Two tests and two papers down; one research paper and several despedidas (good-bye parties) to go before my flight on Sunday. I can’t believe how fast my time here is coming to an end (though for better or worse, this week has been dragging on and on, probably because I’ve spent essentially all of it shut away working on these assignments).

So, by way of study break, an abbreviated list of:
Things I will miss about Chile:
– My friends.
– Public transport. Granted, the existence of such a great metro system (plus buses) here is a necessary response to the problems of mobility that a city of five million people built long before cars were invented tends to face (as opposed to, say, Norman, where walking to a grocery store (at least from my apartment) is completely infeasible), but maybe this is just another way of saying that I really enjoy city life. I’ll miss my fifteen-minute walk to school and having a grocery store three blocks away and minimarkets on every corner and taking walks to the Moneda and generally not having to rely on cars at all.
– Fresh produce. The other day, I bought two kilos (that’s 4.4 pounds) of Gala apples for 500 pesos chilenos (that’s $.95) at the feria (the farmer’s market set up in the street two blocks away from my house every Thursday and Sunday). Last Sunday, I bought three kilos of mandarin oranges (excessive? definitely not) for 1000 pesos. How will I ever re-adjust to US prices?
– Speaking Spanish! You can’t speak Spanish in the US (well, as a white person) without coming off as a pretentious and obnoxious show-off; I’m really going to miss it.
– Seeing the snow-capped cordillera of the Andes from my balcony.
– The public parks and museums and centro of Santiago.

Things I won’t miss:
– The lack of Indian food in this city.
– Sharing the kitchen with sixty other people.
– The pollution.
– Doing assignments and reading dry history texts in Spanish.
– The lack of central heating at my residencia.

So, on balance? I don’t know. I don’t feel ready to come home at all!

On Bolivia:

So, a few weeks late (this blog is really great for productive procrastination, and with the end of the semester next week, I’m in high put-off-my-final-papers gear for the next few days): Bolivia me encantó. (lit. I loved it; also, it enchanted me.) The country treated us terribly; it’s a really difficult place to travel in, and not very hospitable to US citisens in general (luckily I was the only one in my group of friends, and was travelling with South Americans, which made things like border crossing a little easier), but nevertheless I loved it, and can’t wait to go back.

In fact, saying that Bolivia is a difficult country to travel in might be an understatement. Granted, before going we had heard horror stories from other friends and traveller acquaintances about Bolivian bus drivers (drunks) and highways (precarious, bumpy, and winding around cliffs without guardrails); I don’t doubt their stories, but I can attest that we didn’t run into any of those problems.

And although I didn’t see a single paved road (well, except in the touristy center of the town of Uyuni) until we got north of Oururo (about four hours south of La Paz), the gravel roads were in very good condition; even the ATV paths we took to get from northern Chile to Uyuni (about a nine-hour drive) were perfectly comfortable to drive on. (Though we did get a flat tire on the way.)

En route to Uyuni

To me there was a very weird dynamic, actually, driving through southern Bolivia. In the midst of the empty countryside and strikingly impoverished little towns (groups of mud-brick buildings, really) and strikingly beautiful landscapes and waiting at llama crossings and more striking poverty (crumbling houses without roofs and solitary men out tending llamas in the middle of more completely empty land — 70% of the country’s population is rural, and the majority of people lack heating, electricity, and sometimes even running water) and so on,

Tienda Sol Naciente

there were telephone lines everywhere, and the occasional industrial field with a foreign company on site and, oddly, road signs pointing us toward “pueblos auténticos” (“authentic towns”), a government-sponsored tourism project which had the paradoxical effect of suddenly making these pueblos seem very inauthentic (which I’m sure is not the case). (A quick internet search suggests that this guy designed the logo.) In other words, modernity and the state are staking their claims all over the countryside, but it hasn’t visibly affected the daily lives of the people (yet).

Anyway, I made the claim a few paragraphs ago that travel is difficult in Bolivia, and I should probably explain myself. Here’s the story: to save time and experience more of the country, we took an overnight bus from Uyuni to La Paz, about a nine-hour trip. We left at 9 pm. The bus came to a stop at 12 pm… and when we woke up the next morning, it still hadn’t moved. After an hour or so of continued confusion, the word slowly spread that we were in front of a bridge which had been taken over by striking peasants protesting something about land rights and waiting for the governor of the province to arrive to negotiate. They’d placed rocks all across the bridge to prevent traffic from passing.

Río Mulatos (Vinicius)

Long story short, after several more hours of waiting and getting all sorts of conflicting information (and translating for a group of British women who didn’t even have the advantage of speaking Spanish) and going to eat breakfast (galletas, a very useful word for anything small and cookie-shaped, be it cookie or cracker; a packet of Bolivian-made galletas generally cost one Boliviano — about fourteen cents), our group gave up and started walking. And walking.


And two hours and a few kilometers later, we reached the second paro (strike), where we found a very nice man who drove us to a nearby town (at that point, anywhere was fine); from that town, another driver very kindly took us to La Paz for about five dollars apiece. Twenty-seven hours later, our ordeal was over.

