Coming home to Peru


Returning is never easy. You leave so much behind! From pots and pans to CDs, DVDs, books, gifts, souvenirs, lovers, friends, housemates, colleagues, people you meet along the way— people you will most probably never see again! Not to mention cats, dogs or any other two or four legged creature you might have fallen for!

No more stopping in that small bakery along the way to buy your warm, fresh bread, no more kind exchange of words with that man from whom you would buy your morning newspaper every day, no more bargaining at your favorite Sunday market, no more, no more, no more.

The good news is that you can do it all over again! Here you are, ready to discover or re-discover those little things in life that may seem monotonous or rather dull but that do give somehow a sense in your life, things you ‘have to do’ and that you find, surely, pleasure by taking care of them.

Slowly, you discover that perfect coffee shop with the best coffee in town, the shoemaker that is able to make miracles with your shoes and whatever cherished item you might trust him with, the ‘bodega’ not far from home that closes late at night and the vendor that will pamper his or her caseritos with some extra veggies whenever they stop by. Slowly, you create your own universe, your own routine, your own comfort zone, your life in Peru, and this unpredictable but fascinating process is what large number of Peruvians returning home and foreigners coming to live in this generous country go through on a daily basis.

The question is, why are Peruvians returning home? Why are more and more foreigners coming to live in Peru? I can think of a myriad of reasons: the Peruvian economy is continuously growing and perhaps better opportunities lay ahead, immigration policies abroad have gotten tougher, as has the job market, with the global economic crisis playing its part.

Perhaps you come from a particular country where the political situation is no longer tenable and it is time to move on. Perhaps you came as a tourist, a student, an employee, an entrepeneur and simply fell in love with the country, fell in love with a Peruvian and prolonged and prolonged your stay until you finally decided it was time to get a DNI!

Perhaps you also felt it was time to come back home, take care of your parents that are not getting any younger, meet those nephews and nieces you left when they were in diapers and are now big party-goers, and make sure the extended family still recognizes you. You want to make sure someone will attend your own funeral! You want to get a job or start a new business before it is too late, attempt having a social life before it is also too late.

Perhaps life has treated you pretty well and it is time to give back. Perhaps you just want to run away from your past and give yourself another opportunity, another chance. Why not? There are a million and one reasons why you may decide to take such a tough decision, one that requires courage and resolve; it is only you who knows.

However, is this country prepared to receive a large influx of people with dreams of a better future, if not a peaceful and quiet life? Can we all make it? Can we all fit in? No doubt, we must all be prepared, society and government. Policies of inclusion, transparency, equal opportunity, policies that promote and reward professional high standards and moral values will help pave the way for these new challenges.

A stubborn fight against corruption, nepotism and privileges based on ‘who you are’ and ‘who do you know’ must be at the forefront. The country should give opportunities to new and old-comers that want to make not only their own lives better but ultimately contribute to the wellbeing of society.

Roxana Garmendia is a lawyer specializing in human rights and international relations. She served in high-ranking positions for the United Nations in Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe, primarily in post-conflict societies. She is currently residing in her native Peru and working as a consultant on human rights issues.

Roxana Garmendia describes the process of returning to Peru.



Roxana Garmendia

Being well-traveled and living in many parts of the world, gives Roxana great leverage when it comes to food tasting and her love for food is well expressed in her articles