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Down to 2 Days…

Time December 17th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

With only two days left in Peru, I’m strangely content. Normally when leaving a country, I try to squeeze every last drop of excitement out of it before I catch my flight, but I feel like I’ve lived pretty much every day to it’s fullest here over the past 4 1/2 months. Yesterday, I spent the day surfing with my host brother and one of my buddies from the program…couldn’t have asked for a better day. A few awkward sunburns later, I’m about to spend the morning embarking on my last combi rides to check out a few museums before I have to start the dreaded task of packing. Whether coming or going, it is absolutely my least favorite thing on this planet.

As of yesterday, all of my finals were taken and all of my final papers were officially submitted as well, bringing that since of finality to my study abroad experience. Although I’m excited to see my family and friends back in the States, I will certainly miss all of my new friends and family here. Traveling is a living, learning, and growing experience. For me, there are really no sad moments. There are no regrets….just memories and new friendships. A bit sappy, yeah. But in life, I feel like the best moments to live for are those that serve to touch other peoples lives, to understand how they live…because in that process, they touch yours. They open your eyes and your world onto something that once before was an internalized perception, shaped by media coverage and modern economics and political theories. In this way, people once foreign to you become more than just “notions abroad,” they become living representations of a universal humanity, an intimate connection between all human beings, that is often lost on discriminatory practices and simple misunderstanding. To live abroad, thus, is to understand. It is not a place for building walls and shutting others out. It is a place for tearing down old walls of misconception and letting people in. This is what has shaped my study abroad experience…and for these very reasons, it will continue to serve as a reminder of life’s purpose and as an inspiration for my future interpersonal relations (both abroad and local) as a physician.

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Alright, aside from that little study abroad rant…it’s 2:30 am, the morning before I depart…so I guess, technically, we’re at the 24 hour mark. I just finished packing after a little outing to the local burrito bar, and after choosing to leave a few things behind, most things should fit. Time for a little bit of shut eye so that I can spend my last day here at the beach…Enjoy a few pictures of my favorite beach and the sunset I recently indulged in at the malecón, and we’ll be in touch tomorrow!

Chau, for the next to last time here in Peru,

 

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Getting close to the end…Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno y Lake Titicaca!

Time December 13th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Countdown: 5 Days

Alrighty, with only 5 days left in Peru (yes, only 5 :/), I’ve decided that I’m going to do a final countdown until I leave. This post, numero uno, will be a bit longer because I’ve got too many good pictures not to show them to the world…a few weeks ago, before all of this final exam business started taking over my life, I took a spontaneous trip (I bought the plane tickets two days in advance…I’ve never been quite that efficient at planning ahead) to southern Peru to visit the cities of Arequipa and Puno, as well as two of Peru’s largest natural wonders (aside from Machu Picchu, obviously): Colca Canyon (the deepest canyon in the world…twice the depth of the Grand Canyon) and the famed Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable lake in the world).

After a brief 5:30 am flight from Lima (I had to be up and in a taxi by 3 am just to make sure I was on time, but well worth it), I landed in Arequipa with two of my good ol’ pals from the program. The national airports here, I’ve got to say, are just kind of abysmal…usually they consist of single terminals without jetways located smack-dab in the middle of the desert, a 30 minute taxi drive from the nearest city. This was the case when we arrived in Arequipa. However, the city itself, the second largest in Peru, was reminiscent of Cusco with it’s beautiful colonial architecture and brick-paved roads. “La ciudad blanca,” (Peru’s City of White) was named as such for the use of white volcanic “sillar” stone native to the area in nearly all of the original construction. As you can see in the pictures of the city below, the churches and central plaza were simply breathtaking…if there were a hammock at my disposal at the time I wouldn’t have had any qualms about tying it between a couple of trees in the plaza. It was an oasis out of which I easily could have made a temporary home.

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We settled into our chill little boutique hotel, explored the town a bit and had some queso helado (this was in the mistura post…it’s basically heaven on earth. Cream cheese ice cream is the best way to describe it…and Arequipa is it’s home! Needless to say, I had it pretty much everyday.) We called it an early night because the next morning we had a 2:30 am wake up call…it turns out, with a limited schedule, the only way to see Colca Canyon was in an all-day trip that left at the ungodly hour of 2:30 in the morning. The upside was that we got to catch the flight of the condors, which only happens between 8am and 10am apparently [this truly was an amazing experience…with a wingspan of over 10 feet (only exceeded by that of the albatross and great white pelican), these birds are GIGANTIC…to watch and listen to them fly was awe-inspiring. A few times, they flew so close that I could hear the wind flowing over their wings, a sharp whistling like that of the wind whipping over the airfoils of an airplane]; however, at an altitude of nearly 5,000 meters, we were highly unprepared for the cold we encountered. On the way back, we stopped to see a few colonial churches (especially that beauty in white below, the maca chapel)…all in all, a day well spent.

