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Study Abroad in
We have moved our blog to wordpress. Please follow this link to read entries by the Lima Liberal Arts, Fall 2014 students: http://cieelimastudycenter.wordpress.com/
I have been sitting here for about 20 minutes just staring at this blank page trying to think of something, really anything, to write about. I guess thats what a stressful work week will do to you.
This week I had to give a 20 minute presentation (yes, in spanish) for my linguistics class. Basically I had to read this abnormally abstract article about a linguistics topic and then give an overview of the entire article. I know it doesn’t sound to complicated, but trust me when I say it was mentally draining. Now that it is done with I can look forward to my next presentation, JOY!
This past weekend I got to experience two different cultures in one night. I attended the Peruvian version of Oktoberfest. Basically it was a night of German culture, with spanish being spoken, and Peruvian beer. I can’t complain.
When I walked in it was a little overwhelming with the amount of people there were just walking around speaking spanish. But after a few cervezas, or chelas, I was feeling a little less overwhelmed.
As I sat there sipping on my abnormally large beer, I couldn’t help but feel super blessed to be sitting there with all of my new peruvian friends. Not only because they are awesome, but also because of them my spanish has improved un montón! Who would have ever thought that I could have so much in common with a group of people from across the world!
Ok I will stop being sentimental. I mean after all it was a festival of beer, how sentimental can that be? Throughout out the night there was a live band that played traditional German music and they also had times where dancers would go out and dance the traditional dances. After ever song the band would shout “UN, DOS, TRES, CHUPA!” which roughly translates to “ONE, TWO, THREE, DRINK!”
Also throughout the night there was an ongoing competition to see what table could build the largest pyramid with the beer cups they had completed. Below is a picture of me and my friend Mercedes with the largest pyramid that night as well as some other photos for your viewing pleasure.
Now I’m sure you are all thinking that all I do down here is go to class three days a week and then party the rest of the time, but I PROMISE I am doing useful things with my time. One of the greatest thing this trip has offered me is getting to volunteer at a private school in Villa El Salvador which is a more impoverished location. I get to work with a 2nd grade class every Thursday at a private school which was set up to give education to the children of this community! This is such a rewarding experience. The students as well as the teachers are so amazing.
Every Thursday when I walk through that door the ENTIRE class runs up to me and gives me the biggest group hug. I’m talking so big that I almost fall over every morning, but how can that NOT put a smile on your face. Throughout the day I get to help them with various things, like math problems, questions on grammar (I have to say, this probably teaches me more than them), and how to use a dictionary.
The most amazing part of this all is the environment that they are learning in. The teachers are so nurturing and loving towards them which in return makes the children so loving. I can’t tell you how many times they will come and just sit on my lap, or give me a huge hug, or play with my hair. It’s so awesome to experience all of this love.
This semester another girl from my program and I took on the task of creating a website for the NGO which encompasses the school and their partnering after-school program. It has been a large task so far, but so awesome to get to have this opportunity. This website is being built to be an informational website so that people outside of Perú can see the amazing things they have accomplished. They are a relatively poor organization and have no outside recognition. We are hoping that with this website out there they will be able to find generous donors to help this wonderful organization grow! I will be sure to get you all the link once we have completed the website!
I can’t believe my time down here in Lima is dwindling down. I have just a little over 50 days before I return back home and boy do I have so much to do in those 52 days. Below is a little breakdown of everything.
Oct 30-Nov 1: Travel to Máncora
Nov 9-Nov 10: Travel to Lunahuaná
Nov 13: Presentation for Linguistics
Nov 13: PARENTS & GRANDPARENTS ARRIVE
Nov 14-Nov 16: Trip to Cusco (Machupicchu)
Nov 16-Nov 18: Trip to Arequipa
Dec 3: Final presentation and final exam
Dec 4: Final presentation and final exam
Dec 5-Dec 14: Free time to travel around South America
Dec 15: BACK TO HOME SWEET MN!
In all this time I will also be going to volunteering every Thursday as well as spending quality time with my host family. Wish me luck with this crazy, hectic, yet very amazing schedule!
All this being said, I should head to bed. I’ve got to be up early tomorrow to go to the school, and let me tell you I need all the sleep I can get. These kids wear me out!
My blog posts begin too frequently with “Sorry I haven’t posted in awhile”… I am just so caught up in living my life as a Limeña. I am literally having the time of my life, but my time here is coming to an end quickly. As I sit here writing this I have exactly two months until I land back in home sweet Minnesota. Oh what a bittersweet thought that is! I really am missing home (less than a week or too ago. Sorry all!) but really this is such a priceless experience. My spanish has improved un montón and some people have even gone as far to say that I am fluent. What a feeling it is to hear that. (See Mom, your not spending all your money for nothing!) Before I even came to Perú I promised myself I would take full advantage of everything Perú has to offer. Incase you are geographically challenged, Perú is an EXTREMELY diverse country. It has coastline on the Pacific Ocean which means beaches, it has a desert which means sand, it has the Andes mountains, and it has the Amazon rainforest. I am hoping that I will be able to travel to a place situated in each of these locations. So far I have been to Máncora which is up north with beautiful beaches, Cusco which is in the Andes mountains, and just recently I traveled to Ica, Paracas, and Huacachina which is in the desert! It was definitely a crazy trip! Ill tell you all about it… Friday October 4th 4:30am: Wake up and get ready 5:45am: Arrive at Cruz del Sur bus station 6:30am: Bus departure with final destination being Ica 11:30am: Arrive at bus station at Ica. Purchase bus tickets for the night, guard our luggage and head out for a day of fun 12:00pm: First stop: Tacama Vineyards -Here we took a tour of the Tacama vineyard and bodega where we learned about their process of making wine and pisco. After about an hour long tour we finally got to the fun part: wine and pisco tasting! We tried about 4 different wines, and 3 different piscos. ¡Qué rico!
2:30pm: Head to the second vineyard of the day.
-Here we ate lunch at their restaurant. We then toured around the vineyard, however it was more of a museum type vineyard, not with actual production happening. After we tried all of their different piscos. The funny thing about this is the group told our guide it was my “birthday” so my little taster cup (the size of a small shot) was filled to the top with pisco everytime…We tried about 6 different piscos. Nevertheless it was such a fun time with our group!
