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7 posts categorized "Travel"


Ica, Paracas, and a whole lot of fun...

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!

¡Hasta pronto!



Student blogs!

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Ella Gummer

Huaraz Cuzco 222

Sarah Caponi

Andrea Winbigler

...aaaand Sheila Carey



Quechua Class

By Tonisha Atkins

Today, Thursday, I only had my Quechua class. We spent the class learning how words are put together and what all the zillions of suffixes mean. It’s complicated. But, it’s a fun language. For example, my favorite so far. Maqay=golpear=to hit. The suffix –chi=hacer que x haga y= make that someone does something. So maqay means to hit. So the speaker tells the listener to hit a third party. If you say maqachiy, the speaker is telling the listener to tell a second listener to hit the fourth party. So you could say “maqachichichichichichichiy” thus saying “tell him to tell her to tell that other person to tell their friend to tell someone else to hit that other person”. I liked this example. Maybe it’s just me.
We learned greetings, how to ask how someone is, what their name is, and where they are from. …
Allin p’unchaw kachun _______  Buenos dias_______________    Good Morning/Day
Imaynalla kachkanki?                     Como estas?                                 How are you?
Allillan ____________.                  Bien, no mas                                I'm well.
Imataq sutiyki?                               Cual es tu nombre?                       What is your name?
Ñuqap sutiy Tonisham.                  Me llamo Tonisha.                        My name is Tonisha.
Maymantaq kanki?                         De donde eres?                            Where are you from?
Ñoqa Fond du Lacmanta kani.       Yo soy de Fond du Lac.             I am from Fond du Lac.
This is about the extent of the conversations we can have right now. Gotta love beginners conversations. I must say, it is interesting to learn a new language in another language that is also not your maternal language. It’s exciting. But I have to pay extra attention. But my Quechua pal Eduardo never pays attention and always asks me what’s going on. Today he kept saying “no entiendo nada” – I don’t understand anything. So I said “pues presta atencion”- Pay attention. Haha, maybe not the nicest answer, but we laughed about it so I guess he didn’t think it was too rude.
Actually, I made the class laugh today. The professor was going around the entire classroom asking where everyone was from. He got to my friend Ian, and he said ñoqa Rice Lakemanta kani. Okay, so the professor knows some English but is not very good at it. So he got hung up on the Rice Lake part. So I figured when I said I was from Fond du Lac there was going to be issues. Sure enough. I had to write out my name and where I was from. The prof wrote Fond du Lac on the board and asked me what it said. Instead of repeating “Fond du Lac” I said, well, el fondo del lago, which is the translation from French I guess. So I said I was from the bottom of the lake. Haha. They laughed about it which made me feel good.


Reflections of a vegetarian in Lima

Lúcuma072Commonly used in desserts, juices, and ice cream, the lúcuma itself is actually a surprisingly dry fruit. It's avocado-like in its pit and skin structure, but the fruit itself is mildly sweet and kind of pasty.

Since last fall in the U.S. I was eating vegetarian, mostly for political and environmental reasons.  I am not morally opposed to eating meat, and I enjoy eating it particularly if it has come from an environmentally sustainable source, where the animals were treated well. Eating vegetarian in the U.S. was great because I largely had food independence at college (where there also happened to be a fair amount of veggie options). I had time to help cook when I was home, and I knew enough about the food system to explain to people why I ate vegetarian. I figured my own actions make some small difference, but it is also important to use the "why are you eating vegetarian?" moments to spread the word.

Tamal PeruanoHuaraz Cuzco 002The Peruvian tamal, similar to the Mexican, consists of a corn-based filling which is wrapped up and cooked. However, Peruvian tamales really feature the corn stuff: it contains maybe a couple bites of pork and an olive. It is a bit richer and larger than Mexican tamales I have had, and is wrapped in banana leaves (or another type that I don't know the name of) instead of corn husks. Delicious. Though I can't get myself to eat it on bread like my host family

In Lima, on the other hand, I live with a host family. I don't want to impose my diet on a family kind enough to take me into their home. Veggie options are limited: Peruvian cooking tends to feature seafood or meat, and vegetarianism is not particularly established here. I don't expect to have a great deal of time to cook, since I will be studying and commuting to the university. At this point, at least, I couldn't begin to say what sort of meat practices I'd be protesting in Peru, beyond pure guesswork. And I'm here to immerse myself in another culture, which in my mind includes getting to know the food.

