Volunteer with Karikuy: More literally in Quechua, this means volunteer with your heart wide open. That’s what you’ll be doing here in Lima when you agree to stay at the Karikuy bed and breakfast and donate your time. I am personally now a month into my program, and am soon on my way to see more of the country. But I will find it hard not to look back. Here’s some of what you can expect as a volunteer at Karikuy:
Getting to know Peru:
When is the last time you sat down and researched a country? Well if it had to be any country, I’d say Peru is one that will peak your interest. As a volunteer, you can decide what subject you fancy most and create factual online encyclopedia pages about it. Not only is it great research experience, but you learn about the history, culture, climate, music, sports, geography, politics and/or current affairs of Peru. I started with the subject of climate change, and dove deep into tangents such as logging, coffee cultivation, agriculture and water usage, as well as the history of the Shining Path and the current Free Trade Agreement. Even if you spend only a couple weeks here, you will return home with a plethora of knowledge that will surely impress your friends and family.
Learning to be a native:
Miraflores, San Isidro, Barranco…These are neighborhoods of Lima that most visiting tourists are familiar with. Few can actually say they stayed in the old center of the city, where the culture becomes home-like and original. Peruse a real Limeño neighborhood. Go to the marketsÑ vendors sell everything from hamburgers to movies to woven hats for a fraction of what you will find them for in tourist areas. Nary a word of English will you ever hear. The parties and polladas are a trip. The people are incredibly welcoming, and always willing to share their beer. You are diving into an experience that is paralleled by none other. So improve your Spanish, get to know locals, enjoy inexpensive crafts, and experience the real city life of Lima.
Improve your writing:
All of your experiences are exemplary of what it’s like to be a volunteer, so you are encouraged (aka required) to write a weekly blog about them. Talk about the fresh ceviche you ate or the crazy combi driver you had or the guy that got knocked out by the waitress when trying to steal food (all real experiences). In a new place everything is interesting and blog-worthy. Find your niche in cyberspace.
Eat like royalty:
I arrived to Karikuy around 1am with an empty stomach. I decided to sleep it off, but I was famished the next morning. Breakfast was coffee, tea and a fried egg on a roll, with a bologna-type ham, butter and cheese. I scarfed mine and reached for another roll, but was given a warning: “I wouldn’t do that,” said my fellow volunteer, “you have no idea what’s coming to you for lunch.” So I held back, and I’m glad that I did. Lunches in Peru are traditionally the largest meal of the day, and at Karikuy they are no joke. First it’s a chunky soup with beans and corn and noodles and veggies, with a piece of chicken or beef. This would be enough to satisfy, but then comes the main course: Potatoes and meat with a vegetable or lentils or both, and a heaping pile of rice. There is always fresh juice to wash it down, like the traditional drink chicha, and bread and coffee available if you decide you need more. Don’t worry, you won’t. Dinner is a muted version of lunch, and I love every morsel of it. I have come to realize I have forgotten that empty-stomach feeling I had when I arrived, as I haven’t felt it since.
Exploring the country:
Get a chance to know Peru before, during and after the program. On the weekends, you can take two to three day trips to ancient ruins, Andes mountain peaks, and even Machu Picchu. During the week, play a local and take a combi ride to the Plaza de Armas, run errands downtown or grab some fruit at the local market. You’ll visit the worthy monuments, parks and museums, and eat Peru’s famous and diverse cuisine. After the program, the world (of Peru) is your oyster. Karikuy offers you discounted prices on trips all over the country, and after your time in Lima you will already be feeling experienced and knowledgeable.
Other perks include: hot-water showers (a rarity in Peru), time with a Limeño family, 24-hour access to wireless internet and cable TV, a rambunctious and loving kitty cat, an energy filled guard dog named “Killer”, relaxed work atmosphere, a dart board, a library of books about Peru, a safe gated street, drawers to store your belongings, proximity to several bus lines, video game consoles, a really chilled-out and knowledgeable boss and a whole lot of fun 🙂
Jenny Sherman grew up in the never-tiring San Francisco Bay Area on the California Coast. She graduated with a BA degree in Journalism with a Spanish Minor, but if there were a Traveling major, it would have been more appropriate. Since graduating from the University of Oregon in 2004, she took to the road to live and work in various places and at various trades. She continues to do that to this day, which is how she found herself volunteering at Karikuy in Lima, Peru.
Most consistently, Jenny is a writer/photographer and has lived in Spain, Mexico, Texas, Maine, Brasil, Peru, on a school bus, in a tent and always finds time to go back to San Francisco.