4:30pm: Explore the Plaza de Armas in Ica
6:00pm: Arrive at bus station for our departure to Paracas
7:00pm: Depart Ica, final destination being Paracas
8:30pm: Arrive in Paracas, walk to find our hostel and get all settled in.
9:30-??: Hang out in the hostel bar, practice the slack rope on the beach, and have a great time
Saturday October 5th
7:30am: Wake up call! (Such an early morning…Especially after staying out super late. But thats Perú life for ya)
8:00am: Tour to Las Islas Ballestas
-For this tour we took a large tour boat out to the middle of the ocean to see these islands. There are inhabited by many different species of animals, but are not capable of supporting human life. We saw animals such as sea lions, penguins, and various species of birds. I did get a little motion sick from all the waves but it was still awesome!
10:00am: Return back from Las islas and eat (very quickly)
10:50am: Meet to head on our second tour of the day: The national park reserve
11:00am: Start second tour
-This tour included many different stops. We stopped at a museum to learn about the national park reserve, a lagoon, and various spots to look at the ocean. We even got to stop on a beach where we could go in if we chose to. It was such a beautiful tour and the national park reserve was HUGE! Amazing to see the diversity. It was a desert full of sand surrounding by a beautiful blue ocean!
3:00pm: Eat lunch at a place located right by the lagoon
3:30pm: Return to the hostel, change into swimsuits and head out to the beach
5:00pm: NAPTIME (FINALLY!!!!)
7:00pm: Get ready for the night, head out to the hostel bar
9:00pm-??: Once again hang out at the hostel bar, eat the AMAZING pizza (literally the best pizza I have ever had in my life) and hang out and meet people from all around the world!
Sunday October 6th
9:00am: WAKE UP CALL!
10:00am: Head out to the beach one last time before leaving
11:00am: Hop in the van for the hour long trip to Huacachina
12:30pm: Arrive at Bananas Adventures Hostel, change and lay by the pool to get some sun! (Such a beautiful and warm day!)
2:00pm: Hop into our dune buggy and head out on our adventure!
-This was a 2 hour long tour where we went around all of the sand dunes in a buggy as well as sandboarded! Oh my was it exhilarating!! We were going so crazy fast up these HUGE sand dunes and then dropping down them! It was like a rollarcoaster. By the end of all of it we were all COVERED in sand. I unfortunately don’t have pictures on my camera because I didn’t want to drop it but there are some on my facebook
4:00pm: Return back to hostel, shower, and head out to town for some ice cream!
6:30pm: Head to the bus station for our departure back to Lima
12:30pm: Arrive back in Lima and head back home
This whole trip was so amazing! We fit so much into just three days but we were all so exhausted after. The only bad thing was we didn’t have time to be tired because midterm exams started Wednesday so we had to be productive and study.
On Wednesday I had to give my first oral presentation in front of a class full of Peruvians. It was intimidating but I did it, and I now feel even more comfortable with my spanish speaking abilities. I have another midterm exam coming up on Tuesday and then another presentation the following Tuesday. October has been such a busy month for me between school work and traveling!
I feel like these last two months are going to absolutely fly by. I have so much planned, and so much I still want to do. Guess that means less sleep for me, but hey, who needs sleep anyways?
Well that is all I have for you today. My hopes are to post later this week, maybe Wednesday sometime to talk about non travel things happening in my life so stay tuned for a post all about my volunteering and more about my day to day experiences here in Lima!
One weekend, 13 people, seven destinations, zero sleep, and countless memories. That was the Cusco and Machu Picchu trip in a nutshell.
I'm late, I'm late, I'm late for a very important (blogging) date! My apologies for not writing on here for so long. I suppose I'm beginning to adjust to the "Peruvian time" here. Between school, a social life, and sleep, it has become increasingly difficult to share my stories. But, alas! Don't fear! I will continue writing to everyone (just somewhat more infrequently). Also, please note htat you are able to click any of the photos in order to see a larger version. Now, back to what you came here to read. Several weeks ago marked my group's big viaje (trip) to Cusco and Machu Picchu. It all began at 4 am on a Thursday morning. To most, 4 am on a weekday entails sleeping to ensure one's sanity and well-being. Well, not for us! Dawn meant it was time to lug our bags across Lima's airport in preparation for our Cusco bound flight. With excitement in our eyes and passports in hand we made our way to the gate. After a brief, hour-long flight over a panorama of glacier-crested peaks and marbled desert landscape, we touched down in Cusco. We had been thrown from nearly sea level altitude to a whopping 11,200 feet which, as you would imagine, was quite disorienting. Fighting off illness, exhaustion, and our anticipation for the next few days ahead, we checked into our hotel that was only two blocks away from the historic centre of Cusco known as the Plaza de Armas.
Plaza de Armas
That day we were advised to take it easy and act as though we were 80 year olds to stave off the dreaded soroche (altitude sickness). Only a few of us faced adverse effects from the drastic elevation change and thankfully I escaped its wrath unscathed. That being said, I definitely felt "off" and had a headache throughout the day due to the pressure change. Yet, it was nothing a nice warm cup of coca tea couldn't fix. Other than that, nothing got in the way of exploring what Cusco had to offer that day (other than the pushy street vendors, but that's to be expected). At first glance, it felt as though I had been transplanted into the heart of Tuscany. The European influence was evident in the passing architecture with colonial balconies and elaborate churches scattered about. The Plaza de Armas set in the heart of the city and was a hub for both social and cultural points of interest as well as a hub for all of our exploration in the city. For the majority of the day, we relaxed and enjoyed a break from the foggy skies of Lima's winter with some much needed vitamin D from some good ol' Andean sunshine.
We mustered up to energy to visit a market where I nabbed a multicolored scarf and which also featured a fun, little exchange. While shopping, a lady asked me if I was from Brazil and then, after revealing that I was estadounidense (American), complimented me on my castellano speaking. She may have just wanted me to buy the scarf I was holding, but I will pretend that it was an honest compliment so that I can continue feeling good about myself. Moving on, other highlights of the day included a visit to a little panaderia for some fresh-baked chocolate croissants, my first bite of alpaca meat (a bit too gamey for my liking), and hours of traipsing through the narrow, cobblestone streets of the historic capital of the Incan Empire.
