A review of Saturday, June 19, 2010

Today was our free day in Cuzco!

We visited the Saturday arts and crafts market in San Blas Plaza. I bought many precious handmade goodies including hair accessories, Delta-shaped earrings, Alpaca fur socks, a ceramic nativity scene, magnets and a leather photo album--just helping the Andeans. :)

We visited the Saturday arts and crafts market in San Blas Plaza. I bought many precious handmade goodies including hair accessories, Delta-shaped earrings, Alpaca fur socks, a ceramic nativity scene, magnets and a leather photo album--just helping the Andeans. 🙂

After mass, we went to a native cultural show with traditional dancing and singing in Quechua. The women sing in very high voices. Each performance included different dances and costumes from various areas of Peru.

After Mass, we went to a native cultural show with traditional dancing and singing in Quechua. The women sing in very high voices. Each performance included different dances and costumes from various areas of Peru.

During intermission, we looked at traditional clothing from the different Peruvian regions.

During intermission, we looked at traditional clothing from the different Peruvian regions.

After the native show, we power walked through the mass of people to the Plaza de Armas for tonight's big celebration in preparation for one of Peru's biggest festivals, Inti Raymi, the Incas' honor of the Sun God. There was a live concert, fireworks and all kinds of food like a giant carnival or fair. I've never seen so many people in one place. What a great last night in Cuzco!

After the native show, we power walked through the mass of people to the Plaza de Armas for tonight's big celebration in preparation for one of Peru's biggest festivals, Inti Raymi, the Incas' honor of the Sun God. There was a live concert, fireworks and all kinds of food like a giant carnival or fair. I've never seen so many people in one place. What a great last night in Cuzco!

The official flag of Cuzco consists of the colors of the rainbow because it’s the Inca flag. The mayor requires all businesses to have the flag displayed. Our tour guide from yesterday, Jimmy, said many tourists are confused and think Cuzco is a gay community until they find out its origin from the Inca Empire. Isn’t it interesting how institutions differ in how they look at the same things?

We visited the Saturday arts and crafts market in San Blas Plaza. I bought many precious handmade goodies including hair accessories, Delta-shaped earrings, Alpaca fur socks, a ceramic nativity scene, magnets and a leather photo album–just helping the Andeans. 🙂

We spent about two hours at the market, and returned to the hotel in time for lunch. We had lomo saltado, my favorite Peruvian dish.

We collected money from the group to give Rafael and Saúl for tips. I’m giving Rafael and his wife OU hats, and I’m giving Saúl an OU clock. There are few things better than spreading the Sooner spirit!

Dr. Kenney and his wife, Señora Marchand, Lori, Carlee, Jane and I went to Mass at the Jesuit Church in the Plaza de Armas. It’s beautiful! The precious priest was old and physically fragile–I wanted to give him a hug! I smiled at him when I went up for communion, and he gave me the biggest grin (the first smile I saw from him that night) then patted my face. Thank you, Jesus, for reminding me that a smile goes a long way! God is Good.

After Mass, we went to a native cultural show with traditional dancing and singing in Quechua. The women sing in very high voices–I feel like I could be a star in these shows with my voice. Each performance included different dances and costumes from various areas of Peru. During intermission, we looked at traditional clothing from the different Peruvian regions.

After the native show, we power walked through the mass of people to the Plaza de Armas for tonight’s big celebration in preparation of one of Peru’s biggest festivals, Inti Raymi, the Incas’ honor of the Sun God. There was a live concert, fireworks and all kinds of food like a giant carnival or fair. I’ve never seen so many people in one place. What a great last night in Cuzco!

I found candy like M&Ms called Chin Chin. I’m pretty much famous here, but the makers just forgot the “H” like many do when they write my name.

I had gelato, starfruit flavored, for what may be the last time in Peru at a place down the street from our hotel called Dolce Vita.

I can’t believe we leave for the Amazon in the morning. Bye Cuzco, electricity, Internet, hot water and civilization; hello jungle, crocodiles, pumas, mosquito nets and NATURE!

A review of Friday, June 18, 2010

The Cuzco Cathedral has so many giant paintings, gold-covered adornments and original items from the Spanish conquest. One of my favorites from the Cuzco Cathedral is the painting of the Virgin Mary in which her eyes move like those of the Mona Lisa because the artist went to the same art school as Leonardo Da Vinci. Other fascinating things are the first cross the Spaniards brought to Peru and a silver-covered car only used for special religious celebrations.

The Cuzco Cathedral has so many giant paintings, gold-covered adornments and original items from the Spanish conquest. One of my favorites from the Cuzco Cathedral is the painting of the Virgin Mary in which her eyes move like those of the Mona Lisa because the artist went to the same art school as Leonardo Da Vinci. Other fascinating things are the first cross the Spaniards brought to Peru and a silver-covered car only used for special religious celebrations.

It’s interesting that the Santa Catalina Monastery for women was once the Incas’ haven for the Virgins of the Sun. The Incas and Spaniards had the same idea for the same location.

It’s interesting that the Santa Catalina Monastery for women was once the Incas’ haven for the Virgins of the Sun. The Incas and Spaniards had the same idea for the same location.

My favorite part about the La Merced Convent was the room in the basement once occupied by a priest. This priest lived in the room for 13 years without ever leaving, but it is believed that he left the room once a year for the celebration of Corpus Christi. He split the room in half, and painted one side to be Heaven and the other side to be Hell. He chose to sleep in the Hell side of the room and to live this way of life because he wanted repentance from his previous years in which he lived a life of sin.

My favorite part about the La Merced Convent was the room in the basement once occupied by a priest. This priest lived in the room for 13 years without ever leaving, but it is believed that he left the room once a year for the celebration of Corpus Christi. He split the room in half, and painted one side to be Heaven and the other side to be Hell. He chose to sleep in the Hell side of the room and to live this way of life because he wanted repentance from his previous years in which he lived a life of sin.

San Blas Catholic Church is in San Blas Plaza, surrounded by art shops. San Blas has the most beautiful and detailed pulpit in Cuzco. It took the artist more than a decade to create the pulpit. The artist’s skull is placed on top of the pulpit to honor his dedication and work to the church. It once had a small crown made of diamonds, but it was stolen years ago.

San Blas Catholic Church is in San Blas Plaza, surrounded by art shops. San Blas has the most beautiful and detailed pulpit in Cuzco. It took the artist more than a decade to create the pulpit. The artist’s skull is placed on top of the pulpit to honor his dedication and work to the church. It once had a small crown made of diamonds, but it was stolen years ago.

The girls and I went out with our Peruvian friends, Saúl and his brother to a show at Ukuku’s Cultural Pub. We watched two boys perform an indigenous dance involving scissors and bright costumes and listened to a Peruvian band.

