Thursday, December 30, 2010

Fireworks, lasagna and a definite lack of snow!

"chingo glay, chingo glay" This is the catch prase of my awesome four year old neice! What does it mean? Well, if you heard it you would recognize it because she is actually singing Jingle Bells. As I commented once before, we have an abundance of cheesy american Christmas decorations and many of them sing in their tinny-electronic voices (in english). One of the favorites of my neice is a Santa Clause that sings Jingle Bells so she has learned the song pretty well. Sometimes we randomly burst out singing and dancing together and since it is the holiday season Jingle Bells has been a regular. :)

Anyway, there are tons of exciting holiday adventures to describe but I think I'll try to explain chronologically. Starting with Christmas. All month has been relatively festive with the lights and decorations and presents to buy and cards to write. But the intensive Christmas bustle started on the 23. All of the businesses give their employees a basket full of Christmas type food and a ticket for a turkey. Soooo I acompanied my parents to the special turkey pick up store and to buy last minute presents. The stores were CRAZY! People, people everywhere... and the traffic even worse! On the way home we were sitting about 8 blocks from the house without hope of moving so my neice and I got out of the car to go by foot. Adri is my little mini-me and likes to be called Chelan-cita and run :) So we made it home a good 10 or 15 minutes before the others. Yay for alternative transportation. haha Anyway, that night and a good part of the 24th we spent in the kitchen. Lasagna, roast beef, turkey, salads, pies, fudge, fruitcake, hot chocolate and more... The Christmas dinner can beat out Thanksgiving any day! And everything is made the long way too. For example, there is no canned spaghetti sauce in lasagna; we chop the tomatoes and garlic and onion and carrots and cook it all the day before. And we make the white alfredo sauce too. And THEN we alternate the two sauces with three types of cheese and noodles. I'm telling you, its a PROCESS! But it was fun to spend all the time cooking with my mom and everything turned out DELICIOUS!

So the 24th we finished up the kitchen and I helped wrap all the presents from my brother, sister and mom. Then around 6 we had kind of an early celebration with the three little ones. We took a billion pictures wrestling around in front of the Christmas tree and played with them until 8:30 or so. The sad thing is that all three of my neices and nephews had to go to their OTHER grandparents houses for the Christmas dinner. So I went with my brother and mom to drop off the twins and then we stopped by the store for last minute snacks and pop and icecream. Obviously we didn't have enough food already... jajajaja It was just five of us for the official dinner and with a family as huge as ours it felt a little bit lonely. So to make up for the lack of little kids or crazy cousins we went and bought fireworks! :) I was the baby for the evening and got to provide the entertainment swirling my sparklers and setting off the big bangs. haha it was my first experience with fireworks at Christmas and I must say it is a great addition! We had to wait until midnight to start the celebrations so we entertained ourselfs skyping with Alejandra in Canada, setting off a few early fireworks, and thinking about how hungry we were. Finally the clock struck 12 and we rushed out to the street to set off MORE fireworks and give everyone big hugs and shout feliz navidad. And it's hugs for everyone too. Family and random neighbors alike :) When we went back inside we opened all the presents and then moved on to dinner. I don't know if it was just because we were dying from hunger but the present opening went by really fast. Rip rip, "thankyou", hug, next. I'm a fan of the fast opening process because in my opinion the presents really aren't that important... and I wanted food :) But my family did really appreciate the cards that I wrote. I guess heartfelt cards aren't quite as common over here. When we finished the comercial aspect of Christmas we got to start the eatting aspect. mmmmm yum yum yum It was a bit comical how much food we had for just 5 people and when we finished you couldn't even tell that we had eatten. But believe me, I was STUFFED! So stuffed that I couldn't sleep and stayed up until 4 reading runners world. Tired but happy :)

Christmas morning Adri woke me up at 10 to open more presents. We repeated the whole process with the three little ones because they only opened half the night before. It was equally fast on the rip-rip scale but they were so overloaded with plastic junk that it took a while to get through the mountain of presents. Sorry, I don't mean to disgusted but 8 presents for each of the 2 year old twins JUST from their dad seems to be a bit much. Yeah, the rest of Christmas day was a blur of family. I spent a good three hours skyping with lovely Wenatchee folks and all the various aunts and uncles from Peru stopped by the house to visit too. It was literally an all day train of visitors with the last family coming around 12 and leaving at 2:30 am. Luckily they are my favorites and came with their six kids so we had lots of fun eatting and talking... So much fun that they came back the next day for almuerzo and then I spent the next night at their house. We played volleyball in the street, watched random youtube videos, sang songs with their guitar and stayed up talking until seven in the morning... Cousinssssssss :)

Next up on the list is NEW YEARS!!! It's 2011 and I can hardly believe it. 2010 was jam packed full of fun stuff and I can't quite decide if it passed really fast or really slowly. All I know is that I am going to seriously miss all of the wonderful friends and places and experiences from the past 365 days... Senior year of highschool, graduation, Peru and everything inbetween. Thank you to everyone who made it so special :) I hope that every January for the rest of my life I can feel this way... a little sad to say goodbye to the old year but looking forward with a smile at everything the new year is going to bring.

I'm going to explain my entire New Years weekend because it was super fun :) The 31st was my host dad's birthday so on the 30th we stayed up until 12 to wish him a happy birthday. The general tradition is that you sing happy birthday and eat cake at midnight but we did a little change up. We bought potatochips and pop and I made crepes instead. Extra special crepes with the recipe from my exchange friend from France ;) Neither of my sisters was going to celebrate- one at the beach and the other sleeping with my little neice- so we invited my uncles family to come celebrate instead. They showed up just before 12 and waited in the dark in the dining room to surprise my dad. And it worked!!! We ended up eatting and talking until 4 in the morning with all the cousins. We always play charades or other random games and laugh a TON! So at 4:30 I went to bed slightly exhausted and got up again the next morning to make a big breakfast for my dad. We went to the market and bought fresh cheese and tamales and bread and cooked lomo saltado. It's basically a stirfry of tomato, onion and steak with lots of really yummy spices... mmmmmmmmmm After stuffing myself to bursting with all the good food I decided that I should probably rest up to have energy for New Years Eve. So I went upstairs and took my very first siesta in Peru. I slept from 12 till 4:30!!! Woooooooooh! I got up to go for a run, eat birthday cake and at about seven I left for my friends house. From her house we got dressed for the evening and then went to her aunts house for dinner. The plan was to spend the evening with her aunts and uncles and cousins and then go to a "party" around 1. Obviously timing is a little different over here. Anyway, for all of you who know that I wear running shorts and a t-shirt whenever possible you will probably be slightly horrorized to hear that I wore a mini skirt. LOCO. jaja So we ate yet another big turkey dinner and at midnight went running out to the street to watch the fireworks. I thought Christmas was a ton of fireworks but it is NOTHING compared with New Years... All you can hear is boom, bang, crack and in every direction you see flames! There are lots of supersticious traditions for the New Year and one of them is quemando munecas. Basically think burning scarecrows stuffed full of paper and fireworks. 7 out of 10 houses on the block had a New Years doll blazing away in front of the house. The idea is that you burn everything from 2010 in order to make way from the new year. Some of the other traditions are to wear yellow underwear (yes I bought a pair), eat 12 grapes while sitting under the table (one for every month), throw 12 coins over your shoulder into the street (to make lots of money), take a bath with flower water (to have a sucessful love life), run around the block carrying a suitcase (to travel a lot), and I don't remember what else.

With my friend Valeria and her three cousins we went to our New Years party. Her parents dropped us off around 1:30 but we didn't start dancing until 3. So once again we were up late late late and got back to her house at 8 am after a quick stop to eat hamburgers :) The party was fun but there were a few too many drunk boys wanting to dance and speak English for my liking. Luckily Valerias cousin was our savior and would come ask us to dance if we gave him the look. hahahaha The next two days we spent at the beach playing volleyball, making sand castles, and of course swimming in the ocean. I put sunscreen on about 500 times and am quite proud of the fact that I didn't get burned... :) Valeria's family is kind of like my adopted host family and I am getting to know all of her cousins and aunts and uncles so that is fun too.

Basically to sum everything up I will say that the holiday season was great. Lots of staying up late, eatting big meals, having adventures with host cousins, and setting off fireworks. I really missed you guys and the snow and standard Christmas cookies but it's been fun to experience Peru!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

...aji is a miracle food!

My title really has nothing to do with the general theme of this post but I had to put SOMETHING. And it's true that I love aji. That red hot flavor goes with everything and is absolutely delicious! If the food is good it accents the flavor and makes it even better, if the food is bad it's a fixall solution. Ahhhhhhh how I am going to miss you my dear aji!!! It's a bright red sauce made from special rocoto pepers called aji verde. Rather ironic I know... still haven't figured out who in their right mind would name a red peper "aji verde." But it doesn't matter because I love it!

Anyway, here's the news from my last three weeks...

