Monday, July 8, 2013

Bienvenidos a Colombia

Final exams are over and less than two weeks of our time in South America remain, so my roommate Tyra and I decided to accomplish one of our last goals of studying abroad: exploring a country outside of Peru!  We are in Colombia!

Colombia is sunny year-round, with a very strong Caribbean influence. The warm temperatures and sunshine are incredibly refreshing, since our last few month of Lima have been more cold than warm. We arrived into Cartagena yesterday, spent the afternoon at the beach, then journeyed to Taganga. In Taganga, we had dinner with our two French friends before they go on a four-day hike to the famous "Ciudad Perdida." The next 6 days are loosely planed; but, we prefer to live spontaneously, so plans are only tentative. The ocean is just moments away from our hostal, so the opportunity for outdoor adventures is virtually endless. 

Colombia is vastly different from Peru, so I look forward to seeing more of this culture!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Oxapampa Adventures!

I explored the sunny, German-influenced city of Oxapampa this past weekend during the music and arts festival Selvamonos. The long, 15-hour bus ride from Lima to Oxapampa was worth every minute, as we were greeted with a vibrant and warm scenery that greatly contrasted Lima's wintery weather. Our campsite was surrounded by vast mountains and vivid blue skies. Between listening to music and meeting people from around the world, we also looked at the hand-crafted goods of numerous vendors. These people proudly showcased their work. On Saturday, we hiked to a waterfall and waded in the refreshingly cold water. Seeing and hearing the rich Peruvian culture (as well as being able to explore outside of Lima after several months without traveling) was invigorating!

 Being abroad is almost surreal at times. From a very young age, I would read books about people who traveled far from their homes for one reason or another. Before I went to bed each night, Daddy would also read to me these books, my favorite being about Olympian Eric Liddell who traveled and served in China. While hearing and reading about foreign adventures was so common, I never dreamed that my own life would be filled with opportunities to see, explore, and serve in other countries. Until I traveled to Costa Rica during my senior year of high school for a week of service, I never imagined myself actually boarding a flight to another country. While I was very reluctant to commit to my first trip abroad, it ignited an unsuspected passion for these beautiful countries and their inspiring people. From these people, much is to learn.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Beginning of the End

Between farewell dinners, final exams, volunteering, and traveling, every one of my 25 remaining days in Peru is planned. While the thought of being reunited with my family and friends in America is elating, the though of departing from my Peruvian life is overwhelming. So many wonderful, diverse people have been placed in my life: every child at Hearts in Action, the Europeans in my Spanish class, the Peruvians who initially embraced my arrival and showed me around Lima... The list could continue.

My friends from around the world have imparted me with words of wisdom about embracing my remaining time in Peru. Upon my mentioning that I was almost sad by how my days in Peru are numbered, my Peruvian friend Natalia told me,"Enjoy every minute, every second, don't lose your time feeling sad! If you feel sad just remember [the good times that we've had]." While I have only ever socialized with Natalia twice, she always wants to be sure that I am enjoying myself and my adventures in Peru. Similarly, my good friend Sydney, who studied abroad in Italy this past spring reminded me, "Wherever you go, that is exactly where you are meant to be. Be happy you're there. Be happy to go home. Everything that happens to you is good." I keep these thoughts in mind daily!

My final day teaching English at Corazones en Acción was filled with a few tears as the children presented me with a cards and sang a song before I left. Always and forever this young ones will have a special place in my heart!

Traveling and seeing the diverse regions of Lima is exhilarating...and only more captivating as the time passes! This weekend, I am going to Oxapampa for a weekend music and arts festival with Tyra and some other American, Peruvian, and Europeans friends.We will return to face our final exams and projects before we leave for a week in Cartagena.
Mariah, Valeria, and I model scarfs boasting the famous swirly Peru logo! I purchased one of these scarves!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

34 Days Remain

Approaching the end of my time in Peru is the most bittersweet experience of my life. Yes, 34 days still stand between me and a return flight to America; but, planning my final few weeks in Peru (which include finals, traveling, and showing my family the sites of Lima) has made me nostalgic of the experiences that have made my time in Peru so wonderful.

