Thursday, 10 April 2014

The shenanigans of a Peruvian.

Hello there! Sorry it's been so long since my last post. I've been preoccupied by trying to live the life of a Peruvian hehe. And also slightly because I don't want to face reality and accept my time here is coming to an end. It is hard for me to wrap my head around the fact it is already April! I'm not quite ready to leave my life here in Lima behind. Luckily, I have 17 more days to seep in as much as I can!

March has been filled with much excitement of trying to experience all we can of Lima.  I've always been one to think pictures say more than words, so I'm going to try to let my pictures do most of the talking! ( Don't quote me on that because I tend to ramble:) )

Our first accomplishment of March was a Peruvian soccer game! I've never been to a big wig soccer game before, nor am I too knowledgeable about soccer as it is, however, it did not take long for me to catch on that LAU (The Peruvian club team) was not the greatest. Luckily, I'm not too hard to please, so I was content watching them pass the ball around for hours and never score. Actually I take that back..LAU did score...but for the other team! hehehe I can't decide which part was my most favorite; watching them score on the other team, or listening to all of the ludicrous cuss words they were saying in Spanish. It's a pretty close toss up! I thought us Americans were creative with our cuss words, but boy did they prove me wrong. I would post some on here..but I don't think the Study Abroad office would be too happy with me :) Nonetheless, it was another adventure checked off of our to do list, and I even got to purchase my first ever soccer jersey. I'm sure it will get a lot of use when I return back to the states ;)

The next accomplishment was not one specifically by choice. We were given the opportunity to receive extra credit in our grammar class if we went to the play Incedios. I was excited for this because I love myself a good play, but a bit nervous because this would obviously be my first play in full-blown Spanish. I could lie to you and say I understood it all, but that would just be plain silly. Thanks to Maria Fernanda(our Peruvian friend that went with us), and the always reliable google translator, I was able to understand it more afterwards. They have an English version called Incendies, so feel free to watch it if you'd like. ;) It actually was extremely interesting, despite the confusing dialect and constant changing of timeframe.

Todos del grupo. 
Had to enjoy myself a cup of vino before the show ;)

I'm trying to contain my over exuberayting excitement as I fumble through which pictures to choose. I have one word for you: PLAYA PLAYA PLAYA!! 

Missy's boyfriend Luke came to visit for spring break, so we figured this would be the perfect opportunity to tackle trying to go to a nice playa. This beach is in Asia (pronounced Ah-See-Uh not like the continent). It is about an hour away from where we live in Surco and was well worth the slight hassle of getting there. I say slight hassle because you never know what to expect when taking a taxi here in Lima. Let me give you a run down on how a typical situation of trying to get a taxi usually goes (well at least for us Americans):

First, you must flag one down, which is not usually too terribly hard since there are thousands of them everywhere. Then, you must tell them (in spanish of course) where you are going. Not too difficult right? Well, they then decide if they want to and how much it will be, usually depending on the distance or time of day/night. Next, comes my favorite part, the bartering! There are no set prices for taxis here in Lima, so it's all fair game. Usually the taxi driver says some price that's way too expensive. They think they can pull a fast one and over charge us because we are gringos(white folks), but unfortunately for them we have learned the ropes and have become pretty savvy bargainers. After bargaining up and down and up and down they usually agree on a price thats pretty reasonable. Then, after the whole debacle you're on your way to your set destination!

Well, we did just this for our trip to the playa. We split up into two taxis and agreed with the taxi drivers on 90 (roughly around 30 dollars) soles for each taxi. Perfecto, Vamanos! Psyche...come to find out, our taxi drive had a different idea in mind after we had arrived. Apparently he had to pay more money for tolls, so he was wanting !!!140!!! not 90. Obviously, we were not okay with that. After some slight haggling back and forth he agreed on 100 and we were on our way to the playa! This is just one example of the extreme difference of culture here in Lima. At first it was slightly difficult to get accustomed to, but it pretty much comes natural to us now.

