My experience in Peru

June 25th, 2011 by sbyrd

Being able to spend two weeks in an absolutely amazing country was an
experience I’ll keep with me forever. The two weeks I spent in Peru were two
of the most interesting weeks of my life by far! It’s a very different place
than home, and the customs as well as the way of life in Peru was vastly
different.

There were aspects that I loved and appreciated. One being the
fact that everyone was relaxed, and seemed to enjoy the moments of the day
in a completely different way than we do in the U.S. The landscape was also
very different than what I am used to, and the giant mountains and snow caps in the distance were an incredible sight. In addition to the mountains, the many long fields of grass and flowers with the llamas and alpacas that roamed the less residential areas were extremely beautiful.

The many markets and street vendors were really cool, and I enjoyed looking
at thousands of beautiful crafts and clothing. The idea of negotiating prices with vendors was also awesome; we were able to get some great deals! The first day I probably paid too much for a few items, but I learned how to negotiate better by the second day!

There were other aspects which, for me, were hard to adjust to. For example, there were many dogs roaming the streets in Cusco, some of which had homes, and other which were strays. I’m more of a cat person myself, and have a little fear of dogs. Some of them were adorable and friendly, but others were a little scary!

Machu Picchu was absolutely breathtaking. Our tour of the ancient city was incredible and extremely detailed, and we learned some amazing facts about the Incas. Hiking Pisaq, another Incan ruin, was also one my favorite experiences. It was also a beautiful area in the Sacred Valley, and the view was amazing.

For me, Peru was my first travelling experience ever. I’ve never left the East Coast, and to be able to travel to Peru for my first travelling experience is something I am very grateful for. I’m excited to continue travelling and seeing many more
beautiful countries of the world!

-Sam B.

My host family

June 25th, 2011 by sbyrd
Cassandra and I really lucked out with our family. Not only was their apartment beautiful and extremely comfortable, they really made us feel welcome and a part of their family. I was nervous going into the trip, and I had so many questions about my family and what they were like. We couldn’t have had a better family! Sonia was an amazing host mom, and she made us breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. I was especially grateful to Sonia because she made sure that she cooked vegan food for me everyday, and she made me some really delicious food! The food was always delicious, and we tried many foods that we had never even heard of before. The fruits and vegetables that we had were extremely fresh and delicious.
Juan, our host father, was extremely nice. He is an accomplished lawyer, and a very hard worker. When he would sit with us for dinner, he loved to talk to us about the U.S., and he always had funny things to say. Their two youngest daughters Chabelli and Lisa were really fun! Lisa spoke almost perfect English, which was really nice at times to be able to have her help us out and to also help out her mom and dad who spoke no English. Chabelli is 15 and just graduated, and she wants to study fashion. Lisa is 14, and she was very fun to talk to and extremely energetic.
We were surprised to always have hot water, an aspect of life that we take for granted here in the U.S. Our beds were really comfortable too, and we had an interesting view of a construction site out of window, which actually proved to be very entertaining.
Cassandra was an awesome roommate; we shared many laughs and memories together. I’m so happy that we roomed together and were able to have so much fun together. I had so much fun with the whole group, and I felt like we were always laughing and being there for one another, which was really nice while being so far from home. I learned so much more than I could have ever learned in a classroom, and I had an amazing time!
-Sam B.

¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

June 19th, 2011 by blatulippe

Celebrating my 22nd birthday in Peru was a very memorable experience. I started my day with cake for breakfast. My host family was awake and cheerful. As usual, they were extremely patient despite my slight communication barrier. Spanish class at Centro Tinku helped me with this. Following class, I was given more cake. I spent the rest of the day in town sharpening my bartering skills and exploring what Cusco had to offer. One of my favorite things I discovered in Peru was “chicha morada,” a sweet drink made with purple corn, pineapple, and cinnamon.

When I returned to my homestay that night, I was given leftover cake for dinner. Birthdays in Peru aren’t much different from those in the US. There is cake with candles that you blow out after singing “Happy Birthday” to in Spanish. Peruvians love cake and find every reason to eat it from what I can tell. It was a popular dessert along with rice pudding.

I was glad I was not given any birthday gifts because I did not have much room left in my bags after all the souvenirs I purchased. Also, I was beginning to become fond of the idea of needing less stuff. Seeing some of the less fortunate Peruvians living contentedly without surplus material objects made me reconsider the importance of living simply. While I didn’t get any presents, I treated myself to something that would remind me of my special day in this special country and not take up any extra room in my suitcase. See photo below.

Viscachas and Llamas and Dogs. Oh my!

June 19th, 2011 by blatulippe

The animals of Peru are an essential part of Peruvian culture and I feel they deserve to be recognized. Not only do they play an important role in tradition, they have great economic importance. Fiber from llamas and alpacas are valuable for textiles. The llamas at Machu Picchu are a major tourist attraction. While llamas will always be my favorite, viscachas also have a special place in my heart. Related to the chinchilla, a popular exotic pet in the US, these squirrel-like creatures roam freely in Peru.

Dogs are a favorite pet of Peruvians, which is apparent from the large population of stray dogs that occupy the streets. One befriended me one early morning in Cusco while we were waiting for the bus. After rejecting my offer of a granola bar, he fell asleep at my feet. It was hard to leave him not knowing what his future would hold. I knew he would probably never find a “forever home” and a family to love him.

Cats are not as common, except in some parts of Lima where the cats wandered near John F. Kennedy park.

When we visited the terraces of Moray, an offering was made to the Pachamama. I asked for the protection of the animals of Peru, domestic and wild alike. While I highly enjoyed visiting the animals of Peru, I missed my pets greatly and was happy to return to my two dogs, cats and chinchillas.

Thoughts on Peru

June 19th, 2011 by sbyrd

I really wasn’t sure what to expect during my two week trip to Peru.  I had ideas of llamas, Inca ruins, tropical rainforests and the snow capped Andes.  While all of these things were present (and much, much more amazing than I had originally predicted), Peru never ceased to surprise me.

One great example is my host family.  Having just a very basic knowledge of Spanish, communication with my host family was at first difficult.  One would think that such a significant language barrier would make things awkward and prevent any kind of friendship from forming, but the opposite was true!  Sergia and Alfredo, my host parents, were two of the warmest, most hospitable people I’ve ever met.  You would think that having no idea what someone is saying would make it difficult to share a laugh with them, but my experience showed me that you can always connect with people, whether or not you speak their language.

One day my host family’s son invited me to a soccer game. If you enjoy playing or watching soccer at all, spend some time in South America and I guarantee that you will be amazed at the quality of play .  Not to mention that running around at 11,000 feet above sea level is rather difficult.

One thing not included in the travel itinerary is the educational value of studying abroad you receive on a personal level.  By this I mean that you will look at yourself and your behavior from a different perspective.  After this trip I feel culturally enlightened.  Obviously, Peru’s culture is only one out of the thousands of cultures throughout the world, and I saw only a fraction of what Peru holds.  Although I’ve seen a very small percentage of the world, leaving my life in the United States opened my eyes.  Studying abroad causes you to learn about yourself and the people around you.

-Matt

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