The girls and I went out with our Peruvian friends, Saúl and his brother, to a show at Ukuku’s Cultural Pub. We watched two boys perform an indigenous dance involving scissors and bright costumes.

The girls and I went out with our Peruvian friends, Saúl and his brother to Ukuku’s Cultural Pub where we listened to a Peruvian band.

Ukuku’s Cultural Pub where we listened to a Peruvian band.

We had dinner at Norton's Pub in the Plaza de Armas. The ceiling of the restaurant is covered in flags from the world, and it has a tiny balcony that looks out to the plaza where people were celebrating the Inti Raymi! Most of us enjoyed hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and fries there.

We had dinner at Norton's Pub in the Plaza de Armas. The ceiling of the restaurant is covered in flags from the world, and it has a tiny balcony that looks out to the plaza where people were celebrating the Inti Raymi! Most of us enjoyed hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and fries there.

OU Journey to Latin America students visited the Cuzco Cathedral, Santa Catalina Monastery, San Blas Catholic Church and La Merced Convent.

All of these places were once Inca places of worship, and parts of the original structures are still standing.

The Cuzco Cathedral has so many giant paintings, gold-covered adornments and original items from the Spanish conquest. One of my favorites from the Cuzco Cathedral is the painting of the Virgin Mary in which her eyes move like those of the Mona Lisa because the artist went to the same art school as Leonardo Da Vinci. Other fascinating things are the first cross the Spaniards brought to Peru and a silver-covered car only used for special religious celebrations.

It’s interesting that the Santa Catalina Monastery for women was once the Incas’ haven for the Virgins of the Sun. The Incas and Spaniards had the same idea for the same location.

My favorite part about the La Merced Convent was the room in the basement once occupied by a priest. This priest lived in the room for 13 years without ever leaving, but it is believed that he left the room once a year for the celebration of Corpus Christi. He split the room in half, and painted one side to be Heaven and the other side to be Hell. He chose to sleep in the Hell side of the room and to live this way of life because he wanted repentance from his previous years in which he lived a life of sin.

San Blas Catholic Church is in San Blas Plaza, surrounded by art shops. San Blas has the most beautiful and detailed pulpit in Cuzco. It took the artist more than a decade to create the pulpit. The artist’s skull is placed on top of the pulpit to honor his dedication and work to the church. It once had a small crown made of diamonds, but it was stolen years ago.

It’s awesome learning more about the Catholic faith and seeing the result of the merging of Catholic and Andean/Inca symbolism in the architecture and art.

We later discussed Spanish colonization, presence of Catholic Church and observations from today’s visits to four Catholic institutions in tonight’s class in the courtyard of our hotel.

There’s traditional dancing and live, Andean music around Cuzco because people are celebrating the upcoming Inti Raymi, an Inca festival honoring the Sun God!

We had dinner at Norton’s Pub in the Plaza de Armas. The ceiling of the restaurant is covered in flags from the world, and it has a tiny balcony that looks out to the plaza where people were celebrating the Inti Raymi! Most of us enjoyed hamburgers, grilled chicken sandwiches and fries there.

The girls and I went out with our Peruvian friends, Saúl and his brother to a show at Ukuku’s Cultural Pub. We watched two boys perform an indigenous dance involving scissors and bright costumes and listened to a Peruvian band.

I finally have Wi-Fi to update my blog, but it won’t let me upload pics, so just visualize with me.

It’s funny that most of the tourists around here wear North Face…even the native wear (fake) North Face. I’m assuming the North Face the native wear are fake because I priced North Face clothing here, and it’s more expensive than in the United States. Plus, I have an eye for distinguishing between real and fake brands. Did the people of Cuzco start wearing North Face because many tourists wear North Face?

Our hotel in Cuzco, Casa Campesina, has unisex community restrooms and showers. So, it’s startling when we forget that, and we see a man walk out of the shower or stall. BUT our lunch is always delicious. You win some; you lose some!

One of my nostrils is constantly bleeding while the other nostril is constantly running. Thank you, chilly Cuzco and your high altitude! The Peruvian germs are attempting to make me sick…I must fight back!

A review of Thursday, June 17, 2010

There was a strike today in Cuzco by some businesses and most automobile employees including bus drivers and taxi drivers, so no automobiles were found on streets. This was nice because Cuzco is crowded and full of cars. The strikers were parading around the Plaza de Armas.

There was a strike today in Cuzco by some businesses and most automobile employees including bus drivers and taxi drivers, so no automobiles were found on streets. This was nice because Cuzco is crowded and full of cars. The strikers were parading around the Plaza de Armas.

Because of the strikes today, we were unable to drive anywhere. SO, we hiked to and climbed Sacsayhuaman, Inca ruins in Cuzco. The hike was about 25 minutes, but it was worth it. We were able to see the entire Cuzco area from the top and see it clearly due to lack of pollution since no cars were running today.

Because of the strikes today, we were unable to drive anywhere. SO, we hiked to and climbed Sacsayhuaman, Inca ruins in Cuzco. The hike was about 25 minutes, but it was worth it. We were able to see the entire Cuzco area from the top and see it clearly due to lack of pollution since no cars were running today.

OU Journey to Latin America students at Sacsayhuaman, Inca ruins in Cuzco.

OU Journey to Latin America students at Sacsayhuaman, Inca ruins in Cuzco.

My favorite part about Sacsayhuaman was the natural slides. Rock erosion caused parts of the stone structures to be smooth and wavy, like playground slides. Inca children may have played on these naturally made slides.

My favorite part about Sacsayhuaman was the natural slides. Rock erosion caused parts of the stone structures to be smooth and wavy, like playground slides. Inca children may have played on these naturally made slides.

We also visited Santo Domingo Church and Convent. It was once an Inca temple, Qoriqancha (or Koricancha( but was rebuilt into a church and convent during the colonial period. There is a garden in the center of the structure. It was neat to see the mix of Incan and Spanish work.

We also visited Santo Domingo Church and Convent. It was once an Inca temple, Qoriqancha (or Koricancha( but was rebuilt into a church and convent during the colonial period. There is a garden in the center of the structure. It was neat to see the mix of Incan and Spanish work.

We later had a 3-hour class in the courtyard and multipurpose room of our hotel. We discussed our Machu Picchu experience and a famous Machu Picchu poem and watched a video about the Spaniards' conquest of the Inca Empire.

We later had a 3-hour class in the courtyard and multipurpose room of our hotel. We discussed our Machu Picchu experience and a famous Machu Picchu poem and watched a video about the Spaniards' conquest of the Inca Empire.

There was a strike today in Cuzco by some businesses and most automobile employees including bus drivers and taxi drivers, so no automobiles were found on streets. This was nice because Cuzco is crowded and full of cars. The strikers were parading around the Plaza de Armas.

So much excited today—we’re blessed to be here at the right time to witness all of this!