But here’s what I got out of this, besides the experience (adventure) of spending a night in what one friend termed the bus de pesadillas (bus of nightmares), and then that terrible trek across the empty countryside (word to the wise: packing fourteen kilos of clothes is almost certainly unnecessary if you have to carry it in a backpack): the state of Bolivia’s infrastructure is shocking. The reason we spent so long waiting and waiting and hoping that the negotiations would conclude, rather than just going around the bridge, is that there literally is no other road between Uyuni and La Paz. Go look it up on Google Maps (we were near Río Mulatos) — there is only one highway connecting that major tourist center (and essentially the only large town in southern Bolivia) and the de facto capital of the country.

Now, for everything else that made that week personal discomfort and long nights and entirely too many galletas completely worthwhile:

Isla Incahuasi, Salar de Uyuni -- in the middle of the largest salt-flats in the world, this "island" of rock emerges, inexplicably covered in enormous cacti.

Isla Incahuasi, Salar de Uyuni -- in the middle of the largest salt-flats in the world, this "island" of rock emerges, inexplicably covered in enormous cacti.

Near the Hotel de Sal, still in the middle of the salar.

Near the Hotel de Sal, in the middle of the salar.

Plaza Murillo, La Paz

Plaza Murillo, La Paz

On our way to the Mercado de Hechicería (Witches' Market).

On our way to the Mercado de Hechicería (Witches' Market), La Paz.

los chicos

Iglesia de Copacabana, Copacabana -- a major pilgrimage site during the colonial period

Iglesia de Copacabana, Copacabana (on the shores of Lake Titicaca) -- a major pilgrimage site during the colonial period

That's all real silver and gold. (Photo credit: Murillo N.)

Inside the church -- that's all real silver and gold. (Photo credit: Murillo N.)

Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca. Can you spot me?

Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca. Can you spot me?

I made a friend!

The entire time we were in Bolivia, I was already thinking: “I can’t wait to come back. Five days isn’t remotely enough.”

Y, eso. I guess more than anything, I learned what it means to fall in love with a country on this trip. I like Chile a lot, and I really feel at home now in Santiago, but it didn’t knock me out at first sight. Bolivia, though, was incredible — I loved every part of it we saw.

And the most exciting thing about Bolivia is how full of possibilities it is (sorry for the cliché). Even after centuries of being strip-mined (the famous silver mine of Potosí is located a few hours away from Uyuni) and bled dry by Europe and the US, it’s still full of natural resources (gold, silver, copper, boron, magnetite, lithium, salt, and more) just waiting to be extracted; in such a poor country, this wealth of resources could be instrumental now in driving the country’s economic development.

Bolivia is also a deeply traditional country, especially outside of the cities, and more than 80% of the population claims indigenous identity; currently, Evo Morales, the country’s first indigenous president, is leading a push for political reform to better incorporate the Quechua, Aymara, Guaraní and some 33 other recognised indigenous groups into the,  the state. A constitutional reform was passed in 2009 that changed the República de Bolivia into the Estado Plurinacional de Bolivia (and made more substantive and less cosmetic changes as well!), and Morales is now looking to reform the legal system to better protect indigenous rights. This program of political and social reform gets very little press in the US, but it’s one of the most interesting things going on in Latin America right now; Morales’ attempt to integrate such diverse cultures into the functioning of the state is the first of its kind, and his successes and failures in this program will have profound lessons for the rest of the continent.

(A few of my friends casually bumped into Evo as they were out picking up our laundry one evening in La Paz):
In other news, my flight home is on July 18; I can’t believe everything is coming to an end so quickly. I promise I’ll be back soon with more thoughts about Chile!

I finished my last coursework at la Cato today just a few short hours ago. I guess it was actually my last course work of my undergraduate career. 🙂 I rewarded myself with some new reading and some sweets 🙂

After our oral exam, Calin and I ate lunch at “El Arbolito,” a yummy vegetarian restaurant near school. I had palta rellena and a fruit salad with yogurt. Delicious! Then, I went and dropped off some books at the library and turned in my 11 page final essay for Justicia. Before leaving campus, I stopped into the bookstore. Right when I walked in, I spotted some publications entitled, “Memoria: revista sobre cultura, democracia y derechos humanos” near the cash register. There were 7 volumes in total. I picked one up and thumbed through– it looked pretty interesting! But how was I supposed to choose which volume?!?!!? Well, I called my friend Emilio from Justicia class–I figured if anyone would know about these revistas (what I would consider an academic journal), it would be him! and sure enough! Emilio suggested volume no. 2! “Numero dos es bastante bueno!” I enjoyed having a phone conversation with a Peruvian without having to say “Qué?” o “Cómo?” even once! It made it even better that it was a great friend I’ve made while here. (I’m going to miss Emilio–I’ve seriously never met someone so genuinely kind-hearted! We plan on meeting up this weekend before I leave to say goodbye.) I started reading my newly purchased revista on the combi ride home. The first article is about a study conducted with people from four different locations in Peru about how they felt during the conflict. It is really really fascinating, and I’m so glad I purchased it because I’ve finished all my books and some borrowed ones!! Plus, it’s in Spanish, and it’s such a great feeling to be able to read-read Spanish now (without looking up things or translating back into English–seriously not translating back, I never thought the day would come!! 🙂 )

I’m sad my time here is winding down. I can’t BELIEVE I only have 5 more days left in Peru. Only 5 more days of being able to speak Spanish regularly, to look out on busy Lima, to ride dirty combis (said with love <3 ), and to visit with friends.

