Friday, February 17, 2017

Happy 6-months Vaquita!

My baby girl turns six-months old today! 

Vaquita was born in the floating community outside of Iquitos called Nuevo Campeon.  She is the baby of a guard dog who lives inside one of the families homes, but they didn't have the space nor resources to care for the pups.  She was living beneath their home when I met her.

I've had Vaquita for over three months now and we're insanely attached. 

V is a mama's girl. Doesn't like to be too far away or out of sight from me. 

She loves "destroying"; I'll give her empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls to rip up the cardboard, cardboard boxes from groceries, and sometimes just throw balls of paper for her. When she was quite sick in January (on house arrest) I gave her an entire roll of toilet paper to tear up and play with: my apartment was COVERED in tiny pieces of toilet paper.  

Her favorite thing in the world is tall grass, bushes, and flower gardens! (why Miraflores is her heaven) 

She also loves sand piles ! 

She's a good off-leash walker! She'll run around and explore and do her own thing, all the while keeping up with me and never getting too far behind or out of sight. 

But, she still doesn't know the streets.  She will still run into the street if she sees a piece of chicken laying there (or a dead rat).  The insecticide-spraying crew came around the other night and the sound terrified her. She ran off all the way straight home, but didn't take care to the street! 

She's found her voice recently, and even has her big girl bark! Though she doesn't always get it out right.  She's also learned to growl (less fun) and cry-bark when I leave her alone.  

She goes completely nuts for these digestible rawhide treats I give her

She loves Elvis a lot, and thoroughly enjoys his birdy noises
Vaquita likes traveling... 

but isn't a big fan of the airplane 
She does, however, love moto taxis! 


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wednesday Words

Happy hump day!  Hope you had a good Valentines day yesterday! Here are some things I got up to yesterday:

Meetings gone awry 

I've tried to have a million meetings this week and they just kept going wrong. Mostly its just that someone doesn't show up, or they were running super late (1.5+ hours) and I didn't have time to sit and wait all afternoon.  But I guess I forgot how hard it can be to track some people down around here.  

Valentines dinner with friends

We went to Chef Paz on Tuesday night to welcome Jessie and talk about life with the gringo-squad.  They have a long menu which confuses me, so I went with my general favorite: aji de gallina.  This place is fairly fancy and expensive, especially compared to where I usually get this dish, so I knew it had to be different in some way.  but, it was actually much the same but with parmesan cheese and nuts on top. Interesting. It was nice to see everyone and catch up, though I was exhausted by the end and got home past my bedtime 😉

Vaquita is getting spayed soon 

And I'm nervous! She had a simple injection almost four weeks ago now and it got infected. So I know that the chances she gets an infection are not bad and for that reason she'll probably be on house arrest for several days (or maybe I can wrap it up?).  But mostly, as long as the surgery goes well, she'll be fine.  I'm really just worried about how good quality the actually surgery will be.  I'm sure it will be fine though! They do this all the time! Right !? 


I've mentioned to most people already how I'm trying to live within a super tight budget for the next two months.  Two months is my revised goal as the six-month goal is just not feasible and I'm going to have to find another solution.  But, I'm making a low-for-here Peruvian salary and I don't have any other income sources (or savings left lol thanks Hopkins).  I'm definitely learning a lot and not doing TOO bad (other than that week in Lima, lets pretend that didn't happen).  My main problem is that my apartment rent is just wayyy too expensive for this budget. I'm spending 75% of my income on rent!! The reality is still that I am a single young female foreigner here and safety comes first, so I'm not sure if I'm willing to move to a much cheaper place.  

V's Best Friend, Maya. I love her! 


Everything You Need to Know About Traveling Internationally with Your Dog

[1] Documents

Anytime you travel with your dog on a plane, you will need a health certificate.  This means if you are traveling frequently, you will be taking your dog to the vet every two weeks for a new health certificate (they're only valid for 10-14 days depending on the country).  
A certificate of vaccination is also required.  This is usually done at the same time of the health certificate.  But, you should also make sure you have your original vaccination documents! You want to make sure you have confirmation of the dates the vaccines were administered and a vaccine card or receipts from the vaccination are best for that. 
All veterinary offices that I have seen will charge you for these documents; in Peru, I pay a little under $20 USD for all of them, however I've also seen some offices in Philadelphia charged closer to $130 USD for these! I recommend you ask around for a lower price, as there is no reason to pay so much for a simple document! 

