Until We Meet Again!
So. I just got back from my week of traveling to southern Perú. I passed through a new city every day by bus, starting in Lima and going through Paracas, Ica, Nazca, and finally ending up in Arequipa. I saw things I have never seen before and did things I had not done before. Of course I could go on and on about this trip, but as you know if you’ve been following my blogs, I choose to highlight only a few of my most memorable experiences.
These magnificent islands are found in the beach town of Paracas. Penguins, sea lions, and a wide variety of birds live together here, totally unharmed by humans. Although these islands are so important to humans not because of the beauty, but rather because of the revenue it generates for the country. And what might that be exactly? Poop. YES, POOP. Specifically bird poop that lands on the island and absolutely cakes it in white over five years or so. This poop is actually exported as a very successful fertilizer. So, as you can imagine, the stench during the tour was one I have not experienced to that degree before to say the least, haha.
I never thought the desert could be such a truly breathtaking, beautiful place. The deserts in Huacachina proved me wrong. Here, sand dunes stretch far and wide and stand as tall as small mountains. Luckily, my friends and I were able to ride in a sand buggy and sandboard across this incredible landscape. The dunes were ENORMOUS and we either surfed or sled head-first down them! It was terrifying, but probably one of my favorite and most memorable experiences from my entire time spent in Perú. What was really interesting though is that our new-found friend from Scotland wiped out on one of the dunes and got slightly concussed. My friend and I went with him to the hospital to act as translators between his English and the Spanish of the doctors. For the first time I felt that my Spanish was being put to good use in the real world – it made me incredibly thankful for this entire study abroad experience and absolutely in awe of all of the skills and knowledge I have gained from it.
In Ica we toured a gorgeous vineyard that was hundreds of years old. Of course, we tried various samples of sweet and semi-sweet wine (they don’t do dry wines since they are artisan) and variations of Pisco. One of my friends was chosen to go up in front of the crowd to memorize and repeat some key drinking phrases in Quechua, which proved to be a hilarious highlight of the tour.
We only spent a good 20 minutes at one of the many viewing towers that allow an eagle’s view of the lines. We were only able to make out 2 (a monkey and a bird, I believe) of the 1000+, but they were incredible nonetheless. They are spread out over this vast, flat, barren land around the mountains. No one knows how or why these lines were created. But what amazes me is the mere fact that they have lasted this long, not drastically affected by the climate.
This city was absolutely beautiful – and REALLY clean! Not something easily found in Perú. To me, Arequipa is like a perfect mix of Lima and Cusco; a medium-sized city with plenty to see and do, but it retains that small-town feel that I like so much. My friends and I visited a convent, the ice princess mummy, and ate at a bunch of different restaurants. We only spent a day and a half there, and I have to go back and spend more time exploring the city! The weather there was perfect this time of year since it sits at the foot of the Colca Mountains, with a perfectly clear view of the famous Misty volcano!
As I’m reflecting on my overall study abroad experience, I realize that there are some simple yet invaluable life lessons that I may or may not have ever learned outside of this trip:
– stay open-minded and respectful at all costs
– stay alert and aware of the world around you
– stay active
– don’t be afraid of the unknown; instead, make it a point to understand it and then embrace it
– be patient
– be flexible
– do not doubt yourself
– don’t be afraid to make mistakes
– don’t critique others for their faults/mistakes
– anticipate the unexpected
– you are the only person you can truly depend on
– talk to strangers; they’ll talk back and you’ll learn more from them than you thought you would
– make friends at every opportunity; they are acquired at the most unexpected times and places
– take advantage at every opportunity you get because you may never come across it again in your lifetime; make “yes” your most commonly used word
– being bilingual (at the minimum) should be a requirement for any citizen of the world
– the world is a big place, explore it
As I spend my final day here with my IFSA friends, I have to keep reminding myself that this is not goodbye. Instead, I tell them ‘Until we meet again!’ because we WILL reunite within the next five years or so. Hopefully some of them can visit me in St. Louis to watch Chuck Berry play live and try frozen custard for the first time
Final pictures are attached! Disfruta 😀