Thursday, July 28, 2011


We had such a beautiful experience in Puno, Peru. This is a city along the board of Peru and Bolivia which has the Lake Titikaka- and according to Wikipedia it is the largest lake in South America by volume of water. We took about a 5 hour bus ride there overnight and arrived at 4 am. We were with our friend Coco who has family there so we borrowed their car to go to a quaint little town outside the city. Here we got a history lesson and the opportunity to watch the beautiful sunrise over the lake. Afterwards we returned to his aunts for breakfast and then at 8 am got on a boat to go out to the lake.

First we made a stop at what are called "Los Uros" which are naturally floating islands made by the people. There are normally about 5-6 families that can live on each island but there are many many islands in this little area, so much so that one of the islands is specifically for elementary school only. It was a beautiful little culture, but the only downside is it has become very touristy- so much so that tourism (and visitors like us) are their main source of income. When people stop they have many little -beautiful- things to sell, yet quite expensive. Nonetheless, it was very nice to meet the people, however we were speaking to them in Spanish which was both our second languages- their native language being Quechwa- so conversation was a bit limited.

A view from the lookout- you can see the beautiful view and their houses
Next we took another 3 hour boat ride to an island called Amantani. This is also a gorgeous island. We stayed with a local host family. They were so hospitable and kind to us and shared with us the little that they had. For example, we were warned that they hardly ever eat meet on the island unless its a wedding or birthday. However the dad of the family had gone out fishing that morning and we had delicious fish for lunch. Then we took a hike up to the top of the island where we watched the beautiful sunset. That night after dinner we went to a traditional party with typical dance. They lent us some clothes so we could wear the traditional clothing and we got to dance at the party!
View from the house

1 day old new baby sheep 
View from the top of the island

Our host mom
We slept there, ate breakfast and took off for another island "Taquile" about an hour away. Again we hiked an hour to the top, took pictures and had lunch. Going down was a little tough of the knees since it was 500 steps. We made it and took the 4 hour boat ride home. It was absolutely gorgeous and words nor these pictures can even do it justice. However if you really are interested in the pictures, I literally have hundreds more from the weekend- there's just too much to upload here.
From the top- amazingly blue water

absolutely gorgeous
Last week was fairly normal in terms of teaching and life around Arequipa. However this week was the final exam for our classes on Wednesday. I can't believe July flew by so quickly- and I'm sure August will be even faster. We only have a month left!

So a few things I've noticed around town that I wanted to share relating the title and the genuineness of the people here. It seems that no matter where I go, at whatever hour, people are so kind- and genuinely. For example we went to a small little restaurant at about 9:45 at night because we were so hungry after class. Even though it was getting late, the older couple who seemed to be the owners gladly served us and were so happy we had stopped in. This is one example of how here, often times things don't close until the customers are ready to leave. This is for restaurants, shopping stores, bars, ect. You name it. I know there is some culture in that they are trying to make any extra money as possible, but there is no way to argue that all those smiles are fake.

Another example of the kindness of people here that I have noticed at least three times now, is when we are in a small (Ma and Pa restaurant as we might call it back in the US) diner eating lunch, the tables have been full. Often times there is only one gentleman sitting at a table and if another gentleman comes into the restaurant and see all the tables are full, he will sit with the other one gentleman even though they are complete strangers. It is just part of the culture maybe or just part of the genuineness- I don't know. But it makes me smile every time.

A third example of this (which should be read with a grain of salt) is the other night when a group of our friends went out downtown. When we were leaving I was rather cold, so a nice boy I had just met that night lent me his jacket to wear even though he didn't have another. Maybe this is just gentleman-ness and it happens in the US as well, but I really am blessed to have the opportunity to be here to experience this culture for three months.

Today is Peru's Independence Day, so we will see what kind of entertainment or celebration there is around town. Maybe we'll even find a fun new adventure to take today to share with everyone. It is nice because we get a few days off of work!

Sadly, our two roommates have moved out of the house. They live close but it is now only Karlene and I in the house. Well at least for a short while, supposedly we are having a new roommate move in next week.

I keep trying to think of more things I can share about the culture, but it is becoming difficult because after 2 months of it, I am getting used to or accustomed to many aspects of the culture. Maybe I haven't told you about the "watchiman" yet. This is a security guard basically who wanders around the neighborhood 24 hours a day 7 days a week. At every certain block he is to blow his whistle, supposedly to let all bad guys know he is there. We are fortunate enough to have one of the stop points right below our window- so we get to hear this beautiful whistle about 4 times and hour. Tim heard it once and thought it was a dying bird. Yes, it's lovely.