 

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The following (and final day) in Arequipa was spent exploring the Monastery of Santa Catalina. This place was enormous. Taking up more than an entire block of the city, the monastery (founded in 1579) was a seemingly never ending labyrinth of cloister after cloister, garden after garden, dormitorio after dormitorio. The pictures below don’t really do it justice (nor do they implicate its size)…suffice it to say, it took us nearly 3 hours to traverse the entirety of this small civilization. The only part left untouched was the modern day monastery, that which still houses nuns and is off-limits to visitors!

 

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An 11pm overnight bus was our next destination…awaiting us on the other side of a 7 hour trip: PUNO and lake Titicaca! (Literally, Lago Titicaca = “Lake Boob-shit.” Peru likes to claim the boob part, and Bolivia the poop part. The entirety of this town is just utterly strange.)

Unfortunately during the course of this overnight bus trip, one of my friends was ROBBED! (We were on the first floor of the bus…in the good, spacious seats with only 7 other people. I’m not going to point any fingers, but judging by the fact that it was a closed bus, there was a good chance that one of those 7 folks was the culprit…) Although disappointing and slightly upsetting, we made the best of the situation and of the last day of our trip by finding our hostel at 7am, booking an islands boat tour of the lake, and settingggg sail!

The Uros Islands, also known as the floating islands, are the home of a population of Aymara indians even today…now, I say that cautiously because although they are certainly Aymara, they have definitely not been secluded from the era of modernization (most of them walk around the islands talking on their cell phones in between tours). Although the islands themselves are pretty neat, and it was interesting to hear about how they are made (many layers of inter-woven reeds grown on the lake itself), this was definitely what I would consider a tourist trap. It was by no means expensive, pretty average for Peru actually…just a bit quirky for my taste.

 

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The remainder of the day was spent touring Sillustani, an ancient Incan burial site on one of the prettiest lakes in the Andes. This was probably my favorite part of the trip to Puno (even though I was feeling sick and almost didn’t go!) The scenery was just so picturesque…I was a big fan. I have a thing for water…oceans, lakes, boats on oceans or lakes. I love it. Anywho, that pretty much sums up the trip. We took a bus to the airport to catch our flight in the morning from Juliaca, and landed safely back in Lima. I’ll leave you to enjoy the pictures from Sillustani…Until Tomorrow! (Day 4…exciting, yet very bittersweet. I’ll definitely miss Lima!)

Hasta mañana,

 

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The trips keep a comin’! A weekend in the Selva Central

Time December 3rd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

As I’m sure y’all have noticed, being in Perú has afforded me the opportunity to feed my travel bug a bit. Recently, I took an impromptu journey to the Selva Central (the Jungle, in gringo terms.) The list of destinations included La Merced, Oxapampa, and the tiny German enclave of Pozuzo (yes you heard me right…a city of blondes {well, mostly anyway}, smack-dab in the middle of Perú).

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An 8 hour bus ride delivered our group from the grey, city streets of Lima to a green jungle haven in the province of Junín.Upon our arrival in the city of La Merced, we boarded a colectivo and continued our journey eastward for another 2 hours to the town of Oxapampa. Armed with merely a few suggestions of places to visit from a local friend, we were really unsure of where to begin. I think it’s appropriate to note here that Oxapampa and the Selva Central are rather off-the-beaten-path destinations. They cater more to internal tourist activity and, thus, don’t see much tourist traffic from extranjeros like ourselves.Luckily, however, we managed to stumble into a tiny travel agency where we met Jorge (who actually had no real affiliation with the agency and just happened to be in the right place at the right time.) Although we typically grow up learning to distance ourselves from strangers who offer us things that seem to be too good to be true, we figured we didn’t have much to lose. Jorge, a local Oxapampan with dreams of building his own “jungle guide” business, offered us a two-day camping expedition through the Selva Central at an unbeatable price. Normally, again, it would seem strange to wander off into the jungle with a random man to whom you are giving all of your money; but this is Perú, and, well, they just do things differently. Informal. Relaxed. Chill. What’s not to love?

