Bienvenido a Perú! – An Introduction to Volunteering with Karikuy

Well hello everyone and welcome to my life for the next month! So I know many of you are wondering “who is this guy?” and “whats he doing in Peru?” Well folks, I’m here to tell you. My name is Evan and I am working for the Karikuy organization to help promote tourism in Peru. My primary objectives for this month will be to research and update the Perupedia database based on my findings.

So whats a guy to say about a country he’s been in for less then 24 hours. Well lets see… So here’s the rundown of my epic journey. So I arrive at the Lima airport circa 8:30 that evening. Having slept for two hours the previous night after a night of excessive adult beverage consumption and a day of traveling trying to chemically restore myself via copious quantities of caffeine, I was feeling like a bigger mess then Courtney Love’s career. Completely disoriented I stumbled my way toward the baggage area where in my lethargic state thought it would be a good idea to rent a phone for the month for ten bones. So I now can receive free international calls for the next month! If anyone feels like chatting it up, feel free to email me and I’ll give send you my digits. So I continued on my way toward the exit where I was greeted by Julio and Anna from Karikuy. We are chatting for awhile when Anna asks where I’m from. Long story short, it turns out that Julio and I went to the same high school…. At this point I’m convinced I’ve completely lost my mind. It is at this point when we leave the airport with Julio’s uncle that I get my first true impression of Lima. Traffic.

There is no word that can describe the pandemonium that is the Lima traffic system. We get to the Karikuy Bed and Breakfast where I am greeted by “Killer” who is Julio’s dog. After unpacking and meeting Christina, one of the other volunteers, we explored the local scene. The area of Peru where we are staying is called “La Planeta”. It apparently has a reputation for being a rough area, but has cleaned up a bit as Peru’s economy has continued to grow. The first thing I noticed when we went out at probably around 10 PM on a Wednesday was that there were actually people out! Not just a few people, but like a lot of people! Young people, old people, everyone! Kids were playing on the sidewalks, adults hung out and chatted over a snack. It was while observing this that I was introduced to my new best friend… the hamburger man! He literally stands outside his house and makes a myriad of burger variations for less then 1 dollar. So we pickup some burgers, a bottle each of rum and Coca Cola and made our way back to the house. After a card game, some Miley Cyrus remixes and a couple empty bottles later my first evening in Lima was complete.

This morning I woke up to the soothing sounds of power tools and Andean flute music (a surprisingly melodic combination…) Julio and I had breakfast with his Aunt and cousin. Julio then set me up with a Perupedia account so I could start work on the site and gave me access to this here blog. After doing some research earlier in the day we made our way to center city to check out the Plaza de Armas. The architecture around the plaza was beautiful. The churches are perhaps some of the most elegant looking buildings in the area. We visited the “Iglesia de La Merced” on our way to the Plaza. The inside had several ornate biblical scenes elaborately decorated with more gold then Lil Jon’s mouth. Just as I was about to take a picture I was approached by an old women who tried to give me some religious literature and convince me of something in Spanish. At this point I played the dumb American card and Julio got me out of there. We then checked out the Plaza de Armas where people were hanging out. It was a beautiful little area with a large fountain in the center. They had a stage setup near the plaza where they were doing a “Fan Fest” for the World Cup. Afterward we went to a bar where I had my first “Pisco Sour”. Pisco is a type of liquor that is distilled from grapes and is widely consumed in Peru. The Pisco Sour is made with lime, egg whites, and syrup and sometimes other ingredients. It was after I had my first one that I realized why it was so popular. It tasted delicious and even after having one I was feeling pretty good. We then made our way back to the house where we had dinner with Julio’s aunt.

Meals are an important part of the culture here. We eat three meals a day here at the house. Julio’s aunt does most of the cooking. Breakfast is usually pretty light, consisting of rolls, a fried egg, avocado and tea. We usually eat between 10 and 11. Lunch is traditionally the biggest meal of the day. The feast usually consists of soup (noodles, vegetables, beans and with the option of adding fried corn), homemade fresh juices (delicious!), and a main course. The main course usually consists of rice, yucca (similar to a potato), vegetables and chicken. Lunch is usually followed by a break in the day where we finish up some work, watch soccer or just hang out. In the evening, dinner is usually a smaller portion of that days lunch. As for late night snacks, some vendors are open as late as midnight during the week and even later on the weekends.

So I think that will do for me folks. I have quite the travel schedule coming up and its looking like this:

June 22 – June 29: Machu Pichu and the Inca Trail

June 29 – July 2: Lake Titicaca

July 8 to 11 – Puerto Maldonado (The Amazon!!!)

Make sure to stay tuned and follow the adventures of Ev and the rest of the Karikuy squad as we adventure through Peru! Tonight we head over to the Avocado festival and karaoke night! You’ll never think of “Total Eclipse of the Heart” in the same way again… I know I wont. Adios por ahora!

Evan Burawa is a Volunteer with the Karikuy Organization

Evan Burawa

A New York native, Evan Burawa joined the Karikuy squad with the goal of learning and experiencing Peruvian culture. Evan constantly looks for unique opportunities to travel and experience new places. Having graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a B.S. in Biology, Evan will cover a wide variety of topics ranging from geography and ecology to arts and culture. Armed with a backpack, some books and an ipod full of KISS records, Evan hits the road, air and sea in his quest to discover the essence of Peru.

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