My apologies for not writing smaller ones after each trip, its been so exciting and I just wanted to include it all in one since every week I was going to some new town lol. (I'm going to recount it backwards though- =) warning). We got to volunteer at a high school today. At Colegio PIO XII we met girls that were from 14 to 17 years old. I was terrified to go because the other school that people went to on Monday was bad. The kids not only didn't do their homework but they had no respect for the teacher or anyone else. But with the girls we met today, it was pretty good. We didn't help them with their classes, but we went around and just talked with them. They actaully have better English than some of the university students we know lol.
We've also been reading Deep Rivers; even though it's a slightly difficult read, it's been interesting. Its from the perspective of a younger boy and his thought process is tricky to understand because he skips around a lot. But I like the book because I've been able to get a look at the indigenous way of life a bit more. He talks about how nature is desperately importante to him and how each town shapes him. I like how his innocence has an impact to his life as well; but everyone thinks he is crazy for his thoughts.
Then there was Arequipa, it was amazing!! It's called the white city because of the volcanic rock they use for their buildings. I got to stay in my first hostel ever and it wasn't too shabby at all! Internet, bed, hot water, and pancakes with bananas and caramel; what else could a girl ask for? But we all took a nap since most of us didn't sleep before our flight, but we ventured out to the plaza which was close to our hostel. The plaza had a lot of things, the first thing we came upon were statues of different people from the area all dressed up, there were women in traditional dresses and "creatures" dancing about too. We then started exploring the edges of the plaza and person after person came up to us to offer things. Adriana and I found paintings that were awesome! But then we headed to eat up on the second floor and we had a great view of the plaza. I tried anticucho!! And let me tell you, cow's heart is pretty tasty if I do say so myself. Afterwards we found a tour for only 15 soles, it was 4 hours long and took us through the town and out to the country a little ways. It was a huge double decker bus that was pretty cool to ride in, I could touch the sides of buildings as we drove down the streets in Arequipa. We saw el Mundo Alpaca where they have a little farm of alpacas and llamas and separate their fur and then they have two little ladies creating art! It was cool seeing them at work and then seeing the different kinds of animals. The other couple of places we stopped at in town were mostly to see the view, the city and the countryside. And I love taking pictures of people, there was a violinist in the park and it was so good to hear the sound of it! I also got to try queso helado, which is almost like ice with milk, cheese and other sweeting things in ice cream form. After this stop we headed to the country to see other sites, the one place we actually stopped was an old mill that had a few other attractions as well. We all got on a horse and rode for about 20 minutes. But these horses weren't like the ones in Ica, they seemed underfed and grumpy. A few of them even tried biting one another! And there was no running involved lol. But afterwards I got to put a hawk on my arm!! It was amazing!! So after we headed back, we went back to the square and went to a couple different travel agencies to get a trip to Colca Canyon. Andrei and I found the one for cheaper and that fed us breakfast and lunch (definitely a must!). We also set up a white water rafting excursion for Saturday! By far the best part of the trip! I've never done it before, but I'm so glad I did! Our raft guide Roberto was pretty chill and although I'm pretty sure he made us tip the boat over, it was sooo much fun! And lucky me Jose saved my butt before I floated away. And once I was not moving I grabbed Chelsie as well. But great day!! We overcame a Level 4 difficulty on the river (there are only 5 so I was pumped). After trying to scrub the mud off of my shoulders and back, we headed to eat a good Peruvian dish. I got a fantastic alpaca steak with a red wine sauce! Absolutely amazing! The Canyon was fantastic as well though. We got up and moving around 3am and headed out; it's about a 4 hour trip to get to the Canyon itself so to make the day better we started before the sun lol. But we ate breakfast at the Capitol of the providence, Chivay. The breakfast was simple and I got to play with their kitten too. But what surprised me was that Chivay was the capitol, but there were hardly paved roads throughout the town and it was so small! We also talked about this in our politics class and how different each region and each city is from Lima. I also remember everytime we go through an area with poor towns alongisde of the road, it's disheartening and uplifting at the same time. Most of the buildings look abandoned, but I know people actually live in them, but the people just live their life with what they DO have. But then I see a soccer field and I see how much pride they have in their culture and even if they have so little, they always turn to their heritage- I love seeing it all! The mountains and canyon were so beautiful though! The terraces were everywhere, and much to our ignorance a lot of them were not Incan, but pre-Incan. We traveled mostly in our bus, but we did hike some of the way to the place where we were suppose to the condors... unfortunately did not.. But the hike was awesome! and the pictures were super cool. Our tour guide said we should drive up a little longer and find another area to maybe see the condors, and I'm so glad he did! We saw 5 different condors and a couple flew over us! definitely impressive. And on our way back we stopped at saw the alpacas and llamas and the little ponds were perfect for pictures! Then it was time to head back to Arequipa and leave super early in the morning!
The trip before this was to Ica and Paracas. This was part of our school's plan. It was down south and we stayed at this awesome resort. The bus we took was pretty darn nice as well, even if we thought the driver was playing a game of frogger instead of driving! But the resort was super nice. Right after we got there a couple of us signed up for horse back riding! Holy moly! I've never been on a horse for anything but a circle ride in girl scouts and it was the best part of the weekend, Ashley and I even raced our horses. We just had to do it again right before we left too, worth it! But after our ride we met up with everyone and went sand boarding down this crazy tall hill. Pretty sweet as well; definitely biffed it though both times and but the third time was a success! The highlight of the trip was to see the islands in Paracas about an hour away. In my mind the islands were covered in animals and it was tropical and sweet looking..... well unfortunately they were covered in birds and sea lions, but absolutely no plant life at all. I still really liked the boat ride and the views, but it was just a surprise. And even more surprising was that people lived there a few months and cleaned the poop up. After a while out and about we came back and I fed the pelicans that could probably maul you if they saw you had food. lol But it was a great change of pace to be outside of Lima and just being able to relax without any worries. And also a great chance to talk with people I don't normally get to chat with; different room assignments can always be for the best.
A couple days before we left for Ica, we had a bonfire at Punta Roca- fantastic! It was so nice to hang out with our Peruvian friends and joke around. We had smores too and Emily was awesome enough to make a couple branches into marshmellow and hotdog roasting sticks.
Loving every minute of this!! haha