Because of the strikes today, we were unable to drive anywhere. SO, we hiked to and climbed Sacsayhuaman, Inca ruins in Cuzco. The hike was about 25 minutes, but it was worth it. We were able to see the entire Cuzco area from the top and see it clearly due to lack of pollution since no cars were running today.

We went through a stone tunnel at the Inca site. Saúl said the Incas believed this tunnel helped them pray and focus as they went through it. It was completely dark and small. Although I am claustrophobic, I’m glad I went through it to experience it.

My favorite part about Sacsayhuaman was the natural slides. Rock erosion caused parts of the stone structures to be smooth and wavy, like playground slides. Inca children may have played on these naturally made slides. We all went up and down these slides, and some went several times. We were told people get hurt and break their arms and legs every year while playing on these slides. The toughest part was climbing to the top of the slides because the rocks were slippery, but no one was hurt.

We also visited Santo Domingo Church and Convent. It was once an Inca temple, but was rebuilt into a church and convent during the colonial period. There is a garden in the center of the structure. It was neat to see the mix of Incan and Spanish work.

We had a very delicious buffet lunch at the hotel, Casa Campesina.

We later had a 3-hour class in the courtyard and multipurpose room of our hotel. We discussed our Machu Picchu experience and a famous Machu Picchu poem and watched a video about the Spaniards’ conquest of the Inca Empire.

It’s chilly in Cuzco at night, especially with no heat!

The weather and constant traveling was trying to make me sick…BUT I skipped going to dinner tonight to rest.

I have the best traveling companions: Proomie (Kim) brought me lentil soup, C.Boss (Courtney) brought me her leftover vegetarian rice, Kristankyleg (Kristina) brought me Lay’s classic potato chips and Juanita (Jane) brought me silverware to eat it all. This should get rid of the headache, tummy ache, running nose and fever, right?

After eating, some girls came over to our room to hang out. We had stations to clip nails, cut cuticles and file nails. It’s interesting how much we enjoy these little things in life while traveling and spending time with new friends.

A review of Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The view from our train as we left Machu Picchu Town

The view from our train as we left Machu Picchu Town

OU Journey to Latin America students stopped by a salt mine on the way to Moray.

OU Journey to Latin America students stopped by a salt mine on the way to Moray.

Here I am at Moray, the Incas' research field.

Here I am at Moray, the Incas' research field.

Chinchero Catholic Church in Chinchero, Peru

Chinchero Catholic Church in Chinchero, Peru

This textile factory in Chinchero was slightly different than the one in Patacancha because it was bigger. One of the leaders of the textile factory spoke Spanish, Quechua and English. The women gave us a full demonstration of how each color of dye is made. They also served us tea and demonstrated weaving techniques.

This textile factory in Chinchero was slightly different than the one in Patacancha because it was bigger. One of the leaders of the textile factory spoke Spanish, Quechua and English. The women gave us a full demonstration of how each color of dye is made. They also served us tea and demonstrated weaving techniques.

We all enjoyed our meals and had a great time conversing and getting to know each other at our first dinner in Cuzco.

We all enjoyed our meals and had a great time conversing and getting to know each other at our first dinner in Cuzco.

I had WiFi for the first time in four days, but it didn’t work for me to post any blogs!

The past few days have been crazy dragging around luggage, hiking everywhere and staying in different towns every night.

We visited four towns today, but we are settled in Cuzco for the next four days!

We traveled from Machu Picchu town to Ollantaytambo to Chinchero to Cuzco, stopping at a salt mine, Moray (the Incans’ research field), Chinchero town and church and an indigenous textile factory. So much fun in one day!

This textile factory in Chinchero was slightly different than the one in Patacancha because it was bigger. One of the leaders of the textile factory spoke Spanish, Quechua and English. The women gave us a full demonstration of how each color of dye is made. They also served us tea and demonstrated weaving techniques.

We all bought many textile items from this factory because there were more vendors and items for sale.

We arrived at our hotel in Cuzco, Casa Campesina (“the peasants’ home”) around 8 p.m. We then unloaded our stuff and walked around Cuzco looking for dinner.

We returned from dinner around 11 p.m. As fun as Peru is, customer service is not so great. It’s usually very slow with misunderstanding partly due to language issues.

For example, Jenny and Ravae asked for free pisco sours that came with our dinners. Ravae asked the server three times if the pisco she was ordering is free because that’s all she wanted, and the server said “yes.” The server came back with free pisco sours and two other pisco sours for Ravae and Jenny. Señora Marchand, Dr. Kenney’s wife, explained to the server that the girls only wanted the free drinks, but the server got mad and stormed off.

The server later came back and said she could not take the drinks back because they were ordered and would be charged. Señora Marchand made a compromise: the server took one of the drinks back, and the girls paid for the other.

I found this situation interesting because I have never seen this happen in the United States. I have worked as a server, and I have never acted this way toward customers. We always treated the customers as if they are always right. I never asked the customer to pay for something if there was a misunderstanding, and managers often apologize and give the item to the customer.

In the end, we all enjoyed our meals and had a great time conversing and getting to know each other.

We also left good tips so that the server had enough money to pay for the other pisco sour.

Dr. Kenney likes to joke with us. I’d like to leave this blog entry with a quote from him:

“Let’s leave while Chinh’s in the restroom. She’ll be a lost Hello Kitty. Cats don’t have very big brains, do they?”

My professor is picking on me while abroad, but at least he’s comparing me to my happy little bow-wearing friend, Hello Kitty!

Plus, we all know Hello Kitty and I are very intelligent. 🙂

A review of Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get ready for our big day in Machu Picchu town. We met in the lobby of the Andina Hotel at 4:30 to walk to the bus stop. We all waited at the bus stop until about 6 a.m. when we were allowed to board the bus that would take us to Machu Picchu.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get ready for our big day in Machu Picchu town. We met in the lobby of the Andina Hotel at 4:30 to walk to the bus stop. We all waited at the bus stop until about 6 a.m. when we were allowed to board the bus that would take us to Machu Picchu.

It was amazing to see Machu Picchu early in the morning before everyone else. We also saw the sunrise.

It was amazing to see Machu Picchu early in the morning before everyone else. We also saw the sunrise.

I’m so glad I pushed myself to climb Wayna Picchu even though I am scared of heights and even though it was physically exhausting. I'm also proud of all my traveling buddies for climbing to the top! We all helped each other climb to the top by encouraging and waiting for each other.

I’m so glad I pushed myself to climb Wayna Picchu even though I am scared of heights and even though it was physically exhausting. I'm also proud of all my traveling buddies for climbing to the top! We all helped each other climb to the top by encouraging and waiting for each other.

It took me about 45 minutes, the average time, to climb to the top of Wayna Picchu. I spent about 45 minutes on top of Wayna Picchu relaxing, taking pictures and absorbing it all in. Boomer Sooner!

