08.10.2015 - 14.11.2015 72 °F
Okay so it's been a ridiculously long time since I have posted. It has also been a very busy 5-6 weeks and this is my first free and concentrated moment where I can sit down and update everyone on what I have accomplished and done since I last wrote.
Remember how the month started off with a concussion? The month ended a lot better, I promise.
I recovered from my concussion after about a week of bed rest and had some days to read and do other things like write (but not on my blog). I spent the weekend with friends and made buckeyes with a friend from school. I had made buckeyes before and shared them with my class and they were a hit. One of my friends loved them so much that she invited me over to make more. I think they were better the first time because I was missing something the second time I made them but I can't really remember what. Another friend fell in love with my buckeyes so I am going to her house this weekend to make MORE and some alfajores (which is a Peruvian pastry with caramel in the middle).
On Wednesday, October 14th, I departed for my first official Rotary trip with the other exchange students. The duration of the trip would be spent in Arequipa, Colca, Puno, and Cusco. We went to Machu Picchu on the last day of the trip and that experience was amazing. Especially with other exchange students.
October 14th also happened to be my birthday and we celebrated in Colca as we flew into Arequipa to travel then to Colca and then return to Arequipa (weird, I know). I got cake smashed into my face as this is Peruvian tradition and I actually got angry! I didn't know that cake-face-smashing was a tradition and I wanted to eat the cake like a normal human being. Nevertheless, the apple slices and peach slices that I washed out of my hair that night were sweet and tasted really good. So did the frosting that stained my white sweatshirt
October 15th we went to Colca Canyon to see a condor. We had all woken up early and Henry had been afraid that we woke up and departed too late and that we would not be able to see a condor. Well, we did. The condors had woken up late too. We also saw some Inca stuff that I can't really remember enough about to write about.
October 16th was a free day for the first half and the 2nd half was spent traveling to Arequipa.
October 17th we did a city tour of Arequipa and saw some Vicuñas and Llamas and Alpacas. I kind of remember the difference between all three, but I would need to describe it in person because currently I am at a loss for English words. I tried "Queso Helado" which is ice-cream, yes, HOWEVER it is not cheese flavored or made out of cheese but is called cheese because it is the same yellow as cheddar would be. It was really good, I liked it. We also saw the 3 volcanos of Arequipa and went to many many places that were perfect panaromic shots with my phone. We also went to the Plaza de Armas and I and a couple of my friends went inside the cathedral and it was absolutely BEAUUUUUTIFUL. I loved it. I love Arequipa a lot. It's the 2nd largest city in Peru, behind Lima of course, but yet it's so tranquil and beautiful.
October 18th was a kind of free day, kind of not. We departed for Puno during the second half.
October 19th was, for the most part, completely spent on a boat. I didn't mind it at all because the water was so blue and so clear and there were islands all around and we stopped at some really cool places. We stopped at the islands of the Uros were these people literally live on floating beds of straw. It takes about 1.5 year to make and they're so sturdy! With about 90 people on this little strawbed I thought we were going to sink but the bed didn't even budge! We traveled to the island of Amantani to stay the night with the locals and see a different culture and lifestyle. We also had a party and got to wear native clothing. However, that night, in my host house at least, we were served a LOT of potatoes and I could almost have cried if I had to eat one more. I still taste the potato soup I had 4 times that day. However, the locals are so nice and so welcoming and just so hospitable and it made the potato soup completely disappear from my minds except at meal times, hahah. Also, I climbed a mountain which was amazing and I felt so athletic doing it. I also got to experience my first actual rain storm while being here in Peru. It was hard, pounding rain with thunder and lightening and it was just so perfect and reminded me of the rain at home. Is it weird that I actually miss ACTUAL rain? Who knew!
October 20th was the day we got to see more of Lake Titicaca. We travelled on a boat some more and went and visited Taquile and climbed that (we hiked a lot but I felt good after words) and walked around the circumference of the island to go to our restaurant for lunch. We then left the island and travelled for the rest of the day on the boat. The sun is so vicious at the lake but I tanned so well and was SO DARK only to have it peel off within the next 2 days (insert sad face here).
October 21st was just the day for travelling and it was pretty uneventful but relaxing after having done so much. We stopped some along the way, like we went to La Raya which is the highest point of the whole trip and Raqchi which is the temple of Wiracocha. It was the most important structure of the archealogical site where we were at.
