Category Archives: adventure

pause.

a8ac31100d0411e3a6de22000a1fb5b7_7mike and i both took a pause from our schedules, and we spent 4 days in lima together! hooray! but really, i am just grateful that he was willing to travel all the way down to peru for just 4 short days…which flew by way too fast. we had a blast! we stayed in a condo with an ocean-view in miraflores, walked around town a lot, went bowling, explored barranco, finally visited the ministerio de cultura to visit the shining path exhibit, ate ceviche, and drank plenty of chicha morada. we had another grand finale feast at another top restaurant in peru, this time at central restaurante. it was named as one of the 2013 top 50 restaurants in the world, and the number one overall restaurant in peru. honestly, it was incredible. personally, i thought it was better than astrid y gaston, because they paid attention to every final detail, including the presentation. i still find myself salivating over all of our dishes…mmmmmm…

enoying the ocean-view from our balcony.

enoying the ocean-view from our balcony.

exploring barranco.

exploring barranco.

one of these things is not like the others.

one of these things is not like the others.

enjoying the plaza in barranco.

enjoying the plaza in barranco.

the ministerio de cultura.

the ministerio de cultura.

i asked mike to feel how soft my hair is, and this is how he responded...so romantic...

i asked mike to feel how soft my hair is, and this is how he responded…so romantic…

i had a really hard time with the front door to our condo building...as in it intimidated me...but seriously, it was HUGE!

i had a really hard time with the front door to our condo building…as in it intimidated me…but seriously, it was HUGE!

i had such an incredible time with him, and now i have reacomstombrared myself with the life in the norte. it’s tan caliente right now, and i am counting down the days until we get to see each other again!!!

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chaparri!

a couple of weeks ago, i received a last minute phone call from my friend, tina, who asked ali and i to join the ministerio de turismo at chaparri…all expenses paid. of course i knew better than to say no, and freely offered my help as they were looking for gringos to use in new promotional materials they are making for the ministerio de turismo.

chaparri is a nature reserve about 90 minutes from chiclayo and generally speaking is quite expensive to reach because of its remoteness. however, the reserve is famous to bird watchers and animal lovers around the world. it has partnerships with zoos in france and london, and pumas, foxes, wild hogs and the endangered spectacled bear…and of course countless species of birds. here are some of my favorite shots from the day:

letting us know we were headed in the right direction.

letting us know we were headed in the right direction.

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tree sap.

tree sap.

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enjoying the scenery!

enjoying the scenery!

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we thought we heard a cat...surprise!

we thought we heard a cat…surprise!

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the osos!!!

the osos!!!

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the photographer and bear getting personal.

the photographer and bear getting personal.

scratching his back (or) striking a pose? you decide.

scratching his back (or) striking a pose? you decide.

the bears were checking out the aerial camera.

the bears were checking out the aerial camera.

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ali getting photographed.

ali getting photographed.

just hanging out with a cobra...nbd...

just hanging out with a cobra…nbd…

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stepping inside the shaman's office.

stepping inside the shaman’s office.

the whole crew!

the whole crew!

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la gran experiencia!

the fancy hotel room that lan put us in when our first delayed flight caused us to miss our connecting one.

the fancy hotel room that lan put us in when our first delayed flight caused us to miss our connecting one.

my gran came to visit!!!! hold on. i am going to repeat that for you, so it can sink in: MY GRAN CAME TO VISIT!!!!!!! and my goodness, did she have quite the experience! before coming to visit me, she spent 2 weeks traveling with another tour group that went to cusco, machu picchu, puno, and bolivia! then she headed up north to the coastal desert, where we hung out. she attended my classes and meetings with me. in fact, i think she got as close as one can get to having the “peace corps experience.” we stayed at my house, and she slept in my bed, and i made use of the tile floor. we hung out with my family and friends, and she became the local celebrity. we also took the time to see some of the local sites out here, since my region is rich in history and filled with archeological sites.

enjoying her first ceviche!

enjoying her first ceviche!

breakfast with mi familia.

breakfast with mi familia.