Anywho, the beach was absolutely breathtaking and just what we all needed! We all caught some sun rays, played volleyball in the ocean, and had some much needed relaxation time. We even made Missy into a sand mermaid. :)

I hope to return to this beach one last time before my departure back to the states. We will see if time is in my favor and allows for me to do so, because we have lots left to do school wise before we leave! Either way, it was definitely a time well spent--and with great people, so what more could I ask for?

Hasta Luego, playa! Until next time...

That following night we decided to take Luke to two of our favorite destinations here in Lima. El Parque de las Aguas and of course the infamous Burrito Bar! Both were marvelous as always and I think it is safe to say we all thoroughly enjoyed the evening! El Parque de las Aguas even had different light shows we had never seen before, so that was pretty neat as well! All and all, it was another successful night here in Lima!

Last Friday Brittany's host family threw a fiesta for us! It was a fabulous evening filled with food, laughter, reminiscing, photo taking, vino and of course dancing! It's crazy how fast we've all become friends here. If you didn't know us you'd think we had been friends for years not a mere 3 months. Which is why I refuse to think about us leaving this city until the time comes.

That is all for now my friends. I hope you enjoyed the read and I'm sure you will hear from me soon as I only have just over two weeks left here. :( 

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Our getaway weekend to PARACAS!

¡Vamos a Las Dunas! 

Hello friends and family! This past week was filled with nothing but sun, excitement, and total relaxation. We went on our last group trip to Ica, a city about 4 hours away from Lima and stayed at Las Dunas Resort. Now, this was my first ever time staying at a resort, so you can only imagine my excitement.

Isn't it absolutely gorgeous!? I couldn't get over the perfect view of the sand dunes that we had. Our previous trips were jam packed with different touristic excursions, but this trip only had one designated activity. This was a bit of a relief for us because we were actually able to relax and have some time to take in all of the beauty around us.

We arrived on Sunday afternoon and all enjoyed a fabulous meal. I had salmon and it was a-maz-ing. We then decided to check out some of the activities the resort had to offer. We decided to sign up to take a dune buggy through the sand dunes. I grew up with go-carts and four-wheelers, so I was stoked for this adventure! However, my 5 acres of land certainly did not compare to the vast hills of these sand dunes. I didn't know what to exactly expect, but I think it's safe to say my mind was blown!

After this mind-blowing adventure we headed back to the resort and enjoyed some cocktails and dessert! Me being the "wine connoisseur"  I am, it only seemed natural to try out some of the resort's wines. ;) Luckily, Missy shares the same love for vino that I do, so I had a partner in crime to enjoy them with. (And now I'm pretty sure we have turned Adam and Finn into vino lovers as well :)) That night and the next night we played card games, danced, sang, and reminisced on our wonderful time here in Peru until the wee ours of the night. I'm so incredibly lucky to be able to experience this with such a great group of people! 

Our planned excursion was to Las Islas Ballestas. We took a boat ride through the ocean to an island that had penguins, pelicans, sea lions, and dolphins.  It was pretty amazing to see. We then did some souvenir shopping and headed back to the resort. 

 I had a wee-panic moment. But don't worry I survived.

The rest of the tripped was filled with pure relaxation! I got my March tan on and even got a massage, which was my second massage in one month. (Feelings of jealousy can be inserted here). However, now I am back in Lima and have to bite the bullet and face reality and get some homework done! My spanish has improved tremendously, but my oh my do we have quite the supply of homework. I guess I shouldn't complain considering I have no job or other obligations besides school :) Alright, this is all for now folks! The next few weeks will mainly be consumed of school, and trying to seep in as much as I possibly can of Lima since I have less than two months left here :( I hope you enjoyed the read, and aren't too jealous of my adventures hehehe :) Love and miss you all! 

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Only 63 days remaining. Somebody, HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON!

