Posts from the ‘Peru’ Category
They say that the grass is always greener on the other side, but almost any Cuscenean would strongly disagree with this statement, especially if they are talking about Arequipa, a city about 7 hours south of Cusco. I secretly suspect that my host mother offered to accompany me to Arequipa just to show the opposite — the grass can never be greener than it is in Cusco.
Before you study abroad, you can talk about cultural differences. You can read up on the symptoms and consequences of culture shock. You can try to be emotionally prepared, but there is no way to avoid experiencing the startling disparities between the way of life you are accustomed to and your new surroundings while studying abroad.
If you ever become so lucky as to visit the “Belly Button of the World,” that’s what the Quechua name of Cusco translates into, you are guaranteed to be constantly surrounded by the magical beauty of this ancient place. Although the wonders await you on every corner of its old streets, make sure to pay homage and fully enjoy the most important pieces of Cusco that make it the unforgettable and unique place.
Although the unemployment rate is pretty high in the city of Lima, that doesn’t affect the cats working at the Kennedy Park in Lima, also often referred to as the “cats park.”
Our last overnight ISA excursion was to Iquitos in the Loreto region of, Peru: home to the Amazon Rainforest. Iquitos is famous for being the largest city in the world that is not accessible by road. The whole weekend was out of a storybook, but the highlight of the trip had to be swimming in the Amazon with the pink dolphins and fishing for piranhas. Read more
On this day we hiked down the Colca Canyon in the morning which took us about 3 hours to get to the basin where an oasis-like place lingered. I knew the hike back up was going to be difficult. The path had an elevated, zig-zag, loose soil, rocky texture. I left the oasis around 4:15pm when there was still sunlight. As I looked up at the canyon that I was about to climb I could see that the shadow made by sunset was beginning to rise and eat up the canyon. My marvelous plan: Walk up that canyon at a pace where I was always at the border between sunlight and shadow. This way the sun would illuminate my path upward but I had the shadow to keep me cool at times. The climate in the Andes highlands is made of dry air that blankets brown mountains, pastel trees and plants all spotted in everlasting rocks. It is not the tropical rainforest with coconut trees you find on cellphone wallpapers. It is land where the apus (mountains) demand their presence known and are not apologetic about it. They don’t make hikes easy. They may have never been made for go-hard hikers. They stand in dry weather and wear endless rocks: big, small, loose, bulky, dusty, wet. Even though you can’t miss them in sight, they are quiet. The hike I was about to take up a canyon of 13,650 ft (4,160 m) deep (twice the height of the US Grand Canyon) was not going to be an adventurous walk with lots of adrenaline rush. It was just gonna suck. I was the last one to head out in the group, I had a big backpack and at least one liter of water on me. My biggest fear was getting stuck at night alone with just a small flashlight and empty quiet canyons surrounding my every direction.
The whole month of October Peruvians celebrate “Señor de los Milagros” or in English, Lord of Miracles. It is a religious and cultural celebration like nothing I had ever seen before. In 1746 there was a devastating earthquake in Lima that destroyed the city, and the only thing left standing was a painted mural of Jesus Christ. Sometime after this marvelous occurrence they decreed the month of October a time to commemorate Jesus and all of his miracles. Peruvians participate in the festivities by wearing purple, eating scrumptious turron de Doña Pepa (traditional honey sweets), and most importantly with giant processions down streets.
Hola amigos! I have been living with a host family in bustling Lima, Peru for a little over a month now. Lima is unlike anything I had ever experienced and drastically different from my life in the States. Lima packs in approximately 8 million residents into 43 districts. I think of Lima as the Peruvian version of NYC, including all the taxis, traffic and honking to boot. I’m still adjusting to new lifestyle and the cultural differences, but I am starting to fall in love with Lima. Read more
My flight back to the U.S. went smoothly, although it was the longest single period of time for which I have ever traveled. The first thing I noticed when I got back was the heat – I spent almost all my time in Cusco wearing at least a light jacket, and came home to find Kansas in the middle of a 95 and above heat wave. I was also surprised by the public restrooms, where the toilets actually have seats – until I remembered that that is commonplace here. The biggest adjustment has been the fact that I can use water from the tap here. Numerous times I have started to brush my teeth with water from my bottle, or panicked to find myself brushing with water from the sink, only to remember that that’s ok here. In Peru, we always drank water that had been boiled, and on trips it was a constant concern as to where we would buy bottled water and how expensive it would be – and after coming down with a pretty nasty stomach bug for three days, I learned just how important those measures were.
This has all contributed to help me realize just how luxuriously many of us live here in the U.S. – climate controlled buildings, multiple vehicles per family, lights and electronics in every room of the house, etc. And these are just the extras – every day we take for granted clean drinking water from the tap, bathrooms with warm showers, and toilets that flush (and have seats). We also take for granted just how much electricity we use, and how much we waste. My host family in Peru was quite well off, but electricity there is expensive – and though she never asked us to be more conservative, I could tell that my host mother was (for example, when we would come back from trips I would find that there were fewer lights on and the internet was unplugged). Here at home I find myself shutting off the radio and lights that have been left on, and turning up the thermostat when I feel the AC doesn’t need to be on – and my family is not particularly wasteful, by American standards.
My goal for my future career in mechanical engineering is to improve the world through design of sustainable forms of energy production. Peru and much of South America do not have the same addiction to coal and oil that we do here in the U.S., nor do they have the same geographical ability to provide infrastructure for these commodities (large scale power transmission would not be as easy to implement across the Andes mountains as it has been through much of the U.S.). The need for clean water and improved medical facilities is huge in rural parts of South America, and I hope that someday my career involves work that contributes to establishing the sustainable power production necessary to provide these things. If nothing else it would be a way to give back to this amazing country and continent, which have provided me with a truly incredible experience.
In the slide show you will find pictures of a few highlights of my stay. Thanks to ISA for providing such an awesome program, and giving me the opportunity to share my experience with all of you!