 

enjoying the pyramid ruins in tucume.

enjoying the pyramid ruins in tucume.

another cute photo with my family.

another cute photo with my family.

loving the museo de tumbes reales.

loving the museo de tumbes reales.

we then took a day trip to trujillo, where we visited the ruins of chan chan and also, took time to walk around the city and, of course, ate delicious food!

enjoying the ruins at chan chan.

enjoying the ruins at chan chan.

the view of the plaza.

the view of the plaza.

just a couple of gals taking over trujillo!

just a couple of gals taking over trujillo!

after taking over the coast, we then traveled to a region in the south eastern part of the country, madre de dios. we stayed at a couple of lodges on the rio tambopata in the amazon rainforest basin. we were just tucked away in one of the few untouched parts of the amazon rainforest, and we were just a stone’s throw from puno and bolivia. needless to say, it was one of the most incredible vacations i have ever been on. we saw more than 70+ species while we were there, and saw various types of ecosystems. if you ever have a chance to travel there, i highly recommend it!

gran is all ready for the 3 hour boat ride to our first lodge!

gran is all ready for the 3 hour boat ride to our first lodge!

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enjoying our boat ride!

enjoying our boat ride!

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our incredible room at refugio. it was extremely relaxing, so much so that i ended up reading 4 books while on vacation! yes, please.

our incredible room at refugio. it was extremely relaxing, so much so that i ended up reading 4 books while on vacation! yes, please.

birdwatching with our guide.

birdwatching with our guide.

oxbow lake.

oxbow lake.

a log covered in bats.

a log covered in bats.

with a kepok tree.

with a kepok tree.

i used a machete to break open a brazilian nut and it only took me 3 tries!!!

i used a machete to break open a brazilian nut and it only took me 3 tries!!!

i love this picture. i asked our guide what a certain fruit was and before he even finished to say whether or not it was edible, gran decided to go ahead and pop a seed into her mouth. the seeds are actually used for dyes and paint because of it's brilliant color. gran is modeling it on her lips.

i love this picture. i asked our guide what a certain fruit was and before he even finished to say whether or not it was edible, gran decided to go ahead and pop a seed into her mouth. the seeds are actually used for dyes and paint because of it’s brilliant color. gran is modeling it on her lips.

the fruit in question.

the fruit in question.

we eventually headed 4 more hours down the river to stay at the tambopata research center. it was one of the most incredible places i have been to. it was so tranquil and beautiful. on our boat ride there, there was quite the rain storm brewing.

we eventually headed 4 more hours down the river to stay at the tambopata research center. it was one of the most incredible places i have been to. it was so tranquil and beautiful. on our boat ride there, there was quite the rain storm brewing.

our room at the research center.

our room at the research center.

the research center focuses its studies on the macaws, specifically the macaw clay licks. in the amazon, much of the wildlife feeds off the clay, which is unique to only this region. when the center first started, they handfed some macaws that were abandoned by their mothers. as a result, many of those macaws still visit and pass time at the center.

the research center focuses its studies on the macaws, specifically the macaw clay licks. in the amazon, much of the wildlife feeds off the clay, which is unique to only this region. when the center first started, they handfed some macaws that were abandoned by their mothers. as a result, many of those macaws still visit and pass time at the center.

enjoying a muddy hike!

enjoying a muddy hike!

parrots and macaws feeding on the clay.

parrots and macaws feeding on the clay.

fashion queen! but seriously.

fashion queen! but seriously.

enjoying the view of puno.

enjoying the view of puno.

honestly. the best part of the entire vacation was getting to spend time with my gran. she is incredible and vivacious and i hope that i have inherited her good health. but really. i have always had a close relationship with my gran, so i am so glad that we were able to have a chance to share this time together, and also that she was able to see the life that i have forged for myself here. love her. and miss her.

