After finishing the semester at the university in Guadalajara Mexico on Friday (after studying there for the past two semesters) I only had a few – really busy – days to say goodbye to my boyfriend, to my friends and to my Mexican family. I was really sad to leave Mexico since it feels like a second home to me due to its friendly people, its culture – basically everything:). After a long birthday party on Monday I set off to Peru on Tuesday still kinda drunk. So the flight ( I was traveling for like 13 hours because I had a long stopover in Mexico City) to Peru wasn’t too funny I guess since I was still feeling kind of sick. The whole trip started off bad – I didn’t bring any American Dollars, because I was sure I could change my Mexican Pesos here (don’t ask me WHY I was thinking that) and there was a misunderstanding about my arrival date with Julio so he didn’t come to pick me up which was kind of my fault as well because I never double checked if he was actually going to pick me up. But in the end everything worked out alright: already in the airport I was able to withdraw Peruvian Soles from the cash machine and I met a really nice Peruvian guy on my flight who worried about me getting lost in Lima; so he helped me get through customs and eventually took me in his taxi to a hostel in Miraflores where I stayed the first night totally worrying about my laptop getting stolen. The next morning Julio picked me up and my volunteering work at Karikuy for the Perupedia site began even though the first day was really relaxed and Julio showed me around in downtown Lima. Likewise as for the other two volunteers for me the first combi ride was quite a shock. I mean I was used to the buses in Mexico and to the busdrivers who drive like maniacs but nothing compared to the combi drivers here! They cram as many people in as possible and it doesn’t matter that there are people standing and they actually have to bend their head down because they are standing in just a normal van. Well I guess I should take a picture of that, right;)?
Apart from that my first impressions of Lima were really positive. The city center is really beautiful and I’m looking forward to see some of its really interesting sights: Monasterio de San Francisco which has catacombs and a remarkable library, National Museum of Anthropology, Archeology and History of Peru, Museum of the Nation, several huacas (ruins) which are scattered throughout Lima and colonial mansions. Already the first night I tried some of the Peruvian “street food”: moliente a hot drink which is good for a sore throat, quinua another hot drink which is healthy for you and heats up the body and small eggs of this weird bird called codorniz . The time I’ve been here the sky was basically fogged up which is normal – they say:) – because of its closeness to the sea and because of the winter time (which also means that it is kinda cold, wearing a jumper the whole time being the standard).
On Saturday we (the Karikuy members and one client) went on my first trip. From Lima we went straight to Ica which is 4 hours to the south of Lima. Ica is famous for its HUGE sanddunes and I can say they ARE amazing and I guess even more famous is Huacachina, an oasis close to Ica in the middle of the sanddunes where we stayed overnight. That same afternoon we went on a sand buggy tour to explore the sanddunes and eventually to do some good sandboarding. Our driver was this weird little old guy who was having a lot of fun with the four of us and who took us to some really high dunes to do the sandboarding. I mean I have done sandboarding before, but nothing compared to this – it just gets sooooo freaking fast and even though you put your feet down on the sand you can’t really break. I guess when you get up from the sandboard at the bottom of the dune it is the first time you realize how “high” you are from the adrenalin that just shot into your veins. The next day me and the client we went on a tour to the Ballestas Islands where we were able to spot tons of birds, penguins, sea lions, seals and starfish. The smell though of the bird poop was not so pleasant, but interesting to know that the Perivians harvest the poop called guano and sell it as a fertilizer. After that we did a winery tour to three different bodegas (wineries) where they explained us how they produce Peru’s most famous liquor – Pisco – which is made out of grapes. And of course they made 🙂 us try all the different kinds of Pisco and wine so we ended up being kinda happy I guess.
On Monday the trip became really interesting (for me) since we went to see the Chauchilla Cemetery and the Nazca Lines. The Cemetery exhibits mummies of the Nazca people who were buried 2000 years ago. They are really well preserved due to the climate – dry and somewhat hot and its location in the desert. Many mummies still have their hair (you can make out gigantic dread locks of the shaman or medicin man), some have remains of skin and nails. The cemetery has been robbed and is still being robbed for the valuable burial objects which is in my opinion a shame since this leaves the whole area scattered with human bones, textiles, cotton, hair and other objects of the tombs. The Peruvian government doesn’t invest any more money to explore the remaining tombs – of the 300 tombs only 12 are explored – which doesn’t help in preserving the remains either. After that we took a scenic flight to see the Nazca lines which somewhat topped my expectations – all these images let it be animals, astronaut or geometric figures can clearly be seen from the sky. There are several theories about who constructed the lines and why: ranging from representations of shamans’ dreams brought on by hallucinogenic drugs to an astronomical calendar of the ancient Nazca people. To say the least the whole place seems to have some kind of mystery about it…
This week I’m basically going to be focusing on my research project (volunteering options in Peru) and maybe I will get to see some more of this beautiful country this weekend when the other volunteers arrive.