archaeological research project. There are between seven and nine bedrooms, four baths, a huge kitchen with an oven big enough to roast two pigs at once. We’ve rarely used all of the burners on the stove.

Caretakers house with studio above

The back yard has space to park several cars. It also holds a two-story house. The downstairs is the caretakers apartment, while the upstairs was our research lab. Now it is my art studio. There is a patch of grass just big enough to play volleyball, and stairs up three tiers of garden with paths, palm trees, dripping fountains, and an herb and vegetable garden. The coast of Peru is a desert, and the garden is kept green by a recirculating water system that is pumped out of a well we dug a few years ago, up to a storage tank. Water then runs downhill through the canals and back into the well again through a filter of sand.

There is nothing else like our house any more. Big houses like these were the norm in the first half of the twentieth century, when agronomists and managers who worked at the haciendas inland, built beach houses for their families. When we arrived in this area more than twenty years ago, there were a few big houses left, “casonas,” built of adobe, likely to withstand earthquakes, simple, elegant, and labor-intensive. Today, the rest are either ruins or have been replaced by multi-story structures of brick and cement. The new buildings require less maintenance, but they lack that special something that thick walls and high ceilings provide.

Barranca kitchen

Now we have to brace ourselves for the future. We don’t know whether our house will sell in a month, or a year, or two or three.

We have mixed feelings about giving up our home here, as you can imagine. In the US, we will not be able to live in a spacious single story home across the road from a broad beach on the Pacific Ocean. Nor will Jonathan have the kitchen of his dreams. We will leave our very large and sweet dog Orca with a good friend who will appreciate her, and that is the last large dog we will have.

We will miss our friendly neighbors, and I will miss working on the unusual “Geniograma” puzzle in the newspaper with my neighbor Teresa. In the US, crossword answers don’t go in all different directions. Nor do crosswords include a combination of thumbnail photos, and answers that can be in the form of initials, and include a quote that threads around the page. The Geniograma has been a good learning experience for me.

The local market, with fresh caught fish, fresh picked fruit and vegetables, inexpensive avocados, mangos and pineapples, will no longer be near us, nor will our garden of fresh asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower, lettuce, and herbs, even lemongrass.

We’ll gain easier access to medical care, Medicare coverage (not applicable outside the US), and more cultural events. We’d like to live in an area where we can use public transportation, where there is a swimming pool, and a college or university where we can take a class or listen to a public lecture. I’d like to join the nearest AAUW group. I’m still a member of my group in Illinois, full of interesting people who like to discuss books, movies, and the issues of the day. No matter where we end up, we’ll be nearer to our daughters, because we’ll be in the US.

It will take us some time to resettle, to get used to having a home base, and not having Peru to look forward to each winter. As much as we’ve enjoyed our travels, the lure of having a home base is pretty attractive. Our trial run of eight months in Monterey, CA during the pandemic convinced us that we will be just fine. We’ll still spend some time each year on the road, though probably not as many months. There are still a lot of places on our list to visit.

Stay tuned, and we’ll see where we end up.

Here is a link to the photos taken by the realtors. They were all taken with a fisheye lens, and somewhat distorted as a result. The lens makes small rooms look larger, but I’m not sure it does much for us.


Published by winifredcreamer

I am a retired archaeologist and I like to travel, especially to places where you can walk along the shore or watch birds. My husband Jonathan and I travel for more than half the year every year, seeing all the places that we haven't gotten to yet.

6 thoughts on “I’ll Stay Until the Wind Changes

  1. I love the reference to Mary Poppins. I have often recalled her phrase as I’ve moved around the world. I am sure the wind will blow you two to a positive new place with a fine kitchen for JH.


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