Though I’ve only been here a week, 9 days to be exact, there is one thing I learned rather quickly: I can go ahead and toss any schedule I might even have thought about out the window. I live by routine: class schedule, work schedule, gym and meals…it’s just the way I survive. What can I say, I am organized in my disorganization, but boy was I in for a rude awakening. Settling in to Lima was a bit of an adjustment, I am a homebody to the core, and for as bad as my travel bug is my itch to be with my family is just as strong. Needless to say, touching down at Jorge Chávez International Airport I pondered the disaster I had gotten myself in to THIS time…for about 10.5 seconds. Aside from cell phones that don’t work my watch is the only clock in our bed and breakfast and although it is glued to my wrist, I am learning ever so slowly that the hour of the day is far less important than what I am doing and how I am enjoying my time here.
Never a dull moment here at Karikuy we celebrated my arrival with a trip to the famous “Hamburger Man” and getting to know one another. The next few days were a whirlwind of Independence Day activities and before I knew it we were gearing up for our first trip – we were off to Casma. I packed my Mountain Smith entirely unsure of what I was about to do and snuggled under my covers for one more good night’s sleep before the big trip…Our early morning ended up being closer to noon, and around here that’s not so strange, so we went with it. Arriving in Supe around 3:00p we immediately looked for lunch. I have found that food in Peru is neither hard to find nor ever bad – both good and bad for me (and my double chin). After lunch we decided it was too late to check out the ruins at Caral so we hopped a colectivo over to Barranca for the evening.
A failed attempt at setting an alarm the next morning put us at the ruins in the early afternoon, but that aside, they were incredible. I was completely stunned by what we saw, and just the thought that I was standing where people lived and worked 5,000 years ago…well, I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel at Machu Picchu! After the ruins we headed back to town for a bus to Casma – finally the beach! – but not without a few adventures along the way. Like I said, I work well with routine, but not catching a bus, grabbing papas rellenas out in the cold, and hitching a ride on a truck were not part of my original game plan. I have to say though; the trip wouldn’t have been nearly as fun without them. That’s what I’ve loved the most about my stay here in Peru so far, I never know what to expect and it makes everything that much better.
Once we finally arrived in Casma we met Julio’s wonderful family and almost immediately decided to stay an extra day. I thought about the limited clothing in my Mountain Smith and figured I could hack it, what’s a dirty t-shirt every now and again, right? Casma was incredible. La ciudad del eterno sol could not be a more appropriate way to describe the city and I soaked up enough vitamin D to last me the rest of the trip and then some. We had some of the best food, best company, and best dancing of the trip thus far. Complete with a trip to the beach at Tortugas and ruins at Sechin our trip was chock-full of adventure. On our ride back to Lima on Monday night, as I thought about this trip thus far and how I was originally unsure of what I was getting myself in to I quietly laughed to myself, chucked that schedule out the window and decided to let myself enjoy the rest of this wonderful ride.
Cassie Detering is a researcher and blogger for the Karikuy Volunteer Program in Lima , Peru.