The lobby of our Cusco hotel
Plaza de Armas at night
The next morning, rise and shine, my alarm clock wasn't set to 4 am, but it was still quite an early day. After scarfing down some delicious mini-plátano pancakes and a customized omelette (yum), we were on the bus and off to our next destination: Saqsaywaman. This next stop was only 20 minutes outside of Cusco's city center and yes, when you say its name out loud it does sound like "sexy woman." These Incan ruins were settled on a knoll set high above the metropolis. You could look over the hill to see the entire cityscape settled in a valley met by the mountains and bordered by the turquoise sky.
Cusco from above
I won't bore you with too many historical details of the site, but, in short, it was remarkable. It was fascinating to see, up-close, the unrivaled Incan architectural craftsmanship. All the boulders were stationed perfectly between, on top of, or beneath other boulders. Imagine a life-sized tetris with several ton stones and you've got a picture of Incan construction. It is no wonder how these buildings have withstood centuries and centuries of earthquakes and wear and tear to remain standing for our enjoyment today.
The CIEE group
I even made a new friend!
En route to our next destination, we found ourselves weaving through the mountains of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Everything from snow-capped Andean peaks to verdant valleys below whizzed past my bus window. I think my friends were scared for my well-being when we first arrived to the llama farm, though. I am going to deem it the "llama farm" because I don't remember learning the real name's place and referring to it as the llama/alpaca/vicuña farm would be a little obnoxious. So, llama farm it is. Upon arrival, my hyperventilating could have been attributed to either A) the change in oxygen levels due to altitude, B) my asthma, or C) too much excitement in anticipation of petting some camelids! The latter is more likely.
Driving through Valle Sagrado
Feeding the llamas
Essentially, the next hour was filled with feeding and stroking the backs of various four-legged critters. No fingers or eyes were lost in the making of this experience; however, a group member was spat on by a feisty llama while another friend of mine strayed in the path of an alpaca's sneeze. Hilarious to watch, but, as you could imagine, not too pleasant to experience firsthand. At this site, we also learned about the yarn making, dying, and weaving process of these camelid's coats as well as the different species within the species' family. It was the perfect mix between informative and fun. In fact, I'll refer to it has "infunormative"!
Forging on, we then found our way to Pisaq. This site was situated deeper into the Valle Sagrado (castellano term for the Sacred Valley of the Incas) and happened to be an incredible Incan ruins site situated on rocky mountain thousands of feet above a river valley. We hiked by terraces and even past a mountain filled with hundreds of holes (which we soon learned were actually tombs) all while chewing on some coca leaves to keep the soroche at bay. Then the real adventure began.
The tomb-filled mountain
The picante crew began hiking along small trails that hugged cliffs, through a tunnel carved into the mountain's rocky ledge, and up and down stone staircases. I felt like I had been transplanted into the middle of an Indiana Jones flick and I absolutely loved it! We eventually found our way to the main ruins site which was absolutely breathtaking. I'll let the photos speak for themselves here. On the way back, to my dismay, I found that most of our trip was up-hill meaning that my lungs had to work in overdrive which was especially trying given that the oxygen in the air was already low due to the high altitude. Thankfully, forgetting my albuterol inhaler in my backpack that morning was not a fatal mistake. I survived and was definitely happy to climb back in my cozy bus.
Afterwards, we caught lunch in the modern city of Pisaq in the valley below. I got my first glimpse of cuy, the Peruvian delicacy of guinea pig. Unfortunately, the risk of soroche kept me from trying the fried little fellow at the time. Perhaps some time in the near future? Instead, I enjoyed a freshly-baked espinaca (spinach) empanada. Delicious it was and it made me happy as can be after enduring quite the hike in the ruins. Then, we were off!
As the sun hung low over the horizon, we arrived in the town of Ollantaytambo. Once again, we hiked up ruins, but these ones happened to be constructed into the face of a mountain. As we ascended, we could look down upon the small town's rooftops and multicolored structures from high above. Dusk hung over us and as we reached a temple near the top and I could see the sun setting over an impressive, mountainous skyline. Here's a little history: Ollantaytambo was an important Incan site because, due to its conquest by the Spaniards, it essentially "saved" Machu Picchu. Yes, Ollanytaytambo served as a distraction from the lost city of the Incas. On our descent, it began to rain, but thankfully this didn't bring down our spirits at all. My group tends to make the best of everything which is wonderful when venturing through a foreign country.
Hiking in the ruins
The small town of Ollantaytambo also held the train station to Aguas Calientes, the town closest to Machu Picchu. So, with luggage in hand, we rolled toward the train station later that evening. The whole setting made me feel as though I was in Disneyland. Perhaps on the Jungle Cruise, waiting in line for some grand attraction. Anticipation, once again, made me giddy with excitement and, soon enough, we were on the train riding through the darkness. We made it to Aguas Calientes later that night and grabbed some chifa before hitting the hay early in preparation for the big day ahead of us.
When I woke up the next morning, I was able to catch a glimpse of the city I had barely been able to see the evening before due to the night's darkness. What I saw was quite the surprise. We were surrounded by monolithic stone mountains flecked with trees that were hugged by misty clouds in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. On top of that, there was a waterfall and river that cut straight through the town filling the air with the calming sound of rushing water at all times. Was this a dream? Before that morning, I never knew that places such as this existed outside of human imagination and I was happy to learn that they indeed do. So, after a quick breakfast in the rooftop terrace with glass walls to ensure maximum viewing pleasure of the scenery, we were on a bus to our next and arguably most exciting destination: Machu Picchu.
The bus' route consisted of constant switchbacks as we swerved up the steep face of a mountain. I feel strange to admit this, but I was almost moved to tears during this short trip while overlooking a surreal jungle valley where the sunlight's ray peered through clouds and birds glided between the dagger-like, verdure peaks. A dream of mine was in the process of coming true and I suppose I was a little overwhelmed. Soon enough, the recognizable Huayna Picchu (the large mountain one sees behind the typical Machu Picchu shot) came into view. Then ruins hung over the side of a slope as if they were slowly falling off the mountain's side. We were there.