It took me about 45 minutes, the average time, to climb to the top of Wayna Picchu. I spent about 45 minutes on top of Wayna Picchu relaxing, taking pictures and absorbing it all in. Boomer Sooner!

I met two Tri Delta sisters from Baylor and Emery, so of course we threw up the Delta in the Inca ruins! Here I am with Laura, a graduate of Baylor University.

I met two Tri Delta sisters from Baylor and Emery, so of course we threw up the Delta in the Inca ruins! Here I am with Laura, a graduate of Baylor University.

After eating and catching our breath, we walked around Machu Picchu for about 2 hours!

After eating and catching our breath, we walked around Machu Picchu for about 2 hours!

There are few things like seeing the sun come up at Machu Picchu and later enjoying the sunshine after a long hike up a mountain.

There are few things like seeing the sun come up at Machu Picchu and later enjoying the sunshine after a long hike up a mountain.

After all the Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu fun, Rafael and his wife showed us to the “baños termales,” hot baths in Machu Picchu town, also known as Aguas Calientes.

After all the Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu fun, Rafael and his wife showed us to the “baños termales,” hot baths in Machu Picchu town, also known as Aguas Calientes.

Our interesting dinner experience that lasted about 3 hours from taking our orders to paying for the meals.

Our interesting dinner experience that lasted about 3 hours from taking our orders to paying for the meals.

I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to get ready for our big day in Machu Picchu town. We met in the lobby of the Andina Hotel at 4:30 to walk to the bus stop.

We all waited at the bus stop until about 6 a.m. when we were allowed to board the bus that would take us to Machu Picchu. When we got to the Machu Picchu site, it was still dark, and we waited in line to show our ticket and ID. Only 400 (200 for the earlier shift, and 200 for the later shift) people are allowed to climb Wayna Picchu. When we got our stamps for Wayna Picchu, we were about the 100th, but we were about the 10th people that day to climb because some people in front of us waited later to climb.

The climb was beautiful because the sun was rising, but it was one of the hardest, most physical things I’ve done in college. I played volleyball and tennis in high school, but I haven’t been working out. I also haven’t climbed a mountain.

It took me about 45 minutes, the average time, to climb to the top of Wayna Picchu. I spent about 45 minutes on top of Wayna Picchu relaxing, taking pictures and absorbing it all in.

I’m so glad I pushed myself to climb Wayna Picchu even though I am scared of heights and even though it was physically exhausting. I’m also proud of all my traveling buddies for climbing to the top! We all helped each other climb to the top by encouraging and waiting for each other.

Rafael carried some of the girls’ things because they were getting heavy. He stayed at the back of the trail to make sure everyone was safe.

Our tour guide, Saúl, has climbed Wayna Picchu about 15 times. His fastest time is 9 minutes. I’d like to think he’s this quick because he’s a descendent of the Incas. 😀

We all took a lunch break at the café at the entrance of Machu Picchu. The food prices were outrageous since tourists are more likely willing to pay high prices. For example, a bottle of water cost 8 soles when it normally costs about 2 soles in a neighborhood store. I ordered a chicken sandwich combo that included passion fruit juice and soft-serve ice cream. YUM!

After eating and catching our breath, we walked around Machu Picchu for about 2 hours! There are few things like seeing the sun come up at Machu Picchu and later enjoying the sunshine after a long hike up a mountain.

I met two Tri Delta sisters from Baylor and Emery, so of course we threw up the Delta in the Inca ruins!

After all the Wayna Picchu and Machu Picchu fun, Rafael and his wife showed us to the “baños termales,” hot baths in Machu Picchu town, also known as Aguas Calientes.

I was not very impressed with the hot baths because I pictured more natural thermal hot springs. This was more like giant man-made Jacuzzis. I’m still glad I went to know what it was like.

Jenny, Andy and I left the hot baths early to walk around Machu Picchu town. Andy and Jenny used an Internet café while I wrote postcards.

I mailed the postcards, then Jenny and I explore the Machu Picchu market and walked around the neighborhood.

We all met later that night to have dinner. The dinner experience was something different. The man at the front of the restaurant told us we could order anything off the menu for 20 soles with drink (Pisco sour, lemonade or tea) included. We made sure he was telling the truth because we fell for “free drinks” before in Lima.

The food was tasty for the most part, and the man kept his promise, but it took us about an hour to get our free drinks and water. Then it took about another hour to get our food.

The most absurd part of dinner was that the restaurant only had one young lady working as cook, cashier and hostess while the man continued to stand at the entrance asking people to come in. It was obvious this restaurant could not handle more customers.

The hostess/cook/cashier came in and out of the restaurant several times carrying groceries after she took our order. It was as if the restaurant didn’t have the ingredients even though they invited us in and took our orders.

The most frustrating part was that the hostess said we couldn’t pay separately although she said we could at the beginning. After she understood that we couldn’t pay unless we paid separately, she asked us all to write down what we ate because she couldn’t remember. I’m not sure why this mattered when everyone’s meals cost 20 soles as promised.

After we wrote our meals down on torn pieces of paper, she said she had to go next door to swipe the charge cards. Why did she have to use another business’ charge machine when the man said the restaurant accepts charge cards, and the entrance displayed Visa signs?

After about 30 minutes of waiting for our cards, change and receipts, a child came into the restaurant holding Ashley’s debit card. This frustrated Ashley because the young girl was running around with her only source of money. What if the young girl lost the debit card?

Because the charge machine next door had so much trouble, everyone borrowed money from each other to pay in cash. The young lady then said everyone’s meals cost 22 soles instead of 20 soles because tax was not included.

The dinner lasted about 3 hours from taking our orders to paying for the meals.

After that fiasco, we all returned to our hotels to sleep.

A review of Monday, June 14, 2010

My favorite part the past few days: 17 OU students, two OU professors, a tour guide and two workers from a textile factory riding up a mountain in a cattle truck on narrow, dusty roads chasing cows, sheep and whatever in our way. Oh, and picking up other tourists and indigenous people on the way.

My favorite part the past few days: 17 OU students, two OU professors, a tour guide and two workers from a textile factory riding up a mountain in a cattle truck on narrow, dusty roads chasing cows, sheep and whatever in our way. Oh, and picking up other tourists and indigenous people on the way.

It was especially fun because I sat on the top of the cattle truck on the way there and back, so I saw different views. What a fun 2-hour ride!

It was especially fun because I sat on the top of the cattle truck on the way there and back, so I saw different views. What a fun 2-hour ride!

I played with the children at the Patacancha textile factory, particularly a 3-year-old girl who was very happy and giggly.

I played with the children at the Patacancha textile factory, particularly a 3-year-old girl who was very happy and giggly.

There were about five children with their mothers at the textile factory, which consists of huts. The only man in the factory spoke Quechua and Spanish. He helped prepare the spool so the women could make products out of it.