I am officially a high school graduate! (for the second time :)) I think I am probably one of the only people in the world who can say they have graduated two time in six monthes. Once in the US and once in Peru. Once in Spanish and once in English. Once in the lovely purple gowns of WHS and once in the all white garmets of Santa Rosa de Lima. I literally felt like an angel with my white cap, gown and of course glaringly pale skin. haha The entire process was surprisingly familiar despite the fact that it is a private, catholic school in South America. We all lined up and marched into the auditorium with the traditional graduation music. Of course I was in the very back of the line because, well it was by height. When we got to our seats we remained standing for the national anthem and the school song in Spanish and then AGAIN for the english version. I can tell you that when we finally sat everyone was quite happy to rest their feet. I don't know if its a passing fad or a cultural thing to make up for the lack of height, but everyone down here wears HIGHheels! The rest of the ceremony was fairly standard with a student speaker, words from the principal, presentation of the diploma, passing of the little ball on the cap and of course tons and tons of photos. The student speaker did a great job combining funny comments with nostalgic memories with words of wisdom. This graduation means a LOT to my classmates and just about everyone was crying by the end of his speech. There is a deep connection and a lot of memories when you are together for 11 years... Which is why I feel so special to be included in the Promo of 49- San Juan de Macias. They made me feel part of the group from the very beginning and I will always appreciate that. For example, the principal wasn't originally going to let me graduate but my friends and teachers convinced her that I deserved to wear the robe and walk side by side with my classmates. And, when we put the plack on the wall with the 75 names of the promo, my name was included!!! Now my name will remain forever inscribed on the walls of Santa Rosa de Lima. I can come back in 20 years and show everyone that I really did go to school for a year in Peru :)

I think I mentioned before that I have been taking a native dance class for the past 10 weeks with a friend from school. Every Tuesday we would go to the center of Lima to dance for three hours and learn two tipical dances- Caporales and Diablada. The studio where we were learning is called Brisas de Titicaca and is actually a fairly prestigious school of dance here in Lima. Anyway, last Saturday was the final presentation. It was a HUGE event where they sold entrance tickets and served food and we were the cultural entertainment- a demonstration of 20 typical dances with live music and colorful costumes. We danced in front of an audiance of 500 and I must say it was rather nerve racking! They put a new floor in two days prior and despite our best attempts to gain traction by pouring Cocacola on the bottom of our shoes it was a bit of a disaster. One lady even fell during the first dance it was so slippery... But overall in was a very fun experience :) I got to put on two incredibly elaborate costumes and paint my face with about 500 pounds of make up. This alone was quite the experience. If it weren't for all the help from my new friends I would never have been ready on time. In Caporales we wore three different skirts, two blouses, long fake braids wound in with yellow ribbons, little hats and lace up high heels. YIKES! The hardest part was definitely dancing in heels but getting those braids securely attached was a close second. And in Diablada my costum was even more complicated if you can imagine. There is a fight scene between the devil and the angel and this time I literally got to dress like an angel. :) I had a huge head piece, wings, a spade and armor. Plus the high heels again. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Another new experience was Prom in Peru. Yes it's a big deal in the US but it is NOTHING like prom over here. There is only one dance in highschool over here, and that is Prom. To start with we arrived in limo. A group of 14 of us all met up in one friend's house and we arrived at the hotel Melia with style. Now the limo turned out to be a bit of a ripoff but that doesn't matter, we still went in limo. I can say that my first (and probably last) experience in a limo was riding through the streets of Lima Peru. :) The main problem with the limousine is that the company told us it seated 16 when it was really a limo for 10. Oooops! We were packed in there like sardines in a can with two kids sitting practically in the bar and one across the laps of the others. jajajaja And they didn't pull out the red carpet or serve champain like advertised. But it doesn't really matter because we still had a ton of fun sticking out heads out the sun roof, blasting music, and stopping in all the gorgeous parts of Lima to snap photos. When we arrived at the hotel we got to make the big entrance with more pictures, music, bright lights and an anouncer naming each couple. There was even a bubble and fog machine for effect :) It was held in one of the super fancy ballrooms where you find 15 utencils on either side of your plate and have no idea what to use first... Anyway, we spent the next 8 hours eatting super delicious food, drinking pisco sour (not me), and dancing dancing dancing. That is one of the best things about peruvian parties is that EVERYONE dances! And legit dancing too. Salsa and cumbia and of course the popular american music as well... One of my friends is excellent salsa dancer and I was able to follow his lead and actually dance!!! :) Yayyyyyy I must say I was quite proud! jaja We finally left at about 5:30 in the morning and my friend and I slept until 2 the next afternoon! Woooooooow!

It's officially the first day of summer today. And boy can I can feel it! The sun is out with super strength and on my run home today I almost died. (not really... but I was very, very sweaty. jaja) I can already hear the beach calling my name and now that it's summer vacation I am ready to hit the water. As I sit here in shorts and a tanktop, I can see the advantages to Christmas in the summer... :)

Which reminds me, MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! I wish you all the best and hope you have a fabulous 25th with lots of friends and family and good food. I'll be thinking of everyone back home and just imagine I'm giving you a big huge peruvian hug! :)

Lots of love from South America,


PS. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the lovely care package from home! I have already started making my way through the GIANT bag of chocolatechips (yep, Costco sized :)) I spent all day yesterday in the kitchen baking and took cookies to my friends at school. A little bit of US holiday spirit and a new experience for them!

PPS. I had a lovely visit from some Wenatchee folks (the Dappen family and Vicki Monreal) the other day and got to play tour guide :) It was great to see those familiar faces again and speak english for two days and best of all I didn't feel like a giant anymore. Yayyyyyyy! Thank you guys for a GREAT visit! :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


As I'm sure all of you guys know, Thanksgiving was last Thursday. The day when everyone goes to grandma's house to eat turkey and pumpkin pie and watch football. It is something that happens every year without question. We see the gorgeous leaves scattering the ground and lots of rustic decorations and know its time to give thanks. The thing is, it's an AMERICAN holiday and im not in america!!! For the first time in my life there was no fourday weekend or cornstalk decorations. Instead I got to initiate, explain and prepare Thanksgiving. I have to admit I was a bit nervous about cooking the turkey and slightly homesick for all the aunts and uncles and cousins but in the end it was an absolute success. I stayed home from school and spent the day in the kitchen. With the help of both my parents, my exchange friend Savannah, and Dina (my neice's nanny) we pulled off a delicious feast! We had the typical American thanksgiving with turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, and apple pie but then we added a Peruvian twist. We also had asado, lemon pie, rice and pallares. Mmmmmmmm mmmmmm good! We didn't end up eatting until 9:30 or 10 because everyone gets off work late but it was fabulous. :) There were 22 of us all crowded round the table eatting and laughing and generally feeling the good vibes. Savannah and I made awesome turkey decorations and explained the history of Thanksgiving. And then we went in a circle and each person said something they were thankful for. To tell you the truth I think I appreciated the significance of the holiday a whole lot more over here than I ever did in the states.

So, both of my past two weekends I got to spend camping – two very different experience but each one fun in a different way. The first weekend was a Rotary service project called handicamp. I went with my couselor to a colegio in the middle of Lima without knowing exactly what to expect. We showed up at 10 and found various groups of youth sitting with their piles of sleeping bags and backpacks. We went to say hi and talk with each group and everyone was full of positive energy. You see, this was a very special group of 60 people. They had Downs Syndrome or were mentally retarded but they were also some of the most enthusiastic, genuinely happy people I have met. I was lucky enough to spend all of Saturday and Sunday dancing, eatting, doing art projects, and playing games with these new friends. The camp wasn't terribly well organized so I got to practice my leadership and spanish skills and lead a lot of the activities too. The great thing is that they all have the spirit of champions and loving playing sports. One boy had even gone to China for the special olympics! The whole weekend was incredibly rewarding and my favorite group of students even invited me to their school dance next week. :)

The second weekend was with my good friend Valeria in the outskirts of Lima. We went to a "club" called Kankay and camped with about 20 of her extended family. When I say "club" I am refering to something more or less like a state park in the US. It has a restaurant, BBQ's, picnic tables, climbing toys, a pool, horses, four wheelers and lots of green grass and trees. Since Lima is both a extremely dry desert and a huge city going to clubs is the only opportunity to find greeness. Anyway, Valeria's family is fabulous and treats me just like their own exchange student. We played with all the cousins and ate tons of yummy food and stayed up until 4 in the morning talking and laughing by the fire. At night it was rather chilly and I had to put my sweatpants over my jeans but during the day the sun was FUERTISIMO! I managed to burn my scalp and currently have a lovely red line running down the top of my head. I’m not sure if it was all the time in the swimming pool or playing volleyball but it definitely taught me my lesson. I have to say I am a little bit scared for my poor skin this summer. I think I’ll turn out like an overcooked tomato!

Friday, November 19, 2010

La Vida

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh how wonderful is the life of an exchangee! I can feel spring rolling around and the sun is out more and more often. I'm not sure exactly why but the last week was ESPECIALLY great. There was nothing super huge but all the little things just added up to make me happy. A perfect balance of time with friends and family, in the house and on the street, busy but not stressed. Here's a general overview of the week.

Saturday- I went to "apostulado" which is basically community service hours for my school. It may not sound all that exciting but I REALLY enjoyed it! We rode in bus to a very poor elementry school and spent three hours helping teach the kids. I was assigned three 10 year old boys all of whom were rather easily distracted. Luckily I am a foreigner and have stories to tell about the US. With this and oragami as bribes they were pretty well behaved... We spent half the time working on math and the other half was communication. What irony that I of all people was teaching grammar in Spanish... haha but it worked out and I had fun. I got to play with them during recess and buy them little treats from the store and be a generally good role model :) In the evening we had a fiesta for my uncle's birthday with tons and tons of family. All of the sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and cousins. It was the typical Peruvian party where everyone sits outside eatting BBQ, listening to music, and generally having a good time. We got there around 7 and stayed until 1 or 2 in the morning laughing and playing charades.

Sunday- We had a big fundraiser lunch for Rotaract and each person brought a typical dish from their country. ALL of the food was fabulous and it was buffet so I got to try different dishes from Belgium, France, Switzerland, Canada and of course lots of yummy things from the US and Peru. I brought a cesaer salad with homemade crutons and dressing and everything. mmmmmmmm Although in reality it was a very peruvian version of a cesaer salad. The biggest reason is that it took about 2 hours to put together. jajaja We cooked bacon, toasted bread to make garlic crutons, chopped eggs, squeezed limes, and made the entire dressing from scratch. WOW! And after the almuerzo I came home and started cooking for an English project so my entire day was devoted to food. The assignment was to make a video explaining how to cook some type of food so I chose chocolatechip cookies. My sister and I spent about 4 hours in the kitchen filming, fighting technology and dying from laughter. You really don't know how hard it is to keep a straight face and remember the lines at the same time... !

Monday- my first bike ride in Lima! My dad and I went to get bread from an especially tasty panaderia. It was CRAZY! We were on the sidewalk dodging dogs and kids and people and random cracks in the cement...

Tuesday- Dance class in the center of lima!

Wednesday- I met up with one of my exchange friends and we went to explore the national library and Barranco ( an old district with LOTS of history)

Thursday- Two friends and I went to an art institute for a class in the evening. But first I ate lunch in my friends house and tried cows stumach...! It's uuuuh a little bit less that my favorite dish but not too bad. Its just the texture that is very, very chewy. Anyway, the class was an example of what you do if you chose to major in interior design. We basically got to play with cardboard and glue and paint and design a new "art room" for the university.