First, there was a small hike that's path was shrouded by the native vegetation. We made our way up the path along with tourists from all reaches of the globe. Then, as we emerged from the brush, Machu Picchu was there. Surreal would be one way to describe it. Then again, no words can really encompass all aspects of the experience. The ruins, mountains, and nearly every last detail mirrored every image I had in my mind beforehand. Yet, it was still somehow incredibly more impressive in person. So, I stood there in awe as my mind mentally wrote a "check" next to my bucket list's top entry as I stood above a place that some people only dream of traveling to see. I don't think I had never felt so fortunate than in that moment.
Greetings from the Lost City of the Incas!
After an obligatory group photo shoot, we were informed of the interesting history of this site by our wonderful guide. I was surprised to learn of the many misconceptions of the site, such as the fact that Hiram Bingham was technically made its scientific discovery but had not truly rediscovered the site. People had been living there for years, even centuries, before he happened upon the city in 1911. So, I suppose the lost city was never quite as "lost" as we had thought. We learned about and witnessed firsthand the unrivaled architectural feats of the Incas as we walked through various stone temples, residences, and more. Machu Picchu felt like an oasis in a jungle which is a strange analogy, but accurate in my mind nonetheless. I felt like any vestige of the world I knew seemed far, far away.
It was no wonder why this place is deemed one of the modern wonders of the world. While leaving, I received my official "Machu Picchu" passport stamp and happily skipped away with both the proof on paper and my smile of the life-changing experience. In a daze, we hopped back onto the bus down to Aguas Calientes and spent the rest of the day in the jungle town shopping, relaxing, and enjoying our time.
Passport stamp - check!
For lunch, I had palta rellena (stuffed avocado) followed by lomo saltado which is a popular beef stir-fry dish in the country. The food here still hasn't become old for me, surprisingly enough. Then, later that afternoon, we were back on the train en route to Cusco.
Venturing through Aguas Calientes
Over the mountain and through the jungle to Cusco we went! This trip was a bit longer at 4 hours, but this time around we were able to see the scenery outside of our train's windows. The train tracks ran parallel to the Urumbamba River for nearly the entire trip which was delightful (I sound like a grandmother when I use that word). It was better than any movie I could've watched during the journey. Soon enough, we were back in Cusco utterly exhausted, but, as always, ready to explore!
With Cusco being the popular tourist destination it is, there happens to be nightlife galore, so we decided to go out and about the city. First stop was an Irish bar where I found America's Cup playing on television. For those who don't know, the Cup is a huge sailing competition which is held in my birthplace of San Francisco, California. It was strange to see my home on television in a place that seemed worlds away from there, but it was nice to watch as we enjoyed our refreshments and reflected on the amazing adventure we had just experienced. Then, naturally, it was discoteca time. We found a popular place and then proceeded dance the night away among Peruvians and tourists alike.
The following morning, we were on our Lima bound flight and back to the swing of things. I had enough adventure to last me a lifetime in a weekend's time, but, for some strange reason, adventure only leaves you craving more adventure. I wish you all would have been there on this trip of mine, so I decided to give you the next best thing: a little video that offers a glimpse into my trip of a lifetime! Please excuse the shaky footage and choppiness of it all. I was (obviously) a bit distracted during the filming portion, but tried my very best to allow you to virtually come along with me as I explored the beautiful country of Peru. Please enjoy!
Until next time.
Ten days, roughly 33 Peruvian meals, and countless hours of combi commuting later, I am back on here to report on all of my new Peruvian adventures! Due to classes and a generally busy schedule to boot, writing on this blog has become increasingly difficult to do, but that doesn't mean you won't be hearing from me! Now, enough rambling and onto the good stuff: What in the world has Morgan been up to for the past week and a half? In a nutshell, my life has revolved around university classes, gym, food, Spanish readings, commuting, and getting "cultured." From day-to-day you will find me taking the claustrophobic micro to school in the morning, sitting through hours of Spanish classes, eating more food than I thought was humanly possible, and experiencing all that Lima has to offer through various little adventures with my friends. Said adventures span from sight-seeing to nightlife outings to food (the majority of them are the latter). Before I dive into the detalles of my recent whereabouts and doings, though, please note that I am writing here which means I am alive and well (hi mom) and by some sort of miracle have not become lost in this city of 10 million inhabitants... yet. Even better news is that my Spanish language skills are improving! I recently held a conversation about World War II and Germany with my host brother and a more lighthearted conversation with my host sister about Peruvian music, pop culture, etc. This above all is so exciting! Any progress is good progress and I am inching closer to my ultimate goal of fluency (note: I dream big).
As you know, most of my time spent here (and anywhere for the past two years) is as an über-sleepy college student. Now I can add the word 'Peruvian' between 'sleepy' and 'college' (those two words strangely define my life quite well). I finally received my official identification card for PUCP earlier this week. As far as classes go, my schedule is now solidified. I am enrolled in a Latin American cinema course, Understanding Peru (an anthropology/history course on all things Peruvian), a fascinating lingüística course, and a Spanish writing class. All of my courses are interesting with great professors as well which never hurts. Listening to two to three hour-long lectures in only Spanish has become somewhat easier, but that's not to say it's effortless. Sometimes I feel as though even a IV of cappuccino couldn't help me maintain such strong concentration for so long! Additionally, tomorrow marks the first day of my violin course! Yes, you heard me correctly. I am enrolled in a class where I get to learn how to play the violin at my university! Thanks to one of my professors, I even have a snazzy violin to borrow. Now, the next hurdle is just figuring out if I even have a musical bone in my body. I suppose that only picking up the bow plus a little time will tell.
Rewinding to last weekend, each day was chock-full of fun as per usual. A few friends and I enjoyed some KBBQ (short for 'Korean BBQ') in the San Isidro district and it was expectedly muy rico (as my host mother says in reference to good food). Who knew that Lima could have such tasty Korean fare? We then took a trip out to the Incan markets again to shop till we dropped. I ended up purchasing a llama sweater (which normal Peruvians do in fact wear, mind you) and these precious stone earrings. In our usual fashion, we found another discoteca in Miraflores where we danced and had a really, really, really, good time (yes, that was a shameless Macklemore reference). It isn't a night in Miraflores, though, without stopping by our favorite pizzeria. The employees there recognized us and we even made a few amigos nuevos back in the kitchen. This city is slowly beginning to feel more like a home to me (albeit a very enormous one).
