Category Archives: lambayeque

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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el señor de sipan.

my friend/socio doris, invited me to her house on sunday. i made the voyage to chiclayo and then her family and i piled into their van and drove out to sipan for the day. now, mind you, that was my first time in a privately owned vehicle in more than 3 months. it was quite a different feeling to not be sharing my transport with 20 other people.

in sipan, we visited the ancient burial grounds of moche leaders. sipan is famous for it’s untouched tombs and mummies. it was awesome. and really, it was such a great day to spend with my socio and her family.

the museum.

 

everyone looking at the mummy of el señor de sipan.

doris (third from the left) and her family.

 

on our way to see the burial grounds.

the excavation site.

inside the excavation.

a tomb.

pottery in abundance was found in the tombs.

the view from sipan.

while traveling back, we drove through a lot of smaller sites in between. doris’ brother-in-law made an even extra point to drive through zaña for me. there they have a number of historic spanish colonial church ruins as well. the amazing part, is that they were normally on people’s land, and so now they just have crops planted around the ruins.

the citizens of the town built their own footbridge to cross the river, since this was not going to be provided by the government.

the entrance to the footbridge.

we then had a VERY late lunch at probably one of the nicest places i have been to since being in peru. it almost reminded me a bit of a country club. the seating was outside, there was a fancy/modern interior, a very appealing pool, and even a cute wombat!!!!!!!!!!!!!

the scenery.

TOO MUCH CUTENESS.

 

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grupo 5.

talk about boy band mania. these guys are a household name in lambayeque. they were filming a music video, and as a part of it, they were giving a free live show. myself and a group of other volunteers attended, since it was the same day as the federal holiday. it was great to meet new volunteers, as well as reconnect with my fellow 19’ers.

anyways, the music was terrific, and the men in the group were…well…ridiculous. there was so many swooshing hips and gyrating bodies, it was a little too much. however, there was one guy in the group that looked like the peruvian usher.

seriously. you can’t deny it.

the other thing i didn’t get was that the group is called “grupo 5,” but there are 7 guys in the group. anyways, just a mere observation, that will never be explained.

steven, kyle and ali enjoying some grupo 5.

 

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i have arrived.

personally, i think the title says it all. but to elaborate a bit more, on sunday morning i arrived to lambayeque. we were greeted by other volunteers who kindly made an all-encompassing sign. then we went to breakfast and attended our first regional meeting. honestly, after a restless night on the bus, i spent my day and evening in my hostel room. it was great to finally have a moment of nothing for a bit.

monday morning, i finagled a cab to my parraderra and caught a combi to tucume. my ride to site felt like a moment out of a movie. cumbia blaring on the radio speakers, the cobrador hanging out the side door’s window trying to get more passengers and the numerous chirps of little chicks in the box on the man’s lab seated behind me.

i arrived to site by late morning, and carried my things across the park, while everyone stared wondering why the gringa had so much stuff. i walked inside my new house and it already immediately and gratefully started to feel like home. though, poco a poco i have plans to make my room home.

this is everything i own…for the next two years.

this is the essential layout of my room. i am currently in the process of furnishing and painting it.

after lunch, i convinced my really great host brother to join me on an adventure back to chiclayo (the capitol city) to help me buy a bed. little did he know what he signed up for. i brought him for help with pricing (as there are two prices: the actual price and the price they charge gringos) and transferring my bed back to the house.

we went to all the tiendas at the mercado with all only offering expensive, foam mattresses, which honestly did not fit within the budget that the peace corps gave me to furnish my room. we met up with steven, his host mom and aunt, in hopes that we could barter for better pricing since we could then buy together.

out of luck, we resorted to going to a big name store, which is usually very expensive, but we remarkably found great mattresses within our budget. now came the great adventure. moving our mattresses around town while we bought the rest of the items for our beds.

proudly posing with our new mattresses.

everyone squeezed in our small taxi.

