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March 7th, 2009 · 20 Comments · Daily Life in Lima, Handmade Culture

yo vinifano, tu vinifanas, él vinifana....

"Parents have homework tonight," El Híjo announced smugly as he dumped the cuadernos on the diningroom table earlier this week.

He turned to me and El Fotógrafo: "You have to Vinifan them."

EF and I counted up the stack and groaned. Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin usa, Nine school notebooks to cover in clear, toxic-smelling plastic sheets known as Vinifan. This could take all night.

"I know," EH gloated, Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin.

I shot EF a pleading look. "You know I'm no good at it. You're the expert."

EF conceded. "I'll do it tonight."

EF sat at his desk for nearly two hours, Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin japan, cutting, fitting and taping the clear plastic sheets to EH's notebooks. Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin, The sheets have to be cut just so: snugly so they wouldn't fall off when the notebook is open but with enough give to accommodate a closed book. The final product is a transparent cover that protects the book for the entire academic year - mandatory for all children who attend public or private school in Peru.  

I knew nothing of the pvc product Vinifan or the verb "to vinifan" when we moved to Peru in July 2007. EH had just finished third grade in the United States and would have been entering fourth grade there in the fall, Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin australia, but his Peru counterparts were still in the middle of the school year, which begins in March. In the end, we enrolled EH for an additional four months of third grade, from September through December. The idea was to give our American child time to begin learning Spanish, of which he spoke not a word, nada, Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin.

Along with the welcome packet we received from the school's head master was a list of required materials to purchase for the remainder of the year. Six No, 500mg Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin. 2 pencils, a pen eraser, a glue stick, a compass, a set of rulers, Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin craiglist, one block of colored artist's papers, a metal pencil sharpener, gypsum, a plastic soprano recorder - the list went on and on.

We ran frantically from store to store in Miraflores, checking off items. Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin, The child went to his first day of school loaded down with bags of loot. That evening, Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin uk, he returned with a written note from his teacher: "Dear Sr. and Sra.: Please vinifan the notebooks that the school is providing!!!!"

The four exclamation marks worried me. We had obviously screwed up big time by not doing this...whatever it was. A mild panic/heart attack went off in my chest. As if we didn't have enough to worry about, Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin.

We were having a hard time on the home front convincing El Híjo that it was not a bad thing to have to wear a uniform to school. Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin mexico, EH said he looked like a "nerd" wearing blue trousers, a button-down shirt, vest and tie, and wasn't buying that he looked "just like Harry Potter" (my overly enthusiastic assertion).

El Fotógrafo, who had gone to Catholic school in Peru in the '60s and '70s, butted in: "All the kids in Peru wear uniforms, 200mg Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin. Get over it. Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin, You'll have to wear a tie when you grow up. You might as well get used to it now."

"But what is this ‘vinifan' thing?" I persisted.

"We gotta go to Wong," EF said, pulling another 50 soles bill from his wallet. Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin paypal, I tried my best to do a credible job covering the notebooks that night. It didn't seem hard at first. I'm good at wrapping presents, Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin. But covering a book is something else.

After messing up twice, I handed the job to EF, whose muscle memory from years of practice at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel kicked in, Which Is Stronger Cipro And Amoxicillin japan. He taped the corners neatly, squarely, no ripples on the plastic surface.

Our kid went back to school the next day not knowing a word of Spanish, but damn if his notebooks didn't look 100% peruano.

So this year, Fotógrafo handled the Vinifan and once again made EH's notebooks look first-rate. I've dubbed him Lord of the Vinifan.

--Barbara R. Drake.

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20 responses so far ↓

  • 1 sonia // Mar 7, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Hello Barbara,

    I have been reading and enjoying your blog for months without ever leaving a comment. But tonight, reading about Vinifan brought back so many memories I just had to write!

    Growing up in Lima, Vinifan was one of my favorite school supplies! I was so proud of how smooth and shiny it left all my books and notebooks. I’m firmly middle-aged now and have lived in the US for years, but I still buy rolls of Vinifan on my trips back to Lima to cover all my favorite books! I currently have five unopened rolls of the stuff in my study ready for use!

    It’s strange though that I have never seen it used by anyone in the US. My daughter didn’t like her notebooks and books covered with it because she said no one else in her class knew about it. Instead, the kids covered their books with thick paper or cloth covers, nothing as sleek and elegant as Vinifan. Peruvians lead the world in good looking notebooks!


  • 2 Ward Welvaert // Mar 8, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    This could spell trouble for me in about 7 years or so. Arguing with the principal over the need for toxic-smelling plastic…

  • 3 Barb // Mar 8, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Sonia — loved hearing your stories. I suppose that kids could feel proud being able to make their books look so nice and sleek. Maybe we should be encouraging El Hijo to do this, rather than having El Fotografo take over.

    I checked out a business page on Vinifan, and it appears that the company exports to countries in Latin America and Asia, but not the U.S. Back in 2002 Vinifan reps were reported as saying they were trying to break into the US market, but it appears that they haven’t made any headway.