Occasionally throughout the last few months, I could get distracted from the sheer excitement of living in another country as I balanced school obligations and staying healthy with my daily routine.

Now, knowing just what little time I have remaining in Peru has opened again my eyes to the beauty of a culture that has captivated my heart. I notice the sunlight beaming onto the foggy mountains, the abundant piles of fresh fruit at countless "tiendas," and the innocent child sleeping on his mother's lap during a bumpy bus ride. I smile at the security guards at the front of every store and embrace the opportunity to practice Spanish as I order tequenos at my favorite tiny restaurant.

I am more appreciative of these unique cultural details now more than ever. An experience like this is only more precious because of its temporary nature (though its impact is everlasting).  I know that when it is 12:15 a.m. on July 21, I will leave Peru with no regrets, treasured memories, and an eternal gratefulness for this opportunity.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Posing with a statue of a traditional Inca girl at Parque de las Leyendas!

My adventures in Lima are endless! Take a look at everything that's happening!

Just posing with a half-eaten ice-cream cone and a giraffe!

Having fun with my fellow Ohioan Mariah and Valeria!

A busy parade in Central Lima on a national holiday similar to Labor Day!

My roommates Tyra, Jenna, and I enjoy the view from San Cristobal!

A bird's eye view of San Borja, my neighborhood!
Naptime at Parque de las Leyendas!

39 More Days in Peru

As Ohioans bask in the summer sun, those of us in the southern hemisphere shiver in the winter cold. Indeed, soups are becoming the more popular dinner choice and extra blankets now layer my bed. While winter temperatures in Peru do not compare to ice and snow of some Ohio winters, the sunless mornings and chilly walks to the bus stop are a stark contrast to the first few hot summer months I spent in Peru. Receiving a few puzzled glances as I walk around Lima is not uncommon, as I only wear a light cardigan and scarf on most days. Peruvians bundle in their jackets and pea coats and hats for this weather!

One of my favorite experiences in South America is gathering to watch the World Cup-qualifying soccer game. Seeing the candid, expressive reactions of Peruvians throughout the game is priceless. Last Friday, Peru scored a goal within the first few minutes of its game against Ecuador. The team held the lead for a 1-0 victory...much to the delight of every single person in Peru. Unfortunately, Peru lost to Columbia the following Tuesday.

I am also thrilled to spend time with Hearts in Action, teaching English to a group of 5 to 8 students. Lesson topics have covered everything from basic verbs and vegetables to body parts and beginner phrases. I learn a lot about Spanish throughout this teaching process, and each of the children in my class have become special to me.

Time continues at an unbelievably rapid pace. When did the month become June? My goal during my remaining days in Peru is to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself, whether it is spending a few hours in Central Lima at an art exposition or returning to the jungle for a two-day music festival. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Enjoying Peru

With nearly half of my time in Peru completed, being able to navigate through the different areas of Lima, communicate with familiar shopkeepers, and explore new places is easier. I have adjusted to life in Latin America and am familiar with my day-to-day routine.

One of my recent adventures included a visit to the Parque de las Leyendas--a zoo--with my American friends Valeria and Mariah! Entering the zoo only cost ten soles, or less than $5. A favorite exhibit reminded me of my Ohio home: the white-tailed deer! We also saw panthers, giraffes, and bears.

My Peruvian family and I recently went shopping together. Unfortunately, while some things in Lima can be cheap, clothing and shoes are quite expensive, so I did not purchase any new "ropa." However, I did find DVDs for about $2.

We eat an abundance of delicious food in my home, including soups, breads, and vegetable dishes. Carmela recently made a cake and when we inquired about the recipe, she laughed and said that she just throws ingredients in a bowl and hope that it turns out sweet enough.