we returned to the mercado with our mattresses, and then bought our bed frames. then had the bed frame store hold on to our mattresses and bed frames while we went and purchased sheets and pillows. then, david and i hailed another taxi, loaded up my bed, and then caught a combi back to tucume.

i have two very astute observations about peru thus far: they are the best, but craziest drivers in the world, and they are incredibly talented at tying knots. needless to say, 6 hours later made it home. david was kind enough to help me with putting together my bed. i still need to get a light blanket it for it. and the ladies at the tienda thought i was crazy for not wanting pink/fuschia sheets with flowers. apparently, that is what the ladies love here?

my new bed.

i returned to the market yesterday to buy a desk and two sets of shelves for storage in my room. my host mom was kind enough to join me, and it was incredible. i went to the market a couple of weeks ago to price out items, and when i returned with my host mom, on average the prices they told her were 20 soles less. needless to say i am incredibly grateful for her attendance. also, honestly, i was most worried about how to get the shelving units back to my house, but yet again the combi driver’s understanding of aerodynamics and knot-tying left me impressed. maybe i should take some lessons from them?

túcume.

welcome to my site.

i spent about 3 days at my site. i met my socios, who are fantastic. they were really supportive of me and of the peace corps, and were really proactive about incorporating me into meetings and introducing me to a lot of key people in the community. i even found myself in a surprise all-day meeting on local economic development. needless to say it was a very busy week, and it has left me feeling even more motivated and excited about returning to my community and getting to work.

my host family seems like a pretty great fit thus far. i have a host mom, two sisters and a brother and a little niece. all of my siblings are 15 to 22, so they are all independent and extremely helpful. my host brother, david, took me around the town as well and introduced me to all of his friends. they all gave me a tour of the town. it was nice to already start building confianza with some of the local youth.

the local municipality and church on the plaza.

a small cancha where the boys play soccer every evening with a stage with a pyramid painted with the same pyramid in the background.

as i mentioned before, my town is also known as “the valley of the pyramids,” and there are 26 pyramids in my site. there was one in particular (see above) that is really close to the center of town. my first night, david took me around town and we turned the corner and there was this pyramid with the sky filled with stars and the milky way. it was one of the most beautiful sites i have ever seen in my lifetime. we then returned the next day to hike to the top of it.

a pyramid.

another cancha next to the pyramid.

david at the top of the pyramid.

the point of the pyramid (or where it used to be).

our shadows.

directly in my town there are about 15,000 people, and i have a number of caserios in my site with about 6,000 more people. the caserios are very campo and there is a lot of agriculture. i feel like i get the best of all the sites, as i am only about an hour away from the beach, but i have mountains in the distance, i have ancient ruins (with an impressive museum to boot) and green too!

some of my site in the distance.

the large cancha and the rest of my town.

we have in my town peru’s (in)famous hairless dogs…well they only have a small patch of hair on their heads. i find them ugly…yet i still like them…go figure…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

site visit.

the lambayeque crew ready to explore chiclayo!

a couple of weeks ago, the new lambayeque crew and i headed to lambayeque for the week to learn about our capitol city and also visit our sites, where we will be living for the next two years. we took an overnight bus to chiclayo, our capitol city, and we were a little surprised to have no one meet us at the bus station. but we had the address to our hotel, so we just all got cabs to our hotel. they swindled us, as really we just needed to go around the corner. then when we showed up to our hotel, and they did not have reservations for us until the next day. (as it turns out, all the volunteers/our regional coordinator thought we were not to arrive the next day, and had planned a greeting party for us…ha). after we dropped our bags in a room, we then went and explored the city. as it turns out it was chiclayo’s anniversary and there was a huge promenade in the plaza.

the promenade.

keeping guard.

i liked the mayor’s shades.

marching to their own beat.

we then explored the rest of the plaza, including the municipality.

the plaza.

the muni.

so many vultures here.

we also explored the mercado and priced out furniture. i found the best pizza since being here in peru…though it is still not great. we also found a great burger place, with bananas and pineapple on them. it’s pretty awesome. and to stay on this food train, we found a place with chicken empanadas that taste like chicken pot pies. yum! also, chiclayo had a lot of other great things to offer, but for whatever reason food is what sticks out in my memory…ha. typical.

