Home

Well I am a little late on my “arrival home” post, as you can imagine it has been a busy two weeks. It was very difficult leaving home for Peru, and it was very difficult leaving Peru to come home. When I got to Peru I felt alone, without friends or family, and had a hard time getting used to the culture. When I got home I was so happy to see my family but again I felt so alone…my friends and boyfriend were still in Peru, and I had a hard time waking up knowing I wouldn’t be seeing them.

For the first few days I felt super busy, but I still was thinking about how much I missed everyone, but as time went on I saw more friends and it became easier each day. I am very excited for school to start, just as I was in Peru because I love seeing new and old friends.

The thing I miss the most about my host culture is the weather…right now it’s in the mid 80′s in Peru, and when I arrived home it was 8 degrees. I was extremely cold, and of course had no winter clothes as they were all packed in my storage unit, lack of planning on my part.

I really appreciate being able to drive again, and not having to worry about getting a cab or catching the bus, what I do not miss is the gas prices and the mold that grew in my car while it was parked for 5 months, looks like someone left a window down…oops.

Needless to say, I am happy to be home and love sharing my experiences with my friends and family, it will forever be a good conversation starter.

 

Predeparture, coming back to the US

I can’t believe the time is finally here. I felt that each day was an eternity, and that this time would never come but now that it is here I am wishing for just a few more days, and it seems it went by so fast.

Before coming to Peru I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone, and that I would miss my family. Turns out I could communicate really well, my spanish improved so much in the time I have been here, but yes I did miss my family the entire time. Coming here was a shock to me because I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how the weather is, the people are, the economy, nothing. So it was a huge challenge to get used to these things that are so different than what I was used to.

While being here I met many great people, and many that I won’t miss even a little bit. I think that happens everywhere though. I was placed with an AMAZING host family who definitely made a huge impact in my time abroad. They made me part of their family and cared for me as if I was one of their own. My family and myself appreciate them so much and all they have done for me.

Throughout my time here in Peru, I was faced with many challenges and rough times and I felt that I absolutely couldn’t wait to get home. As time went on I realized that I am so thankful for being able to experience these things because they made me appreciate so much what I have to come home to- my university, my home, my family, and security. I am really looking forward to going home because my appreciation for everything is so much more now that it was before. I can’t wait to hug my mom and my dad, and see my cat, sleep in my own bed, eat taco bell….all those things :) It is so bittersweet because I am leaving behind some amazing people, but I know I will see them again in life.

Hacienda Mamacona

This week for Thanksgiving, my group went to watch a horse show on a ranch called Hacienda Mamacona. Peru has a special breed of horses called Caballo Peruano de Paso. This type of horse has a special step, and does dances with dancers. It was a great time! I have never seen any other breeds of horses, just normal breeds that we have in the states so it was very interesting to see the difference. The ranch was also beautiful, during the show they served us fried yuca, which is like a potato, with a sauce called Huancaina sauce, and pisco sours. Then after the show we were served a delicious 3 course meal.

I was glad that we were able to do this on thanksgiving because at home everyone was celebrating, and here Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday. Although we weren’t eating turkey and mashed potatoes, it was still a delicious meal!

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And below is a video that you can see how the horse dances with the dancer

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10201829779297606&l=7470361459577514137

FestiUSIL

So this weekend there was a festival put on by my university called FestiUSIL. It is a music festival with beer and food and games. It was such a blast! It was in a district about 40 minutes from the university called Panchacamac; there is a USIL campus there. The thing that surprised me the most was the drinking.

Drinking back home is such a “bad” thing, there is always cops waiting to bust someone or get someone in trouble, but here it is such a cultural thing. While waiting in line for buses at the university there were so many students drinking alcohol, in public, outside of the school! This would never be okay at WOU nor any other university for that matter. I was told that the only way to get in was by going by the buses that were provided by the university, as well as the only way to leave. Nobody could come or go by taxi, or any other form of transportation, simply because they knew people would be drinking so instead of trying to stop the drinking, they work to stop the drinking and driving. I think that if other schools though of things like this there may be less problems, but like I said, I do understand it is all a cultural difference.

The other thing that surprised me was that the festival was sponsored by a beer company, so the only thing to drink there was beer, water, or Pepsi. Again, not something you would see at a University in the states. I always find it so interesting the cultural stigma of alcohol. But needless to say, it was a great festival! 1012482_10201723971372474_1013653438_n 1467232_10201723971012465_904500263_n 1474534_10201723975372574_1371791411_n

Running out of time

It is hard to believe that I have already been here 15 weeks. It seems like just yesterday I was in the Portland airport, hugging my mom and dad, telling them how scared I am, and how much I will miss them. It seems like just last week I started school, and was so confused, frustrated, and excited all at the same time. It seems like it isn’t time to leave yet.