Friday- School talent show. Very intertaining!

A few random comments...

Christmas is cominggggggggggggggggg! All of the stores pulled out the christmas decorations and trees right after halloween. It's kind of crazy... without Thanksgiving the Christmas season goes all of November AND December. Two monthes of green and red and Papa Noel (yes, he's exactly the same as Santa Claus :) ) Our house has been decorated for over a week and right now I'm sitting listening to the electronic christmas carols blasting from the plastic tree in the other room. I must admit it is rather strange to see all of the decorations and cheesy Christmas stuff exactly the same as in Wenatchee. It may be the middle of summer but Papa Noel still goes to the mall in his red suit and they still drink hot chocolate!!! I just can't quite get the idea of Christmas and beach towels straight in my head but I'm sure it will sink in sometime soon. :)

We have a Camaro. It is pretty much the coolest car EVER! It just came out of the garage for the first that I have been here and I'm in looooooooooove! It is a 67 and it is gray and it is gorgeous. No questions asked, it is now my favorite way to travel in Lima. Besides running of course :)

There was a HUGE drama about the trip to Cuzco which I'm not going to get into but the final outcome is we are NOT going to Machu Picchu for Thanksgiving. We will probably end up going in May...

In every language there are certain words that go perfectly together. They express exactly what you want to say and are impossible to translate. I am continually running into things that I want to say in English or Spanish that just don't work. For example, the prase "I'm glad" does not cross and it happens to be something that I want to say about 5 times everyday. grrrrrrrrrrrr. And in Spanish the words "pasear, conocer, disfrutar, and saludar." These are four of my new favorite words because they express so perfectly the concepts that I could never quite describe before.

I finished my first legit novel in espanol this morning. It was 243 pages and I read it alllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll. Its a book that my class read earlier in the year and its pretty much a spin off of Twilight. Yeah, a little embarrasing to say my first book was a vampire love story but I'm still proud. And the vocabulary is easy enough that I can follow the plot but complex enough that I learn lots of new words. Yay!

My friend from France taught me how to make crepes yesterday. We figured out that two of the exchangees go to school really close to my house so we can meet up and have exciting adventures. The crepes were AMAZING and I ate tons and tons of them with chocolate and icecream and honey and sugar and fresh cheese and whatever else we found that seemed tasty. While making crepes we got to talk a lot and I am once again in awe of the super cool people from Europe. My friend speaks English, Spanish, French, and Arabic and has traveled to about a million and one different countries. So JEALOUS! Annnnnd they have trains that go 400+ km/h. Crazy huh?

There was a Black Eyes Peas concert in Lima the other day. I didn't go but I'm sure someone will be excited by the news that they came to Peru... :)

I was a little homesick for McGlinns so I made BEER BREAD with my family on Saturday!!!! Yummmmmmmmmmmmm :) It wasn't quite the same but with anticuchos (BBQ'ed cow heart) it was tasty as ever!

I went to see HARRY POTTERRRRRRRRRRRRRRR 77777777777777777. Yes, I am still a die-hard fan while living in another country... I even borrowed the 7th book (in spanish) from a friend so I could re-read. Unfortunately with all my good intentions, I haven't gotten around to actually reading it, but still. :) And the movie is fabulous and everyone should definitely definitely go see it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


Ok, so for Rotary we have to send a general report to our club every three monthes on how the exchange is going and general impressions of the country. I wrote my first "rotex roundup" last week and I figured I would share it with you guys. It may seem a little bit out of context but consider it an overview of everything you have read in my blog thus far.


Peru. This country opened its arms wide and wrapped me in a big huge bear-hug from the moment I arrived. My spirit has intertwined with the rich culture and loving people and now we are one. Stuck, unbreakable like the strength of my new pet turtle. (Honestly, I have a little friend that I brought back from the AMAZON!) Every aspect, from the weathered women in their traditional bright skirts to the honking taxi drivers and crowded buses is part of the attraction. From the street vendors selling Mazamora and Anticuchos to the pounding rain in the selva, Peru has truly captured my heart.
When I arrived I came with eyes wide and mind open, ready to soak up every new experience. The sights and sounds of Lima, the throbbing energy that you find in a city of 8 million are incredible. Everyday is an adventure and around each corner I find a surprise. Perhaps it is learning a jump-rope game from little girls in the street or biking to the panederia with my dad, but there is always something new, something that brings a smile to my lips and lights up my face. During the day I do my best to live every opportunity and at night I fall asleep smiling about what I have seen and heard and felt. The people. The music and dance. The nature. The art and history. The food. Yes the FOOD! Peruvians are ridiculously proud of their food and spend hours preparing, eating and talking about food. But, it deserves the attention because all of it, from the potatoes and rice to the fruits and deserts, is mouth-wateringly delicious!
I truly feel like the luckiest girl in the world because these months have been so full of smiles and laughter and exhilarating experiences. I have THE BEST host family I could possibly ask for and a fabulous group of friends at school. Everyone has reached out to welcome me into their lives and treats me like I have always been part of the family. I love my parents and sisters and never ending number of cousins and aunts and uncles. Together we talk about the differences between cultures and they have taught me to be Peruvian. I have learned to eat a huge almuerzo in the middle of the day and buy freshly baked bread for breakfast and dinner. I have learned to arrive 1 or 2 hours late to everything. I have even learned to mobilize myself with public transportation. (Yes I´m overly proud of that fact but hey, Lima is BIG!)
These months as an exchange student have been a time for learning on a deeper level as well. Not only am I learning about culture and language, but I am learning about life and myself as a person. I have new perspective. New eyes to see the world around me and more understanding about what is truly important. I can feel myself changing with every day that passes and it makes me happy. Immersed in an environment entirely different from the one I know, this is my chance to expand and grow and define myself as a person.
So, I would like to say THANKYOU to everyone who has helped me to get this far. Thank you for this opportunity to live out a dream. For helping me to find Peru. Now I am part of two families, two cultures, two different worlds but my love for you guys has only grown stronger. You have been in my heart every step of the way- from the busiest intersections of Lima to the breathtaking reaches of the Andes Mountains to the shores of the river Nanay in the Amazon basin.

Living every moment!

Chelan Pauly

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A few stories, a purple parade and a campout!

I feel like I'm falling behind!!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess it's a good thing because my life is so full of new experiences that I can't possibly begin to relate them all here. But its a tad bit frustrating to play catch up everytime I open my blog. Maybe just maybe I'll get in the habbit of blogging a little more often. Anyway, I have three big adventures to write about and about a million and one other little things that I would love to describe but don't have time to do so. I'll start with an example adventure from Iquitos. I truly had all the good intentions to write about each day or atleast the most exciting things that happened over there but there is no way that's going to happen now. So I'll give you a taste of my experience in the jungle and you will just have to come visit me in Peru to hear more :)

On Friday (day 7 of the Jungle adventure) we got up without a real plan for the day. We had explored pretty much all of the standard tourist sites and were ready to step a little outside the box. Rosy and Edwin were working so our only limitations were the distances we could travel with motortaxi and/or riverboat (basically everywhere in a 4 hour radius of Iquitos) While we were eatting breakfast with Luz I brought down a scrap of paper with a list of things to do in Iquitos. We had done a little bit of research on the internet before we left Lima... We started quizing Luz on the places from my list and even though she hadn't been to the majority of them, she had heard something of each one. We finally agreed on Playa Santa Clara and decided to leave around 12 so each of us could spent the morning doing something different. Luz hurried with all house work so she could go out with us and my mom did some laudry and dyed her hair. I decided to go on a running adventure to the Plaza de Armas. The Plaza de Armas exists in every town or city and always has the municipalidad on one side and the church on the other. It is the central plaza where everyone goes at night and generally in the middle of downtown as well. It's about two miles from their house and the entire route has interesting things to see. It's definitely not a route you take to really get in shape though; the whole time is stop, go, dodge a flipped over motor taxi, jump over a dog sun bathing on the sidewalk etc... Plus Iquitos is really really hot so I was running slowly to begin with. Anyway, I made my way from the Plaza de Armas to the bank to take out money, and then got distracted by the stores along Prospero. Prospero is the main comercial street and has a ton of stores with clothes for ridiculously cheap prices!!! I'm actually a little embarrased by the number of shirts, tanktops, shorts and dresses I bought during my stay in Iquitos. But, when you can buy a GAP shirts for 5 soles (less than 2 bucks) its rather difficult to resist! haha So I ran back home with my new treasures and got caught by the RAIN! The wind blew, the motorcycles disappeared from the streets and within 30 seconds I was soaked. It is one of the best feelings in the world to run up a muddy street/river with rain pouring off your skin and the sound of water pelting down all around. I got to the house, took a quick shower and we all piled into Luz's son's motortaxi to explore Santa Clara.