 

 

 

 

 

 

site placement.

this week, probably one of the most important events occurred during my training (with the exception of my swearing into the peace corps in august). i received my site placement. up until this point i only knew that i was going to be placed on the coast, though even that could have changed.

on monday, i went to the surco training center and met many staff members, as well as had interviews with the country director and the assistant director for my program. during my interview with the assistant director, we discussed my fbt, and i voiced that felt the least comfortable when we visited the smaller sites (around 1,000 people). she then told me that i should keep an open mind and that they were confident that i would be happy no matter where i was placed. i, of course, took this as “i suppose i should be prepared to go to a small site.” that night, i even had a dream that i received my site placement and i received a site that only had 58 people, which is not even a real possibility here. so really, i began tuesday thinking there was no way but up in regards to site placement.

kendra, meghan, me, carlhey and nydelis all anxiously awaiting the receipt of our assignments.

all morning, all the volunteers and i eagerly checked our watches until it was 1pm. at one, pretty much all of the peace corps staff arrived, and we were instructed to line up and when they counted down to “one.” we were all supposed to run where they had hung envelopes with our names on them.

how they hung the envelopes. our names were on the opposite side that was facing us and in no particular order.

everyone rushing towards their envelope.

everyone trying to find their department.

once we found our envelope with our name inside, we found a puzzle piece which was color coordinated by department. so the first step was to learn who in our training group is going to your department. then we all rushed to a table to anxiously figure out what department our puzzle created, so we could learn which department we were headed to.

working on our puzzle.

we then quickly and excitedly learned that we were headed to LAMBAYEQUE!!! lambayeque is just north of la libertad, and it’s capitol city, chiclayo, is only about a 12 hour bus ride from lima. lambayeque has a lot of biodiversity: the beach, the sierra, ancient ruins, and even includes an ecological reserve with indigenous species found nowhere else in the country or world (including the cutiepatootie spotted bear…google it, you won’t regret it).

my group and i jumped up and down in excitement and then went to meet our regional coordinator (the person who oversees our region, in particularly helps set up sites, housing and socios) and learn more about our actual site placement.

the peru 19 lambayeque crew with our regional coordinator (me, ali, steven, sam, Kimberly, betty, michelle, kyle and casey).

a map of lambayque and where all of the volunteers are located.

we then received folders with our name and our actual site placement.

my folder.

i am headed to túcume, which has a population of 20,600 people (this is on the larger site end of the spectrum). túcume is nicknamed as the “valley of the pyramids” as there are more than 26 precolonial pyramids. i get the best of both worlds, as i am only a 45 minute combi ride from chiclayo and probably about an hour from the beach but i am in a valley near the mountains/foothills. i am ecstatic.

i am a nerd and took a picture of the powerpoint slide of my site. but seriously, look at how rad those pyramids are. my new (future) home.

my name is on the map! there is a small business volunteer in a neighboring site from peru 17, which arrived one year ago. it is rumored that he is only 15-20 minutes from me.

i am really excited about the group of from training class that is headed to lambayeque. especially that my good friend, casey, will be just about 30 minutes or so from me.

my site has had two previous volunteers, but both have been with small business. i am the first youth development volunteer to arrive, and their last volunteer left a year ago. it will be interesting to see what programs are still continuing and what additional work there is to do. the advantage of coming in as a replacement, yet new for my program volunteer, is that many of the leaders in the community are used to working with a peace corps volunteer, and you have programs that you can already start to work with. this can help in integrating into the community as well as keep me busy during my first three months while i work on my community diagnostic.

 

me with my site placement. (npp, check out those nails).

i have received limited information on my host family, but i am so excited to meet them in just a couple of weeks. honestly, this just makes me all the more excited about the next two years. everything is becoming more real and more tangible everyday. túcume, lambayeque here i come!!!!!

 

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