Unfortunately I do not have any pictures for this post, because it has been a very uneventful week, besides finally getting my new phone after my other one was stolen. Since school is ending at the end of this month, I am trying to plan a trip with two of my girl friends to a City in the North of Perú called Máncora, very close to Ecuador. It will be a fairly expensive trip, but I think it will be very worth it.

Everyone has said “you HAVE to go to Máncora while you’re in Perú” because it’s like paradise. Looking up hotels and hostels, I found so many little bungalow type places right on the beach! It is definitely going to be a blast, and I am excited to post pictures when I am back from the trip!

Here is a link to see more about Máncora :)

http://www.vivamancora.com/

Halloween In Perú

Halloween crept up so fast this year….being in another country during “American” holidays is difficult because you don’t know what to expect, or what to do for that matter.

Many people told me about Halloween “parties” at many clubs, but all were VERY expensive and finding a costume was such a challenge! I am used to going to the mall where can find many stores that sell costumes, or going to Goodwill and making my own, but needless to say, they don’t have those here. I was told there are “costume stores” so I decided to go check them out. The costumes there were all used, and you rent them, which didn’t sound very…clean, to me. But I was told that is what everyone does, or they make their own costumes, buying material, and little things here and there. Because time didn’t allow for this for me, I decided to do something more American.

A few American students and I met up with a friend from England, who also didn’t know what to do for the night, and we decided to eat candy and pizza, and watch scary movies, while waiting for trick or treaters, but again……we forgot to think about the fact that kids may not go trick or treating. So we waited, and waited, and ended up eating all the candy ourselves because nobody came!

Later on we found out that there aren’t very many kids that go trick or treating, and the ones that do go in the richest districts, and do it just as it begins to get dark…which makes sense for safety.

Although it wasn’t what we thought, it ended up being a fun evening. We also found out that October 31st isn’t just Halloween, but also Día de los Muertos, and the Día de la Canción Criolla, so many people were gathered in the cemeteries, as well as center squares and parks in each district, to eat and drink and celebrate.

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Machu Picchu

Everyone has said, if you go to Perú it is MANDATORY that you go to Machu Picchu, as it is one of the 7 wonders of the world. So I took a weekend to see what it was all about, and I have to say it was the most amazing thing I have ever seen.

A few friends and I left on a Friday and it was just an hour plane ride from Lima to Cusco. I was warned over and over again about the altitude difference, and lack of oxygen due to the high altitude, but of course I forgot to take things slow. My first experience with this “lack of oxygen” was quite embarrassing. The person who was suppossed to pick my group up from the air port did not show up so we decided to get a cab. We walked from the front of the air port to the cab which was parked and my program called and said they were there to pick us up, so of course I thanked the cab driver and told him we no longer needed him, but he told us we still needed to pay, and was refusing to give us our luggage back. Me being the aggressive one of the group got into an argument with him because we were NOT going to pay, and I lost my breath mid sentence!! How embarrassing. I just had to walk away before I embarrassed myself more! Along with losing my breath I noticed I couldn’t get a full breath of air, which caused a horrible headache. Luckily coca leaves are a natural cure for altitude sickness and they’re sold in bulk almost everywhere you turn.

We stayed in Cusco Friday night so we had a chance to explore a bit, then Saturday morning we took a train to Aguas Calientes, which by far is the most beautiful, simple town I have been. No cars at all, just a train to take people to and from other towns. There were natural hot springs that we were able to go to, as well as amazing views of the Andes mountains.

Sunday morning we got up at 4:45 am to start our day. The bus ride to Machu Picchu was so scary….narrow, steep, windy roads, with Peruvian drivers (who are crazy). Once we got to Machu Picchu we explored for about 3 hours. I have never seen anything so amazing…I can’t even explain how it felt to be there. After we left Machu Picchu we decided to hike to a waterfall. We were so worn out but it was so worth it. We hiked through the jungle….I’m talking “wild pineapples and bananas growing” type of jungle. AMAZING.

We were so worn out and slept the entire 4 hour train ride back to Cusco…And unfortunately we had to leave Cusco Monday morning. I am so glad I had the opportunity to see something so amazing….many people say it is something they can only imagine seeing.

Aguas Calientes

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Machu Picchu

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The water falls in the jungle that we hiked to

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Huanchaco, Trujillo

Last week and this week we had our midterms, and here midterms are the same as how we take our finals in the states, there is a designated time and class room to take the test, and it is given by a proctor, also to enter the class you have to have your ID present, sign a paper saying you truly are you, and sign and seal your test when you’re finished; all so official.

