And the Countdown Begins, 3…2…1…

My time here in Peru is sadly nearing its end. To think I’ve lived here almost four months, in an entirely different country, with people I’ve come to love, is mind blowing. The memories I’ve created, are ones I will never forget. I’ve learned so much through classes and personal experiences, but mostly experiences; everything from genocide in Guatemala, racism in Peru, oil lawsuits in Ecuador to flagging down a taxi, taking the right combi, and learning the lingo.

I’m glad I’m going home to see my family and close friends, but more sad to be leaving. It’s a dreadful countdown to Wednesday because Peru has grown on me so much, but I guess any country would after such a long stay. I probably couldn’t live here but I’m definitely coming back some day. I’ve made so many great friends, Peruvian and American. The more I think about it, the more depressed I get. On that note, my last thought “goodbyes are never easy.”

I’ll never forget,

Chasing birds with Ashley <3 singing Shakira to David <3 shaking our hips that don’t lie with Amelia <3 please tell me she’s a hooker <3 playing hide-and-go-seek with Ashley and Marcos until 3 in the a.m. <3 recapping our night life with Andrei, but mostly his <3 neck-breaking combi rides with Rachel <3 slapping James because he’s the only one that let me <3 jumping up and screaming GOAL with Christian, Nacho, James, Kathy and Arturo when it was a false alarm <3 walking to the gas station at midnight for a Gatorade and chocolate with Ashley <3 scaring Pilar on accident every time I walked into the kitchen <3 CHIFA <3 riding horses with Jessica even though we were terrified <3 the time James got lost on the beach and cried <3 waiting 3 hours to go paragliding and never did <3 chest bumping with Marsh, not sure how that worked out <3 paying to use public toilets <3 yelling at Ashley for littering <3 Jesus and his hatred towards American movies and their happy endings <3 the coca lady said so <3 taking the wrong bus with Ashley and Andrei <3 TEMBLOR! <3 singing on the airplane, turning towards Ashley and seeing her Dafuq did I just hear face <3 shut up American <3 my amazing host family<3 wise words from Pily’s dad <3 Ashley and I mistaking another American group for ours <3 slipping on the slick sidewalks <3 being deserted at Colca Canyon <3 donde are you from? <3 creeping out the UPC students from my bedroom window <3 high fives from Nacho <3 high school girl pose <3 being owned and disowned every other day by Nacho <3 Andrei getting bit by the horse, Ghetto Caballero <3 Pily asking if I owned a brush and insisting I get my hair straightened, I don’t blame her <3 sanguchon <3 Nacho falling asleep in class, everywhere for that matter <3 cooking with Lena, Ashley, Chels, and Pablo <3 Derek calling everyone hermosa <3 poop talks with Ashley lol <3 Goons be Lurking <3 Stephanie mistaking me for a Peruvian vendor <3 Marshall’s 21st <3 Andrei, 17?! <3 movie nights <3 converstaion tables <3 coming home and finding bugs in my room <3 the Jockey Plaza cat <3 Ashley’s llama tattoo <3 Andrei trying to push me out of the raft after I tried saving him <3 Dude, that’s like a prom dress <3 I saw your boobies (Steph) <3 heart-to-hearts with Ashley <3 bartering, sometimes just for fun <3 parkour parkour <3 excessive death threats from Marcos <3 the time Pily’s mom told Ashley and I Britney Spears died <3 Nacho and his big mouth <3 the pregnant lady twirling fire barefoot at an intersection <3 making French toast with Ashley for my fambam <3 urinating at Macchu Picchu <3 our great professors, well most of the time <3 cuddling on a twin size bed with Ashley and Amelia <3 only if I can be the big spoon <3 James’s infamous fist pump <3 the few bumper to bumper accidents <3 asking for chocolate covered oatmeal when I meant raisins because Ashley told me the wrong word in Spanish <3 getting ready for girl’s night at Ashley’s <3 shuffling down the street in Cusco with Rachel and Amelia <3 canadians! <3 jamming and dancing to MJ with Amelia <3 the ice cream incident with Ashley <3 looking everywhere for ponchos with Jessica, failure <3 cuidado con el fuego <3 Hugo being surprised that I could speak Spanish <3 Pily’s laugh <3 going to Jockey just because and end up eating <3 spontaneous trips with Ashley and Andrei <3 Pinkberry being too girly, but not for James<3slapping a cactus <3 le bonfires <3 Nicki speaking Chinese <3 Kathy’s “face” <3 Rachel’s eyebrow(s) <3 Alexandra and her favorite word, one that I will not say <3 losing my glasses in the ocean two weeks in Peru, and Sarah being the only one who cared throughout the entire semester, thank you <3 getting beat by waves with Ashley, while everyone just watched <3 skinny dipping <3 my addiction to Starbucks blondies <3 Bodi buying off a bus to go to the beach <3 Ashley’s 21st <3 crammed taxi rides <3 my last night in Peru, movies with Marcos, David, Brian, Ashley, Amelia, James, Rachel, Nacho, Christian, and Jessica to the rooftop with Marshall and Kathy <3