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the great may escape.

goodness gracious. my, oh, my how time has escaped us…or really just me.

after celebrating the most incredible peruvian birthday, i hopped on a plane to visit friends and family in the us. i was overwhelmed in general, but also by the love of those closest to me. bu seriously, i was pretty overwhelmed culturally as well. being in the peace corps, you get so used to a certain pace of life, a very slow one, and also that about 90% of your time is spent independent of all other americans and in solitude in your country’s culture. another 5% is spent with any volunteer that may be near you, who you may see with varying frequency (once a week or once every month or so depending on schedules). and the final 5% is with other volunteers once or twice month, who are all living the same life of solitude as you, so really we are pretty not self-aware of  how strangely awkward we have become. so, to put me in a situation where i was constantly interacting with people, by the end of the 3rd day in a row, i slept for almost a full 24 hours to catch up. though, i am not complaining. it was so wonderful to see all of my family. and i am so blessed that my brother and close friend both flew in from nyc to see me.

it was especially nice to get to spend time with mp, who was my main reason to visit the us. when mp last left, we went to cusco and lima, and now it was my turn to pay him a visit. though, he kept me quite busy and even gave me a second birthday surprise! he coordinated with a local animal sanctuary to do an at-home visit with a SLOTH and FENNEC FOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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i think it should also be noted that i got my hair cut for the first time in almost a year, and saw it straightened and cleaned, and i felt like a new woman. but obviously with the animals above i was on another level of excitement that was out of this world. eventually all good (read: great) things have to come to an end, and a very reluctant to leave girl was pushed on to her plane by an amazing mp to return to peru.

i arrived back to peru in one piece, and had a few days in site to remind everyone that i was still here and wanting to work, and also coordinate and prepare for our PEPFAR (president’s emergency plan for aids relief) training. with this training, my socia and i were able to take away a number of great new resources and statistics to share with our community, and now have the opportunity to receive aid money for our project.

doris and i after she received her certificate of completion!

doris and i after she received her certificate of completion!

the following week, we jump started our 6 classes of our sex ed leadership training program, but unfortunately later that week, she received news that she was being transfered to another post far from my site, so now i am still spearheading this training, but more so solo-style, since my health post is dramatically understaffed, and have them help out when it needed. but if anything, this motivates me even more to get my youth promoters trained, so they then can be doing this part and alleviate some of the stress from the health post as well.

i have been terrible about using my camera lately, so i will succinctly describe the other activities that have been keeping me quite busy:

  • i have been giving business charlas to the artisans, and helping them figure out what the costs of their products are and how to determine what they should be setting as their prices. and goodness, they were in need of this. one artisan had been selling these beautifully embroidered bread covers for only 10 soles, when the cost alone to make them was 35 soles.
  • 6 classes of pasos a week keeps a girl busy. let’s just leave it at that.
  • i have been working with my youth leadership council (ADEPZORT) on helping them with their community diagnostic. we have been visiting the most rural caserios and my goodness, you never get used to seeing the amount of poverty that exists in this country, or in any country, but you can’t help but want to give so many more opportunities to these people.
  • celebrated dia internacional de los museos with other volunteers, and finally visited my museum’s pyramids.
  • weekly youth group meetings with my mochumi young women’s group.
  • coordinating a 5-pueblo job fair for september
  • coordinating an environmental awareness event with my colegio for next week.
  • working on a website for the artisans
  • working on a video for the museum
  • and of course, camp ALMA!!!!!!!!!!! (which will be covered in it’s own post)

so i have been busy, busy girl and for that i am grateful. i have also been able to watch all of the new arrested development…superb! as a parting gift, here is a picture from the top of one of my pyramids:

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taking over the sierra.

beautiful huascaran.

beautiful huascaran.

or really, it would have been that the sierra took over me, since i spent the entire time there with a terrible cold that i am just now really getting over. in fact, it took two days after we came down from the mountainous city for my ear to finally pop…it was pretty tragic.

anyways, i headed to the beautiful department of ancash and stayed in huaraz, which is the department’s capital city nestled up in the andes, for a few days for a peace corps training for project design and management (pdm), and followed that training with my in-service training (ist). at pdm, we each brought a community partner that we work with, and introduce them to basic project design and management 101. it’s extremely rich in information and also follows an american schedule, which of course exhausted all the socios, as they are not used to working a 8a-6p schedule without a siesta in the middle of the day. it was also a lot of work to reiterate a lot of the principles that were being taught, but it was great to get to know my socio better, and we have become even better friends as a result!

