Trying Out a New Home

We arrived in San Francisco, CA from Peru with four suitcases and a package holding three decorated boards from Sarhua that we brought with us as oversized/extra luggage. Though the surcharge is a lot (aprox. $235), it is far less than ground shipping. Airlines have pretty strict rules about extra baggage even with the stiff charges, and they will not accept anything that is over 115 inches (L x W x H). This limit excludes our favorite painting and our largest effigy pot. I think we will have to manage without them.

Jonathan unpacking his knives while I unwrap our Sarhua boards.

Regional airlines, even those affiliated with the largest companies, do not have to accept extra luggage, and generally refuse third checked bags (despite the fact that the airlines claim it is possible to check up to ten additional bags!). For that reason we disembarked in San Francisco and rented a car for the rest of our trip home. We do not yet own a car, and decided to keep the rental for a week in hopes of finding a Prius to purchase. All our luggage made it onto and off our flights, and safely into our large vehicle. We saw that TSA opened the package of painted boards, but taped it up thoroughly afterward.

We stayed overnight in the San Francisco area, though we were driving across the Golden Gate bridge in thick fog the next morning at 10 am. We arrived in Eureka by mid-afternoon. It felt good to walk in the door and have familiar things around us rather than another empty Airbnb. We enjoyed opening our bags and pulling out the useful and quirky things that we packed in them, setting objects around the house. By the end of the week, all was unpacked and more rearranging had taken place. There is still a “To Do” list–but isn’t there always?

I began to notice a kind of reverse culture shock. Some of the zoning, or lack thereof, in Eureka, reminds me of the beach in Peru, where ramshackle and upscale sit cheek by jowl, though the truck with two flat front tires parked in front of our house has been repaired over the past six weeks in Eureka. It’s parked in the same spot, but now it also drives around.

We find ourselves comparing things to Peru, some positive (the beach here is cleaner), some negative (the cost of food at the market is much higher). Ironically, the weather is similar, 60s and overcast with heavy fog/light rain.

Top and L: Humboldt Bay; Bottom: Barranca, Peru

There are some sunny days now in Eureka because it is summer. When it gets to be summer in Peru, the days will be much hotter and sunnier. I have to remember we live in Eureka to avoid 100+ heat and extreme drought.

There are thrift shops and garage sales in the US, making it easy to find things we need until the contents of our storage unit arrive. In Peru, if you want something specific, you probably can’t get it, though you can usually make do. In the US, there’s Amazon, and you can have anything, any time. That’s a bit scary.

I think about little things: I guess I don’t need to carry my passport everywhere with me. Where should I store it? I can set up a home workshop for my jewelry-making: what should it look like? Do I need more tools, a dust extractor, a desk?

One of the nice things about Eureka that it shares with Barranca, is the range of people we see. Our neighbors in Peru included hacienda managers, artists, bakers, teachers, restaurant owners, taxi drivers, surfing instructors, along with families that ride the bus down from the hills on market day, wearing their best outfits, complete with women in hats encircled with plastic flowers, a signal of where they come from (the town of Pararin).

Eureka has entrepreneurs, journalists, glassblowers, artists of all sorts, lots of people with tattoos, lots of unhoused people who camp wherever they can, college students, and people with regular jobs, like ranchers, lawyers, doctors, and water quality specialists. We like the diversity of people.

Right now, I have no one to speak Spanish with. In the US, Spanish speakers are sometimes insulted to be spoken to in Spanish. If they don’t speak any English it’s ok, but how can I tell? My elderly friends in Peru don’t use much internet, and their postal service is broken. I need to figure out how to send them messages. I’ll work on my Whatsapp skills.

Little by little, we’ll settle in and get used to our new town.



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.

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