Now, fast-forward to this Thursday. Not many of you may know this but there is an optional component in my study abroad program that allows me to volunteer and work with a local NGO. Well, I'm excited to announce that I will be volunteering every week at a school in Villa el Salvador (an urban district in the southern outskirts of Lima with shantytown origins). Last Thursday morning, I had the chance to tour the facilities and see where I will soon be aiding teachers in a classroom full of adorable, school-age children. How could I not be thrilled? One other girl in the program and I went and had the opportunity to speak with one of the directors of the NGO. We even got to see another connected NGO that is known as Deporte y Vida. Aside from volunteering, I also have the privilege of helping out the NGO in their marketing and public relations (that's right, mom, I'm putting my college education to use). They are currently without a website and need marketing/public relations efforts in order for their NGO to thrive and keep giving back to the community, so I'm teaming up with another girl in the group to do just that for their amazing program! Que emocionante. It's also worth mentioning that on the day of the visit, there were no kids at the school due to a holiday. What we did find, though, were a dozens of community members coming out to support the school by throwing a type of fundraiser that entailed cooking delicious food to give to donors who had bought pre-sold tickets. Inspiring would be one way to describe the experience.
Given that I don't have class on Thursday or Fridays, the moment I arrived back from my Villa el Salvador commute (which will range from an hour and a half to two hours one way) marked the official start of my weekend! These past few days have been wonderful; I have been able to spend more time with some of the group members, see more of Lima, and eat as much Peruvian food as my heart desired. On Friday, we went out to Barranco which is officially one of my favorite (if not most favorite) districts in all of Lima. Note that there are 43 of them here, so I definitely have some more intracity traveling to do!
Most of my time has been spent with friends talking, watching quality films, and exploring here and there. In Barranco on Friday, we went to a little hole-in-the-wall burrito bar. I never knew how life-changing an experience one burrito could be, but I must tell you that the burrito I ate was probably the best I have ever had! We then found ourselves at the house of one of the students in the program's host family in the district. To say the house was a piece of art would be an understatement! For example, art hung from all its walls, there was a room devoted to little birds, the rooftop views were spectacular overlooking the illuminated Pacific Ocean, and there was even a legitimate art studio inside. It is one of the most beautiful properties I had ever seen.
Plaza de Armas
The following day we found ourselves traveling out to the Lima district of Lima (yes, that is a thing). So, we were essentially exploring the historic centre of Lima and its calles decorated with balcony-crested walls and colonial buildings. Traveling to the center of Lima helped me grasp just how enormous this city truly is in both terms of population and geography. We visited the Plaza de Armas, a famous square in the city, that hosts the government palace, the cathedral of Lima, and several other elaborate palaces. After a long commute, we were ravenous, so we made our way over to the Barrio chino otherwise known as Lima's Chinatown. Naturally, we had chifa (Chinese-Peruvian fare) for lunch and it was easily one of the best meals I have ever enjoyed. The chaufa, Peru's version of fried rice, was incredible and I was quite the happy (and full) camper.
Entrance to Lima's Chinatown
The crew with our Todo Dulce desserts
We then made our way back to the Pueblo Libre district (where I live) to stop at our favorite local bakery, Todo Dulce. I tried the tres leches cake there and was not disappointed. The rest of the night consisted of returning to one of the student's homes to hang out and watch the film The Descendants (it has my stamp of approval). Following that, a few of us found our way back out to the Barranco district where we went to a venue called Trepiche. We danced, as per usual, and enjoyed the nightlife Limeño. As I mentioned before, I am in love with the district of Barranco. Along every street you will find colorful wall murals, intricate architecture, and quirky little decor that gives this district its "bohemian" vibe.
Given that it's a Sunday night, I'm looking forward to beginning another week of classes at PUCP. What's even more exciting, though, is the fact that in four short days I will be flying to Cusco! This weekend marks my program's trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu. Words cannot even begin to describe how thrilled I am for this! Soon enough I'll be able to check off one huge thing on my bucket list and I cannot wait for the adventure that lies ahead. It still doesn't feel real to me. This whole experience actually feels somewhat surreal, but I am enjoying every minute of it. Yes, even those moments of pure terror when I've missed the correct paradero (bus stop) or freeze mid-speech because I don't know how to convey my thoughts in castellano (Spanish). This entire experience is everything I wanted it to be and more so far and to think it has already been one month! One month full of learning, living, and loving every moment of it in Lima— I feel incredibly lucky and fortunate.
As Russell from the film Up exclaims: Adventure is out there! Stepping through my doorstep each morning marks a new day and a new adventure of the Peruvian variety for me. It's strange to think that I still have four more months of it, too. As of now, I can say that coming to Peru has been one of the greatest decisions of my life so far and I don't see why this trend will not endure. To everyone back in the states: I wish you were here. Although I do miss home, I am having such a rewarding experience abroad. It just makes me so happy that I will always carry these wonderful memories with me and I am even more glad that I can share them with all of you via my writing here on this handy dandy, little blog. I will report back sooner next time, but until then I must say chau and buenas noches.
Pi·can·te [pi-kahn-tey; Spanish pee-kahn-te]: Prepared so as to be very hot and spicy, especially with a hot and spicy sauce.
Keeping it picante is the name of the game here in Peru! As you have probably already figured out, I am still well and alive in llama land. Despite being nearly hit by two different taxis, banging my head countless times upon entering and exiting the claustrophobic micros, and eating enough alfajores to last a lifetime, I have survived not only another week in Peru, but my first week of classes at the university! (Miraculous, I know.) Much has happened in the past several days, but due to being busy as a bee (i.e. spending close to 13 hours on-campus a few days ago to give you an idea) writing on here hasn't been the easiest. But, alas! I have returned and oh do I have much to tell all of you (i.e. mom).
Last Friday evening, the motley crew (or rather, the picante crew— yes, I just dubbed us as that) took on the district of Barranco for the first time! Barranco is the neighbor district to Miraflores and is known for its lively nightlife and bohemian vibe. We found ourselves swaying to the sounds of Laguna Pai, a well-known Peruvian reggae band, that happened to have a concert at a popular discoteca called El Dragon. After the band's jams stopped, the night gave way to both American and Latin American hits that resulted in us happily dancing on the dance floor until 3 am (note: "Peruvian time"). All in all it was a successful night of dancing, music, and not getting lost in the middle of nowhere!