ManáHuaraz Cuzco 370 Maná, my favorite company here, they ought to be paying me for a product placement. They make a lot of whole-grain snacks using local ingredients. Often kiwicha, which is a very small and nutritious grain. Often coca, which in its natural, non-corrupted form and has amazing medicinal properties. Has essential vitamins, energizes, relieves altitude sickness, good for stomach problems, aids digestion, anti-diarrhea. Coca-infused kiwicha/honey granola bars...mmmm

As it's played out, I've been talking with host mom Pola about it. I eat meat and seafood that she prepares, but she also tries to avoid cooking exclusively meat. When I go out with friends, I try to order something veggie for myself, but I try other foods too, to get to know the local cuisine. For students going abroad who are more strictly committed to their veggie diet, I think it's best to choose a country very carefully, be prepared to make time in a busy study schedule to cook, and research that country's food system before you go. You can't expect a vegetarian host family, but vegetarianism in Peru is definitely possible - there's a wide variety of beans, fruits, vegetables, and especially tubers, and restaurants fairly often have some sort of veggie option (in Lima, at least, there are even a few purely vegetarian restaurants if you go looking for them). Study abroad begs the question: how will I fit in a new environment? This is part of my answer, but I'm still working it out.




Huaraz Cuzco 021 An Afroperuvian classic. It's grilled cow heart. Now before you start turning up your nose, the heart's just another muscle, and it happens to be a delicious muscle, especially when marinated in its own juice along with garlic, salt, (probably cumin? and I didn't catch all the ingredients) and roasted over real coals. On a stick. Might as well bring it to the state fair.



 One of the best things about studying abroad is the opportunity to travel. Travelling in a group is much cheaper when you're staying in hostels and paying guides. So, some gringo friends and I decided to go to Huaraz. Huaraz, being situated right between the Cordillera Blanca (white mountain range, named for its snowy peaks) and the Cordillera Negra (black mountain range, comparatively lower altitude, less snow), has become a mecca for hikers. Breathtaking mountain trails, and lots of hostels to choose from. Jo's place is a good one: cheap lodging, though it has hard beds, also the option of just camping in the yard, which I assume costs less? Hiking info available, and plenty of space to hang laundry to dry. We found a nice restaurant, too, café andino. They have a library/book exchange. They serve pancakes all day. Good coffee, but what you really have to try is the shara shara herbal tea and the local beer.

Huaraz Cuzco 051

Our first day we decided to go horseback riding into the mountains. I can't remember the name of our destination, but we began our quest at a place called Cochapampa. We met our guides and saddled up. It took me a little while to get used to the rocking motion of the horse, but soon I felt at ease in the saddle. As we climbed the mountain, we gazed down in the valley we had come from. The horses were amazing: stepping from rock to rock, they knew the path as well as our guides. My horse, Gringo, was a real trooper, and only needed occasional encouragement. We passed two lagoons of grayish blue. The air was dry compared to Lima, and the best thing was the sun. Lima is nearly always gray in the winter, always cold, always damp. The sun was so nice, my face burned to a cheery pink.

Huaraz Cuzco 089

Huaraz is at a high altitude. My advice is to take it easy on your first day there. Drink lots of water, don't eat too much, eat things that are easy to digest. Wear lots of sunscreen. Walk around town a bit, maybe check out a musem. We thought that horseback riding up a mountain would be taking it easy. It wasn't. The ride was amazing, but our headaches got progressively worse. When we got back to the hostel, I slept from about 4pm until the next morning, and then I felt better. Coca leaves are a godsend.