[2] Endorsement of documents 

Before you leave the USA, you will need to have your health certificate endorsed by the USDA.  If not, your risking having your dog sent back to the USA upon arrival in your destination country.  The original health certificate filled out and signed by your vet needs to be sent by mail (properly express since it needs to be within 14 days of travel) or hand delivered to a USDA-APHIS office.  A list of endorsement offices can be found here.  I was lucky enough to be driving distance from an office, made an appointment, drove up, got the signature, and drove back home (still a 3.5 hour journey in total).

[3] Microchip

Some countries require a microchip for your dog to enter.  The United States does not require this, but when you leave the USA again it might be required for your destination country.  Middle and Low income countries tend to be much more difficult to get accurate and updated information on this type of thing, so I recommend you just go ahead and microchip your pup to be safe! It only costs between $50-70 USD and then you never have to think about it again!

[4] Airlines  

Airlines is where this can get a little tricky, as in my experience it totally depends on the people you catch on that day. This also depends a lot on if you're traveling with an emotional support/service animal or a pet.  In any case, you'll need to call and let someone know you plan to travel with an animal at least two days ahead of the flight.  The health certificate and certificate of vaccination are presented when you check-in for your flight at the desk.  
You'll also want to consider size and space.  If your dog is less than 25 pounds, they should have no issue in the cabin.  However, if they are traveling as a pet they need to be within a crate of travel bag the ENTIRE flight and that carrying case needs to fit beneath the seat in front of you (about 11 inches high).  This is a tight squeeze, so I hope your dog is small! If they are larger than this, you'll end up checking them as cargo in a hard-sided crate.  
Some airlines require or suggest you bring a doggy air mask... when flying with your dog on other airlines, you are consenting to the fact that they don't supply oxygen masks to animals (even service animals).  

[5] Flight times

If its your first time flying with your pup, think a little bit more about the flight times.  Just like with a child, your dog is used to a certain schedule of sleeping, eating, going to the bathroom, playing, and napping. If you can align the flight with their schedule, I recommend you do it!  I try to fly overnight as my dog is used to sleeping between 11 pm and 6 am and therefore is more likely to sleep throughout the flight.  Her wild playtime hour of the day falls between 5 pm and 9 pm, hence I try my best to not schedule any flights during that window as I'm afraid she'll be full of energy. 
If you can't do this, tire your pup out before heading to the airport! Take them for a long walk, a run, and/or to the dog park for an hour or two! The more tired your dog is, the easier they will be to manage in an airport of in a new situation.

[6] Taxi companies 

This is something often forgotten! You'll need transportation from the airport to your hotel or Airbnb.  Most public transportation options do not allow dogs or are not feasible to carry your dog onto.  Uber and Cabify do not have specific rules about dogs and instead leave it up to the driver.  As soon as you book your ride, call or text the driver and ask if it is OK with the dog! It is sometimes easier to just book a taxi company at the airport, in which case you can ask in-person and they can see your dog before deciding as well.  

[7] Airbnb option 

You can search Airbnb's by "pets allowed"! It definitely reduces your options, but I've found quite a lot of nice places allow small dogs! Note: I'm not sure what the policy is for support or service animals, as I've chosen to only stay at places with a pet policy in order to reduce stress.   

[8] Doggy Daycare

Whether your traveling to a permanent destination abroad or plan to continuously travel, you'll likely need to find boarding for your dog at some point in your new country! It's much easier at home to find a family member or friend who will watch your dog, but when in a new country it's more difficult.  Most veterinary offices either have a daycare option or will link you to a good one nearby.  I suggest finding a vet you trust and taking their advice! 

[9] Finding a Vet

Just like when you travel yourself and you check for closest hospitals that take your insurance, you need to check for where you would take your pup-child should they become ill or injured! 
How do you find a vet in a new city? In the USA, I'd probably search reviews online and for their websites.  However, in many other countries you won't find such detailed information on every vet and every office.  So how do you find a trustworthy vet? Ask around! Go to the local dog parks (or areas with a lot of dogs) and ask some owners where they take their dog, as well as what is the best one in the area!  People who regularly bring their dogs to a dog park are the best to ask these types of questions, as they're socializing with many other dog owners and tend to know the situation. 