half of our pdm group w/ socios!

half of our pdm group w/ socios!

me explaining some of the concepts with my socio, berardo.

me explaining some of the concepts with my socio, berardo.

after our long days of training, we went to the main city for water and just to take time to look around. this is me and some of my favorite fellow pcperu 19 ladies.

after our long days of training, we went to the main city for water and just to take time to look around. this is me and some of my favorite fellow pcperu 19 ladies.

and i totally decided to fall for the tourist trap of posing with an alpaca because why not???

and i totally decided to fall for the tourist trap of posing with an alpaca because why not???

while there, in between being sick and at trainings, some ladies and i took the time to see a few other places in ancash.

beautiful yanguy. the original town was destroyed by a landslide, and rebuilt itself in a new location.

beautiful yanguy. the original town was destroyed by a landslide, and rebuilt itself in a new location.

the domineering huascaran.

the domineering huascaran.

the beautiful, turquoise glacier made lake, laguna llanganuco.

the beautiful, turquoise glacier made lake, laguna llanganuco.

as you can see i was unable to contain my excitement.

as you can see i was unable to contain my excitement.

the awesome-looking bark on the trees.

the awesome-looking bark on the trees.

on our way to see pastoruri.

on our way to see pastoruri.

some wild horses.

some wild horses.

one of a kind cacti.

one of a kind cacti.

to get to the glacier, first you go by horseback and then hike for about another mile. this is me and my horse, ol' smokey.

to get to the glacier, first you go by horseback and then hike for about another mile. this is me and my horse, ol’ smokey.

carlhey and i on our horses.

carlhey and i on our horses.

the view on our hike.

the view on our hike.

i made it!!!!

i made it!!!!

the glacier is an excellent example of the dramatic effects of global warming. so much of the glacier has changed just within even the last year!

the glacier is an excellent example of the dramatic effects of global warming. so much of the glacier has changed just within even the last year!

another example of the melting glacier.

another example of the melting glacier.

brrrrrrr!

brrrrrrr!

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semana santa.

clear, blue ocean in mancora.

clear, blue ocean in mancora.

last week was a national holiday here in peru, semana santa. everyone, both peruvians and volunteers, had the majority of the week off. to celebrate, i was originally going to go hiking in chachapoyas to a remote lagoon, but due to my needing to be back at site early and to the number of mudslides in the sierra right now due to the rain, i opted to head north with some girlfriends and relax on the largest tourist beach in all of peru, mancora.

first, i went and visited for the day at a friend’s site just outside of piura city, and we did a couple of english-teaching charlas. after, we packed our bags and headed west to the beach. the weather was warm. the water was perfect. the food was incredible. and it was nice to feel like i wasn’t in peru for a few days. no one stared at us, and the service at the restaurants were surprisingly attentive. i was there with a group of about 6 girls, and we just had a delight. we went to the beach all-day everyday, and would eat a delicious dinner in the evening, and normally went dancing for a little while after. all and all, it was incredibly relaxing. and i think, i am one of the only volunteers to go to mancora for the first time and walk away absolutely loving it…

kg, sandy & me.

kg, sandy & me.

the only notable adventure from the trip was the journey back. as mentioned earlier, i needed to be back to site a day early, which put kg and i traveling back on a big travel day. most large bus companies were already full, so we opted for a smaller company. the night of, we showed up a little early for the bus, and a guy told us that it was broken down, and was not going to show. so, while i waited to get the full story from our vendor, kg went to see if she could find another bus. luckily, she flagged a bus down that was headed to trujillo, and they agreed to stop in chiclayo for us. as they pulled up, i demanded our money back, and then accidentally took too much money back as i swiftly grabbed the remaining change in his hand, and hopped onto this bus that stopped to pick us up off the side of the road. the bus was completely booked, so we were stuck riding in the front cabin with the drivers, who basically sold us their seats for a pure profit. though i wouldn’t say we got the best night’s sleep or any sleep at all, as the driver was chewing on coca leaves, as the other drivers took swigs of liquor before taking over their portion of the drive. the sad reality, is that what we saw is not unique to our bus, but is more so common and we only witnessed what really happens on our bus trips. however, we made it back safe and sound and there was limited swerving on the road, so all and all it was quite the trip! so worth it! and honestly, i loved that delightful week with my ladies!!!