Huaraz Cuzco 119
The concepts of time and distance in the Andes have traditionally been different than western clock time. People need to live spread out to find arable land and take advantage of different microclimates...which means the neighbors might be at a distance of several days' walk. So we kept joking that the laguna was "right there" "just a little ways away." It was another hour from here

On Sunday, when we were better adjusted to the altitude, we decided to go hiking to Laguna 69. From the entrance to the park, we walked through the valley, then zigzagged up a mountain path, across a plain, and up another zigzag path, taking frequent brakes to catch our breath in the thin air. Exhausted, we finally reached a rocky place where the path became level, and saw a patch of the brightest blue. Laguna 69. We were hungry, tired, and thirsty, but the blue made it all worth it. Never has a simple sandwich tasted so good. With juice, and some hard candies, and an apple, sitting on a rock next to the lagoon, it was glorious.

Huaraz Cuzco 120
The blue made it all worth it

One of the nights we were there, we were walking home from supper and heard a drum beat. We stopped to listen. As the sound neared, we were able to distinguish horns and woodwinds, a whole marching band, followed by ranks of children. They marched with paper-mache fish, lanterns, as well as huge figures made of paper suspended by sticks, each carried by 3 or 4 children. Figures of  dragons, clowns, dogs, cats, the Smurfs, the Simpsons (American influence everywhere), the Grim Reaper. It must have been a half-hour we stood as the kids marched by, hundreds of them, all shouting cadences, smiling laughing. I wish I had that kind of school spirit. It was the yearly anniversary of one of the largest schools in Huaraz.

Huaraz Cuzco 142 

Huaraz is a great hiking place for it natural beauty. But I felt very much like a tourist, which I usually don't as a student in Lima. As we drove by little Andean towns in our hired van, off to go hiking, I wondered how the towns had been affected by tourism, what blessings and curses it had brought, and how I was impacting them. On one hand, tourism can be a monetary force to preserve the land, protect natural parks from pollution by mining industries and such (this has often happened, look up a company named Barrick). On the other hand, it could create divisions. A relatively privileged, dollar-based tourism economy in the middle of an otherwise agrarian society. Who knows? I must say I enjoyed our trip though.

Peace, Ian

P.S. photos are slow to upload. I put up a few more at my travelblog.

Huaraz Cuzco 149


Polvos Azules

Welcome to Polvos Azules (blue dusts/powders), the treasure chest of the informal market of Lima. Make a voyage through the corridors of millions of "original" items: navegate the sea of Nike shoes bathed in white light, plunder Barcelona fútbol jerseys at 20 soles, unearth the Rosetta Stone or the Pirates of the Caribbean series, next to the pirated CD stand. Prices are negotiable, but you need to know how to haggle. 006

Some of it might be lost shipments or legitimate purchases of originals….but the most of it is an imitation. Most any imitation will be cheap. Some things are more difficult to fake; video game consuls are originals that have been "fixed" to take pirated games. These and many other electronics are probably more expensive than in the U.S., but you save money on the discs that they play. Every now and then, law enforcement comes in and symbolically raids the place, making a show of burning the contraband. It's considered a normal part of the business; Polvos Azules gets out their backup storage and is up and running the next day.

"Stop right there!" says Copyright Man, brandishing the lawsuit of justice. "This is pure piracy, and that's illegal! Artists deserve royalties for the fruits of their labor. What about intellectual rights to their creativity?"

The problem is that for many people in Peru, it's not affordable to pay full price for many electronics, movies, CD's, and name brand clothes. Prices on a lot of things (food, public transport) are lower here than in the U.S., but so are wages. So a reasonable price in U.S. Dollars ($15 movie, for example) converts to being very expensive in Peruvian Soles. 002

And here's where we come to a philosophical crossroads. Do intellectual property rights override people's desire to improve their quality of life? If anyone has a miracle solution for the economic inequalities of the world, so that everyone can pay full price, it's welcome here. Otherwise, I don't feel that it's my place to say "You're wrong to want to have movies, you're wrong to want to listen to music, play video games, and wear name brand clothing." Though my friend Sawyer brings up an interesting point: "where should the societal values of the locals lie? With material goods that do nothing but mimic what they think affluence is? Or with something more substantial and meaningful?" How much does Polvos Azules improve people's life, or is it just another face of materialism?