Anyhow, I digress. The first day of our two-day expedition began with a trek to the Catarata El Tigre (a breathtaking waterfall just outside of town.) Along the way, we passed through coffee and granadilla farms, which you can see pictured below. Granadilla, when ripe, kind of look like oranges filled with little black fish eggs. Not necessarily the most tasty sounding image, but oooh let me tell you, they are magnificent…better than pomegranates and perfectly refreshing after after a nice hike!

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Granadilla

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Not only did we get to see the waterfall, Jorge led us right INTO the waterfall. More than anything, this made the trip worth it. Feeling the power of a seemingly endless flow of crystal clear water dump onto you from above (although in all reality a bit painful) is both refreshing and inspiring.

 

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Upon returning from the waterfall, we headed into town to collect supplies for the dinner we would be cooking that night at the camp site (pasta with hotdogs…about as good as it sounds…the only saving grace was the making of graham cracker-less s’mores. Peruvians aren’t big on graham crackers apparently.) Supplies in hand, we embarked for Yanachaga-Chemillén National Park…another 2 hour drive across some slippery terrain, including several roads that had essentially turned into rivers due to excessive rain (it was the rainforest after all…however, looking back on it, I’m not sure how we managed to make it in one piece in an ancient combi, which it’s safe to say did not have 4-wheel drive.) Regardless, we eventually made it, set up camp and spent the following morning hiking through the jungle. Although we didn’t happen to see much by way of wildlife (it rained the entire morning), we saw a few species of orchid, some red squirrels, and the national bird of peru: the Andean Cock-of-the-Rock.

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The afternoon was reserved for the trip to Pozuzo: a rainforest haven for the descendants of 19th century German and Austrian immigrants to Perú. Although our stay lasted only a few hours (enough time to meander about, take a tour of the local founder’s museum, and have some wiener schnitzel and strudel with the living descendants and mayor of the town: Señor Egg…yes, that really was his name), many of the Peruvian tourists seemed to think that I was a local…On more than one occasion I was the subject of a paparazzi-like frenzy of clandestine photography. Quite interesting.

A slew of combi and bus rides, totaling more than 18 hours, finally brought us back to Lima. A successful weekend trip, it was. For now, I have to finish up some studying for finals…only two weeks left in Perú! I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone! At any rate, stay tuned for the next post about my recent travels to Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno and Lake Titicacca which should surface in the next few days. Later y’all!

 

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Viaje al “Ombligo del Mundo”: Cusco y Machu Picchu

Time November 19th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Alright, so I’ve been falling behind a bit in my blogging. With all of the traveling and school-related obligations taking precedence in my recent life, I seem to have let my blog fall by the wayside. No longer! This update is an exciting one. It takes place in the “Ombligo del Mundo” (or Bellybutton of the World) –> Cusco and the famed Machu Picchu.

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I must say, IFSA organizes its programs well. I couldn’t have planned a better trip myself. Our viaje got off to a bit of a slow start at the airport (our flight was delayed due to poor weather conditions in Cusco)…however, that was probably the only “negative” thing I would have to say about the trip (It’s even difficult to use the word negative here because, as weird as it may sound, I’ve been rather fond of airports since early childhood days.) Immediately upon de-boarding, we found ourselves on a private tour bus en route to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman (Native Quechua for “Sexywoman”), a breath-taking Incan ceremonial fortress constructed of immense boulders that were said to have once taken the shape of a puma head (ancient symbol and guardian of the land).