The following day, the picante crew took on Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Antropología e Historia Del Perú. Try saying that fast ten times! Going here opened my eyes to the diverse and fascinating history of Peru. I had never seen so many ceramics in my life, but I was thrilled to learn more about my current home. I'll just let the photos speak for themselves here.
The group at the museum on a traditional balcony
A very happy pot
After our museum visit, the crew went to a pizzeria. Yes, that's right, I did eat Italian food in Peru. That must be some sort of sacrilege, but please understand that I have 5 months here! One little slice of (delicious, mind you) pizza isn't going to make my experience unauthentic. Later on, the crew once again found ourselves in Miraflores doing what we do best in Peru: staying up until an ungodly hour and having a grand time! As you can imagine, this past Sunday for me included sleep, more sleep, food, and sleep. There seems to be some sort of theme or trend going on here.
Then, came Monday. Oh, Monday. This wasn't any ordinary Monday for me, though. It was my first day of school at PUCP! I felt like a five year-old again. Partially because I was thrilled to start classes but mostly due in part that I felt like I had the intellectual capability of a toddler given I had no idea what I was doing. All went well, though! As of now, I am taking a Spanish writing course, a Latin American film class, a Peruvian history class, and linguistics course. My schedule isn't set in stone just yet, but I'm looking forward to the semester ahead! Listening to my professors dole out lectures in all-Spanish is mentally exhausting, but it's quite the thrill to be able to understand what they are saying (for the most part). The next step is writing papers and giving oral presentations in castellano. Other exciting news! I found street called San Ramon in Lima over the weekend. For all of those who have no idea of the significance of this, San Ramon is the name of my hometown. Here's photographic proof of this momentous event.
More exciting news! I had my first llama/alpaca/picuna sighting last Saturday. Okay, so maybe it wasn't a legitimate sighting, but it was still pretty nice to find these little guys in the museum.
The first week of school has come to a close! As you know, I'm fed quite well here which is why I thought it would be in my best interest to get a gym membership. Who says I have to sacrifice eating all this wonderful food in order to not have to buy a whole new wardrobe? Anyways, I'm sure I'll have many new stories to share on here once this weekend comes to an official close. So, until then, ¡chau!
¡Hola a todos! My name is Morgan Michna and I'm currently a student in the CIEE - Lima, Peru Fall 2013 group. I was born and raised in and around San Francisco, California and I currently attend school at the University of Oregon (call me a Duck) where I'm studying Journalism - Public Relations and Spanish. My co-blogger, Kailey, and I will be sharing all of our Peruvian adventures and experiences here throughout our semester abroad. If you would like to check out my personal blog, The College Student's New Groove, you can find it here (http://studentsnewgroove.wordpress.com/). Enjoy!
Oh, what a weekend it was! After a long week of intensive Spanish class, my entire group made our way over to the Parque de la Reserva - Circuito Mágico del Agua. Magical would be an understatement to describe the collection of 13 fountains that are found around the grounds of a large park in Downtown Lima. We were able to walk under and through a water tunnel, view a spectacular fountain show, and take in the many dazzling, aquatic sights of this wonderful attraction. There was even a labyrinth of fountains that left a few of my group members soaked. In a nutshell, the night at the parque was incredible!
The group at the park
The fountain labryinth
Also, feel free to check out this little video I made of the night at the fountain park.
Running on Peruvian time meant that the night was just beginning at 10:30pm. So, naturally, we made our way out to Miraflores to experience some of the nightlife that Lima has to offer! Our first stop was at the La Emolienteria, a quirky bar located in the heart of this hip district. Here, I tried the emoliente sour which was this place's spin on the traditional pisco sour of the country. Emoliente is a sort of tea that can be sipped alone or mixed with libations (such as pisco) for a twist. I had the sensation that I was sipping liquified key lime pie with meringue (no complaints here). We then found overselves exploring the area around Calle Berlin followed by other calles of Miraflores for a fun-filled night. After hopping from place to place, eating, gabbing, and desperately trying to find a discoteca to dance in, we retired around 3 am. I still am not accustomed to the "Peruvian time" here. Nothing nightlife related truly starts until 11pm and things usually run until 5am. I suppose I'll have to get with the times and adapt to 10 pm being the new 7 pm!
The next evening was another amazing and eventful night! Our CIEE group found ourselves at Brisas Del Titicaca. This event is a popular Peruvian dance show paired with food, drink, live music, plus a little dancing of our own. I saw dances from the Aymara origins, Andean traditions and more. It amazed me just how rich and diverse the history of this country appears by being conveyed via the art of dance. The performer's outfits were incredibly ornate, with colors that fell upon the entire color spectrum, and the dancing (obviously) superb! I would say that the costumes and styles of dance were just as diverse and amazing as the cultural history of Peru! We even got to take to the floor to bust out some of our own moves. My Gangnam Style didn't quite match up to the suave tucks, dips, and spins of the performers, but that didn't take away from any of the fun! My favorite performance of the night would have to have been the duo dance of two incredibly talented bailarines whose style resembled some sort of Latin tango-ballroom-waltz infusion. Around 5 am, the night came to a close which sent my circadian rhythms in a tizzy. A little sleep deprivation was well worth the amazing cultural experience, though! All in all, I was so happy to get a taste of Peruvian culture through a different form of art. I just wish I could move in the way those dancers did. I guess I could start somewhere... Salsa 101, anybody?
Alpaca hat fun
Yesterday afternoon, I went shopping in Miraflores with some amigas of mine. We visited many of the artisan markets that sold all things Peruvian! I felt like a kid in a candy shop. They even sold alpaca hats that, when worn, made me resemble an animated Q-tip! Que divertido. I sadly didn't purchase one, but did buy a lovely warm sweater that I am currently wearing. We capped off our shopping spree with a little dinner at Haiti Cafe right by the popular Parque Kennedy of the district. I ordered some tea and alfajor, a yummy dessert that is made out of sweet biscuits and dulce de leche. All in all, I would call it a successful trip.
After a long but amazing weekend full of so much laughter, fun, and food, it is nice to just relax back in my host family's home. Life in Lima has been grand and I don't see any reason why this trend will not continue! To everyone else back at home: wish you were here! My Peruvian adventure is all I could have hoped for and more so far. I can't wait to share more stories with all of you about my new life down here. Until then, ¡chaufa!