[10] Emotional Support or Service Animal 

For those of us who really need/benefit from a support or service animal, this is a fantastic option.  The above steps 1, 2, 4,  6, and 7 have extra tidbits.  
First for your documents, you'll need a medical prescription or letter from a doctor who is actively seeing you for your condition which requires the animal.  Some airlines produce forms that you can download and fill out, but I've found most will accept a long letter from your doctor with accompanying sheet of data (names, information on the dog, doctors license number, etc).  
When getting your documents endorsed, bring the doctors note as well, as sometimes the APHIS office will waive the processing fee if the dog is a service animal.  
You should be more free with the airlines when you have a certified support or service animal.  However, some airlines do require you to present a certificate that the dog has been tested for behavior and/or is trained (in whatever service).  Most airlines (if not all) will allow a support/service animal outside of a bag or crate in the plane as long as it sits within the area surrounding your seat.  Some airlines will move your seat to the window seat in order to decrease any risk should their be an emergency evacuation (the thought is that the dog might block other people from getting out if they're in an aisle seat, etc.).  
Depending on what country you are in, there are protective laws that will allow you to bring your service animal into taxis or hotels that do not allow "animals."  By "animals," they generally mean "pets," and a service dog is not a pet.  

[11] Fees 

This process is not cheap! Shop around if you have time to get a good deal!  The health certificate, certificate of vaccination, vet visit, and microchip will all cost you.  Hopefully you can get it all for around $125 usd.  Flying with a pet will cost you as well, from what I've seen about $100 usd.  Flying with a support or service animal, however, is free (for people with disabilities or need only of course).      You could also be asked to pay a pet fee at hotels or in an Uber (cleaning fee), or sometimes taxi drivers say "yes if you tip".  
Upon entering your destination country, you will need to pay an import fee to immigration regardless if the dog is a pet or support animal.  In Peru, this fee is about $30 USD, but I don't know how this compares to other countries.  There is no fee for entrance to the USA. 

Have any Questions? Let me know in the comments or send me an email! I've traveled with my dog seven times and have had several issues but also have had several great experiences! 


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Anything for Bacon, get to work, and winter is over

Happy Hump day ya'll

The other day, Vaquita and bacon met.  It was love at first site.  Coming home from the grocery store I put my bags on the floor of my apartment as I open the door to facilitate my regular welcome home from V.  I always sit down on the floor to say hello upon coming home.  I said hello and then got back up to grab her leash and take her outside.  As I turned back around, V had already sniffed out and dug into one of the five grocery bags, rapidly pulling out a slice of raw bacon with determination.  She has learned to eat forbidden foods extremely quickly, before I notice and take it away, which is a very annoying skill! She had somehow found and eaten two pieces of raw bacon in under ten seconds! 
I moved the bacon to the counter quickly before taking her outside.  When we came back in, I finished putting away the groceries and left the packet of bacon on the kitchen counter as I was planning on cooking it for breakfast with some potatoes and eggs.  I went into the other room to take a quick cool-down shower (its super hot here) before cooking, and when I came back the packet of bacon was landing on the floor and V was voraciously devouring it, again, as quickly as she could.  I then moved it to the farthest spot on the counter where I was now sure she couldn't reach it. I opened up my computer quickly to send an email and in the corner of my eye, Vaquita HOPS right up on the counter.  She stands on the counter right above the bacon.  I was AMAZED. So amazed I couldn't even be mad.  She found her true love and was able to summon super-dog jumps in order to be together.

This is the counter she jumped up on 

How much bacon was left after V stole the rest :( 

I've officially started working on my new study full-time. I've got a new laboratory setup, new locations, new boss, and the help of a new group of students and professors who so far have been extremely kind and helpful! I think being at this larger laboratory group will be beneficial in many ways for me.  I missed out a lot on collaboration and laboratory support, both physically needing help with getting materials or working a machine, and intellectual as far as bouncing ideas off of someone and getting feedback on my next steps.

Most beautiful science laboratories I'll ever work in?

My first few weeks here I was writing about how its "winter" in the jungle right now and I LOVE the rainy season.. Well, its over. At least for now. I'm not sure if it's coming back, but the cool breezes, fresh air, lower temperatures, and rainy days have gone.  It's been back to the normal hot-as-hell days and just-as-humid nights.