It was a beautiful drive with fresh air smelling of rain and green trees on all sides but I was very glad to arrive when we did... 40 minutes is a long time to bounce along a dirt road full of potholes and splash through giant puddles. There were honestly a few times when I thought we wouldn´t make it out of the mud! Plus, motortaxi's only fit 3 people across so I got to sit with the 30 kg Gonzalo on my lap. Needless to say it felt very good to stretch my legs. We walked all around the little town and a very generous lady let us use the bathroom in her house. I was extatic because I had been wanting to see inside one of the houses and I finally got my chance in Santa Clara. This one had a dirt floor and wooden walls but it was organized and clean as can be. The woman showed us to the back door which looked out on the river and pointed to a muddy trail that led to the outhouse about 100 m away. But then she said we were welcome to just pee right there on the back porch with the chickens and trash. So we did. haha After the bathroom stop and a ten minute lesson from some little girls on a new jumprope game we went down to the river. A boat was leaving right then and only cost 1 sole so we jumped on. This is obvioiusly the best type of adventure when you don't know exactly where you are going :) The river was smooth as could be and we spent the whole ride taking pictures standing on the bow and oohing and awwing over the greenness all around us. We stopped once to let someone off on the side of the river bank and the trip ended in a little dock at the town of Juliana. The driver of the Peke-peke promised not to leave without us so we set off carefree to explore. One of the two motor taxi's took us the whole length of the town in about 5 minutes and dropped us off where the sidewalk ended. The street is a five foot wide sidewalk and runs in a straight line with houses on either side. That's it. There is no more to Juliana. It is literally one line of houses, all of which are on wooden stilts and have little kids and chickens and dogs in the front yards. Definitely one of the cutest little towns I've seen. After paying the 12 year old boy who drove our motortaxi, we continued walking down "mainstreet" which quickly turned into a dirt path. It was INCREDIBLE! I found myself on a little muddy trail in the middle of the jungle of Peru; I was surrounded by huge trees and birds singing and the sun shining was shining. Talk about heaven! I was wearing my five finger shoes and there was absolutely no way I could leave that place without running. So, I took off and yelled that I'd be back in 10 minutes. I jumped from side to side avoiding puddles and did my best to split my attention between the trail and the gorgeous scenery. It was a challenge not to just follow that little trail forever and loose myself in the green wilderness. It was one of those moments that can't be shared with anyone because you feel so totally alive and happy and perfect. Surely I was the happiest person to ever run through that forest and definitely the first gringa. =) But, my conscious eventually turned me around and I returned out of breath to find a VERY VERY angry mom. It turns out that she didn't hear me and thought I had just disappeared into the jungle never to be heard from again. Ooops! When I had been sufficently chewed out for scaring her half to death and promised to never-ever-ever do something like that again, we were able to laugh about it. Thank goodness my host mom is so loving and kind and good natured. I assured her that I had not been attacked by any creepy jungle men and when her nerves were sufficently calmed I asked permission to run a little more. This time I ran through town behind the motor taxi and by the time we arrived at the docks I had a little parade. Some of the boys and a couple dogs joined me for the last bit and ALL the heads turned to see such a strange sight. I guess its not very often that gringas go running through their little town. :) But when I got to the river I just couldn't leave the beautiful banks untouched so I jumped across and ran along the beach. For the third time that day I found myself running in a gorgeous place never before touched by man. My five finger shoes whisked along leaving perfect prints in the sand and it could have been a "rave run" from Runners World. In the end my river bank turned into an island and I had to wade out and jump on our Peke-peke to head back to Iquitos.

So, that is just one example of my loverly jungle adventures :) Now I'll describe briefly my other events and then its time for BEEEEEDDDDDDDDDD!

I went on a three day trip to Huacho and Caral with 12 of the other exchange students last weekend. It was a FABULOUS adventure and I absolutely love all of the other exchangees!!! No matter what we do together we also have fun and it is just like a big huge family. <3 We got to visit the oldest ruins in America (5000 years), the Castle of Chancay, the place where Peruvian Independence was originally declared and a hindu eco-friendly village. We camped in the back yard of the grandparents of one of the exchangees. They have an incredible house, it is like a mansion/ museum/ zoo all in one! The zoo is because they have an alpaca, three giant turtles, 4 parrots and some other animals all right there in the yard. And the artifacts from ancient peruvian cultures make it feel like a museum. But the best part was definitely the hammocks and teeter-totter. When we weren't eatting delicious food or getting to know some new aspect of Peru we were playing on the toys. :) Here are a few random highlights from the trip.
1) Running through Huacho with another XC exchangee from Yakima
2) Buying 4 kilos of strawberries for 4 soles. (that is a huge monster box for $1)
3) Swimming and playing on the beach in jeans and a t-shirt
4) Fresh tamales for breakfast
5) Learning peruvian games during the BBQ with the Rotaract kids from Huacho
6) Singing the Peruvian National Anthem, happy birthday, and disney songs in Spanish, French and English at the top of our lungs on the bus

Also, we had an exchange student halloween party and I CARVED A PUMPKIN!!!!!!!! Yayyyyyyyyy :) Halloween isn't really big over here... They don't really do the whole pumpkin thing, there are hardly any trick-o-treaters and nobody has decorations on their houses. Needless to say I was really really excited to find pumpkins in the Metro. :)

I'll get to the purple parade next post...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I am officially in love with the SELVA!!! The greenness and animals and rivers and people and every single little aspect about it! Yep, even the heat and humidity and bugs added to the charm. My host mom and I spent 10 days in Iquitos living the jungle life together. Talk about paradise! It's funny because at first living in Peru was complete isolation but now I have so many friends and activities that it's starting to feel like a busy senior year all over again. Yikes! It was fabulous to disconnect for a week and just relax. Observing and thinking and living in the moment. For more than a week my life was all about getting to know the SELVA! Anyway, we stayed with my cousin and spent our time exploring the city and the surrounding rainforest. I enjoyed every minute of it... Iquitos is the capital of Loreto (one of the 24 departments of Peru) and the largest city in the Selva. It has around 500,000 people and is bustling 24 hours a day. The two most distinctive aspects of Iquitos are the greeness and the motorcycles. The first does not refer to enviornmentally frinedly stores or recyling but to the literal green tinge. The abundance of trees and flowers and random vines popping up in the yards and streets is incredible! When you drive to the top of a hill and look out over the city its like seeing one of those awesome screensavers. Green green treetops stretch out below as far as the eye can see and are broken only by the shiny tin roofs or leafy malocas. These are a common sight in Iquitos and consist of a roof made of huge leaves supported by wooden poles. They lack walls and are multipurpuse structures... can be used for restaurants, stores, research stations or random sunshades. The second peculularity about Iquitos is the motorcycles. I swear I have NEVER seen so many in my life and certainly not with the diversity of people driving them. From teenage girls in miniskirts and four-inch heels to pregnant moms with three kids clinging on behind to fat old men, there is no discrimination. Everyone and I mean EVERYONE rides them! Motorcycles or threewheeled motortaxis (motocycle with a cart behind it) are the most popular mode of transportation and easily make up 95 % of the traffic in Iquitos. The only time that the streets are not jammed with motorcycles is during a rainstorm . Im not sure exactly how but with the rain starts, all of the cyclists magically disappear from the streets and leave only the motortaxis with their waterproof roofs. And for good reason too, the rains of Iquitos pour down fast and furious. The wind blows... WOOSH... right before the torrent begins and then there is no escape. If you stand for 30 seconds in the middle of a hard rain you might as well have taken a shower. One day the rain caught me during a run about 5 minutes from the house. I felt like one of the hardcore models in the Runners World ads who are drenched and splattered with mud and smiling like a maniac. I don't think I can possibly describe how much fun it is to run in rain like that... its FABULOUS! I couldn't see a thing and I was running up this dirt road which was practically a river. Wahoooooooooooooooooo

Anyway, I'm a big fan of the climate in Iquitos because you get to wear the least number of clothes possible. It's always summertime and even when it rains it's warm. Tanktops, shorts and flipsflops are the norm and nobody questions your right to wear a hat. To prove how warm it is, hot showers don't exist. Even the nicest houses don't have hot water because nobody would EVER want to bathe themselves with anything but cold. The temperature outside vary's between permanant sweating and mildly warm but never drops below the red zone. On cold nights you sleep with sheets but most of the time its much more comfortable without. I am quite proud to say that I managed to protect myself from the sun and was never more than pleasantly pink. I did however spend a good number of days looking like a crazy tourist with my safari hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen perfume. :) Lets see, what else about the city? Due to the heat it has a very relaxed feel and the culture is a whole lot more "go with the flow". All of the neighbors have the habit of sitting in the doorway and spend hours just sitting and trying to stay cool. Muy tranquillo... The people are super friendly and always seem to be smiling too. Maybe its the sun or the delicious food or perhaps the gorgeous people. I don't know how but there is a definitly an uneven proportion of beautiful Peruvians in Iquitos. That coupled with the scanty clothing leads to a whole lots of catcalling and whistles. Honestly though, I felt like I was surrounde!d by models wherever I went... the market, the plaza, even the neighborhood BBQ!

So, I'll describe the house and family I was staying with and then we can get on to some random anecdotes... Like I said, we stayed with my cousin and her husband and their 6 year old son. Rosy and Edwin are both lawyers and moved to Iquitos ten years ago for work. Yeah, thats right, more lawyers! I don't understand exactly what it is about this family and lawyers but there are a ton of them! Between my two sisters, max, and all my cousins I'm pretty sure I have 10+ family members that can bail me out if I get in trouble with the law. haha Anyway, Rosy and Edwin are wonderful people and hosts and made us feel totally at home. Their son Gonzalo had the week off for vacation as well so we got to go on a lot of outings with him. He is a hilarious little kid but rather spoiled too. He loves soda and detests walking and spends lots of time throwing water on himself to cool off. All habits to stay cool in a hot climate like Iquitos. He's picked up this singsong form of speaking as well and it was a bit of a challenge for me to understand him. Between Rosy talking super fast and Gonzalo's accent I'm sure my language skills bumbed up a notch during the week! And even harder to understand was the accent of Luz, their employee. She was born in Columbia and has a fascinating life story but that accent takes some serious getting used to! Still, by the end of the week I was able to understand and she taught me all about the typical foods and different aspects of Iquitos. She joined us on outings to the market and a few of the random villages and offered a inside look and totally different perspective to life in Iquitos. So now a little about the house. Like all peruvian houses it has a huge metal door and impenatrable cement walls and from the outside it doesn't look all the nice. Its set on a dirt street and all to the right is just swampy greenness. My cousin and her husband have been living in Iquitos for 10 years but built the house relatively recently. The top floor still lacks some finishing and you can see straight through to the tin roof but the bottom is GORGEOUS! It's painted with greens and orange and all of the pictures were done by my dads sister. She is a fabulous artist and I would love to decorate my house with her work... The house has lots of windows to let in light and air and is always open to the patio in front and back. The open doors let in the much needed breeze to cool off but the downside is that they allow full access to the aunts and flies and whatever random insect cares to enter. The only thing that doesn't get to come inside is Fito, the little white fluffball puppy. He is 6 monthes old and totally LOCO! But, to tell you the truth I would rather let the dog in and keep the cochroaches out...