I’m thinking it is about time I updated my blog..again. I am getting so caught up in everyday life that it is becoming harder and harder for me to blog everyday. But I promise to all of you reading this that I will try my best to start blogging at least twice a week. That way you can all stay up to date with my life here down in Lima!
Stick with me through this one, it is going to be fairly long, but fairly entertaining I promise!
First things first, we had our first group trip to CUSCO a week or so ago! And boy was it an amazing trip! Cusco is FILLEDwith so much rich Incan history that it made just being there feel amazing. The city was beautiful and we got to experience almost ever aspect of it.
The first day was mostly a travel and get acquainted with the altitude kind of day. Out flight was very interesting however because from our gate we took a bus to the tarmac to our plane. We then boarded through a staircase outside. It was very interesting, and the first time I have done anything like that. The plane was not a very large one. It had three seats on each side and twenty rows of seats. Luckily it was a very quick flight, only lasting about 55 minutes. We got to the hotel and the first thing I did was take a nice long nap. I was exhausted before the trip even began because of being sick the week before!! When I woke up I went out to some of the markets around Cusco and I, of course, bought a new fuzzy sweater! Later in the evening I went to a delicious italian type food place, and after eating myself into a food coma, went to the hotel to sleep.
The second day was set for us to see various Incan ruins between Cusco and Machu Picchu. The first we went to was calledSaqsaywaman and was about 20 minutes away from our hotel. We learned that it was a temple in the past for the Incans. It was so interesting to learn about how it was constructed and all of the history along with it. I wont bore you with a history lesson, BUT if you ever want to know about it PLEASE ask!
The group atop Saqsaywaman
After Saqsaywaman we got to go to a llama farm! It was so awesome! We got to learn the history behind why it is called a llama. It is too funny not to share. Basically when the Spanish came in they saw the animal and would ask the Incans “¿Cómo se llama?” meaning what is the name. The Incans didn’t speak any Castellano and would not respond. After awhile the Spanish became very upset and would start yelling “¿Cómo se llama?” and the Incans, now scared and intimidated, would just repeat a word the Spanish would say, llama. At the farm we got to feed the llamas and alpacas! It was a fun experience!
While at the llama farm I made friends with the most adorable little girl who was enthralled with my camera. She kept asking me to take pictures of everything so I finally got a picture with her! She was so cute and shy but kept asking me questions about me, my family, and where I am from. Here is the picture!
After the llama farm we headed to the town of Pisaq to go on our hiking trail! I didn’t expect this hiking trail to be super tricky but for me it was especially tricky. It was on the side of the mountain, almost at the top. It really challenged my fear of heights. There were a few times I just had to sit down and take a break because my heart was pounding so hard because of anxiety. In the end I faced my fears and was able to hike the whole two hours!
After grabbing lunch in Pisaq, we headed to our last stop of the day. It was called Ollyantaytambo, which meant common resting, which makes sense. It was the last place between Cusco and Machu Picchu. We learned a lot more of Incan history in this location, which once again ask me because it was really interesting.
After leaving here we headed to the train station. We took a two hour train ride to the village of Machu Picchu. We stayed in an awesome hotel! I slept knowing the next day I was going to get to see one of the new seven wonders of the world! ¡Qué emoción!
Well this was the day! We got to see Machu Picchu, one of the new seven wonders of the world. Oh how beautiful it was! Literally words can not describe how marvelous and breath taking this place was. It is so historically rich. The one thing I will tell you is that during the Spanish inquisition Machu Picchu was never discovered because the Incans had learned about them and abandoned their city. There is no evidence of Spanish destruction anywhere there. Here are some pictures to help you understand the beauty.
After leaving Machu Picchu, we hopped on a train and rode 4 hours back to Cusco. That night most of the group opted to spend a night out in Cusco. We all took about an hour to get ready then headed out to get some food and drinks. We ended the night off by going to a discoteca. It was a great last night in Cusco!
The whole trip was such an amazing experience and I am HOPING I can work it out to return there when my family comes down to visit me. If anyone has the chance to go to Cusco and Machu Picchu I would STRONGLY encourage it. It will be worth every penny to see such a beautiful place!
Besides my trip not much has happened to me lately. Just been doing homework and spending time in the city. I am becoming so accustomed to the city and lifestyle down here but there are more and more things everyday that I miss from home. I will return home to good ol’ MN exactly 3 months today and I am sure those 3 months will just fly by. I am going to do everything I can to make this the most wonderful experience of my life!
One last thing before I leave you again….
Sorry to all who have been keeping up with me via my blog. It has been almost two weeks since my last blog, and SO much has happened within those last two weeks! Bare with me, its going to be a long one.
First things first, my classes are all going well! I did find out I have to give 4 oral presentations for one of my classes which gave me a minor panic attack. However the manner in which the class selected the dates we wanted was OUTRAGEOUS. We all just raised our hands and it was basically first said, first served. Luckily I got good dates, meaning I am not one of the first ones to present. Phew! Other than that I am really enjoying my classes and all of the people in them, although I have yet to really converse with any of them. I have time (sort of)!
Next, I finally traveled outside of Lima! I went up to northern Perú to the beautiful small pueblo of Máncora. It was such an amazing and memorable experience. I traveled up with two peruvian girls, which means it was a weekend filled with spanish! They are my first two real peruvian friends, and they are the sweetest. They can’t wait to show me all of Perú and they will be visiting in Minnesota, hopefully soon after my return! Here is a picture of the three of us before we went out Friday night!
We took a 17 hour bus ride from Lima to Máncora, which was an experience in itself. It was a two-tiered bus with a first class below and an economy class up top. Pia and I sat in the VERY front row against the glass on the top, with Mercedes sitting behind us. The bus had many forms of entertainment. We watched 4 different movies, and played bingo (see the picture below)! Even though none of us won, it was still a very fun bus ride.
It was an overnight bus ride, so we arrive Friday morning around 10 o’clock. We weren’t able to check-in until 2:30 so we decided to change at the hostel, guard our bags, and head down to the beach. We laid out in the sun for a good 3 or 4 hours before we headed back to check-in. We stayed in an economy room in the hostel which had 10 beds! It was crazy big. There was never a time I didn’t feel safe there, however. We then headed down to the pool and played volleyball with our new Israeli friends. After an intense game, we headed into down in search for some food. We ended up at Los delfines which was a seafood place on the beach! We ordered ceviche to split between the three and then I ordered a shrimp meal. All of that cost me mayyyyybe $10. (Sidenote: There were a great deal of wild dogs running around, so we put all of our extra food in a box and gave it to one lucky dog) Below are some pictures from lunch.