On October 22nd, the rest of the group went to Maras, Moray, Chinceros and did a city tour of Cusco. I had to stay back into the hotel because I had some minor food poisoning from the night before. I caught up on my rest and was all ready to go the next day. I did some shopping in the later afternoon but we were kind of restricted on where we could go because there was a protest going on in Cusco during the time we were there and we had to be safe and stay out of trouble. However, Cusco is a gorgeous city and there were SO many tourists. I felt at home, in a weird way. I don't really see that many tourists when I am in Lima, so it was nice to see more Americans or Europeans.
On October 23rd, we did some quick stops on our way to the train station to go to Machu Picchu.We went to Mirador taray, Pisac pueblo, and Ollantaytambo which are some sacred places of the Incas. We got to the station around 3:30 and we didn't end up leaving the station until about 9 or 10 because our train was late by 6 hours or as I like to call it, the train was running on Peruvian time. I got attached to a stray dog we met and so that reminded me of home, too. I miss my little puppy back in the States. We got to Aguas Calientes (which is the town below Machu Picchu- you have to go there if you want to go to Machu Picchu) around 12:30 or 1 in the morning and proceeded to get dinner? While eating dinner, we saw a guy die from a fall and he was covered in blood. Some of these things I can never forget because they are just so bizzare.
October 24th was the last real day of the trip and we went to Machu Picchu and I was so surprised not to mention so appreciative of the support from my family back home to be able to experience this trip and especially Machu Picchu. Also to Rotary. I am always so grateful to Rotary.
October 25th was the day we travelled back to our respective cities and ended the trip. It was an amazing time and I am so excited for the next trip.
I was happy to go back to school. I hadn't gone to school the entire month of October because of my trip to Huaraz from the 1st to 4th, the bed rest after, then school break, then the trip and my first day of school for the month was the 27th. I didn't miss much, according to my friends.
October 29th, I went to Parque de Las Leyendas which is a zoo here in Lima. I went with 6 of the other exchange students exchange students in my school. They took us for Spanish class and while we didn't really learn anything there, it was still a fun day.
October 30th was the procession for Señor de los Milagros at my school. We are the only school in Lima that does a procession for the occasion. We started at around 8-8:30 in the morning and the procession was 12 hours long. You could drop out at any time and I think I did around 12:00 because I was starving and I went to eat. After that, I didn't rejoin the procession but went to the art classroom and painted for the rest of the day. I did some masterpieces so I am pretty happy.
October 31st was Halloween and nothing really special happened aside from the fact that we took my host grandma out to "trick or treat" but instead of her getting candy, she was giving candy out to the children she met. It was a really new experience. ALSO, at least here in Lima, the kids and families go trick or treating in the malls because unfortunately, it's not safe to go door to door and get candy from each house. The stores give out candy and probably get business at the same time so it's a win-win.
November 1st there was a lunch at Henry's house and the majority of San Borja Sur was there to get together and have fun and eat some food.
November 12th and 13th I volunteered with the organization "So the world can hear" which is an organization that provides people in need of hearing aids, with hearing aids. It's a really humbling experience to have been with this organization because some of these people are hearing for the first time or a lot better than normal and the reaction that you get out of them is just priceless and is full of such appreciation and love. The thing is though, that I lot of the specialists that work for the organization, don't speak Spanish and they were here in Peru currently (as they travel around the world the whole year) and they needed translators. I was a translator for a fabulous partner and we had so much in common that it made what I was doing fun. They'll be here until around 6:00 on the 14th and then they leave to go home and then to the Philippines. Then I think after that they go to India and then to Vietnam. I would be so honored to work for a company such as this one. You get to travel around the world to help people, like really, who wouldn't want to do that?
Today, as a sit here writing to you, I am overcome with the world's mourning because of the attacks in Paris last night. What these terrorist groups have come to is plaguing the rest of the world with the misery and moving our world towards destruction and not towards love and peace. However, what happened in Paris last night gave a small glimpse of the same pain the refugees are going through everyday as they choose to leave everything they have known behind and move on for the chance to live a better and prosperous life. To all the countries who have shut their borders or who are looking to shut their borders, do you see now that you can't turn your backs on the rest of the world just yet? This world isn't going to work without some unity between mankind and you shutting your doors on the people who need help the most is another blow to an already beaten life.
Honestly, what is this world coming to? Whatever it is, I don't like it.
That being said, to whoever is in Paris and is in danger right now, I'll be continuing to pray for you and your well-being. Be smart about your decisions within the next few days and don't react without some common sense. The world is with you during this rough time and you have our support.
To another month full of adventure, new experiences, and love....