And now the most important part... the food. Everything was delicious (like always in Peru) and lots of it was fried (also a common theme). The three most typical dishes that I ate were cecina with tacashno, juanes, and pescado a la parrilla. Yummmmmmmmmy! Juanes are my favorite food from the jungle and are basically specially prepared rice with chicken and egg all wrapped in a huge green leaf. The are specific to the fiesta of Saint Juan but you can buy them on almost every corner too. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! Oh, and of course bananas. People in the Selva eat bananas with EVERYTHING! It's basically a replacement for potato. Fried banana, boiled banana, BBQ'ed banana, mashed banana, and of course fresh banana. It's served for breakfast, lunch and dinner and can go with pretty much anything. Banana with egg? or rice? or chicken? Of COURSE! Its not bad but I'm pretty sure if given the choice I will still choose the potato over banana. I don't know, maybe I need a few more weeks in the jungle before the banana really wins me over. haha

Hmmm, that's all for tonight. I know I'm lacking that actual stories and exciting adventures but I promise I'll get to that in the next post. For now you can just use your imagination. Chauuuuuuuu

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lions, tigers, and bears OH MY!

Ok, so you may be wondering exactly what this title refers to... did I watch the Wizard of Oz or go hunting in the oh so abundant forests of my city of 8 million? And the answer is NEITHER! Ha, what a surprise. I actually went on an adventure with a rotary friend to explore the zoo. Park of Legends to be precise. We left from school early at 1 so as to have sufficient time and that was just the first part of a GREAT day. :) Don't get me wrong, I really do like school and I hardly ever skip but on this particular ocasion it worked out perfectly. What happened is that the next day was a half day in honor of the principals birthday. When I was planning to go to the zoo my mom messed up and told me we had a half day so I arranged to leave at 1:00 and she was sooooooooooo generous as to let me leave anyway. Yayyyyy! So, Parque de las Leyendas... It is one of the coolest zoos ever because not only does it have all the regular animals (yes thats where the lions and tigers and bears come in) but it has the three ecological regions of Peru as well. We walked through the entire park (its ginormous!) and got to see monkeys from the jungle, vicuna and condors from the mountains and sealions and penguins from the coast. Each region is landscaped with the plants native to the area and I even carved my name into a bamboo in the jungle part. Obviously its not as good as the actual region but it is pretty darn realistic. Also, mining is a really important aspect of the economy in Peru, so we got to go through a whole simulation mine with info about the silver and gold and minerals etc. Very interesting and full of awesome photo ops too. :) After the zoo we went to a place where they sell tons and tons of cultural peruvian stuff and I got to act like an awesome tourist again. I bought some of the classic striped pants and a bag and a few yummy Peruvian deserts. The excess of delicious typical foods over here is incredible... I think I will be able to try new sweets every single day this year without repeating!

So the zoo WAS fabulous but it's really just a pretext to start this blog post. An example of all the fun adventures I've been having over here. I guess I should probably try to blog a little more often and keep you guys up to date but thats easier said than done. I'll give you a couple highlights to share a taste of Lima and you will just have to imagine the rest because I can't possible recount everything. Basically its finally spring and I can feel it! The sun shines a whole lot more often and I wore my jumper and blouse without the red sweater for the first time a few days ago. It's amazing how strong the sun is when you are close to the equator. When it shines is REALLY shines! I can already feel the sunburns coming and I'm preparing to be one of those people who's perfume is Banana Boat. haha

Anyway, I have started running almost everyday outside after school. The air may not be perfectly fresh but it feels great to get out. I get to explore the streets of Lima and exercise at the same time. It's not the same relaxing experience running in the city because I have to be a whole lot more alert but its really fun. I do lots of dodoging of people and dogs and street vendors and there is always something exciting to look at. Plus the fact that I have to pay attention to where I'm going and what the traffic is doing. Lima traffic is rather insane and the drivers definitely have the right of way... not pedestrians. Anyway, I have about 5 or 6 different routes that I like to take and I am learning more and more. One of my favorites follows the metropolitano and then drops down to the beach to run along the Costa Verde. I get to smell the ocean, watch all the people and be in the company of other runners. Its a very popular site for recreational type people. People play soccer on the beach or walk or run or use the cool mini gyms with bars for pull ups, sit ups and dips.

I am learning to love the freedom of public transportation... I am starting to mobilize myself and getting really well oriented in Lima. Yeah thats right, Chelan actually knows her way around. haha The other day I left the house all by myself to go out with friends and it was a success. I used the metropolitano and micros and didn't get lost once. Yayyyyyy!

I learn new things everyday but usually they are about culture or the spanish language. A few days ago I learned something about English. I learned that in British english you can say "got". You know how teachers HATE it when we use got in the wrong place and its a huge gramatical error? Well the reason is that when we came from England we changed a few things to be different... and that was one of the changes!

Other exciting news and random comments that I don't have time to explain in lots of detail...

1) I am going to take dance classes with a friend! Its a 10 week session and we learn two native Peruvian dances and then perform them at the end with extravagant costums and everything. Super Super excited about that!

2) Today is election day! Its obligatory to vote in Peru so its a huge deal... Technically you aren't really even supposed to go out so that the traffic isn't as bad. Everyone votes in a specific school assigned to them by the government and the streets are full of people going to vote. If you don't vote you get fined. I got to accompany my sisters to their school and took lots of picture to record how the Peruvian election system works. It's been pretty fun following the elections in a different country and trying to understand the political drama. Anyway, we don't have school tomorrow because they will be cleaning the huge mess from today.

3) Im going to the SELVAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA! My mom and I are going to go for a week and stay with my cousin and then my sister is going to join us for a few days at the end. It's going to be fabulous!!!

4) I got my first care package from HOME!!! Thank you thank you thank you thank you!

5) Peruvian breakfasts are amazing. Usually we go to the market on saturdays and buy fresh cheese and fruit and tamales and random little sweets and then sit down together to gorge. Last weekend I got to help cook this stirfry thing with tomatoes and steak and onion and peppers and lots of spices and it was incredible. But today I made WAFFLES! I new experience for my family... :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


This morning at exactly 3:02 am there was an EARTHQUAKE! The ground rolled and crashed and banged, the walls shook and...


... I didn't feel it. That's right, I slept right through the entire thing and wasn't even aware of its existence until I got to school and my friends were like "CHELAN YOUR FIRST EARTHQUAKE!!!!!!!" And I had to respond with "huh explicame porfavor" Tragic. Absolutely tragic because to tell you the truth I have been wanting to experience an earthquake really bad. It is a big issue it Peru because we are right on the edge between two tectonic plates. The Placa Nazca and Placa Suramericana to be exact. We have been studying this in geography and we have practice drills where we all go running to the central patio during school. I have seen the destruction of the "terremotos" in Pisco and Yungay and have heard stories from everyone. I'm telling you, its a serious thing... so after all the build up I was slightly dissapointed with this anticlimactic situation. It was aparently relatively strong in Chorrillos too.(the district where I live) Anyway, now I can say I have experienced one of the infamous earthquakes!

Sunday, September 19, 2010


So the title speaks for itself... I don't have anything incredibly important to talk about but I figured I would give you guys an update on Peru in general. Just a few observations and a commentary on everyday life... :) I've been here for eight weeks; hard to believe and yet very realistic at the same time. I feel like an expert but I am still surprised by little things everyday. A fact that I LOVE. I get to wake up every morning excited for something new and fall asleep thinking about how lucky I am to be here in Peru.

So here's a typical school day. I wake up sometime between 6:20 and 6:50 depending on which (of three) alarms is successful at dragging me out of bed. I have no trouble falling asleep but the getting up process is a bit more difficult. Still, I'm quite proud that I can wake up solo because at first my dad had to knock every morning. hehehe just like at home. :) Anyway, I get dressed in that loverly uniform and hurry downstairs. I can't say I love my uniform but I am coming to appreciate the simplicity of not thinking about clothes. It's always the same knee high socks, ironed blouse, jumper, sweater and black shoes. It takes away the visual expression of personality so you can't judge people by what they look like. Probably a good thing. The only difference between our cookie cutter appearance is hair, earrings and shoes.

So anyway, I eat a quick breakfast, fill my waterbottle with boiled water and jump in the car. We always have fresh bread in the mornings so I generally have a yummy roll with cheese or peanutbutter or some random leftover from the day before. Plus fruit... I am super spoiled because all of it is BUENAZO!!! Sometimes we drive to school but more often than not we take the metropolitano. My personal favorite. I get to sit (or stand if its crowded) and people-watch or eves drop on conversations in Spanish. Well sometimes I sleep a little too :) I say the metropolitano but really its quite an impressive commuter route. My dad drives us to the third stop to save a little time and we jump out of the car and hurry across the road. We swipe our cards (mine only costs .75 soles cause I'm a student :) ) and walk down to the loading platform. The buses run every three minutes so the timing is easy. The ride is about 25 minutes and if we are lucky we both get a seat and its very comfortable. By the time we ge to our station though it's standing room only and very crowded at that. So we get off, run up the steps and walk about 3 blocks to where we catch micro. Those are the little buses that are suuuuuuuuuuper crowded in the morning. We push our way on and ride for five minutes or so. Then its baja baja baja and we have about 5 blocks to walk to the school. The whole trip takes about 45 minutes so we leave around 6:50 and arrive just before the doors close at 7:40. Sometimes with time to walk leisurely and buy a paper on the way but sometimes its a mad dash. One day we were running up the steps so my mom could signin on time and she actually tripped and fell. OOOPS!