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Sacsayhuaman was only the first stop on a tour of 4 other ancient ruin sites on the outskirts of beautiful Cusco. After spending nearly 2 and half months in the heart of Lima (a “megapolis” and the second largest desert city in the world), it was nice to trade in the traffic and combi travel for some fresh mountain air and the green countryside of the Peruvian Sierra. Luckily, the rest of the trip leading up to the ascent of Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu was full of natural air activities: Trips to the ruins of Pisac and Ollantatambo (more pre-incan ruins), a trip to a llama and alpaca farm in which “fair trade” workers crafted intricate alpaca goods on-site, and a quirky train ride aboard Peru Rail (that included a rather odd fashion show as entertainment in which the train attendants hoped to sell us their wears.) One of the most interesting stops was a bit off the beaten path, seemingly untrodden by extranjeros: a local sustainable farming project just outside of town. This was an incredible initiative. Created and led by an andean woman, the initiative serves to put women of the sierra in charge of their own lives in this capitalistically, tourist-dominated region of Perú. Specifically, the women maintain their own plots of land, on which everything that they need to eat or grow to survive is planted: fresh camomile for tea, lima beans (especially for use in a festive hot drink…quite tasty), potatoes (of course, Perú wouldn’t be Perú without its seemingly endless variety of potatoes), and a rustic pen FULL of cuy (that would be guinea pig, the local delicacy.)  After being treated to a feast of their various alimentaciones (see below for the sumptuous spread), I couldn’t help but notice how tranquil the area was. A tiny plot of land, growing everything that I would need to survive, surrounded by the natural majesty of the sierra with a picturesque, crystalline lake serving as a backdrop; I am certainly thankful for all that I have been given in life, however, times like these not only put into perspective the blatant abuses of our capitalistic world, but also serve as reminders that our natural world, in all of its beauty, is, and was, and is yet to come. We must only use it, protect it, and recycle its constituent parts.

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Thus, I will leave you with a few more pictures of the breathtaking Machu Picchu and the quaint city of Cusco…a sight that will not soon be forgotten! (When I return from my trip to Chincha and El Carmen this weekend, I’ll backtrack to fill y’all in on my previous travels: The Central Selva (Jungle) and Arequipa, Puno y Lago Titicacca!)

Ciao and a happy beginning to the holiday season!

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God’s gift to Man: MISTURA

Time October 22nd, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

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Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of the world’s largest food festivals right here in downtown Lima: Mistura. With everything from “emoliente” stands to an entire “rincón del chocolate,” Mistura far exceeded my expectations. Lasting two weeks and attracting nearly 600,000 visitors, the food festival is an integral part of Peruvian culture, serving to tie its culinary successes to those of the rest of the world. The slogan on the special edition Mistura cans of Cristal (La Cerveza del Perú) said it all: “Nuestra comida nos une.”

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(“Our food unites us.”) Mistura served up more than just tasty Peruvian treats; a hearty dose of Peruvian nationalism, Peruvian identity expressed through culinary excellence, was the theme of this gastronomic affair.

Now, I’m a man of many passions…and food is certainly not least among them. Let’s take a photo-filled, play-by-play journey through one of the most delectable days of my life!

 

First up, queso helado.

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Our group decided to start the morning festivities off with this sweet treat…direct translation = cheese ice cream. To some, it may sound odd, but this was right up my alley. It was essentially the equivalent of frozen cream cheese icing. Fantastic.

 

Lo siguiente, el rincón del pan (bread corner)!

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This corner of the festival was comprised of beautiful artisan breads (as you can see above) baked and sculpted on-site by local bread aficionados! The various types of bread represented individual regions of the country, with some taking the form of llamas and others celebrating members of indigenous Peruvian communities. Whatever the shape, size or type, the bread baked here was more than just a little “lagniappe,” it was a meal in and of itself…warm, gooey, and delicious (and at only 5 soles (~ $2) per bag of 5 pieces, a great deal as well).

 

If I hadn’t already developed a sweet tooth after moving to Lima, I most certainly did after experiencing this: El rincón del chocolate.

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The chocolate corner sold everything from raw cocoa beans to chocolate flavored pisco (Peruvian liquor distilled from grapes). There were chocolate/oatmeal cupcakes, chocolate bars from the Andes, chocolate bars from the Sierra, hot chocolate, “designer” chocolate truffles and ganaches, and a plethora of other cocoa covered delights.

Not to be outdone by the chocolatiers, candy and sweets specialists from around Perú set up booths brimming with Alfajores (cookie “sandwiches” filled with manjar blanco (creamy, caramel-like filling) and topped with powdered sugar), chocolate-filled churros, arroz con leche (sweet rice in condensed milk with raisins), mazamorra morada (purple corn jelly), Picarones (fried donuts)….the list is endless. Peruvians like their desserts.

 

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Assorted Sweets

 

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Alfajores!

 

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At first, I wasn’t sure what this was, so naturally I had to try it…it turned out to be a crispy slab of fried dough drizzled with orange-flavored sugar. The best word to describe it: sticky.

 

After an indulgent morning of satisfying my sweet-tooth, it was time to move on to something more hearty! Our group ordered several different meat/fish dishes to share…and here they are!