Monday, February 13, 2017

5 Things from My Weekend

Good morning and Happy Monday! I hope you all had a good weekend! I know a lot of you got a snow storm, so hopefully you like snow ;) 

(1)  Long walks with the puppy 
Weekends are great for walking and exploring new places for Vaquita to play.  The park near my apartment has been closed for "renovations" for months and just finally re-opened, so we got in some nice playing and exploring over there this weekend!

(2)  Relaxing at home 
After being in Lima for over a week, I was more than ready to get home to my apartment Thursday night.  This weekend I unpacked, did some laundry, organized a bit, and took a nice nap in my bed!   

(3)  Learning how to make Gnocchi ! 
My friend Cristina is a great cook! I always say she makes the best food in all of Iquitos 😉 Well, she had been promising to teach me how to make gnocchi for a while now, but I honestly didn't think I would be able to do it.  Turns out, gnocchi isn't THAT hard! We made fresh potato gnocchi and then added Cristina's homemade pesto and pine nuts to it for dinner. Delicious! 

(4) Vaquita ate a salamander 
All I have to say on that one...

(5)  Volleyball
My (mostly gringo) friends and I play volleyball together at least once a week, something we started over the summer! This Sunday our coach (jk, its Will) decided we would play for an hour and a half instead of our regular one hour.  Add that to an earlier in the day time and it was a HOT and sweaty workout! We went straight for ice cream afterwards 😋

V and her best friend Maya playing.
Our buddy Chocolate has been sent to live in a new home :( which means every morning someone is still looking for him but he's not around. 


Sunday, February 12, 2017

Barranco & Miraflores Malecon in Pictures

My love at Parque del Amor in Miraflores
Lima has beaches, but they're rocky instead of sandy. 
Vaquita's first time meeting the ocean was a no-go
Julia going out to surf in Miraflores! (on the right)
Vaquita and I going out for a morning run along the Malecon in Miraflores 
Vaquita sharing a water break with her lil friend Brontis 

Vaquita met her gaggle of lookalikes in a park in Barranco

I just love this fat lil wrinkly baby  
look at those wrinkles!! 

Morning views from Barranco's coast
Good night 


What I ate in Lima, Peru

Friday night my friend Julia brought me on a 35 minute walk to this restaurant she had been wanting to try.  Bao? is a chinese bun that is eaten somewhat like a taco, stuffed with meat and veggies.  The lovely woman taking our order chose for us by request, and we ended up with a rice bowl to share of a fried chicken and pulled pork combo.  We each then receive a Bao, one fried chicken and one pork belly.  Everything was delicious! The pulled pork in the rice bowl was amazing, the sauce on top a delicious pair.  We will definitely be back; only problem is that its a bit far away and decreasing the likelihood I would pop in there for dinner without planning ahead.

Julia and I also headed out to one of my tried and true favorites in Barranco, Burrito Bar! These burritos are damn good, and as far as I know the best you'll get in Peru.  I go for the chicken (pollo) with everything inside (just say yes).  The tortillas I believe are made in house, and super chewy fresh and delicious! 

The next night I had my beloved and promised Pizza Hut.  We don't have any real pizza in Iquitos, so a family size pepperoni is my regular tradition whenever I'm in Lima!  Anywhere else I've lived, I generally eat pizza multiple times a week. So I'm not sure exactly how I ended up living in a place without pizza for an entire year! 

This coffee and snack spot, Beso Frances (French kiss), is located in a beautiful location right along the Malecon in Miraflores overlooking the beach, the ocean, and a perfect spot for watching sunsets.  They've got delicious grilled-cheese-esq sandwiches, sweet crepes, coffee and lattes, and a nutella milkshake (yum)! They also always leave out water for the pups and sell dog treats as well.  

Ice cream is another must for me in Lima, especially since its summer and hot there right now! My favorite spot is Crem de la Crem in Barranco, serving gelato!!  I go for the large and get one scoop of the nutella flavor (gianduia) and one scoop of the banana foster! So good and a good combination together! 

There's also Blu around the other side of this block, which is really popular but I'm honestly not sure why.  

As for coffee, I like Agora because (1) they tend to have very attractive male baristas, (2) they're friendly, and (3) they let my dog sit with me at the tables outside [which other places (cough*sbucks) yell at me for]. Also, location of course. Very central. 

Aromia is also a nice spot, its location off of the main streets make it quieter and more low key.  They also have good breakfast and for a good value!