Megan: Volunteer in Peru #3
Alpaca Bag-How long have I been here now?
It’s gotten to the point that when people ask me how long I’ve been here, that I can’t just rattle off a quick number, like two weeks or one month. So now I just tell them when I got here and let them do the math.
I have found myself learning more and more about how to be a Peruvian everyday. I am starting to learn the difference between a plátano and banana (believe me, they look very similar here), I’m drinking yogurt, I use Whatsaap to contact everyone I know here, I complain that it’s freezing when its 63 degrees, I’m late to a lot of things, and I LOVE lomo saltado (if you’ve never tried it, find a Peruvian restaurant and order it – it is fantastic! Not recommended for vegetarians). I hardly ever speak English anymore, and every so often, I find myself thinking in Spanish.
However, there’s is one thing about myself that is not very Peruvian. It actually pains me to write this because I know that there are Peruvian people reading this, and I honestly fear being kicked out of the country for this revelation. But the truth is:
I don’t really like ceviche very much.
I’ve tried it a few times, and it’s not bad, but give me something with papas fritas por favor.
Daily life here is not unlike any other city. There’s the hustle and bustle of the morning with horrible traffic. My morning is slightly different though, because I live above a bakery. So I get woken up by the smell of fresh bread at four in the morning.
I spend my mornings during the week with the Rehabilitation with Hope program. We are still trying to figure out my schedule for the afternoons, as I will be working with another project. I spend my evenings either at gym classes, with new friends, or eating my face off at the salchipapa place down the street. I spend my weekends either in Trujillo, at the gym, running errands, trying new foods, going out dancing, at Huanchaco beach, going to places with live music, taking surf lessons, or traveling to other parts of northern Peru.
How is the Volunteering Going?
We started therapy this week!
If it seems a little delayed seeing as I have been here for over a month, you’re right, it is. But there’s a reason for that. The therapists and program director of the rehabilitation center do EVERYTHING for the program. They schedule the kids, they evaluate which children should have which therapies, they clean the the therapy space, they work on program development, they provide caregiver training for parents, and they schedule meetings with parents to discuss goals.
Mothers and some of the children from the Rehabilitation with Hope program after receiving donations
Adventures in Peru
I also want to tell you of some of my adventures so far in Peru. Last weekend a friend and I went to a city called Huaraz which is located closely to La Cordillera Blanca, mountain range in the Andes. Huaraz is a small town with a lot of adventurous backpackers and travelers. There are plenty of activities to do just a few hours outside of the city of Huaraz. It takes about 2.5 hours to drive from Huaraz to the higher mountains that most people climb. My first day there, we took a day hike to Laguna 69.
The hike took about 6–7 hours in total, and it was not easy. We basically climbed up 2–3 mountains in almost a zig zag pattern to get there. And as we were at about 15,000 feet of altitude, my body was not cooperating well. They say that you should be in Huaraz (which is approx. 10,000 feet of altitude) for a few days to acclimatize before doing any serious climbs, but I was only there for the weekend wanted to make the most of it. Luckily I got away with a little dizziness and, as expected, I was out of breath. The view was worth it though. I’ve never in my life been so close to a snow capped mountain.
The next day, we took an even steeper climb to hike to base camp of a snow capped mountain called Nevado Pisco. That night we ate lomo saltado and chocolate with multiple snow capped mountains surrounding us. As it got darker, it got much colder, and let me tell you..I love sleeping in the cold but sleeping at almost 16,000 feet, even with 7 pairs of socks on, will make anyone question their life choices. The view, however, was worth it. I didn’t leave the tent or my sleeping bag much at night because it was so cold, but the few times I did, I saw the most beautiful view I’ve ever seen. The moon illuminating the snow off of the mountains and a full sky of stars. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life. And it definitely won’t be the last time I see something like that, especially not while living here.
I arrived back at the bottom of the mountain dirty, exhausted, in pain, and happy.
Until next time.