Ellie in Zorritos: « People really live in the moment here »

  • Ellie in Zorritos
Interview
Published 2015-07-23 00:00
Ellie comes from Australia. She moved to Zorritos four years ago with her son. Besides teaching English, she likes spending time with her son, going to the pool and beach and taking a drink with her friends.

Where are you from, Ellie, and what are you doing nowadays?

I'm from Australia. Before I moved to South America, I was an executive assistant. Nowadays, I'm a TEFL trainer and English language teacher. I live in Zorritos, a small fishing and surfing town on the far north coast of Peru where I run an institute which trains people to become English language teachers.

Why did you choose to expatriate to Peru?

I originally studied, lived and worked in Buenos Aires. However, I decided to travel from Argentina to Colombia via land, and on the way I fell in love with Peru.

What has attracted you to Zorritos ?

I found Zorritos through a friend who'd been here. It's very small and not a typical stop on the gringo trail, but I love the beaches and the simplicity of life here.

What were the procedures to follow for an Australian national to move there?

I lived here for a couple of years with a tourist visa. Then, I applied for my Carnet de Extranjeria, which is residency.

How long have you been in the country?

I've lived in Peru for almost four years now.

What are the local labor market's features? Is it easy for an expat to find a job there?

Peru's economy is growing and more expats are coming here, from other parts of South America and Europe. It's a good idea to speak Spanish, so you can manage daily life here. In the English training and teaching industry, there are lots of opportunities.

Was it difficult to find accommodation there? What are the types of accommodation which are available?

It can be a little more time-consuming to find accommodation in the provinces because you need to knock on doors. However, in the major cities its much easier as places are listed on-line. You can rent houses, apartments, shared accommodation and rooms.

How do you find the Peruvian lifestyle? How about the expats living there?

I love the lifestyle here. It's very simple but filled with life's simple pleasures. People really live in the moment here and I appreciate that. Where I live, there are very few expats, but there are a lot more in the bigger cities, especially in Lima.

Have you been able to adapt yourself to the country and to its society?

There are still things that drive me crazy about the culture here, but I think that in general I've adapted well and I'm much more patient, understanding and flexible. It's important not to apply expectations and norms from your home country and to always have an open mind.

What does your every day life look like in Zorritos?

I spend time with my son, we go to the pool and the beach. I work from home and deliver courses and classes and, whenever I can, I relax on the beach and enjoy a nice drink and fresh seafood.

What has surprised you the most at your arrival?

Probably the informality of so many things. The lack of public services means that people have to improvise, which makes for an entrepreneurial society. I can remember how chaotic Buenos Aires seemed when I first arrived, speeding through the streets in a taxi and how overwhelming it all felt, especially due to my lack of Spanish.

Your favorite local dishes?

Peru has incredible cuisine and there are lots of fresh fish and seafood in the North. So we eat ceviche, parihuela, tiradito. I also love the dishes in the South, like rocoto relleno and chicharron de chancho.

What is your opinion on the cost of living in Peru? Is it easy for an expat to live in there?

The cost of living in Peru is very relative and it depends if you're earning dollars or local currency. Lima is very expensive. However, my graduates work as teachers in Lima and in the other parts of the country and earn enough money to lead a comfortable, middle-class lifestyle. Compared to Australia, the cost of living is much more realistic and accessible.

How do you spend your leisure time?

In Zorritos, it's all about the beach and enjoying drinks and food with friends. And of course heading out to dance, which is what most locals love to do too.

What are the differences between life in Peru and in Australia?

Life in Australia is highly-regulated and controlled and there are limited opportunities to become an entrepreneur. I think Peru is the opposite. It's lacking lots of basic services or they're not delivered in the way they should be. However, it gives you the freedom to work for yourself and I love how innovative people are here. Australia is also a relatively young country, whereas Peru has a long proud history and daily life here is filled with colors and passion.

What do you miss the most about your home country?

I miss my family and living in a multi-cultural society with lots of different types of people and food.

Would you like to give any advice to soon-to-be expatriates?

Keep an open mind and an understanding heart. Remember always that you have chosen to leave the relative comfort of your home country and that you should leave all of your expectations there and be open to everything being completely and delightfully different.

What are your plans for the future?

To continue building my institute, training teachers and providing the local community with access to quality native English teachers. This year we are also going to widen our market to train local Peruvian English teachers in the TEFL methodology which will be a wonderful challenge. And most importantly, to watch my son grow up and enjoy all of the wonderful moments life here allows us to share.