 

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Ceviche, my personal favorite (Raw fish marinated in acidic lime/lemon juices and accompanied by cebolla (onion), choclo (Peruvian corn), ají (spicy pepper), and camote (sweet potato) to cleanse the palate.

 

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Anticuchos (Beef-heart skewers)…delicious, and surprisingly tender for such a muscular organ.

 

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Ají de gallina (Shredded chicken in a spicy sauce flavored with parmesan cheese, garlic, and ají and topped traditionally with a hard-boiled egg and an olive)

All in all, Mistura was a success. I came home with a full stomach, ready for the ensuing weeks in which I could embark on more culinary adventures.

Sorry for the delay in posts….Midterms kept me busy for a while, but be expecting very shortly a review of my trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu!

 

 

 

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Settling in

Time September 21st, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Well, I’ve officially been in Perú for more than a month. I have a Peruvian cell phone, a Peruvian bank account, a Peruvian gym, and a Peruvian hair dresser. Soy un verdadero limeño! But actually, no. The thing that I seem to be missing is the Spanish. I feel like my language abilities have been subjected to the following pattern:

Mediocre Spanish upon arrival –>  Plummeting of my abilities to communicate in Spanish –> Inability to communicate in either Spanish or English

I may be exaggerating a bit, but it was only after today that I started to regain confidence in my abilities to speak Spanish (although my spelling in English has certainly taken a turn for the worse).  After visiting my Peruvian hairdresser for a little trim, I decided to get lost in Lima (in a good way)…I’m challenging myself to learn something new about the city every day. Along the way, I stumbled upon the Inca Market (which is essentially a bazaar of Peruvian goods aimed at attracting tourists). While browsing about, I entered into a lengthy conversation with a local Peruvian vendor who asked me if I was Latino (I presume Argentinean or the like because I’m about as blonde as it gets) because my “Castellano” (Spanish) was so good. I proceeded to laugh out loud because up until this point I definitely would not have considered my Spanish the equivalent of that of a native speaker. Given that she was most likely just flattering me, her compliment nonetheless brought a confidence back to my speaking abilities that carried over into a 45 minute conversation about our respective lives. Although I certainly have a lot left to learn, after today I feel like it is all possible again, and I now realize that I need to doubt myself less and just throw as much of my Spanish out there as possible so that I can improve. Solamente con la práctica puedes mejorarlo!

All in all, I’ve settled in pretty well. My house and family are great. My classes, although they require loads of reading every week, are interesting. Studying, however, hasn’t kept me from escaping Lima and exploring the diverse regions “afuera de la ciudad” that make this country so unique…let’s take a photo journey through my 4-day trip to Huaraz, home of the Andean Cordillera Blanca, the highest mountain in Perú, an ancient pre-Incan civilization, and some of the most beautiful lagoons on the planet!

The Ancash Region: The Northern Peruvian Highlands (Andes)

We started the trip off with an 8 hour MoviTour Bus ride from Lima to Huaraz, Perú. When we arrived, we proceeded to spend about an hour and a half trying to find our hostel (the Alpes Huaraz, which I recommend to anyone who happens to find themselves in Huaraz…the rooms are cheap, clean, and they offer a delicious breakfast! Also, all of our tours were coordinated directly through the hostel and were very competitively priced, eliminating the need for a visit to a separate travel agency, which is something you will appreciate if you are only in town for the weekend.) After finally finding it, we settled in and went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant (yes, there is Thai food in Perú). Although the owner was British and insisted on speaking to us in English, the curry was fantastic…it was a nice reprieve from the mountainous portions of “criollo” food I have eaten since my arrival in Perú.

The following day, we took a 3.5 hour bus ride to the ruins of Chavín de Huantar, a pre-Incan civilization. It was a day full of ancient stone carvings, giant stone “cabezas,” and underground tunnels and aqueducts. Although very interesting, the tour lasted for nearly 2 hours, and our tour guide dragged us another 45 minutes out of the way to our only lunch option…a restaurant that she herself owned. We were in for an interesting experience. The food, all very over-priced for Peruvian standards, was less than “tasty.” As you can see in the first picture above, however, we accomplished am important life goal during the experience: we ate guinea pig. In Perú, guinea pig, or “cuy” (pronounced “koo-ee”), is a well-known and fairly common dish. Although in North America guinea pigs are considered pets, no such custom exists here. They are merely food.  Unfortunately, we got a fairly lean one, so there were more teeth, claws and whiskers than actual meat to eat…yum? Needless to say, we felt it necessary to go out for some comfort food when we returned to Huaraz…pizza and wine for the night!