Why Hello again! Seems like it was just yesterday I was posting on here. I can't believe it has already been 2 weeks. Unfortunately, my post will not be as interesting as the last because I do not have sloths or the jungle to talk about, but I have done some other pretty neat things :)

Vamos a la PLAYA!!!
Last week my Mom told me that a friend of her's invited her to go to the beach for the weekend, and asked if I wanted to go along. Of course, I was not going to pass down that opportunity! My mom left on Wednesday, and my Dad and I hitched a ride on Friday with my brother Jaimie and his girlfriend Nicole. Since I've been here I have hardly seen my brother because he works during the week, and then heads straight to the beach on Friday for the weekend (which who could blame him). Nicole's parents have a beach house, so him and his friends go there, and her beach house happened to be where Giselle (my mom) was staying, which is why we hitched a ride with Jaime. The beach we went to was in the North, and was absolutely gorgeous! Apparently everyone here in Lima during the summer either goes to the North or South to go to the beach. Where we stayed was pretty interesting! It was a club solely for Navy or previous members of the Navy. Viviana's (Giselle's friend) boyfriend(Blancho) was a member of the Navy, so he was able to fill me in on some pretty neat stuff. Their bungalow (club house) was so cute and little, and sat perfectly in front of the beach! It was also pretty impressive how many people we were able to cram into the little house. There was me, my dad, my mom, Viviana, Blancho, his daughter and son, and his daughters two friends. So yeah, I think it's safe to say that fitting 9 people in a 3 roomed bungalow is pretty impressive. Luckily, I'm not too picky, and just need a place to rest my head ;) Heck, I could have slept on the beach if they would've let me! We stayed Friday through Sunday and pretty much relaxed the whole time, which was fine by me! I was able to get my February tan on and swim in the Pacific Ocean, what more do I need!? Oh yeah, I also was able to receive my first ever massage, which was fabulous! You know how in the states they use those CD's with music of waves that are supposed to calm and relax you, well lucky for me, that was not needed considering the ocean was a mere, few steps away. :D hehe Alright, I'll quit bragging for now, but my gosh was it beautiful and surreal! Anywho, our short weekend came to an end and we had to sadly return back to our house. I was so thankful for being able to go. Blancho and Viviana were a hoot, and such great hosts! I was never hungry or thirsty the whole time there because they were constantly passing me food and drinks, which is all this girl needs to be content. :)
 My wonderful Parents and I :) 

 Aren't they the cutest? :)

 The view of the ocean/poolside from their bungalow 

My mom, Viviana and I after our morning stroll on the beach :)

Now, ever since we arrived here we have been told time and time again we need to go to the park with the lights. So, Tuesday evening after our Midterm Exam(ugh), we decided park with the lights it is! Now, "park with the lights", or even "park of the water" does not even come close to justifying the beauty that we saw! Oh my gosh was this place incredible! There were about 4 or 5 attractions of light shows going on at once, so at first Missy, Marina, Jorge, Finn, Adam and I didn't even know what to do with our eyes. I was absolutely amazed by the crazy colors and formations of light these fountains were spewing out. I'm going to let your eyes do the rest of the explaining because it's pretty indescribable! 

National VINO day!!! 

Now, anyone who knows me well, knows that I love my wine. Lucky for me, Finn was resourceful enough to inform us that it was National Wine Drinking Day! So naturally, we all decided to drink some wine after Parque de las Aguas. Which was a blast! We all sat up on my rooftop and played some card games and chitchatted our brains away. I think that we are getting accustomed to the Peruvian lifestyle because we all chit chatted until about 3 in the morning. 

It's still crazy for me to fathom that all of us have only known each other for a little over a month. We've created so many memories and have all developed some great friendships! Our group has to be the best Peru has seen, or maybe I'm just being biased :)

Last but not least..BURRITO BAR & DISCOTECA! 

On Friday night we were all bound and determined to find this so called "Burrito Bar" that a few other members in the group had been bragging about. So, Finn, Jorge, Amber and I caught a taxi and set off for Baronco, where the Burrito Bar supposedly was. Our taxi driver had never heard of it before, but was sure that he could find it once we got there. It took about 15 min to get to Baronco, (15 minutes too I've said driving here is LOCO) but unfortunately our taxi driver couldn't find the exact place, so we decided to say screw it and walk the rest of the way because we knew we were at least in the general area( smart I know). After about 10 minutes of walking around like our true touristic selves, we FINALLY FOUND IT! And boy was it worth it! Qdoba and Chipotle has nothing on the Burrito Bar! After we smashed our faces and down two delicious margaritas, we decided we wanted to go to the DISCOTECA! We all went back to my house and pre gamed for about an hour and then headed to Mira Flores to meet one of the few Peruvians we know outside of our families, Marco. He was able to get us in for free and we danced the night away! Now, I love my Karaoke nights in Kearney, but nothing compares to the discotecas here. The music is perfect music to dance to and it helps that the majority of guys know how to dance! The rest of my weekend was consumed of homework, homework, and more homework! We have a pretty full week ahead of us, so I'm going to mentally prepare myself tonight by watching countless hours of Netflix and hoping tomorrow doesn't come as fast as I know it will :)