Hmmm how to describe my school. Its big and brick and connected to a church. It's built in a square around a huge cement patio where we have recess and PE. There are three floors and all of the hallways are outdoors because the weather here is incredibly stable. Never rains and the hot and cold are mild enough that there is no airconditioning or heating in the rooms. My room is on the tops floor so we do lots of climbing stairs... :) Oh and the classrooms have WINDOWSSSSS! Yup, thats right, I get to look out on this gorgeous green park across the street and I never feel like a prisoner. ehm WHS. Although we do stay trapped in our salon all day and the teachers are the ones who get to change rooms. We only leave during the two 20 minute recesses or for computer class and PE. Thus during the five minute breaks when the teachers are changing rooms our class goes a little bit crazy. Everyone jumps out of their seat to burn off a little of the pent up energy and MOVE! Our schedule changes everyday and I have 13 different classes during the week that repeat varying number of times depending on the subject matter. The biggest emphasis is definitely English and then math and communication. Some classes like geography and art we only get once every week. Basically we have 2 long block classes in the morning, tutoria, recess, block class, recess, block class. The blocks are an hour and half (tooo long) but sometimes we have two 45 minute classes instead (much better). My spanish is definitely wayyyyyyyyyyy better now and I can understand and participate in almost everything. We do lots of group work which is nice and all my teachers are GREAT! I know the names of everyone in my class and lots of the other class too. 75 in total. The kids here are definitely more "friends" with their profesors which is fun but there is also a lack of respect. The only time that everyone really listens and pays and attention is when we are being lectured and the professor is rather angry. Lately it has been a little bit ironic because sometimes they lecture us on focusing on school and doing the class work and other times its on eatting and sleeping enough to stay healthy. We are in the final 4 monthes of school and lots of my classmates are in acadmias to prepare for the HUGE exams to enter a university. Thus they go to school from 8 till 3 and then to a prep class from 4:30 till 9 everyday. Looots of homework and stress so lots of them are sick or aren't paying as much attention to their schoolwork... Anyway, one of the most interesting things I have learned how to do in school is write with pen. Everything is in different colors and super organized and the presentation is often more important than content. By the end of this year I should be a pro at taking notes and putting my tildes in the write place and using whiteout! haha

So we get home from school around four and eat a BIG almuerzo and then my afternoons vary a lot. Usually a combination of running, going to the gym, doing homework, laptop time, going to the store with my mom, playing with Adri, talking with my dad, or going out. Never the same and never boring. The only limitation is light. The sun goes down around 6 and it goes down FAST! Seriously, I walked to the beach with my mom the other day and we watched the sunset and it was pitch black 20 minutes later. Crazy... My sisters and Max get home around 9:30 usually and we talk and eat a little and then I go to bed around 11.

Gooooood Night!

Chelita Heladita (my rather ironic nickname)

PS. Chela is slang for beer which explains the irony stated above... But I promise the only coincidence is between the names, nothing to do with me actually drinking chela

PPS. Over here we say castellano... not spanish

PPPS. Did I mention the fact that peruvians are OBSESSED with crocs? Yup, it seems to be the national shoe of choice and everyone has a pair if not seven. From the littlist kids to the oldest great grandmas... CRAZY! I even have a pair now :) And... I actually get fewer stares about my five finger shoes here than I did in the US. Yeah, maybe its because I already stand out a ton but thats alright :)

PPPPS. My family has this awesome whistle that we use so whenever we are slightly lost in the market or metro or waiting outside we can find each other. It is super distict and an excellent way to find eachother accept for the small problem that I can't whistle. hahahha I'm trying to learn but the whole venture is a little bit of a failure...

PPPPPS. I'm teaching my Peruvian family to love peanutbutter!!!!!!

PPPPPPS. I know I never respond to the comments that you guys leave but I PROMISE that I really do enjoy reading them :) If you want to hear about something in particular tell me and I'll try to covor it..

Sunday, September 12, 2010


FOOD FOOD FOOD! We went to this absolutely GINORMOUS fair full of the best food in Lima. Literally! The people who organize it invite the very very best restaurants and food stands in Lima to sell their food in la Mistura. I am told that it is quite a prestigious compliment if you are invited. Anyway, it is a five day event held annually. I don't know how many tens of thousands of people go to eat but it is an awe-inspiring number. Everything is contained in one huge park and you have to buy a ticket to enter. Once inside though the plates of food are quite inexpensive (like all food in Peru). I don't know if I already mentioned this or not but food is a vital part to the culture of Peru. Every region has its tipical plate and eatting is definitely one of the most important activities of every day. The dishes are also a whole lot more complicated to cook... Preparing almuerzo can easily take 3 hours of chopping, stirring, spicing and frying. Anyway, the entire event of Mistura is dedicated to the foods of Peru and is just another example of the importance of COMIDA! So, here is the rundown of our five hour stint of what felt like continuous eatting.

We (Mom, Dad, Twinzies, Max, Adri and I) started out exploring the stands and stalls on the right side of the park. This is more like a convention center with samples and demonstrations of different kitchen appliances, new foods etc. We entered one huge tent that was dedicated entirely to CHOCOLATE! Yum yum yum :) Definitely had the best samples. There were also tents for Pisco (the national drink), coffee, and potatoes. I'm pretty sure that Peruvians are the most proud of their potatoes. They have over 400 varieties and serve potatoes and rice with EVERY SINGLE dish... Anyway, one of the coolest demonstrations was this new frying pan made from volcanic rock that doesn't need any oil or butter ever. You can burn plastic or milk or sugar and it wipes off without a problem. INCREDIBLE! All the stands had samples and before we had even started eatting I was feeling kinda full. It's like Costco :) You can go and eat lunch without buying anything.

But then we found ourselves a table and sat down to the business of really eatting. They have hundreds and hundreds of plastic tables set up in the center with all of the restaurants around the outside. The whole event is really well organized and flows surprisingly smoothly considering the number of people there. You buy tickets so the restaurants don't have to deal with cash and the lines are too long either. Each restaurant has their 3 or 4 best dishes and I'm sure there was well over 400 different dishes available. All considered the very best in Lima! So you can imagine it was difficult to choose... We bought lots of different plates of food and shared them at our table so everyone got to taste some of everything :) Yum Yum Yum. I took a photo of each one and wrote down the name. Felt kind of like a fancy food taster with my little notebook and camera. hahaha They were all delicious!!!!!! I even tried Cuy Picante which is basically spicy guiney pig. A specialty from the north.

So, it would be an understatement to say that I left Mistura feeling full. But even more than the delicious food it was just fun to be there. The atmosphere-full of energy and happy families. I loved watching the people, seeing new foods, listening to the music, and of course taking photos. I don't know if I can really describe how it feels to be at Mistura. I guess it's about the same idea as Apple Blossom but 100 times the scale. And the food is quality too. :)

Buenas Nocheeeeeeeeeeeees from a well fed chica :)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Caminata and Fountains

On Saturday a group of friends from my colegio came over for almuerzo and we went on a walking adventure through Lima. Maybe it doesn't sound like the most exciting thing to do but I was very, very happy :) First of all we had fideos con salsa roja for lunch. Translation = spaghetti. And you all know that I LOVE spaghetti!!! Ironically enough this was also the day of the Wenatchee XC time trial and Skye's first college XC race. So you could call it a mini pasta feed in honor of my running buddies. Anyway, the other reason that I was perfectly content is that it was a gorgeous sunny day. The plan was to follow the Malecon (a path that boarders the coast with a really pretty view of the ocean) through three districts of Lima until we reached Larcomar (shopping center). Unfortunately the excess of gated neighborhoods inhibited our progress and we ended up walking farther inland. Lima has a few issues with security and breakins so there are lots and lots of metal gates blocking off streets. Technically they aren't exactly legal because it makes public property inaccessable but most of the neighbors are happy to sacrifice convenience for security. I can't say I'm a fan of these things and sometimes it is more than a little inconvenient... At one point we found ourselves completely locked in and had to beg a random guy with keys to let us out. Anyway, it was really interesting to walk through Barranco and see the 500 year old buildings and HUGE trees. It seems to be one of the older neighborhoods in Lima and has an interesting combination of historic buildings and discotecos. haha

Sunday night we went to this park with tons of fountains and lights and music. Each fountain is unique with something especially interesting to do. For example, one of them was a HUGE tunnel where you get to walk about 50 meters under the water without getting wet. Another is kind of an obstacle course with water that randomly changes in time to the music. My dad and I spent a good 5 minutes studying the pattern and successfully made it to the center without getting wet. Thank goodness becuase it was rather chilly and the people who weren't as lucky looked extremely cold!!! The combination of walking at night, listening to classical music and watching the water/light display is incredibly zenful (probably not a word but you get the point). Kind of like YOGA! :)

Today we had a meeting with the president of Rotary International. Yup, the big man himself... He's from Missouri and doesn't speak a drop of Spanish so it was rather hilarious when I welcomed him on behalf of all the exchange students and then his translator had to wisper the english version of what I had said :) It was a 2 hour meeting primarily with the Rotary youth (interact, rotaract, and exchangees) and it was more or less interesting. I love the concept of Rotary and the service opportunities and the genuinely good people involved but sometimes I get a little tired of all the talking...

Oooooh I made oatmeal peanutbutter cookies yesterday!!! DELICIOUS

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Road Trip

So, Peru is divided into three main geographical regions: la costa, la sierra, y la selva. This weekend for the first time I ventured out of the costal region and into the BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS, INCREDIBLE, ASTOUNDING, AWE-INSPIRING mountains!!!!! Don't get me wrong, the coast has some beautiful views and I love Lima but the Ancash region is something else... It is the center of all hiking and mountainiering activity in Peru and pretty darn famous world wide. I believe it has more summits above 6,000 m than anywhere else except the Himalayas. The Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra, two mountain ranges of the Andes running parralel to each other, form an incredible valley where we spent two nights. I 'm telling you, the views of sparkling lakes, snowcapped peaks, and native peruvians in their bright skirts are picture perfect!!!

So, we left at 5 in the morning with the SUV packed full of people (my sister, three friends, and I) and all the necesary stuff for a roadtrip (suitcases, yummy food, and of course cameras). I spent 8 hours inside that car so thank goodness my campanions were super cool people and loved talking and listening to music. Most of you know that in general I despise sitting still for long periods of time so you will be glad to hear the hours actually passed quickly. GASP! I spent the first bit sleeping but after the breakfast stop my eyes were glued to the scenery flying by outside the window. It changed from city streets to sanddunes to agricultural fields to the beauty of the Andes mountains. The entire route is dotted with little villages and farms and many of the people have retained their ancient Andean ways. I saw tons of the typical bright skirts and women carrying their babies in the colorful sling blankets. We saw people walking along the road with herds of cows, goats, sheep, donkeys and I even took a picture with a llama!!! :) The first day we stopped in Huaraz to eat, explore the plaza de armas and arrived in Caraz around six. We stayed in a bungalo outside Caraz and I'm pretty sure we chose the most gorgeous spot in the entire valley. When I woke up in the morning to run I almost tripped and fell on my face because my eyes were everywhere except on the path. There were about 8 bungalos set along this little grassy road lined with flowers with a breathtaking view of the Cordiellera Negra. The mountains went straight up behind our bungalo and I have some nice battle wounds from the cactus and spiny plants that didn't seem to want me to invade their territory. haha Both mornings I went out early to run and explore and just smell the FRESH air! I have to say running at altitude is a bit more difficult than in Lima where we are right at sealevel. Anyway, the road to Caraz went right by the fields and I got to say hi to the brightly clad girls on their way to work. Everyone from these little villages seems to be especially friendly and helpful... :) Our bungalo had two bedrooms each with a balcony as well as a central room with a fireplace, kitchen and couches. Oh, and the bathroom had a stone floor and HUGE shower with pleanty of hot water... yayyyyy!