At 5 am the next morning we were awake and ready to catch our bus to Parque Nacional Huascaran in the “Cordillera Blanca” for an all-day hike to “Laguna 69.” (Before leaving, I managed to snap a picture of the sunrise over Huaraz from the roof of our hostel, which you can see in the gallery above). The hike was definitely a moderate one as far as the stress-level was concerned…the most strenuous part was the 45 minute final ascent to the lake, which was full of switchbacks and landed us at a final altitude of nearly 14,000 feet! (The air here was VERY thin…I, myself, had a headache because of the altitude, but there were others on the hike who suffered from more severe altitude sickness. Be sure to heed the acclimation warnings when you go trekkin’!) The views of the Cordillera Blanca and the glacial turquoise, blue-green Laguna 69 were stunning. After about an hour of enjoying the laguna, we started the 3 hour trek back down, which was undoubtedly more relaxing than the hike up. The pictures do not do justice to the natural beauty that is the “Cordillera Blanca.” Wild burrows and bulls roam the trails (making for some fairly interesting encounters). Waterfalls trickle from the ice-capped peaks. The entire hike felt like I was trekking through a Lord of the Rings Movie (minus the battles and all that jazz). Hands-down, one of the highlights of my entire trip thus far.

Exhausted, we returned to the hostel, called it an early night and got on our bus the following afternoon to head back to Lima to prepare for classes on Monday.

Two weeks later I would find myself in food HEAVEN. It’s a thing called Mistura…a food festival for which heavenly is not even an adequate descriptor. That post is soon to come (with plenty of pictures of sumptuous “criollo” delicacies), so stay tuned! I’ll see y’all later.


Find more photos like this on Institute for Study Abroad – Butler University

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Tierra de las combis

Time August 28th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

After being in Lima for two weeks, I can neither say that I am completely familiar with its public transportation system (predominately a hodgepodge of vehicles to which one could loosely apply the term ‘bus’), nor that I am particularly a large fan of it.  What I can say, without a doubt, is that I am daily at the mercy of the combi. Although “las combis” by no means share identical routes, they seem to have been created for a single purpose: to transport as many beings as humanly possible, as quickly as possible, while ensuring minimal comfort. In a world where form tends to denote function, the combi reigns supreme. Their relatively flat-frontedness, for instance, is ideally suited for tailgating at high speeds (when the obscene traffic allows for such high speeds), while the sliding windows that accompany each seat function inside and out, allowing for the perfectly timed heists of bags sitting in unsuspecting passengers’ laps by skilled Limeñan thieves. Although I, myself, have not yet been pitted against the sly hand of the Limeñan “ladrón,” or thief, I have had many an experience aboard the combi. On one particular trip back from the University, I was enjoying the fact that I was one of only 20 or so people on the ride and could actually sit semi-comfortably. The music was uncharacteristically loud and was a rather lively mix of Latino-pop. The driver, however, was particularly reckless and was nearly the cause of three separate accidents, taking the opportunity to throw his head out the window and curse at each of the other combi drivers as if it were their fault as he continued to weave in and out of traffic. At one point in particular, our “cobrador” (the person in charge of taking your fare when you board) had to get off to fix one of the mirrors that was now hanging precariously from the combi thanks to one of our “run-ins.” Ahhh the streets of Lima…a love-hate relationship if I ever have seen one.

A Micro (larger than a combi…yes, there are smaller ones.)

Before this takes on a negative air, though, I must say that in a city of nearly 9 million, the combi is not only necessary, but is well adapted to serve the needs of the city’s people in a highly cost-efficient manner. For a 45 minute ride from my home in Miraflores to the University, for example, it costs me a “luca china,” or 1.50 soles. This is less than $0.60 US. In other words, it is ridiculously cheap. A taxi ride to the University is roughly 10 soles, which is less than $4 US. As in the case of the combis, there are no shortages of taxis in Lima. They circle “las calles” constantly and make up the greater proportion of the vehicles that clog up the city’s streets. In addition, they add to the cacophonous display of horns that compose a Limeñan street symphony to which not much can compare.