There were about five children with their mothers at the textile factory, which consists of huts. The only man in the factory spoke Quechua and Spanish. He helped prepare the spool so the women could make products out of it.

We returned to Ollantaytambo town. Most of us ate at a restaurant called Blue Puppy. I had shrimp quesadilla, one of the few Mexican food options I have seen here in Peru.

We returned to Ollantaytambo town. Most of us ate at a restaurant called Blue Puppy. I had shrimp quesadilla, one of the few Mexican food options I have seen here in Peru.

After a hike, a bus ride and a train ride, we made it to Machu Picchu town. Then we divided up into two hotels, walked to our hotels and rested for the big day.

After a hike, a bus ride and a train ride, we made it to Machu Picchu town. Then we divided up into two groups, walked to our hotels and rested for the big day.

Today was very exciting!

My favorite part the past few days: 17 OU students, two OU professors, a tour guide and two workers from a textile factory riding up a mountain in a cattle truck on narrow, dusty roads chasing cows, sheep and whatever in our way. Oh, and picking up other tourists and indigenous people on the way.

It was especially fun because I sat on the top of the cattle truck on the way there and back, so I saw different views. What a fun 2-hour ride!

The director of the textile factory, Emma, is from Great Britain. She’s in her 20s, and she was helpful and welcoming.

I had a great time learning about Patacancha town and the textile factory. Patacancha, consisting of 473 members, is in the mountains of Ollantaytambo town.

There were about five children with their mothers at the textile factory, which consists of huts. The only man in the factory spoke Quechua and Spanish. He helped prepare the spool so the women could make products out of it. I played with the children, particularly a 3-year-old girl who was very happy and giggly.

The women showed us how to dye the wool and how to make different textiles. We later had the opportunity to buy their products.

The non-profit organization that runs the textile factory prepared bagged lunches for us, and the Andean women cooked us potatoes. I gave one of my sandwiches to the 3-year-old girl, and she quickly ate it. I gave an apple to a younger boy. I took a bite of the potato and found a worm in it. I didn’t eat any potatoes after that.

The area doesn’t have indoor plumbing, so our restrooms consisted of bushes. My small bladder forced me to use the “natural restrooms” twice, but I had traveling companions to accompany me…talk about bonding.

We walked further up the mountains and had a great view of Patacancha town and saw the school and soccer field.

We returned to Ollantaytambo town. Most of us ate at a restaurant called Blue Puppy. I had shrimp quesadilla, one of the few Mexican food options I have seen here in Peru, and later mailed six postcards.

Each stamp costs 5.50 soles (about $2). I printed about 40 address labels for postcards before leaving for the trip, but I won’t be mailing that many after finding out how much each stamp costs. The man told me it takes about 10 days to get to the United States.

We took the luggage we would need for the next few days and hiked to the bus station that would take us to the train station for Machu Picchu. After a hike, a bus ride and a train ride, we made it to Machu Picchu town. Then we divided up into two hotels, walked to our hotels and rested for the big day.

A review of Sunday, June 13, 2010

Almost everything costs money around tourist areas. I took a picture of two Andean boys (perhaps brothers) and their pet goat, and that cost me one sole each (about $0.40 each), but I did not mind paying. Maybe this is how the boys’ family pays for their schooling.

Almost everything costs money around tourist areas. I took a picture of two Andean boys (perhaps brothers) and their pet goat, and that cost me one sole each (about $0.40 each), but I did not mind paying. Maybe this is how the boys’ family pays for their schooling.

Lori, Rafael (our tour guide) and I found a small church down the street from the Pisac market for mass. It was perfect for me because it was children’s mass.

Lori, Rafael (our tour guide) and I found a small church down the street from the Pisac market for Mass. It was perfect for me because it was children’s Mass.

The majority of the congregation was children, but there was also a nun and three senior citizens. I have a big place in my heart for children and the elderly.

The majority of the congregation was children, but there was also a nun and three senior citizens. I have a big place in my heart for children and the elderly.

The three senior citizen women were physically weak and fragile. They could barely walk, and they were very skinny. All three had matching blue and back blankets that they used as covers for the cold.

The three senior citizen women were physically weak and fragile. They could barely walk, and they were very skinny. All three had matching blue and black blankets that they used as covers for the cold.

After mass, Rafael, Lori and I followed the nun and children to the “Comedor San Kilian,” St. Kilian church center and dining hall. Children of poorer families are able to go to Sunday school, confirmation class and eat here. This made my day!

After mass, Rafael, Lori and I followed the nun and children to the “Comedor San Kilian,” St. Kilian church center and dining hall. Children of poorer families are able to go to Sunday school, confirmation class and eat here. This made my day!

We ate a quick lunch on our own as soon as we arrived in Ollantaythambo at Pachacamac Pizzeria. I had “spaghetti napoleon,” which tasted like regular spaghetti, but with fresh sauce, parsley and mushrooms. We had to eat our food in 15 minutes.

We ate a quick lunch on our own as soon as we arrived in Ollantaythambo at Pachacamac Pizzeria. I had “spaghetti napoleon,” which tasted like regular spaghetti, but with fresh sauce, parsley and mushrooms. We had to eat our food in 15 minutes.

After quickly inhaling our food, we met up with the rest of OU Journey to Latin America members to hike up the Ollantaytambo ruins, the second ruins of the Incans.

After quickly inhaling our food, we met up with the rest of OU Journey to Latin America members to hike up the Ollantaytambo ruins, the second ruins of the Incans.

Saúl told us this area was considered the “Sacred Valley of the Incas” because there are glaciers at top of the mountains. The glaciers provide water, a source necessary for all life.

Saúl told us this area was considered the “Sacred Valley of the Incas” because there are glaciers at top of the mountains. The glaciers provide water, a source necessary for all life.


We stayed the night at the Apu Lodge, owned by a sweet family with two precious girls, and had class surrounded by ruins and Inca history.

We stayed the night at the Apu Lodge, owned by a sweet family with two precious girls, and had class surrounded by ruins and Inca history.


I apologize for the 5-day hiatus due to lack of WiFi. I won’t be able to upload photos on the blog for a while because the WiFi at our current hotel does not allow it–just visualize with me until then. Please be patient as I attempt to catch up on blogging. 🙂

We have helpers for the Cuzco area: Rafael, a man in his 40s who goes with us everywhere for four days, and Saúl, 28-year-old tour guide. Rafael was so helpful in finding Mass and guiding us around the market. Saúl is a descendent of the Incas, born in Ollantaythambo, so he knows a lot about the Inca ruins. He is very passionate about the history and speaks English well. He’s also in very good shape from all his experiences, so it’s a fun challenge to keep up with him.

Lori, Rafael (our tour guide) and I found a small church down the street from the Pisac market for Mass. It was perfect for me because it was children’s Mass. The majority of the congregation was children, but there was also a nun and three senior citizens. I have a big place in my heart for children and the elderly.