    Ward — one step at a time. Yes, smelly Vinifan is looming in your future, but your immediate task is about a year and a half of diapering the wee one who is on her (?) way. Another kind of wrapping. :)

  • 4 Rachel in Peru // Mar 9, 2009 at 10:44 am

    The dreaded Vinifan and Forro. The start of the school year drives me mad with all the numerous utiles that look identical to my eyes.

    American schools were NOT this complicated, time consuming or expensive when it came to the start of the school year!

    I still have to vinifan and forrar the notebooks and text books, but I’ll probably end up enlisting my little sister-in-laws or going to the market to pay someone else to do it.

  • 5 Barb // Mar 9, 2009 at 11:18 am

    Readers: “utiles,” as Rachel refers to them, are the required items you have to buy for school.

    Yes, R, they do look alike. I didn’t have this stress buying El Hijo’s school stuff in the U.S., but then again, the public school provided more of the stuff.

    Where is this market in Lima where you can pay someone to Vinifan books?

  • 6 Rachel in Peru // Mar 9, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Any market!

    You have the one in Chorrillos off of Huaylas, the Surquillo market across from Miraflores, the market next to China-town in Centro Lima, etc.

    Just look for where they sell schools supplies in the market or do school projects. – Yes, there are kiosks where they will do your kid’s science project!

    In Peru you can find anything if you know where to look.

  • 7 Barb // Mar 9, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    thanks, r

  • 8 Maireid // Mar 11, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Hi Barb, This is my second visit to your blog, and my first time commenting. You’re such a lovely writer. Thanks for the stories!
    I really enjoy hearing about your new life in Peru.

  • 9 Erika // Mar 11, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Hey Barb , vinifan brings back such a fond memories of my childhood ! love how it made my books and cuadernos look :D
    I really dont remember it being expensive , I guess my mom used to buy it cheap :)

  • 10 Barb // Mar 12, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    Oh, no, Erika, it’s not expensive. When El Fotografo takes out 50 soles, it’s just a reference to the actual bill he brought with him to Wong.

    Not to worry — he did get change!

  • 11 Barb // Mar 12, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Thanks for dropping by, Maireid (all the way from Australia!). And thanks for the nice comments about my story.

    Your “immersion” concert theme is inspiring — weaving songs and stories from Irish, American and Australian heritages. Cultural nomadism is the story of the earth’s people, no?

  • 12 Mali // Mar 27, 2009 at 12:34 am

    Just found your blog & love it! Lord of the Vinifan really struck a chord…we just moved to Lima last July, Miraflores in October and put the boys in Carmelitas just this month. Of course, I had no earthly idea what vinifan was or how important it was! Got a huge kick out of the article, thanks for sharing!

  • 13 Barb // Mar 27, 2009 at 10:49 am

    Welcome to Lima, Mali! I think learning how to Vinifan is a rite of passage for us expats. Maybe it’s on the citizenship test to become a Peruvian, along with singing all verses of the never-ending national anthem.

    How do your boys like Carmelitas? Were they used to wearing a uniform before they started school in Peru?

    To this day, El Fotografo (who attended Carmelitas as a child) cannot stand to wear anything brown due to his associating the color with his old school uniform.

  • 14 Glory // Sep 15, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    I also went to carmelitas, I can’t wear anything brown without being reminded of that dowdy, huge, scratchy uniform.

  • 15 Barb // Sep 15, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    So you too! It appears to be a common affliction with Carmelitas graduates.

    This is a bit off subject — but El Fotografo and his cousins went to Carmelitas when the nuns still practiced corporal punishment. Whenever they get together for Sunday almuerzos, one cousin or the other makes a reference to some strange or painful thing a nun did to him, like lock him in a room for an hour or (get this) make him sit under the nun’s desk while she taught the class.

  • 16 Eleonn // Sep 16, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    …lock him in a room?? Ha. I had a science teacher who had a little coil that produces some few volts and he use it to teach about electricity. Somewhere in time he discover that he could used it for punishing bad boys/girls too. I have to add that I wasnt precisely an angel at school :D .

  • 17 nancy // Sep 21, 2009 at 9:06 am

    The “toxic smelling Vinifan?”.. that is the best smell ever, not proving to be toxic, and fun for peruvian people, I loved to cover my notebooks. So you know live in Peru you better get use to it. Same for me, to live here in Us without Vinifan.

  • 18 Barb // Sep 21, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    I am getting used to that Vinifan smell, after being here for two years.

    Vinifan may be one of the things that Peruvian expats miss most about their country, besides ceviche and the garua. :)

  • 19 Natalia // Nov 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Hello Barb!
    You made me remember the time when I was at school. I really enjoyed covering my books with Vinifan. Also, I was very proud that they were shiny and very flat that my friends couldn´t notice that I used Vinifan. Some years ago I gave my school books to poor children and I was glad that Vinifan had protected them, so they were still in good conditions to be use again :) .

  • 20 Daniel // Dec 6, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Nice writing! Thanks to your blog I’m looking forward to visit Peru again. After all I was born there!