Hope all are well. I miss you lots!! Take care.

Friday, July 15, 2011


Busy busy busy. It has been a while since I've last written- for a few reasons. First, we moved last Saturday but they thought they would start the process earlier and took our internet out on Tuesday. Secondly, we kept active going out with friends. And thirdly, because I've been trying to think how I'm going to put together my thoughts for this blog post. Seeing that it has been almost two weeks, I think I will just describe the highlights rather than recap each day.

The most interesting of the last week was the food we ate! A friend took us out on Wednesday night after classes because it was "National Teachers Day." And because of that all the schools in the country were closed to appreciate teachers- all but Extreme because they figured we would get a vacation day at the end of the month. Well regardless our friend Ramiro still thought it was necessary to show us his appreciation, very kindly and we went to eat. We got a plate of grilled meat- very delicious. After a few bites I was told that it was cow heart! I was surprised but it was so good! Ramiro also quite sneakily (not sure if that is a word?) bought a rose for each Karlene and I to say thank you for being teachers. So sweet!

Thursday we went out to lunch with our friend Yesenia who lives here and our friends Carlos and Claudia who are from Peru but currently live in WI where we met them. However they were visiting here so we met up and had lunch. I ordered a stuffed avocado (mixed vegetables and shredded chicken) which was quite good with lovely presentation. Karlene wasn't quite as wise in her decision of goat foot salad. It was literally whole feet on her plate- but I had to try it since it was there. Needless to say- it was disgusting and tasted like foot with a terrible texture, go figure. We also tried an interesting combination of dark beer with Chicha Morada (the purple juice drink I showed a few weeks back) and was actually better than I thought especially for not liking beer at all.
Stuffed avocado :)

Goat foot salad :(

Friday we went out to lunch with our old and new roommates to a local "Chinese" restaurant. Not great not authentic Chinese food, but good company! After class on Friday, I went to Transformers in 3D! with a co-worker. I was pleasantly surprised with how much I liked the movie!

Saturday was the big move. We packed up our belongings and moved to the new place. Fortunately, we love it! It is lovely, warm and has HOT water! It is fully furnished as it was the directors old house and there is a stereo so we always have the radio on which I love! We are really happy with it. It is farther from the school now but we discovered its only about a 15 minute walk to the school (20 on the way home since its all uphill.) Here is the beautiful we have from our new balcony!

After the move, Ramiro took us out to eat, guinea pig! It is a common dish here in Peru and so we had to try it, as cruel as you all may find it. We need to experience all parts of the culture and food!

The aftermath
In all reality, I did not like it that much but I had to try it! Then we drove around up part of a mountain where we got a great view of the country. Peru is really pretty!
the biggest bull I've seen that close

A friendly baby llama we saw
That night, we had a nice little house warming party with our friends. Very fun. Then Sunday was a nice relaxing day. This week has been more relaxed. We have explored our new neighborhood a bit, got all moved in and settled, cooked the meals in the house.

Tonight we are going to Puno. This is a city on the border of Peru and Bolivia on Lake Titicaca. This is the biggest lake in South America. We are going with a friend and going to stay on an island in the middle of the lake. Its supposed to be a great place for photos so I will fill you in next week. Have a wonderful weekend!