So the second day was our exploration day and we went into the Caraz, Yungay, and the lagoon Llanganuco. Yungay is actually a cemetary now because the former city was demolished by a earthquake/ landslide in 1970. A local girl named Nancy gave us a tour of the area and recounted the tragic story. The only remains are the cementary (it was the highest point of the city), a mutilated bus, and four palm trees. But it is still a beautiful land and has been reconstructed with flowers, gardens, and monuments marking the homes and important landmarks. We left Yungay intending to go straight to the lagoon but somehow went in the wrong direction and ended up exactly where we started an hour later. So we picked up Nancy and she acted as our personal guide for the rest of the day. It is only about 40 miles to the lagoon but it took a good 2 hours because the road is a little less than smooth. To be exact it is a dirt road full of potholes so narrow that it is impossible to pass two cars. Several times we were forced to back up a good 100 m until we found a spot wide enough to let the other car by. Somehow we even saw a few full sized tour buses and HUGE trucks on the road too. So, we wound our way up up up past little houses and fields so slanted that it seemed impossible to actually grow a crop. At the lagoon we took a rowboat out to admire the beautiful view of Huascaran, walked along a little path to the other side of the lake. And of course took TONS of pictures. :) I bought a hat from a native woman and we were all hungry so we ate some delicious cheese and bread and choclo (a special type of peruvian corn). It was fairly chilly and the water was definitely not in the warm category so I didn't get to swim but I did put my feet in and take a few pictures. Back in Caraz we ate some delicious food typical to the region which includes some of the best homemade icecream ever! Caraz is known as the city of sweets and it has an extremely varied list of flavors including chirimoilla, avacado, and cerveza! (I'm assuming everyone is familiar with this word haha)

So I'm going to be VERY brief in my description of the return trip because I'm a bit tired of writing. Basically we had an exciting adventure with a flat tire and got into Lima around midnight. Exhausted but happy. :)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Los Olimpiadas

So this week of school has been fantastic! Next Monday is "Saint Rose of Lima Day" and since she is the namesake of my school we have been doing some serious celebrating... No clases, no homework just fun and games. Seriously! We have art competitions, play logic games, watch talent shows, and most importantly PLAY SPORTS!!! I was on the basketball, soccer and track team and we won gold in all three! Yayyyyyyyy ok, so maybe its not quite as impressive as it sounds because we are competing against the grades who all happen to be younger. But we were still super excited!

So, I'll start by describing the opening ceremonies... It started out with the regular Monday assembly where we all stand at attention and sing the national anthem, Maryknoll song, listen to a sermon and have announcements. The only difference is this time we were decked out in "Promo shirts" and everyone was figity and sang with gusto rather than mumbling the words. Each class of 75 students has a certain color that stays with them for all 11 years... In our case its red so we had a huge elmo costume, red paint on our cheeks, red butterfly ears, red plastic noses, red confetti etc. After the announcements each grade forms a huge mob and parades around the central patio shooting off those canons full of confetti and singing. Super fun. :) And then the entire rest of the day monday was sports. In basketball I enjoyed a serious height advantage so we won by a tonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn and I got to score a lot! Kind of felt like Dani Halberg for an hour or so :) And today was "paseo" so we spent the day at a club and competed in "athletismo" and "fulbito". Translation of these two is imitation track and soccer. For example, I ran the 800 but it was more like a 400. Two laps around this little track marked out with cones in the parkinglot. And I ran the marathon which is three laps or roughly 600 meters. Nobody else in my colegio seems to share my love of distance running so it was fairly easy to win :) Paseo was super fun though... this particular part of Lima almost always has sun and there was lots of green grass and gorgeous architecture and we spent the day taking pictures and eatting yummy food and playing games :)

Ooooooh other exciting news is that I rode public transportation all by myself for the first time on Tuesday!!! I walked from school to one of the main streets and caught a micro. They are these little crowded buses that go all over Lima and only cost about 15 cents. You can flag them down wherever and jump on and then tell the guy manning the door when you want to get off. The whole time the doorman has his head out the window looking for anyone who wants to get on and he has a constant stream of spanish too. Seriously its like a monologue of "baja baja baja sube sube sube va va va esquina esquina esquina." So anyway my mom helped me pick the right micro and I told the guy where I wanted to get off. And then I crossed over and got on the Metropolitano which is the main bus system. From there it is easy because I just ride it to the last station, get off and walk about 5 blocks to my house. Yayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

One Month!

Exactly one month after arriving in Peru I found myself at the airport again. Only this time it was to say goodbye. I guess it was sort of a coincidence that Ale´s flight left at the exact time that mine arrived. We piled into the same two cars and filled the back with even more luggage than I had. Ale managed to fill two of the most gigantic suitcases I have ever seen! She certainly loves her clothes and shoes =) Anyway we went with all of the immediate family plus some cousins and aunts and uncles and even a few friends. We sat and talked and took pictures while Ale stood in line to check her baggage and then we said goodbyes. Luckily it was a happy fairwell because we were all so excited for her to start a new adventure. Afterwords we went out for pizza and stayed out till 2 am. It was super fun because I got to hangout with my cousins (all my age) and listen to stories and practice more spanish. I told them about snow and American Christmas and Halloween and all of those things that they have seen in the movies but never experienced.

I am so thankful that I got to spend my first four weeks with Alejandra. She helped me to adjust to my new family and meet all my cousins and learn how Peruvian teens act. It was like having a personal tour guide but 24/7. I could ask her anything and she would explain words or songs or why the sky is blue (more like why the sky isn´t blue haha). But now its fun to be able to socialize on my own. Yesterday I went to the house of one of my classmates and played wii and watched a movie in Spanish. First social activity completely unstructured with friends from mi colegio! Woot woot :) And as funny as it sounds, I am really enjoying going to school. I guess its because everything is in Spanish but I actually enjoy doing my homework too. Usually we sit at the table after dinner and my parents or sisters help me with the words I don´t understand. For example, I had this huge packet full of synonyms and antonyms that I obviously didn´t know. Or the other day we read a 5 page story and then answered questions and wrote a one page summery about it. I find it a little ironic that now that grades don´t matter the homework is fun! But really, I am understanding classes completely in Español!!! I had my first math test the other day and scored 16/20. Not perfect but definitely not the worst in my class. =)

Ok, so two things that I just have to say are wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyy better over here than in the US are the keyboards and stoplights. You know how whenever you are writing in Spanish and you have to make an accent or ñ and it takes about 5 minutes to remember which ridiculous combination of buttons to push? Well over here all the laptops have a ñ button and an á é í ó ú button... YES! And the stoplights have a countdown. Yep, thats right. You always know exactly how much time is left for a green light and you never experience that ridiculous fear of "am I going to make it through the light."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ale got her VISA

MY SISTER ALEJANDRA GOT HER VISA AND IS OFFICIALLY GOING TO CANADA IN A WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Its been quite a process getting through all the paperwork and interviews but I am so excited for her! :) Its kind of hilarious to see all the hectic, predeparture activities too. I must say I'm quite relieved to be through with all that.

So here are a couple accomplishments from the past week.

#1 I read a 65 page book in Spanish. Yeah it had a few pictures and it was definitely a little kids chapter book but STILL... I read a book! And understood the plot! :)

#2 Most of you know that I have an aweful sence of direction but I am proud to say that I have been paying attention over here and am pretty well orientated. I haven't gotten lost once. I know the cardinal directions. I am learning the names and position of the districts of Lima. And I can get to the track, gym, metropolitano, panederia, metro and park without a problem.

#3 I gave a 5-10 minute speach in Spanish about Wenatchee. It was at a Rotary meeting and I thought I got to use a powerpoint to help but it turned out there wasn't a projector so it was alllllllllllll oral! YIKES!

#4 I survived my first week of school. Actually I did better than survive, I enjoyed my first week of school! My classmates are super welcoming and I fit in pretty well thanks to that lovely uniform. :) Well, other than the fact that I am blond, pale and 6 inches taller than almost all the girls. But still, its been great and I am getting to know everyone really quickly since we stay in the same room all day long. That aspect makes it feel like elementry school all over again. Plus the fact that we have recess. :) Anyway, favorite classes would definitely be physics, math, art and PE. The more difficult ones are communication, religion and history.

#5 I played chess!


Monday, August 9, 2010

The Uniform

Yep... Here is the gorgeous uniform! I am modeling the standard apparel while Ale sports the Physical Education style. Woot woot. Just imagine 1000 of us ranging from age 5-18 all standing at attention singing the Peruvian national anthem (well everyone except one suspiciously silent exchange student who has yet to learn it :) )

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Random Observations etc.

Two weeks. I can hardly believe it. In some ways it feels like I have always lived in Peru and I've been here FOREVER. I have learned the habbits of my family and how the house works (wet towels go upstairs on the roof, one kiss on the right cheek to say hello, goodbye, goodnight etc, everything is later than planned, and honking at other cars is completely normal). I miss my friends, family and life in Wenatchee but I love Peru too much to feel homesick. I feel lucky that the transition has been so smooth.

Anyway, here are a few of my random observations...

You can tell a lot about a place by the bathroom. The things we take for granted in the US like toilet paper and toilet seats are not standard. In most public bathrooms you are expected to carry your own TP and some of them don't have a toilet seat. Almost all seem to lack soap. So the next time you walk into the bathroom and use nice fluffy TP and wash your hands with scented soap, appreciate it!