Well guys, I hope you enjoyed! You will probably hear from me again sometime next week because we have our last group trip. We are going to Baracas and staying at a resort, so I'm sure I will have some interesting stories to tell. Take care, Chou!! 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

An Amazonian Queen of the Jungle in the making!

One of the 7 Wonders of the World!

So, this past week I was able to experience two completley different parts of Peru. First, I lived vicariously as an Amazonian Queen of the Jungle in Iquitos, and next I lived vicariously as an Andean Princess hiking up the mystical Incan Ruins of Machu Picchu in Cusco hehehe. AHH! What I would do to be back in both of those places. First, let me sum up my adventurous trip to the MIGHTY JUNGLE! 

Now, when I say I was in the Jungle, I was really in the Jungle people! This was not like your typical camping trip in Nebraska. There were tarantulas, and poisonous frogs and deadly insects. OH MY!   Upon arrival, were were immediately picked up by our terrific tour guide, Neil. Who, later on fell in love with me and my amazonian ways, but don't worry I left our love behind in the Jungle ;) Anywho, we instantly hopped on a bus and zoomed through the town of Iquitos to do some short but sweet sight seeing. We visited a local market, similar to a farmers market, and took a peek at some of the typical products Iquitosieans buy for food. Now, I've been to a farmers market before, but I did not eat a COOKED WORM like I did at this market. Yes, you heard me, a cooked worm! Okay, maybe I ate two by choice, but that was only to help my girl Missy out because she could not hang like me and eat her worm. It's just extra protein right? I could go into detail of how it tasted, but I will refrain for those of you with weaker stomachs :) After the market we hopped back on the bus and headed to our boat which took us to the AMAZON! The boat ride was a little over an hour long and when we arrived we were greeted by the kind staff of Heliconia Amazon River Lodge, which is where we stayed. They greeted us with a delicious freshly squeezed coconut drink.  After, we briefly unpacked and had our first meal. (The meals we had were beautiful! Everything was made fresh right from the Amazon and absolutely perfect!) After lunch, Neil came to tell us about our first excursion into the mighty, mighty jungle! We were going to have some time to rest, and then head out on a boat to do some PIRANHA FISHING! Sadly, I did not catch a Piranha, but I did make a valiant effort with my wooden stick of a fishing pole that Neil had so kindly prepared for me. Neil then spotted some botos, pink river dolphins, and we all watched in awe as Neil did some dolphin calls to get them to come above water. It was incredible! Definitely beats my Sea World sighting of dolphins. We then returned back to the lodge and ate another fabulous meal, which afterward, Neil let us know that we were going to all wake up at good ol' 5 AM the next morning and do some bird watching. 

Bird watching...... at 5 am......Ya..........Right on that Neil! 
It was actually quite amazing. I got to watch the sunrise in the Amazon, what more could you ask for!? Next, was our hike into ZEE JUNGLE! I had three main feelings during this adventure. 1.) My confident amazonian feelings of, LETS DO THIS! 2.) My okay maybe I'm not so cut out for the jungle and 3.) My HOLY SHIT this is real life right now feeling. I'm not for sure if there is an exact word for all three of those feelings because I've come to the conclusion it is indescribable until you feel and experience the jungle for yourself. Everywhere you look there is something new, something new, different and amazing for your six senses to clench onto.  

 This is Neil, our tour guide, who had a slight crush on me. hehe The others noticed first, but it didn't dawn on me until he invited me to look at the stars with him one night. Tarzan just wanted himself a Jane, and clearly I was the best fit out of the group ;) However, our love will remain in the jungle. 