The children were so happy to be in church, and they were singing and clapping. This Mass and church compared to the Mass and church of last week’s in Larcomar is completely different. Today’s Mass was lively, and I felt a sense of community. I saw many smiling faces, and everyone hugged for the sign of the peace. One boy hugged Lori and me. No one reached out to me at the mass in Larcomar, and hardly anyone shook hands.

The three senior citizen women were physically weak and fragile. They could barely walk, and they were very skinny. All three had matching blue and black blankets that they used as covers for the cold. Although they could barely move, they walked to Mass. I don’t know how far they walked to attend Mass, but they inspired me with their dedication to their faith.

After Mass, Rafael, Lori and I followed the nun and children to the “Comedor San Kilian,” St. Kilian church center and dining hall. Children of poorer families are able to go to Sunday school, confirmation class and eat here. This made my day!

I later walked around the famous Pisac Sunday market and bought souvenirs for family and friends. I bought six headbands for sorority sisters, a sweater and a dress made from Andean knitting (it even came with free hair ties), two fabric art pieces, a painting, two notepads with embossed leather covers and six postcards. I spent 113 soles, about $40.

Because I travel a lot, I know some natives try to take advantage of tourists by selling goods at much higher prices. For example, the original price of the leather notebook was 12 soles, but the woman was willing to sell me TWO for 10 soles at the end.

Almost everything costs money around tourist areas. I took a picture of two Andean boys (perhaps brothers) and their pet goat, and that cost me one sole each (about $0.40 each). Maybe this is how the boys’ family pays for their schooling. Even using the restroom costs money, but that’s how the owners make their money. After all, how do they pay for the water costs if they do not charge customers?

Many children were helping their parents at the market since it’s the weekend. A boy about the age of eight was running the restroom station alone. A 13-year-old girl sold clothes to me. We had a conversation in Spanish, and she told me she helps her mom. I never saw her mother.

We rode on the bus for about 1.5 hours from Pisac to Ollantaythambo. It was a bumpy ride, but it was nice to have time to journal and reflect on these amazing experiences. I have yet to soak this all in.

I’m still adjusting to the altitude change, but I’m no longer having trouble breathing. I have pressure in my head that causes a constant headache though.

It’s colder around these areas compared to Lima, so I have a running nose, sore throat and chapped lips. We ate a quick lunch on our own as soon as we arrived in Ollantaythambo. We ran into Saúl who suggested the Pachacamac Pizzeria. About 11 girls ate here, and I had “spaghetti napoleon,” which tasted like regular spaghetti, but with fresh sauce, parsley and mushrooms. We had to eat our food in 15 minutes.

After quickly inhaling our food, we met up with the rest of OU Journey to Latin America members to hike up the Ollantaytambo ruins, the second ruins of the Incans. Saúl guided us through this, and I felt very informed since this is his heritage and town.

Saúl told us this area was considered the “Sacred Valley of the Incas” because there are glaciers at top of the mountains. The glaciers provide water, a source necessary for all life. We also saw the “Temple of the Sun” and important storage houses. There is a face carved on the mountain next to the storage houses, built high up to keep things cool. How in the world was this face carved?

After the hike, Kim and I walked around the town and went inside the market. I wrote a few postcards until class.

We discussed Inca culture and watched a video of Machu Picchu produced by the History Channel. The video was very interesting and informative. This made us all very excited for Machu Picchu!

Yes, we have class on the go in hotels, lodges, wherever.

Ollantaythambo town has dark, narrow and uneven walkways lined with drainage and canine feces…it’s a challenge to walk around town!

After class, we had a Peruvian-style dinner buffet at Tawa Chaqui, across from the 
Ollantaythambo ancient ruins. It was delicious!

Skinny jeans are stylish…but not with hiking boots. We are all stylin’ in our hiking gear and backpacks!

We stayed the night at the Apu Lodge, owned by a sweet family with two precious girls, and having class surrounded by ruins and Inca history.

A review of Saturday, June 12, 2010We all learned we became attached to our host family because it was very difficult to say good-bye. They were beyond wonderful to us. They want to continue these relationships, and we all exchanged contact information.

We all learned we had become attached to our host family because it was very difficult to say good-bye. They were beyond wonderful to us. They want to continue these relationships, and we all exchanged contact information. Left to right: Jane, Chinh (me), Ricardo (host dad), Esther (host mom), Kim and Carlee in front of our four-story host home in Lima.
We didn’t have any trouble in the Lima airport, and the security process went smoothly. We even conquered a corner of the airport like in the history we have learned about for this class!

We didn’t have any trouble in the Lima airport, and the security process went smoothly. We even conquered a corner of the airport like in the history we have learned about for this class!

We had a great flight from Lima to Cuzco with awesome snacks: crackers, Twinkie-like cake and chocolate. The flight took about an hour. The coolest part of the flight was being able to walk out of the plane into Cuzco air and seeing beautiful mountains.

We had a great flight from Lima to Cuzco with awesome snacks: crackers, Twinkie-like cake and chocolate. The flight took about an hour. The coolest part of the flight was being able to walk out of the plane into Cuzco air and seeing beautiful mountains.

We drove up the mountains and stopped twice for pictures of the Cuzco valley and Inca valley. We later climbed down Pisac (the first Inca ruins) for 2.5 hours.Left to right: Kim, Chinh (me) and Ravae took a picture in front of the Pisac ruins.

We drove up the mountains and stopped twice for pictures of the Cuzco valley and Inca valley. We later climbed down Pisac (the first Inca ruins) for 2.5 hours. Left to right: Kim, Chinh (me) and Ravae took a picture in front of the Pisac ruins.

We are staying at the Royal Inka Hotel--it's SO cool to be surrounded by mountains! There's WiFi, pretty gardens, sauna, jacuzzi AND hot water!

We are staying at the Royal Inka Hotel--it's SO cool to be surrounded by mountains! There's WiFi, pretty gardens, sauna, jacuzzi AND hot water!

Carlee, Jane, Kim, Señora Marchand (my Spanish teacher and Dr. Kenney’s wife) and I were ready to go to the airport at 7 a.m. Dr. Kenney went ahead to the airport because he went with three students (Katherine, Ryan and Whitlee) who had an earlier flight. We ate a light breakfast at the host home before we bid them farewell.

We all learned we had become attached to our host family because it was very difficult to say good-bye. They were beyond wonderful to us. They want to continue these relationships, and we all exchanged contact information.

We gave them our thank-you gifts. I brought OU slippers for the host mom, potholder and card case for the host grandmother, light-up pen and musical keychain for the host dad and notepads for the two sons. Our host family gave us chocolate-covered almonds and pens.

We didn’t have any trouble in the Lima airport, and the security process went smoothly. We even conquered a corner of the airport like in the history books we have read for this class!