In defense of Polvos Azules, a lot of work goes into the making of the items there, even if the ideas and designs aren't always original. It generates money that stays in Peru. It's an impressive system of distribution: so many things concentrated in one market, in a big city. Probably skipping a lot of the ridiculous markup of commercial distribution, definitely skipping the markup/tariffs of imports.

I'm a white male middle-class college student from the U.S., privileged enough to have the privilege to study abroad here. Did I mention that this is a privilege? I can afford, every now and then, to purchase original music and movies. So if I'm able to support artists that way, is it right for me to buy a pirated DVD at Polvos Azules? My personal leaning is that it's probably better to buy the original in respect of copyrights. I say this gingerly, because I do not want to see this as a situation of "I have enough money to do the right thing." In the end, I didn't buy anything. I was more fascinated by the ethics than by the merchandise itself. 008


Ruralman vs. the Urban Micro

GAC-beginning of Peru 124


This is Ian Shay, a sophomore Spanish Major at Gustavus, writing from Lima, Perú. I'm here for a year with the CIEE Liberal Arts program, studying at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and staying with a host family. I arrived a couple weeks ago, and we are just finishing our Intensive Spanish in preparation for the normal semester on Monday. Now, prepare yourselves for the observations of a small-town Wisconsinite, fumbling for the first time in an urban transportation system. In Lima, the cheapest way to get around is on the micro.

Micros, whose name comes from microbus, I think, are actually buses ranging from small size to almost the size of a school bus. I take two micro rides each morning to get to school at the Católica. The fun thing about Lima is that there is no centralized map of all the micro routes. A bunch of private micro lines run throughout the city. It seems very confusing, but if you stick to major streets, and carry a bit of cash, you can pretty much always catch one going in your general direction. While I ride, I've taken to finger-tracing micro routes on my map of Lima, so I can develop an idea of where they go and a familiarity with the street layout. I feel a bit like a tourist with my map, though, but I guess I am a bit of a tourist.

One of the main characters of the micro is the cobrador(a), or the person who charges money. The name doesn't do justice to their work. They simultaneously charge money, hand out tickets, advertise/shout their routes at 40 words a second, and shepherd passengers.

GAC-beginning of Peru 126

The micro routine is this:

1. Wait at a proper micro pickup location. This can be pretty much anywhere, as long as it's a micro route. They pick people up at stop lights, stop signs, corners, pretty much anywhere. Every now and then, especially if the traffic is heavy (or if there's been an illegal bus stop crackdown, perhaps? Who knows?), they will only stop at designated bus stops.

2. Wait for a micro that you know is going your way. This often requires some knowledge of the layout of Lima. When in doubt, ask the cobrador(a).

3. During the ride, the cobrador(a) will come around and take your money. Usually about  one Sol (about 38 cents, last I checked). Hold onto your ticket as evidence of pay. Remind them where you're getting off. They're usually good about shouting reminders, but it's also good to pay attention. When you're near your stop, shout "baja [insert street/landmark]."

I remember one of my first micro rides, when my neighbor Meghan and I got on the micro without really understanding the cobrador very well, and didn't really paying attention during the ride. The cobrador probably said "yeah, we're going nearby the Católica," which was true, since the street La Marina passes Avenida Universitaria. Well, we passed Universitaria, and got a little tour of the district of Callao, one of the furthest north in Lima.

The micro ride itself is pretty chill, once you get used to the lack of leg room, sometimes standing room only, the roar of the engine, frequent honking of horns, occasional proximity of less than 6 inches with other cars/buses, and motorcyclists who dart between lanes of cars. It works, they know what they're doing. When I'm feeling daring, I even try to strike up conversations with people. It doesn't always go anywhere, but every now and then you meet someone cool. Who needs cars in a place like this?



GAC-beginning of Peru 121