Last night I spent some time talking to an amazing couple in a somewhat similiar-to-ours multi-cultural relationship. Well, even more interesting was observing the dynamics of the bilingual aspect of their relationship. Both speak Spanish and English very well, and I’m guessing the husband also has a third language under his belt. As I started the conversation in English, they continued. Though I speak and understand Spanish fine, the English teacher in me kept speaking in English to keep the wife practicing. But under normal circumstances they communicate to each other in Spanish.

I make Daniel speak English here in the States, and I spoke in Spanish in Peru. Eventually I’m sure we’ll go back to Spanish when I start slipping there or need to brush up on my expressions. But let’s be honest, no bilingual couple stays 100% in any language. And I noticed this even in our conversation last night. Certain sentences were in Spanish, sometimes out of excitement, sometimes because the topic just didn’t feel as natural in English.

A photo posted by Daniel Taipe (@inz) on Sep 6, 2015 at 4:56am PDT

// the one thing I loved watching was what happened every time she was trying to think of a word in English or say a word she didn’t know. Even though I would have understood even if she said the word in Spanish, she turned to him and asked “how do you say… in English?” In those brief moments when she felt lost and didn’t know the answer, her very first instinct was to look to her husband. Sure, she could get the word from anyone, but naturally, without thinking, she turned to him.

This instinct amazes me. Without thinking, we know who we trust the most. And it really is a relationship being built over time that brings you to lean on each other for more than just the basic needs of life. I hope my marriage is learning some of these same lessons.

But more than anything, I hope my relationship with God is building the same way. We often say that we know we should ask God for help even for the little things, but don’t think to do it. I think a lot of this is built on relationship, not even our typical “oh, He came through for me this time, I guess I’ll ask again” or “I know I should ask Him first, so I really just have to remember.” Maybe, just by talking to Him daily, sharing our hopes and fears, we’ll get to the point that without even realizing it, we lean over and ask “hey, how do I say this?”

Day 9: Chance it

I love my days off. I love when I stay at home in my pajamas doing absolutely nothing, except for a big adventurous trip to Subway to eat lunch. I also love when I go out into the real world and enjoy the day while others are busy working. One of our favorite things to do once a month is go to Creative Mornings in DC. Creative Mornings is a free breakfast lecture series for the creative community. Creative Mornings is held in 100 cities around the world and every month each chapter covers the same general topic. There’s time to network, enjoy a muffin or two (or every flavor) and then be inspired, awestruck, empowered, touched or set straight by a short (under an hour) presentation by various creative professionals.

Day 9: Live with a bit of spontaneity and randomness to allow chance a chance. 

Today’s presentation here in DC was on the topic of “Chance.” We heard from Lulu Miller who is an NPR Science Desk Reporter, and overall awesome. She spoke about the many ways that chance inspires creativity, and as a storyteller, she often finds the best parts of stories by accident. Or something along those lines. My take away was to allow as much “randomness” into your life to let it diversify and inform your creativity. Our minds may be interesting places, but very limiting. The more you people, things, concepts, etc impact you, the further you can take your ideas.

After leaving the talk, we wandered over to the National Gallery of Art, since, well, we’ve just never been in there before. It was fabulous, and precisely the practice we needed after hearing the theory. My job has nothing to do with fine art, but I felt myself inspired in many different ways. We lingered over pieces we had never seen before and stopped in awe in front of paintings we had only ever seen in books. We found a set of paintings by
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the namesake of Daniel’s college in Peru, and an artist who helped inspire modern advertising design (or something along those lines). It was wonderful to sit on the (super comfortable) couches ever few rooms to discuss art with my husband (and rest our tired feet). I felt like it led us to thoughts and discussions we would have never otherwise had. Consider Lulu Miller’s theory confirmed at least once by the Taipe adventurers. 

So if you’re feeling in a little bit of a creative rut, fear not. Do something completely random, stay open to finding something you weren’t expecting, let other’s experience become a part of yours. You may just find yourself on a whole new path by chance.

Day 6: Keep traditions

I’m rather forgetful. I wish I was different, that certain things sparked my memory or haunted my thoughts, but nothing sticks for too long. One of the things I’m particularly bad at is dates. I would forget my own birthday was coming if Facebook didn’t remind me of it. So of course, as life often happens, I married someone who took the effort to commit things to memory. He’s the anniversary keeper in our marriage. And he knows it all, the anniversary of the first day we met, the day he asked me out, the day he proposed, the day I left Peru, the day he came to the USA, the day we got married, the first time we changed a flat tire… he knows it all. Although I highly suspect he has an App hidden somewhere helping him out with some of those.
But we’re a family that likes to celebrate, so it works great that he has in mind so many dates to commemorate. Tonight the occasion was the 1 year anniversary of when he arrived in the USA. We had been apart for 11 and a half months, and only got to see each other once in that time for about 3 days. A year ago I picked him up at the airport and for the first time ever, drove him around. Although it was late, we grabbed a quick bite at IHOP before I dropped him off at the house where he would be staying until the wedding. I tend to bring people to IHOP when they first arrive from overseas, though I’m not sure why. I guess it’s the most American food I know. A year ago it seemed strange to sit down across the table from this man that used to live in my iPhone. 

