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. :)