Class Participation

This week we finally started helping out at some surrounding high schools in Lima. A group of us went to Colegio Pio XII. We met with two classes, and in both, we were separated into groups consisting of three Americans and four or five Peruvian students. The girls were ages 15-17. I was surprised at how well some of them spoke English. The whole purpose was for them to practice their English; we could also practice our Spanish, but more English was spoken. One group we spoke to was really interested in the differences between their high school and the high schools my group attended. One girl told us that upon graduation, everyone usually cries because they are sad that they have to leave their friends. She said her class consists of about 20 students and that they are all fairly close, like a family. They were shocked when we told them that class sized varies from 20 to 400+ students and in bigger schools there are a lot of cliques. We also told her that most students are more than eager to graduate high school and start a new chapter in their life; it’s not really a sad event but more so a new door opening. I’ll continue to visit the same high school every Wednesday up until I leave, which is only three more weeks. I don’t mind it at all; all the girls are super friendly and most don’t hesitate to speak English. 

Volunteering

For a while now my friend Lena has been dying to get me to volunteer at la posta. It’s open every Sunday and this past Sunday I was finally free to do so. I invited Ashley and Amelia to come along and share the experience with me. We met up at Puente Primavera and Harold, a friend I met through Lena, met us there. Once she arrived we rode a bus to Puente San Isidro and took a taxi to la posta. This area is one of the poorer areas in Lima so we were warned to keep a good eye on our belongings. La posta is called San Fernando and is a clinic run off donations for poorer families who can’t afford health care.

I imagined we would be helping out by assisting the doctors, keeping patients company, cleaning, or anything involving action. We pulled up to a guarded gate that wasn’t too fancy. The inside wasn’t much better. The enclosed area consisted of four small buildings, some grass area, and a small booth like thing were you sign in. I signed my name and Harold led us to this closed off room in the far corner, where we met the doctor and were assigned areas. The people, who volunteer there, are students studying at UNMSM-Facultad de Medicina, and the one doctor supervises them. We were asked if we had a white coat but none of us did, which kind of seemed to be a problem but I’m not really sure why it would really matter. My assumption is so patients can distinguish the different roles. Any who, I was assigned with a psychology student since that’s my major, and Amelia and Ashley went to pediatrics.

The building we were in only had about six rooms and all were full so we took our clients outside, which I thought was inappropriate but you work with what you have. What really shocked me was that the student, whose name I don’t remember, never asked his clients if it was okay with them that I sit in on their session, so it was a bit uncomfortable for me. It was interesting to see how the student interacted with his clients with questions and responses, not to mention the Spanish practice I got. I felt like an intern. At one point he left me there with one of his clients and expected me to talk to her about her week while he went off with another client. I felt so awkward because I didn’t know why she was there, what her goals were, or anything. It was a bad situation for both of us and I was a bit upset with him for doing that.

We were there for quite some time before we decided to leave. Although it wasn’t what we expected, I did have an overall good experience and it was good practice for psychology because now I for sure know that I don’t want to work with families as a whole. I think la posta is doing an awesome job with what they can offer. Harold invited us to return but I think I’m going to tell him I’d feel like I’m helping more if I were to help clean the place up. It was filthy, with trash in and outside of buildings, no sanitation, barely useable restrooms, you can only imagine. I’m definitely grateful for all that I have. Its experiences like this that really allow someone to value their situation and all that it entails. 

My “Firsts”

This week we had our last group trip. We visited Ica, a southern region in Peru of sand, sea, and oasis.  It was about a four and a half hour bus ride. We all stayed at Hotel Las Dunas, which is where I spent most of my time. We arrived Sunday afternoon and stayed until Tuesday afternoon. Being a group of 20 students, it always takes longer than needed to make any decisions, so Ashley, Jessica, and I left the group to get started on activities; we wanted to be sure we could get through everything in the time allotted.

After our free lemonade, more like squeezed lime and no sugar, we headed towards the horses. I’ve never been on a horse before so I was a bit freaked out. The guide went around and asked each of us if we’ve ridden before and when he got to me I lied and said yes. I know, horrible! But I couldn’t say no and miss out on riding horses among the sand dunes of the desert. My horse was named Tornado. All the horses followed the guide and his horse so I was pretty certain my horse wouldn’t buck me off. When we hit the sand dunes, my horse out of nowhere just shot off and I was terrified. Luckily the guide told us how to take control and slow them down. I tightly pulled on the reins and yelled no; it worked. Once I got the hang of it, we started running but not too fast. The feeling was incredible. Hair blowing in the wind, sun hitting the sand dunes so perfectly, the little bounce as the horse galloped; so beautiful. He was so stubborn compared to the other horses, which is probably why they call him Tornado. We rode for an hour and my arm has never been so sore; I held the reins so tight the entire time and when I got off the horse, it was as if I didn’t know how to walk. It was so worth it though.