When we went out tonight I thought to myself, “What a silly anniversary to keep.” Though that never gets in the way of having an excuse to order stuffed french toast. When taken from The word “tradition” holds a strange connotation for me I guess. Most of our family traditions growing up were for us kids. At least I had always assumed that they were. We celebrated Easter the same way every year, because us kids liked it so we wanted to do it again. We opened presents in the same way every Christmas because kids need some sort of structure to know what to expect in these sort of events. When I grew up I didn’t think I’d worry about keeping any special traditions of my own, though I always heard “you’ll start your own traditions when you have your own family.” I just always assumed that I would set up those traditions for my kids when they come around. Then I had a few sad holidays with no traditional aspects, and they were horrible. For several years I celebrated Christmas out of the country, and nothing about it felt like Christmas. In Brazil I ate tacos, in Peru I watch Titanic on TV then fireworks with my sister-in-law over Skype, and ate lemon pie. None of which says “Christmas” to me. 

And now I have my own family. It’s just me and Dani right now, and that’s pretty awesome. We’re still in our first year of marriage, but we’ve spent 2 Christmases together (3 if you count that one of our first dates was eating lemon pie together on Christmas afternoon). We still haven’t established traditions as they’re often understood. But tonight as we sat at IHOP chatting into the evening, I realized the true importance of traditions. Day 6: Creating and keeping traditions helps us blend the past, the present and the future. It’s not a matter of pulling out the same ornaments every year just because that’s what we do. It’s pausing normal day-to-day activities to appreciate what you’ve been through together, remember the great moments, evaluate the time that has passed, express what you’ve both learned and share the experience together. There’s no need to live in the past, but I’d be a fool to pretend like it didn’t happen. And one of the best ways to hold onto the good and keep getting better is to take the time to mark moments in history as they’re happening and remember the value moments that have gone.


Today my husband went through something I remember far too well myself. He cooked a few (delicious!) Peruvian dishes since we had a friend coming over for a Road to Morocco movie night. After the careful shopping, chopping and assembling, both the causa and mushroom ceviche were ready. When I arrived home from work I saw nothing but disappointment and frustration on his face. Then he uttered those oh too familiar words, “it just doesn’t taste the same.” He explained that the potato wasn’t good and the avocado was weird. So with a heart full of fear I tasted a small corner of the dish. Delicious. But to someone who grew up tasting what it “should” be like, it was wrong, completely wrong.

I remember many muffins that came out too hard, cookies too grainy, sauces too salty and so much worse because the ingredients acted differently than I expected them to based on my past experience in the US. And choosing substitutes was even more frustrating all together. Did I ever mention the time I broke down crying in the cheese section of the grocery store because I didn’t know which one would taste like back home?

For those expats far from home, cooking can be comforting and infuriating at the same time. It took me days to assemble a semblance of a Thanksgiving meal. But after all those hours of cooking (from scratch) it finally felt familiar. And with just a nibble of a peanut butter blossom I felt like I could sit down for hours chatting with my mother. But if it’s off, and that hope of perfection lingers in only a memory, there is nothing more heartbreaking.

5 de mayo

Let me just start out by saying, I know that 5 de mayo is not a huge celebration in Mexico. I realize that for the most part it’s an excuse used by most Americans to eat Mexican food and drink margaritas at discounted rates. I enjoyed it most when living in California, because there were always some of the most enjoyable fairs celebrating hispanic heritage. I have studied enough about El Día de la Batalla de Puebla to fully appreciate the day’s complex history. So no, I don’t think it’s Mexico’s Independence Day.

However, as a “typical American” I do use it as an excuse to celebrate our southern neighbors by indulging in a bit of Mexican food. Last night was no exception. Unfortunately Daniel and I are on both a budget and a healthy eating streak. So my only way around it was to use my acquired skills to produce an edible meal for us at home. This resulted in homemade “refried beans,” salsa (although a bit too spicy) and tortillas. My tortilla press has been sitting unused for too many months, and it was a joy to get it out again. I’ll admit, my homemade tortillas as not as good as the expert’s, but they are passable. So this year the Taipe house celebrated, ate, laughed and appreciated the diversity which our world can bring us. Isn’t it just wonderful creating a family painted with the colorful world around us?

Getting deported

Ok, so maybe no one is deporting me yet. But I am getting sent out of the country. The time I was given on my visitor’s visa is up, and in order to continue my paperwork I have to renew my visa. In order to do that, I have to leave the country and come back in. So… away I go to Ecuador! I hop on a bus this afternoon, will spend 20+ hours to get there, meet a pastor, walk across the border basically, walk back (maybe spend a night in a hotel, I’m not positive about the timing) and get on another bus for 20+ hours to come home JUST in time to head to the airport and pick up more guests for the next week. I’m tired already.

The good news however is that when describing me to the pastor who will pick me up at the border, I heard them describe me as “a tall, skinny blonde”. Ok, so there are things I love about this country. Where else would my 5’5″-self get that description!?

But no worries, I’ll be as safe as I can and send signs of life as soon as I can. Now to go put another stamp in the ol’ passport!