Anyways, the only days I had tests were Thursday and Friday, so I decided to get a few friends together and head up north to a town called Trujillo. What a great idea that was. It was a 9 hour bus ride on a “bed bus” which had nice reclining seats, for only $35 each way. I found a nice little hotel online that was about a 20 minute walk outside of the center square. Many people told us where we would be staying was very dangerous, but I found it to be calm and very enjoyable.

The first day we went on a tour of Moche/Chimú tours, where we were able to see the body of a mummified queen, Lady of Cao. It was so amazing to walk through the ruins, especially interesting to be where the human sacrifices took place. The next day we took another tour to more ruins called Chan Chan, also very interesting, and large as well.

Wednesday came around and it was already time to head back to Lima. Our bus didn’t leave until 10:45 pm so we decided to spend the day on the beach. It was so amazing, and sunny; just what I needed, and although I used spf 40 sunscreen, I still got burned. Overall it was a great trip, and I am thankful I have met so many Peruvians who can give awesome suggestions of sites to see and things to do.

 

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Week 9….What a week

I’m almost half way through with my time here in Lima, and so bad nothing TOO awful had happened, but with my luck I should have known I had it coming for me.

Wednesday September 25, I was sitting in my only class of the day, Spanish, when I noticed an annoying rattling sound coming from the glass cabinets behind me, along with the rattling I could feel a shaking and vibration feeling in my legs, but I didn’t think anything of it, just like if a train passed by and it rattled the building a bit, but a few seconds later I realized, “I’m on the 4th floor, there is no train passing by”….my attention was drawn to the projector screen which was swaying back and forth and suddenly it hit everyone….we were having an earthquake. At this moment I cannot say how I felt, scared, nervous, worried, all emotions possible, I was feeling them. It had been about 45 seconds that the shaking went on until we realized what was happening, and it lasted for about another minute after that. Our teacher had us exit the class into the hallway where there are strong pillars, we walked along those planning to go to the bottom floor and then the shaking stopped, and to my surprise my teacher had us go back to class for the next hour until class was out, as if nothing had even happened.

It was amazing to me that it was no big deal to anyone, except for the international students. We had just experienced a 7 point quake and nobody even thought anything of it?? Then I found out this type of thing happens frequently when the temperature shifts and the air gets warmer. What an experience it was for me…

After Wednesday things went on normal as always, until Friday night. Thursday night I noticed I wasn’t feeling well…specifically having certain stomach issues, but I ignored it figuring it would go away, Friday rolled around and we had our night tour of the cemetery as you can see in my last post. Luckily I was able to survive through the tour, until I got on the bus to go back. I had never had stomach pain that bad in my life, and I knew something was wrong. I went home and told my family what was happening and they were very worried and insisted that I go to the hospital right away since I would be reimbursed 100% through my insurance. Well…I went and turns out I was suffering from dysentery. Dysentery??? I hadn’t heard of that since playing the Oregon Trail computer game in 5th grade! The doctor immediately started an IV to get me re-hydrated and to administer an antibiotic and pain medicine. What a relief to finally get some medicine in me, I have never felt pain like that in my life.

My 21st birthday was Monday, and because of this sickness, I was not able to drink and celebrate like I would have liked to, but I was thankful that I was feeling better!

A word of advice for everyone before traveling: Have your doctor prescribe you 500 mg Ciprofolxacin before traveling. This is a common antibiotic that can be used for many bacterial infections and I was lucky that I already had it because it saved me from having to buy it at the pharmacy here.

Presbyter Matías Maestro Cemetery

As you may know, Lima is a huge city, over 9 million people live here and it came as a surprise that I had not seen even 1 cemetery. Not that I am fascinated with death like some Americans, but I have always found cemeteries to be very interesting, especially old cemeteries, and I knew there had to be one somewhere. I asked my program coordinator where we could find one and she offered my group a tour by NIGHT of Lima’s oldest cemetery.

The tour began at 7 pm when it had just gotten dark and it was done on an open bus, so of course my group chose to sit on the top/open part of the bus, which was really cool. The cemetery was about a half hour from where we began and it was interesting to pass through districts by night, we started in Miraflores which is a nice, richer district, and ended up in La Victoria which is Lima’s poorest district. Seeing the change in scenery and people was very interesting.

Once we got to the cemetery I already knew we were in for quite a thrilling adventure. The cemetery was opened in 1808 and there are around 800 mausoleums as well as another 800 or so tombs on the premises, many of which are occupied by the bodies of deceased priests, heroes of war, and important literary and political figures.

What surprised me is that when I told my host family about the cemetery they had never visited it, and gave me the impression that it wasn’t very interesting, but I found it extremely interesting and incredible.

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