Basically, the rest of the trip was consumed with more sight seeing adventures like this, and our last stop was by far my favorite, The Village of The Yaguans. I could go on for hours about the feelings that encompassed my heart while visiting this village, but instead I'll sum it up in a few short sentences. Upon arrival we were immediately greeted by a few children whom were gleaming with joy to show us their pets. A sloth, monkey, turtle and parakeet. As we were walking through their village, we were greeted by such kind, free spirited souls. One lady even invited us into her home so Neil could explain to us a little bit more about the village. Their day to day activities typically consist of hunting, fishing, and cooking what they have gathered. There are no tvs, no i pads, no iphones, no xboxes, no computers, not even electricity or running water. Just themselves, a few clothing items, hammocks to sleep on, friends, family, and the few necessities they need to survive. The Yaguan children are luckily able to attend school because the government provides funds for them to. However, the likelihood of them moving out of their village and furthering their education is pretty low. The current issue their facing at the moment is whether or not the government should provide them with generators so they can have electricity. Something we as Americans see as a necessity, but to them it's a privilege.  We closed up our time there by hearing a spiritual song by some of the tribal members. We were even able to dance with them and purchase some souvenirs that they had hand crafted! On our way back to our lodge I remembered, it's the simple things in life that matter, like the love we have for one another. Life should not be measured by the things we possess, but should instead be measured by the love and compassion we have and show for the ones we love and care about. Luckily, I was reminded of this that day because of the members within the Yagua village. 
My time in Iquitos may have been only for a few days, but what I felt, saw, and learned will carry with me forever!


Whew, one trip down, now one more to go! We all left for the airport bright and early at 6 am and arrived at our hotel in Cusco a little after noon. We were greeted with a coco plant tea, which was to help us with the change in altitude. After, a group of us went to venture off to eat some lunch. Unfortunately, I was feeling a bit under the weather from my previous travels (only 4 of us went to the Amazon and everyone went to Cusco), so I decided to take a nap back in my room while everyone did some sight seeing. The next day we had to be up at 3 A.M. to head to Machu Picchu. After a few bus rides and a train we FINALLY MADE IT! I don't know how we lucked out how we did, but somehow we were able to experience Machu Picchu with no rain and hardly any clouds. Now, this is pretty impressive since it is their rainy season right now. Anyway, thanks to our tour guide, we were able to sight see, and hear historical information about Machu Picchu as well. It still blows my mind how intricately designed the ruins are, and everything the Icans did to build such a mysterious masterpiece. Now I know why it is considered one of the 7 wonders of the world, and why people travel from near and far to see it. I was able to capture some amazing photos, and even now when I look back at them I still can't believe I was there. It's incomparable to anything I have ever seen before! 

The next day we were able to go to the Sacred Valley, which was another incredible sight to see, and steps to climb hehe. We also visited several shops and I was able to improve my bardering skills..woot! The last stop of the day was by far one of the most fascinating things I have ever witnessed! We went to a market that had scarfs, sweaters, blankets, and table cloths, which were all hand made with pure Alpaca fur. We were able to watch these young women and their process of making the Alpaca cloths. The vibrant colors come from herbs and berries. It was so cool seeing how a simple herb can transform white Alpaca fur into turquoise, purple, blue, magenta, ect. It was pretty amazing! These processes aren't simple either. Depending on the type of Alpaca fur, it could take up to several weeks, months, and even close to a year to complete a blanket, sweater, or table cloth. Pretty crazy huh? After they demonstrated their amazing skills, we all shopped around and then headed back to the hotel. 

It was weird for me to think in my head: "Ah, I love everything I've experienced thus far, but I'm ready to be back home and rest." Home: as in Lima not as in Kearney. Oh yeah, did I also mention it's been a little over a month since I've been here. Could someone please press the pause button because my time here is moving way too fast for my liking! Luckily, we have one more group trip planned, and I have plenty of homework that I'm sure will make the time drag on more slowly. :) Well friends, this is it for now! Tomorrow is Thursday, which is our last day of classes for the week, and then Friday I am headed to the beach for the weekend with mi mama and papa! Hopefully I will catch enough sun rays for all you Nebraskians that I'm sure are missing it right now. Until then, hasta luego mis amigas!!!