After lunch, we headed back to the hotel and played a giant game of jenga, in which we ultimately lost to our new Israeli friends. After this game we headed upstairs, got ready for the night, and partied at our hotel. It was a great first day in Máncora.
The next day we woke up and headed to Vichayitos, a smaller, more private beach about 20 minutes away in a cab. We ended up using a hotels mats and pool area, the only condition was that we had to buy something from the hotel, so of course we chose… FOOD! It was a nice relaxing day for all three of us! Below is a few pictures of us by the pool and beach!
After we left this hotel, we went back to our hostel, ate some food and took a nap by the pool. When we woke up we got ready for the night. Our hotel was having a fiesta de piratas. We were all super tired by this point, but we pushed through, got ready, and had a crazy fun night!! We met all sorts of people, but mainly Australians, who were MORE than excited to realize I wasn’t from Australia and could speak english. We had an amazing night all the way up until the break of dawn.
Sunday was our last day to spend in the sunshine, so we got up super early and laid by the pool the entire day, enjoying our last rays of sunshine before returning to the city of fog. We packed up, checked out and headed to the bus station around 4:30 and our bus left at 5. It’s safe to say that I think I slept the entire 17 hours on the way home!
It was an AMAZING trip and I cannot wait for my next excursion with these two beauties! Now on the the bad thing that happened to me. Yesterday I got sick, for the first time, abroad. It was not very pleasant. I had a wicked stomach ache, and could hardly get out of bed. I am sure I worried a lot of people back home, but don’t worry my host family took excellent care of me, and today I am feeling a lot better! I am still not at 100%, but soon enough I will return to healthy Kailey.
Tomorrow at the crack of dawn my group embarks on our first trip together…CUZCO! Words cannot explain how excited I am to be traveling here. I have heard it is an AMAZING place that you have to travel to at some point in your life. And Saturday I will be taking a guide through Machu Picchu, which is now one of the seven modern wonders of the world. I couldn’t feel more blessed at this moment in time. I will be SURE to take abundant amounts of picture while I am there, but I’m sure it will not do the beauty any justice. I will probably not be blogging until I get back, but I will have wifi so make sure you all keep in touch!
Wow, that was a long post. Thanks for baring with me through all of it!
Hey all of you reading this!
A quick introduction of myself! My name is Kailey Morgan and I am from Orono, MN and attend Gustavus Adolphus College, but more importantly am spending my fall semester abroad in Lima, Perú! I will be one of the co-bloggers on here all semester :) Below is a post off my personal blog about when I first got here! If you are interested in reading more off my personal blog here is the link kaileymorganperu.wordpress.com ! One of us will hopefully be posting once a week or what not, but for now, Enjoy!
¡Hola a todos!
Sorry it has been awhile since I last updated my blog! I have been VERY busy trying to getting acquainted with this new city that I am living in, and let me tell you it is VERY different than the United States! Bare with me, this is going to be a pretty long post. SO MUCH TO TELL YOU! (Yes, the capital letters are me shouting with excitement)
So my trip down here went really well! No lost luggage (thank goodness) and the flights were all pretty smooth. However, my 5 hour layover in Miami kind of stunk. While in the Miami airport I had my first experience of someone taking a picture of me because I am blonde hair and blue eyed. I cant tell you how bad I wanted to whip out my camera and take a picture of him, just so he knew what it felt like! When I stepped on the plane to head down to Lima, I realized that I was the ONLYAmerican to be on the plane because it was operated by LanPeru. Everything that was said was in spanish and for all I know the plane could have been coming to a crash landing and I wouldn’t have known. I sat next to a sweet old man whoINSISTED on talking to me in spanish the whole time…Which was annoying because I wanted to sleep, but also beneficial because I got a tasted of what it was going to be like!
THANK goodness I didn’t have to have my bags checked by customs. Not sure if any of you saw how much I packed, but lets just say it was MORE than enough! I got to the hotel and waited up for my roomie. Then I got to spend my first night sleeping in Lima.
The next day was all orientation, we talked about everything from safety and security (Mom, be happy) to money and banking. We took a break in the middle and went and got lunch at Puro Perú where I tried my FIRST pisco sour (below is a picture of me and my new friend Emma with our pisco sours). I really liked it! It tasted a lot like a margarita, but the altitude affected me and it made me a little dizzy
After lunch we had another short orientation and then we got ready and all 11 of us went to LarcoMar for dinner! Below is the picture of the girls and guys in the group at LarcoMar! We got to explore and get to know each other and eat dinner!¡Qué delicioso! After we just hung out and had our first night together playing games and drinking vino y piscano (Perú’s version of Mike’s Hard Lemonade)
Today I went with my host family around town! They took me to many different districts! We ate lunch, which I’m not sure what it was called! But I had my first experience eating Ceviche, and I really liked it! I am not exactly sure what else I ate, because I am still trying to understand everything they are saying to me. I think my favorite word today was “Sí“. After aHUGE lunch they insisted we go get a postre y café even though I was SO full. They kept telling me that I “eat little amounts” and that I need to eat more. I think they are trying to fatten me up! After all this we went to el supermercadoand my mom bought me TONS of fruits and vegetables. I knew what some of them were, and others I am not sure. I’ll get back to you if I like them! Here is a picture of me and my host parents (Amelia y Ricardo) at el mar.
Spanish is getting easier and easier as the days go on but there are still sometimes where I just have NO idea what is going on around me. I am trying really hard to keep an open mind! There are some things here that I knew to expect but definitely didn’t think would be so bad! Being blonde and blue eyes I definitely attract the attention of EVERYONE! Everywhere I go people are starting, or whistling, or waving, or making kissing noises at me. Not sure I really enjoy the attention, but whatever. Also there are many wild dogs running around that I really just want to take home with me (PLEASE mom!).
As for now I am going to shower, get ready for bed, spend time with my family both here and in los Estados Unidos, and sleep before my first day of my intensive spanish class!
I will (hopefully) start blogging every day! But for now ¡Chao!