We had a great flight from Lima to Cuzco with awesome snacks: crackers, Twinkie-like cake and chocolate. The flight took about an hour. The coolest part of the flight was being able to walk out of the plane into Cuzco air and seeing beautiful mountains.

I’ve never been this high in the mountains before so I was having trouble breathing. My heart was racing and my head had a lot of pressure; I felt like everything was in slow motion. But after about an hour, I adapted to it and felt fine. No one else seemed to have any trouble adjusting.

We dragged so our luggage around the narrow walkways of Cuzco while cars drove by faster than they do in Lima!

We drove up the mountains and stopped twice for pictures of the Cuzco valley and Inca valley. We later climbed down Pisac (the first Inca ruins) for 2.5 hours–my body hurts! It’s interesting to see irrigation and the paths walked on by humans thousands of years ago. I was having trouble and slipped in my hiking boots. How did the Incans move about all in sandals with no support? The steps are very steep; most students found them difficult to walk on, yet the Incans were much shorter and managed fine. How did they do it? Props to them!

We barely made it down by dark. It was getting scary because we could not see very well, yet the walkway is narrow and dangerous.

We walked through the closed market, but I found some indigenous babies. I spoke to them in Spanish, and they understood. I later sat on a corner, and one of the children came to sit with me and held my hand. I can’t wait to play with more babies later on this trip!

We had bread, potato soup and Peruvian pizza at Ulrike’s Café in Pisac. We ate SO much. The flavors ranged from pineapple and ham to meat and mushrooms.

We are staying at the Royal Inka Hotel–it’s SO cool! There’s WiFi, pretty gardens, a sauna, a jacuzzi AND hot water! We are going to continue to have class even while traveling, but it will be at different times and wherever we can. It’s not ALL fun and games; gotta have education, too!

OU Journey to Latin American students finished class at 10:05 p.m. in Pisac (about a one-hour drive from Cuzco), Peru. Is this real life? This study abroad trip is not only different than traditional classroom settings, but it’s different than other study abroad trips.

We have the opportunity to learn about the subject before the trip during bi-weekly meetings and have classes on the road during the trip. This is nice because we learn about our activities day-to-day so we retain the information more rather than cramming it all in at once. Plus, we get to participate in what we learn about so it’s more fun!

Oh, and Hello Kitty iPhone fell in the toilet in our Pisac hotel. As I swung my arms in an attempt to turn on the light, Hello Kitty dove into the Peruvian waters of the (clean) toilet. Good thing Hello Kitty has nine lives; I’ve used two of those lives already!

I am rooming with Kim and Jane (housemates from Lima). We are exhausted and ready to sleep for more adventures tomorrow!

A review of Friday, June 11, 2010
My housemates and I had our last walk to Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. It's our last day in Lima and last class at PUCP.

My housemates and I had our last walk to Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. It's our last day in Lima and last class at PUCP.

I like to spend time around the newsstands in other countries and observe people’s reaction to the headlines and watch them interact with others around news. Based on my observations, I’ve noticed that news is very important to many countries, Peru being one of them.

I like to spend time around the newsstands in other countries and observe people’s reaction to the headlines and watch them interact with others around news. Based on my observations, I’ve noticed that news is very important to many countries, Peru being one of them.

 We went to the Santa Maria Magdalena Catholic Church in Magdalena, a district of Peru. Unfortunately, the doors were locked, but we were able to see the church with a closer view. It is beautifully adorned in pink and green with an elaborate dome and a statue of Mary on top.

We went to the Santa Maria Magdalena Catholic Church in Magdalena, a district of Peru. Unfortunately, the doors were locked, but we were able to see the church with a closer view. It is beautifully adorned in pink and green with an elaborate dome and a statue of Mary on top.

I watched a poor Peruvian man pull a newspaper out from a trashcan to read it. Although he is poor and cannot afford to buy the paper, he has learned of ways to get his news. Watching this man pull the paper out of a trashcan, scan through the pages and put it in his bag reminds me of my reasons to be a journalist: to be the voice and ears to the powerless.

I watched a poor Peruvian man pull a newspaper out from a trashcan to read it. Although he is poor and cannot afford to buy the paper, he has learned of ways to get his news. Watching this man pull the paper out of a trashcan, scan through the pages and put it in his bag reminds me of my reasons to be a journalist: to be the voice and ears to the powerless.

We had our last walk to Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. It’s our last day in Lima and last class at PUCP. I can’t believe we’ve been here 13 days, but I’m excited for Cuzco.

Happy World Cup premiere day! I wish we had more time to watch the World Cup and spend time with Peruvians to see their reaction to soccer, the most popular sport in Peru.

We had a briefing and discussed the observations we’ve had of Lima in today’s final class at Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru. We all have learned so much. Many, myself included, had no idea we would learn so much. What a pleasant surprise!

We split up into groups to discuss our observations and had an opportunity to ask Dr. Kenney questions based on our observations and experience thus far. Dr. Kenney knows so much about Peru’s history and culture. Where does he store all this information?

We had capresse, rice with fish, yucca, bell peppers and onions in a flavorful Peruvian sauce and key lime pie for our last cafeteria meal. I’ll miss this campus, but I’m excited for the next two weeks!

We went to the Santa Maria Magdalena Catholic Church in Magdalena, a district of Peru. Unfortunately, the doors were locked, but we were able to see the church with a closer view. It is beautifully adorned in pink and green with an elaborate dome and a statue of Mary on top.

Then we walked around town, found some Incan markets, shopped at San Miguel Plaza, had sweets at Zugatti Gelato & Café and took advantage of our last day in Lima! We also ran into a few of the other ladies of OU Journey to Latin America at the plaza. We later went to Magic City and Casino Miami, casinos by San Miguel Plaza. We ended up not playing any games in the casinos because there wasn’t very many people in them, and we got tired.

Because I am a journalism junkie, I tend to be extra observant and curious of many things. I like to spend time around the newsstands in other countries and observe people’s reaction to the headlines and watch them interact with others around news. Based on my observations, I’ve noticed that news is very important to many countries, Peru being one of them.

People of all social class buy newspapers and magazines from the newsstands in Peru. It seems that non-Americans pay more attention to news than Americans. For example, in tough economic times, newspaper subscriptions and the number of papers purchased tend to decline, yet the Peruvian poor continue to immerse themselves in the news. Many college students purchase the paper. Students usually surround the student-produced newspaper stand at PUCP.

Also, I watched a poor Peruvian man pull a newspaper out from a trashcan to read it. Although he is poor and cannot afford to buy the paper, he has learned of ways to get his news. Watching this man pull the paper out of a trashcan, scan through the pages and put it in his bag reminds me of my reasons to be a journalist: to be the voice and ears to the powerless. I don’t know if he can read or not, but I know he is interested in current events. Although he does not have a job, yet he has learned to make a living by finding reusable things in trashcans. He has also learned to educate himself by picking up a used newspaper and being aware of the world around him. He walked off with the newspaper and a bag (about the size of his body) filled with others’ junk in which he hopes to turn into treasures…or a few soles to make it through another tough day.