We then decided to ride the sand buggies, also a first for me. As we signed up the lady told us they had a spot open right there and then so we took advantage. I understood that we would be the ones driving our own carts but we actually had a driver. Thank jesus for that because I would have had no control in the sand dunes. It was kind of like a roller coaster ride only you don’t ever see the drop. If I wouldn’t have worn a seatbelt, I would have died. Okay, maybe not died but it was intense. The activity was 45 minutes long and for 15 minutes we were allowed to sandboard. It’s exactly like snowboarding but no snow. We went down a smaller hill first, sitting down of course. The climb up was horrid. Then we tried a much steeper hill the second round. I’d like to tell people I stood up but I decided to play it safe and sit.

We got back to the resort and decided to relax in the pool. It rained while we were riding the sand buggies so we were full of sand, but we didn’t care. After that, I cleaned up, worked on homework, and called it a day.

Monday came and we were up early to get on the bus for Paracas to visit the Ballestas Islands. I’m pretty sure it was my first time on any type of boat. I’ve never seen water so blue, seagulls so huge; seagulls in general for that matter. It was a sight worth seeing. There were so many sea lions, penguins, but more than anything, birds. I’ve never seen so many birds, ever! The smell was quite disgusting but I forced my attention to picture taking. The islands weren’t very huge and by the end of it, I was so ready to leave. The driver would start the motor and I would be so excited, but then it would shut down and I was in sorrow. The waves rocking the boat, mixed with the smell and heat made a few of us want to heave. On the way back, we took advantage of the opportunity to sleep, which wasn’t hard. The sound of the waves crashing and the breeze in my hair was so calming.

By afternoon, we were back at the resort. All the activity the day before made us so sore that we decided to get massages. Unfortunately we had to wait a few hours. The food prices at the resort were a bit ridiculous for my taste so Ashley and I took a taxi to the mall, well tried anyway. We told the man we wanted to go to the centro comercial. We didn’t make it there. He took us to the center of town. So there we were in a foreign area with no sense of direction. However, I’m not one to waste time, so I went to a pharmacy and asked for directions to the mall. This took a while because I’m assuming there are many meaning to centro comercial so I had to explain what it was. The lady thankfully understood us and gave us directions. Taxi number two; not a taxi at all. We ended up getting into a random man’s car and realized this after the fact. There are people who drive around honking their horn trying to wave people down, like any other taxi driver, but they don’t have permits. We didn’t panic and the drive was only about five minutes long and we made it to the mall so we were happy about that. We ate, shopped, and lost track of time, so we thought.

Once we returned to the resort, we realized we read army time wrong and arrived about two hours earlier for our scheduled massages. Ashley went first, allowing me to work on homework, and then it was my turn. This was my first time getting a massage so it was a bit awkward for me. I let my guard down, closed my eyes, and relaxed. Twenty minutes later, I heard the door open and close. I figured the lady would slip back in at some point so I paid no mind and fell asleep. I woke an hour later and left. I thought it was so weird because I figured they would let you know when they were done so you could leave, but apparently not.

Come Tuesday, a group of us decided to go visit Huacachina, called the “oasis of America.” It’s a natural lake in the desert that’s featured on the back of the 50 Nuevo Sol. I pictured it to be huge for some reason but we got there and it wasn’t. Ashley and I paid for romantic paddle boating but only made about two rounds and were too hot and sweaty to continue. We weren’t tired for shopping though, go figure. We came across a jewelry stand and bought necklaces and bracelets made from hemp, cuartz crystal, and turquoise.

We made it back in time to back up. The one thing we really wanted to do was visit the Nazca Lines. I’m surprised the school didn’t include that in our trip but too late now. We short time and money, no biggy though. We boarded the bus and prepared for the boring ride back. It was a short trip but filled with excitement.  

So I can&#8217;t believe I forgot to mention this in my blog, but as you can see, a lot of women still wear their traditional dress. I was so fascinated by this because I didn&#8217;t expect it to be as common as it is. Every now and then you&#8217;d see a woman with her multicolored outfit; skirt, sweater, hat, hair braided, and sometimes a baby tied on her back. I&#8217;m going to figure out how they do this. This was the only picture I managed to take all weekend. I didn&#8217;t want to come off as a creep. 

So I can’t believe I forgot to mention this in my blog, but as you can see, a lot of women still wear their traditional dress. I was so fascinated by this because I didn’t expect it to be as common as it is. Every now and then you’d see a woman with her multicolored outfit; skirt, sweater, hat, hair braided, and sometimes a baby tied on her back. I’m going to figure out how they do this. This was the only picture I managed to take all weekend. I didn’t want to come off as a creep.