Monday, July 4, 2011

       Tuesday June 28th is national "Ceviche day" so naturally we had to go out with friends to get ceviche. The president decided to make this a national day about three years ago (I believe) because Chile was trying to claim Ceviche as Chilean. Anyways the ceviche was great as always. This was the last day of class for June (their final exam on Thursday) so it was a review day. Today is "casual" day so teachers could wear jeans and the students could order pizza. So it was a more relaxed, fun atmosphere. I had the students do a mini "lesson" teaching the class (or more so reviewing) what they had learned in June. This went better than hoped- and was good since I didn't have much time to prepare since I went out to lunch for almost 4 hours. After class, we had to continue celebrating the day so hung out with our friends some more. We went to a high lookout over the city- it was gorgeous. Unfortunately I forgot a camera but it probably wouldn't have worked regardless- but just imagine a nice city view at night. 
       Wednesday is also a national holiday where people actually get off work. We spent most of the day around the house, went up for a walk to Plaza Vea, saw a gold floating man (whose sign said we need to believe in the power of magic) and went out at night with a friend for pizza for a while.
     Thursday we went to our friend Milagro's house and had a delicious lunch of a typical dish called "recoto relleno" which is stuffed pepper. That day was the final exam for our classes and then we had a nice relaxing night. (and watched my favorite show online, reruns of course,- the OC!)
      Friday was dedicated to grading. We needed to finish the tests and turn in final grades for June. Then we had a staff meeting. At this staff meeting they were explaining how they were still figuring out the July schedule and changing things around. Well they said we would no longer have classes in Casa Via (where Karlene and I live) because the neighbors complained too much- well they have been saying this all month so I didn't believe it. Until they casually mentioned they would be handing in the keys next week. I just had to laugh at the ridiculousness of everything. They said, "oh don't worry girls you won't be homeless." But I suppose now it is really official that we are moving out. Once we got some more details, we found out we will be living in the house we were originally supposed to live in. Our director has now moved to Lima and we will be in his house. So I can give more details next week once I'm settled in.
     Along those lines, we have since gotten two new roommates and our old roommates have sadly moved out. Our two new roomies are from Virginia and are quite friendly. They will be going to the new house with us as well.

     Anyways, Friday night we finish grading and then went out to celebrate June. We went dancing for a while with some friends and then came home to get some rest since we had a big Saturday planned at the beach! Another friend picked us up Saturday morning (since our kids classes are now done) and we headed west towards the coast. It is winter so it was not to go swimming- but we figured we still had to go see it! And we finally brought our camera- so here is one of the beaches in the cloudy-winter in Peru.
This is a view from higher above in Mollendo (Karlene and I are by the car)

Here is down closer to the water 
A fun friend I found

This is at another beach in Mejilla

Again in Mejilla, with some maybe not so safe wooden houses right on the rocks 

       The we ventured to another beach. When we got out, we were told that it has a famous Castle. So of course we had to get our picture with it, so we flagged down a boy on the beach to take our picture.
I didn't get the squatting memo- but this is with our friend Ramiro
     Although it was cold (hence the two sweatshirts I'm wearing) and cloudy, we were at a beach in Peru so I figured I had to at least dip my toe in to the water. So I roll up my pants a bit and walk slowing towards the water. It was very cold and all the sudden there was a huge wave! So I had to run back up the shore a bit. 

 But I was not going to let that stop me so I tried again. I rolled my pants up a little bit more and walked down  towards the water again. I was laughing and joking with Karlene and Ramiro when I look back to see an even bigger wave. 
Unfortunately I couldn't outrun that one.
    On the two hour drive home, I was rather cold, with good reason, so I borrowed Ramiro's jacket to keep warm. So I bundled up!
        At one point along the way home, we stopped to get some water. Then we were convinced into trying some sugar cane. We got 5 bags of them and they are just chopped up sugar cane you are supposed to suck on. They are tasty, and supposedly they help whiten teeth also!

This is what it looks like before
    We got home, I took a quick cold shower to get all the salty water and sand off me. We had a nice little snack of Gallo Pinto (rice and beans) and then went out with all our friends (ex and new roommates). Saturday was "Friend's day" and so of course we had to celebrate with our friends! However, because of this- the streets and all the bars and dance clubs were packed! Nonetheless, we found a nice place to go and had a nice evening. 
         However, unfortunately we came home to an overflowed sink that we had to spend a while cleaning. It still won't stop dripping and our sink is clogged. (There is one plus to a new house!- along with the fact that it is rumored to have a washing machine! *fingers crossed*)

     Sunday was a lazy day. We went out with another friend for lunch around 3. I had a HUGE plate of food that came with a very large piece of steak, two fried eggs, rice, fries, plantains and salad. No worries, I finished it all. 

     Monday, today, was the first day of the July session. So I prepared for just a relaxed day of review. I have the same two groups from the previous month, which has good and bad. However on the first day people don't think its necessary to show up. So one class I had 8 of 15 and in the other 2 of 6. Hopefully more will come tomorrow! But this morning Karlene and our other two roommates and I decided to wander around to go get our nails done. We found a nice friendly little place where I could get a simple color (or French if I wanted but my nails are too short because it is so dry here they always break) for 2 dollars.
Mine clearly being the chubbier one :)
     Unfortunately I missed my family reunion this weekend. The pictures looked like a lot of fun and I'm sad I missed it but I also had a great weekend. Hope everyone had a wonderful 4th of July!