“Las combis” and the traffic in Lima were only some of many first impressions upon my arrival in Lima. Orientation lasted for two weeks, and I had the pleasure of getting to know 21 other “gringos” and a handful of “patas” (Peruvian students from the University with whom we are paired). On our second night here we were paired with our host families, and I have now been integrated into a family that consists of my “mamá anfitriona,” my brother José Carlos and our golden retriever Max. We also have a network of extended family that live relatively close to our house in Miraflores, with whom I have already shared many stories over dinner and pisco sours (one of the most famous “tragos,” or drinks, in Perú).

While on the subject of dinner and piscos, the food here is fantastic. Ceviche (raw fish marinated and essentially “cooked” in acidic lime juice with onions, tomatoes, and peppers), already one of my favorite dishes before coming to Perú, can be found in abundance in Lima and is some of the most delicious that I have ever tasted. Papas rellenas (fried potatoes filled with meat) and lúcuma (a local, sweet fruit that resembles an avocado with a large black seed inside) top out the list of my new favorites. I recently tried “sangre,” or curdled cow’s blood, as well. We’ll just say that didn’t make the cut.

Mamá anfitriona

Mi perrrrito Max!

 

 

 

 

 

Mi Balcón and my view of Lima (my house is only 3 blocks from the beach).

Now, because I have a mountain of reading to do for classes next week,  I’ll leave you with a little photo journey of some of the stops on our orientation tours and outings…until next time, y’all.

Surf.

Cholo Power. The coast of Miraflores.

Larcomar: The Underground Shopping Mall (tourist central)

The Jdub Marriott.

La Rosa Naútica Restaurante. Que Bonito

Note the characteristic fog…that’s Lima.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our trip to central Lima and the Plaza de Armas:

 

 

 

Inside of the Catedral de Lima

El Arzobispado de Lima

All of the woodwork on the Arzobispado was done by hand and without the use of nails. Amazing.

Entrance to la catedral

La Plaza Mayor de Lima

Catacombs beneath the cathedral

Tribute to el conquistador Francisco Pizarro

….anndd the remains of Pizarro.

Palacio del Gobierno de la República del Perú

 

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Packing, Olympics, Packing…

Time August 6th, 2012 in College Study Abroad | No Comments by

Stillll need to pack

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup, that would be a picture of an empty duffle bag. Not only is it empty, but less than 48 hours before I am supposed to board my flight to Lima I find myself with a bag that is too small and a dorm room that is as unclean and unpacked as it has ever been. Before the packing commences (and, yes, writing this blog post and watching the Olympics are currently serving as my primary means of procrastination) let’s back up a bit.

 

I am a rising junior at Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, which is by far one of the best schools in the greatest cities in America (I may be a little biased, but if you ever have the fortune of experiencing it, I think you’ll agree).  As a Cell and Molecular Biology major, I am one of those infamous “pre-meds,” but believe you me my life extends far beyond the bindings of my textbooks.  My passion for a career in medicine stems from my passion for life and serving the human population, which is what ultimately brings me to undoubtedly one of the most exciting, important, and life-shaping events of my time on this planet thus far: PERU!  A Spanish minor, my ultimate goal was to finish all of my medical school requirements by the end of my sophomore year so that I could take off for a semester and focus solely on my Spanish; but why Peru? I honestly can’t say what it is that draws me to Latin and South America, but I maintain some intrinsic desire to explore the Americas and to connect with and serve its peoples. IFSA-Butler’s Lima program was specifically appealing to me because it offered me the opportunity to spend part of my semester volunteering with a local health clinic as a part of the required Peruvian Social Reality course.  This, ultimately, is in line with my long-term professional goals, as some day I would like to work in Latin and South America as a medical doctor in conjunction with organizations such as Doctors Without Borders.  Although I’m completely willing to admit I’m scared out of my mind that my South-Louisiana Spanish is going to embarrass the heck out of me at the beginning of the program, I have all the confidence in the world that it will at least be better by the time I’m ready to leave.

 

As your blogger for the next five-ish months, I’ll keep you updated on all of my travels, exploits, and just down-right embarrassing moments (which I am all-too ready to experience). Expect lots of pictures, plenty Spanish, ample surf reports, and, more than anything, FOOD. (Ceviche and pisco will be the first on the list!)

Now, to get back to watching the 5 hours of online Olympic rowing (I’m an avid and competitive rower, as you’ll soon come to know), and I suppose to the packing.

See y’all later, ciao, hasta luego!

 

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