When you don't speak the language very well people find ingenius ways to communicate. For example, we were eatting out at a resaurant the other day and I didn't know exactly what I was eatting. My "que es eso" was answered with the name of a particular seafood but naturally I still had no idea. So my brother said (in spanish) you know the kids show Sponge Bob, well you are eatting his friend (meaning squidward). Later on the waiter kindly confirmed the conclusion that it was squid. Although this particular story exemplifies my lack of lingual skills, I have to say that my Spanish is definitely improving. I can usually follow the conversation and if people talk directly to me its even easier.

I bought my school uniform two days ago and toured my school. The uniform is, lets just say interesting. I wear black shoes, knee high red socks, a plaid dress, white blouse and red sweater. Hopefully I will post a picture tomorrow so you guys can all laugh :) And then we have shorts, polos, and a sweat suit for PE. I've never worn a uniform to school before so I guess it will be a good experience. At least now when I am asked to answer dumb essay prompts for the SAT about school uniforms I will have a valid opinion. But back to my school. Its big, three stories, connected to the church, has a central courtyard and no indoor hallways. I am in 5b and I have 37 other students in my class. I should get to know them well because we are always together. The teachers move rather than the students so I guess no one will be tardy to class. :)

Tomorrow is el cumpleanos de mi mama (yep ANOTHER birthday!) So I tried to make chocolate chips cookies this evening. They certainly weren't the same as at home but they turned out surprisingly well. First of all, Peruvians don't use their oven much so we had to begin by removing all the pots and pans stored inside. Then we lit the oven with a match and set it to high (there was no temperature gage). Next came the measuring of ingrediants without a measuring cup and substituting of one thing for another. We used margerine instead of butter, white sugar instead of brown and baking powder instead of soda. It was a little challenge getting them to cook without burning on the bottom but in the end they were delicious! :) Woot Woot. A little bit of traditional american food. I am continually reminded of our lack of specialty food but I realised three things that are quite American. Waffles, chocolate chips, and bagels.

So I don't think I have talked about the climate yet. Obviously this is South American so we are in the middle of winter. And it is surprisingly chilly. None of the houses or buildings have heating so I have been wearing a lot of coats and layers. In fact, I am planning to buy one of those long poofy winter coats this week. Still this morning I went for a lovely run in shorts and a t-shirt under a beautiful blue sky and shining sun (rare but all the more enjoyable).

Ooooh, one more thing before I snooze... We went to visit el Palacio del Gobierno! This is the equivilant to the White House and absolutely gorgeous inside. We toured the part where Alan Garcia doesn't live and got to hear all about the history and artwork and decorations. Fascinating and fun because I could understand a lot. I have come to appreciate tour guides because they speak slowly and clearly... :)


Sunday, August 1, 2010


Ica. What a place :) Not only does it have blue skies, sun, and stars at night (all things that Lima sadly lacks) but it has Huacachina. Huacachina is a small oasis in the middle of sand. The sand dunes of Ica are world famous and put our small dunes in Wenatchee to shame... We went to Huacachina twice. The first time we scaled the largest of the dunes and rode down on our sandboards like sleds. And when I say scaled I truly mean it. It takes a good twenty minutes to get to the top of the dune and you get an incredible view. It shouldn't be too much of a surprise that all you can see for miles and miles is... SAND! Anyway, the second day we went in sandbuggies farther into the dunes. These buggies seat 12 and go zooming up down and all around in the sand. Its really like a rollercoaster ride because you strap in with a seatbelt over both shoulders and legs and your stumach drops out everytime you decend. :) Wahooooooooo

It takes about 5 hours to get to Ica so on the way there we stopped in several places to see the surrounding area. We stopped in Pisco, a small town where my papa grew up and I got to see where his house used to be. There was a huge earthquake 3 years ago that destroyed just about everything in Pisco... It's sad to see how much remains in ruins and how little has been rebuilt. Much construction in Peru is adobe and this does NOT stand up to terremotos! We also went on a boat ride in Paracas to see the sealions and penguins. Yep I said PENGUINS! Unfortunately birds that produce guano for fertilizer also nest nearby so part of the time we had a lovely guano perfume. The last stop was to see the sights of a Peruvian national park. It is obviously an arid, costal climate so the vegitation is minimal but the beaches are fabulous and the rock formations too. Anddddd we saw flamingos!!!

Tomorrow is Max's birthday and the custom in Peru is to stay up until 12 to celebrate with cake and singing. I'm slowly getting used to the stay up late type of culture but it's 1 a.m. and I'm kinda tired so I'll finish up with a few highlights from the past week.

1) Lots and lots of delicious food because Cami (my papa's sister) is a WONDERFUL cook! We had arroz con pollo, Carapulcra, tamales etc.

2) Visiting Cachiche, the witch town. A little 7 year old boy was our guide and told us the story of the witches and showed us various important sites. These included the seven headed palm tree and witch museum.

3) Getting to know my cousins... Adriano (2), Sebastian (9), Renato (13) We played futbol, tuti fruti, and ninja!

4) Running for REAL! I left the house on my own, chose a direction, and rannnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! Yahoooo I didn't get lost and I got to be in shorts and a t-shirt (its winter so I've been wearing pants and coats) and it felt fabulous :)

5) The 5th birthday party of my cousin Valentina. EVERYTHING was Hannah Montana themed and the was a clown and tons of sweet candies and new foods to try and the hora loca. Apparently the Hora Loca is a Peruvian custom but it was my first experience. Everyone dances around with music and strobe lights and confetti and silly string and hats and whistles and balloons and blinking lights... kinda CRAZY!

So now I'm really going to sleep! But if you want to see photos I've uploaded some to facebook. They don't upload very well to this blog...

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

El Centro de Lima

Peru is an incredible country full of loving people, interesting culture and delicious food! I can't even begin to describe everything I have seen and done so I will just write about a few things. Basically, life is good. My family is so kind and welcoming that I feel completely at home in my house. We have a little dog named Chiquita and I am starting to learn the customs and rules of the house. I got to go with mi papa to buy bread from the panederia this morning. It is super close to the house and the little rolls are both tasty and cheap. Each one is .15 nuevo soles. More or less 20 rolls for a dollar! :) Yummm Yummm me gusta pan! We also played basketball this morning at a court near the house. Anddddd I got to go for my first (short) run in Lima!

So, we have gone many places in the last few days but the most exciting was to the center of lima. We took a taxi to the station and then rode the bus down town to central Lima. The bus is a new public transportation system called the metropolitano and it is free until July 28th. Thus it was FULL of people! Actually, Lima in general is full of people :) about 9 million of them. So, we (my aunt Juani, mama, Ale, and Adriana) walked around and looked at all of the shops and old buildings and churches. Peruvians have gorgeous handicrafts so I bought some super cool little bags and bracelets and a peruvian hat (only 1.50!). Then we ate lunch and toured an ancient convent/museum. It was a guided tour and I was super excited because for the most part I understood everything the lady said! We also went down to the catacombs and saw tons of bones from the 1500's. One thing I love about Peru is that it has so much culture and so many artifacts from long ago. The US completely lacks this type of history... And my aunt Juani knows a lot, loves to talk, and it a great story teller so she made a perfect guide. I certainly don't understand everything in Spanish but I get enough to converse and listen to stories :)

Tomorrow we are going to Ica to visit family and enjoy Fiestas Patrias. We are leaving at 4 in the morning to avoid traffic and staying until next monday. Yayyyyy!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Goodbye Wenatchee, Hello Lima!

Well, it’s really happening! From this point out I am flying solo. I had to say goodbye to mama and Skye at about 6:00 and I’ve been by myself ever since. This is my first experience traveling alone and to tell you the truth it wasn't too bad. I got to make all the decisions and didn't have to wait for anybody. Communication was flawless since the only moving parts were me, me and me. I did however get to experience the awkward shuffle dance of trying to fit my rolling suitcase, laptop carrier and backpack all into a tiny bathroom stall. The big downfall of traveling solo is that you are stuck with all of your luggage all of the time… No laps around the airport or yoga in the hallways. Still, everything went really smoothly throughout all of the trip. They fed us with cornflakes, ravioli, and turkey sandwhiches and all three were relatively tasty. My only complaint is that we had enough trash to fill an entire landfill with all the plastic dishes and wrappings in the meals. They had these really exciting little touchscreen entertainment centers on the back of each chair so I got to play chess, laugh at Devil wears Prada, and watch Pocahantus in spanish. :) Yep thats right I went for the comedy and disney...

My host family is pretty much the best I could ever ask for. They met me at the airport with huge signs that said "Bienvenida Chelan" and they have welcomed me into the family with hugs and kisses. Not only this but it is a HUGE family! Alejandra and I sat on the floor this afternoon and spent an hour drawing out a family tree so I could start to learn. I have cousins and aunts and uncles galore and it seems like about half of them came over to the house this evening for a birthday party. After all of the greetings I am finally getting the hang of kissing on the cheek. And I feel like my espanol is improving already although that might just be an illusion. My dad doesn't speak a lot of English so he is great to practice with and the rest of my family is good about using mostly spanish around me. When we were out at the store and market visiting with family I learned lots about the Peruvian culture. Luckily they love to talk and tell stoires and are very welcoming so my vocabulary is going to expand REALLY fast!

In just 24 hours since I arrived I have already experienced soooooooooooo many new things! We went to a restaurant for almuerza which was at about 2:30 and I tried squid, octopus, civiche, snails and a yummy sweat potatoe/crab dish. All of it was quite tasty and my seafood loving friends should be very proud of me! On the drive home from the airport last night there were jugglers trying to earn money at the stoplights and one little boy even had his batons on fire.

Well my eyelids are pretty much dropping off right now but I'll right more later and try to post a few pictures soon! I have a VERY busy next few days because today is the 30th birthday of my twin sisters. We had cake last night and tonight and a party tomorrow. Right now I have two little girls rolling around and dancing and giggling in spanish on the bed next to me. I have a feeling I am going to spend a lot of time with kids under the age of 5 which should be fun! Adriana, Macarena, and Alejandro are 3, 2, and 2 and they are the kids of my siblings. They speak slowly, have lots of energy, and never tire of doing the same thing over again so I'm sure I will learn fast.

Hasta luego!