I Skyped with Mommy, blogged and e-mailed for what may be the last time in the next two weeks. I don’t know how much Internet I will have in the mountainous regions of Cuzco and in the Amazon, but who’s complaining?

I’m so nervous about high altitude sickness (13,000 ft) and falling while climbing Wayna Picchu (the very top of Machu Picchu, known for people falling and dying). But Dr. Kenney will be with us, so hopefully that will help my nervousness!

We had Chifa (Peruvian-Chinese food) for our last meal in Lima and spent time with our wonderful host mom. She does so much for her husband and two kids, works two jobs and dances–what a woman!

We are packed and watched reruns of the World Cup before going to bed. It was our first time to turn on the TV in two weeks!


A review of Thursday, June 10, 2010

 We visited the U.S. Embassy in Lima and met with five officials from different U.S. departments. We all agreed this was one of the most interesting and prestigious experiences so far. The U.S. Embassy in Lima is the coolest embassy structures I've seen. A walkway like the Great Wall of China leads to a tall multi-colored stone structure with small, square black glass windows!

We visited the U.S. Embassy in Lima and met with five officials from different U.S. departments. We all agreed this was one of the most interesting and prestigious experiences so far. The U.S. Embassy in Lima is one of the coolest embassy structures I've seen. A walkway like the Great Wall of China leads to a tall multi-colored stone structure with small, square black glass windows!

The memories of the taxi drivers blend together after awhile, but I will always remember today’s 63-year-old taxi driver, Ricardo.

The memories of the taxi drivers blend together after awhile, but I will always remember today’s 63-year-old taxi driver, Ricardo.

All the girls went to a Peruvian restaurant with our new friend and PUCP alum, Luis—what a lucky feller.

All the girls went to a Peruvian restaurant with our new friend and PUCP alum, Luis—what a lucky feller.

Then we went to La Calle de Pizzas in Miraflores to get our last dosage of Lima. We danced at a discoteca. There’s only three discotecas on La Calle de Pizzas that play Latina and American music, and we have been to all three.

Then we went to La Calle de Pizzas in Miraflores to get our last dose of Lima. We danced at a discoteca. There’s only three discotecas on La Calle de Pizzas that play Latina and American music, and we have been to all three.

Some taxi drivers try to make our prices higher than Peruvians’ just because we are Americans, but I refuse to allow that kind of discrimination (or any kind of discrimination). I’m the queen of bartering thanks to my world-traveling experiences; therefore, I am skilled at getting taxi rides to be the lowest price possible.

It’s probably because people are so intimidated by me. Ha-Ha. Not really. BUT Dr. Kenney said I look Peruvian. And I’ve had numerous Peruvians ask me which Peruvian city I’m from and others speak Spanish to me thinking I’m fluent. I wish!

We learned about Peru’s international relations in today’s class. We had rice with fried eggs and hamburger patties, chicken tamales, chicha (drink made from purple corn with a hint of lime) and rolls for lunch. I can’t believe we have been in Peru for 12 days!

We visited the U.S. Embassy in Lima and met with five officials from different U.S. departments. We all agreed this was one of the most interesting and prestigious experiences so far. The U.S. Embassy in Lima is the coolest embassy structure I’ve ever seen. A walkway like the Great Wall of China leads to a tall multi-colored stone structure with small, square black glass windows! It’s a shame cameras were not allowed past security—that is why I only took 20 pictures today.

Most of us wished we had more time to speak to the officials because they were so informative. We learned a lot within 1.5 hours. What a great and relevant afternoon activity. This is also definitely a rare opportunity. When would we ever be able to speak to these kinds of professionals again? It’s not easy to have a private meeting with U.S. Embassy and foreign relations officials.

An intern my age, Amanda, told us about her experiences while living in Peru for three years at numerous times. Her parents work for the Embassy. I found out she goes to school with my friend Kelsey in Gonzaga, at a small university in Washington. She shared her views with me, and later found me on Facebook. I love meeting new people, connecting with them and continuing relationships.

Our host family made my favorite dish, lomo saltado (rice with beef strips sautéed with onions, tomatoes and potatoes). This is my third time to have this dish in the 12 days I’ve been here, but this time was the best because it had the most flavor AND the host mom added bean sprouts and soy sauce! We also had a Peruvian-style egg drop soup, charo. I’m so sad we only have one more day with our host family!

It’s interesting and fun getting to know the Peruvian taxi drivers. Getting in cars with strangers can be scary, but it’s more reassuring when we talk to them. The age of our taxi drivers have ranged from 28 to 63.

The memories of the taxi drivers blend together after awhile, but I will always remember today’s 63-year-old taxi driver, Ricardo. He drove us from our host home to San Miguel Plaza, an outdoor mall. His personality and hospitality brought me joy in that short amount of time we were together for the taxi ride.

He made an impression on me because of what he stands for. Ricardo, along with many other senior citizens of Peru and around the world, do not have the opportunity to enjoy their later years. He does not have the opportunity to go on cruises with his wife or play with his grandchildren. Why? Because he does not have retirement savings or pension benefits like many Americans do.

No matter how hard Ricardo works, he does not make enough money to save; therefore, he cannot afford to take a day off of work. I am impressed with his ability to drive in this unorganized and unregulated traffic. I’m more impressed with his optimism and ability to support his wife and three children. Not only did Ricardo understand my Spanish clearly, he was willing to put the taxi in park to take a picture with us. Thanks, Abuelo (Spanish term for grandpa, which he gave me permission to call him).

All the girls later went to a Peruvian restaurant with our new friend and PUCP alum, Luis—what a lucky feller. Luis has been Dr. Kenney’s assistant for the past 12 days we have been in Lima. He is an anthropologist. He also works for Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru international services department, which is why he helps Dr. Kenney. It was our last time to see him, but only God knows what the future holds.

Then we went to La Calle de Pizzas in Miraflores to get our last night life dosage of Lima. We danced at a discoteca. There’s only three discotecas on La Calle de Pizzas that play Latina and American music, and we have been to all three. We got silly on the dance floor––I think the Peruvians think that’s how we normally dance. Well, they’re correct!

Based on our observations, Peruvians do not go out on Thursday nights (at least where we go) like people go out in the United States. Plus, Peruvians go out at a much later time. We usually go out around 10 p.m., but we do not see many Peruvians until around midnight, when we are headed home. The discotecas, or clubs, are also much smaller. We practically had the entire discoteca to ourselves tonight because we were there earlier than the time Peruvians go out. We still took up the dance floor with our group. These gals are so much fun!

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