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farewell to samuel (read: sam-well).

despedida group lunch: ceviche on the beach-e.

despedida group lunch: ceviche on the beach-e.

one thing that should be noted about peace corps. each of our experiences is unique. no two services are the same. even those of us who serve so closely together. there are numerous reasons why this is, which i won’t go into. but just as no two services are the same, the length needed to serve also varies from volunteer-to-volunteer. some volunteers feel the need to serve the maximum 5 years of service, and others it’s just mere months, but normally most people complete 2 full years of service. the experiences we gain here are so unique, yet we form a strong bond of unity with one another, because on some levels we do understand the challenges and accomplishments we experience.

casey, sam and steve at lunch.

casey, sam and steve at lunch.

oh heyyyyyy ladiesssss.

oh heyyyyyy ladiesssss.

 

for my dear friend, sam, his time has come to an end. he is the bravest volunteer i know. he has overcome numerous obstacles and made such an impression not only on the lives in his community, but also in his fellow volunteers’ lives. he has such a positive personality that is always ready to take advantage of whatever life has in store for him and to live every moment to its fullest. his enthusiasm is infectious, and he is irreplaceable. also, i think it’s also important to note that he is my fellow texan, and that is bond that i can never be broken.

the three musketeers.

the three musketeers.

sam. lambayeque won’t be the same without you. peru 19 won’t be the same without you. peru won’t be the same without you. but i am so happy that you get to share your greatness elsewhere (maybe even hawaii?). i can’t wait to be reunited with you again…because it WILL HAPPEN, and let’s be honest, it will probably look like this:

no apologies.

no apologies.

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central lima.

in the plaza mayor in lima.

in the plaza mayor in lima.

during my 2.5 months of training, i never went to lima all that often. i was, generally, too preoccupied in integrating with my family in order to increase my language proficiency, so having a few days in lima with mp was perfect. we went to the main plaza as well as visited the catacombs, which really gave me the heebyjeebies, but so much fun at the same time. i definitely recommend this stop while exploring central lima!

only smiles in the plaza mayor.

only smiles in the plaza mayor.

 

the cathedral of san francisco, where the entrance to the catacombs is located.

the cathedral of san francisco, where the entrance to the catacombs is located.

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parque de las reservas.

IMG_2728earlier in the day we visited my family in lima, and they gave us the best recommendation we received all week: parque de las reservas. at night they have a giant water show, and the park is filled with numerous other fountains with light and music and interesting structures. it was so much fun! however, i would say that we left wishing that we had worn our swimsuits, as it was so tempting to run and play in all the fountains as well.

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we were soaked after running through the fountain tunnel behind us.

we were soaked after running through the fountain tunnel behind us.

this one was a blast to watch. all the kids tried not to get sprayed until...

this one was a blast to watch. all the kids tried not to get sprayed until…

SURPRISE!!!!

SURPRISE!!!!

if you ever have a free evening in lima, i highly recommend this. it is only 4 soles to enter and is located next to the national stadium. it is so much fun and will bring out the kid in you!

 

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barranco.

the streets were lined with old houses that made me feel like i was in the old-timey french quarter of new orleans.

the streets were lined with old houses that made me feel like i was in the old-timey french quarter of new orleans.

while walking along the beach, we made our way over to the neighboring district of barranco. it’s known for it’s architecture, as it was the home of  many of the french and italian immigrants. now it is just full of ceviche restaurants and to a more relaxed bohemian feel than the rest of of its neighbors.

we grabbed some ceviche at canta rana, which had the best ceviche i have ever had. the atmosphere of the restaurant was a delightful change of pace as well.

we grabbed some ceviche at canta rana, which had the best ceviche i have ever had. the atmosphere of the restaurant was a delightful change of pace as well.

i loved the delightful little library in the town plaza.

i loved the delightful little library in the town plaza.

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