PS World Cup!!!!!!!!!!! finishes on the day we leave. We will have been lucky enough to experience the entire thing in fútbol-crazy Peru!

I've been so fortunate to have spent the past four months here. Lima will always hold a special place in my heart.

My time here in Lima is winding down. I can’t believe I only have two weeks left. This next week is finals week excluding Tuesday which is a holiday for the pope. I have tests Monday and Wednesday and a take-home test that will be handed out Thursday. Then on the Tuesday of my last week here, I have an oral exam and a paper to turn in (test would have been during finals week if not for the holiday.)

I’m not too stressed about my tests. If I study, I should be fine.

I’m looking forward to having a little free time after my tests are all finished. I’ll have about 5 free days in Lima to do some reflecting on my time here and go to places for my “lasts”. I think it’ll be nice to sit back and think about what this experience has meant to me, being able to evaluate it without worrying about the responsibilities of school and with the advantage of hindsight.

My restaurants/foods to try list consisted of:
Rocoto Relleno–yet to be checked off.
Limeño Traditions–closed down
Don Rosalina–check! great Italian food
Como Agua Para Chocolate–check! great Mexican food
Mi Carcochita–good mexican–not as good as como agua (above)
La Rosa Nautica–check!!!! beautiful, amazing atmosphere, fantastic service, wide selection of food!
cuy: check! unimpressed—boney, came with a face and paws, little meat
anticuchos–not yet
ceviche–check! really liked it–very unique flavor. not my favorite food, but a great experience!
pollo a la braza-check! just like any other roasted chicken i’ve ever had haha but they love it here.

Places to visit/ visit again and things to do before I leave:

–Park near my house–this is where I want to do some looking-back on my trip.
–Miraflores–Larco Mar/ beach
–Japanese Restaurant with friend from school
–Souvenir shopping
–hamburger near school again (There is a hamburger kiosk across the street from Católica. This guy’s hamburgers are famous with the students–they call him Tio Bigote. Mine was great, but not necessarily for the meat haha there is a lot of stuff on these burgers. I asked for a burger with cheese,but he handed me a burger with egg. I took it 🙂 There were swarms of people crowding the stand, and I knew I would never get another if I turned it down.)
–Center of Lima–museums and catacombs
–Museo Larco
–5 estaciones
–Tortas emily’s
–Hang out with my Peruvian friends

Arte por La Memoria

Last week during my Justicia class, a group from the organization “Arte por La Memoria” came and presented. We all waited outside while they set up. When we entered, a somber tone was set. We were asked to only sit in chairs with photographs. The group explained the organization´s objectives, showed a video, explained a beautiful display of artwork created by a group of women named Mama Quilla, and then lit candles for the altar colectivo.

Their objectives: (from their website :
¿Qué queremos?
-Recuperar memoria (Recuperate memory)
-Evidenciar silencios cómplices (Demonstrate silent accomplices–I think this means give a voice to those who can’t tell their story through conventional means–like writing or even vocally b/c of language barrier,etc.)
-Reivindicar a las y los afectados (Vindicate the victims)
-Ser una forma de reparación simbólica para las y los afectados del conflicto. (Be a form of symbolic reparation for the victims of the conflict)
-Democratizar plataformas de exhibición y consumo de arte y lograr un trabajo articulado entre varios actores.
(Democratize platforms of exhibition and consumption of arte and acheive a work articulated between various actors)

Arpilleras Mama Quilla de Huaycán. This was one of the coolest works of art I have ever seen.

Arpilleras Mama Quilla de Huaycán. This was one of the coolest works of art I have ever seen.

The arpilleras de Mama Quilla de Huaycán (these decorated clothes tell the story of a population of people who migrated to the outskirts of Lima during the conflict) :
Top Left: How their small village was before the conflict arrived there.
Top Right: Their village after the Senderistas y Fuerzas Armadas arrived
Center Right: The villagers hiding in the hills.
Center Left: The village they set up on the outskirts of Lima: Huaycán
Bottom Left: But the conflict came to Huaycán too.
Bottom Right: Their march to the plaza de armas in Lima to demand water and electricity (which they received as a result).
Center Center: What the villagers hope for their town in the future. You can see children playing soccer.

The collective altar:
In my seat was the foto of Saul Cantoral Huamani (Lima) who was assasinated on February 13, 1989. I was the first one up at the altar. I set his foto on the table and lit a blue candle in his memory. One of the seats next to me was empty (student-wise), but sitting in the seat was the foto of Felix Huaman, a journalist–so I placed his foto on the table as well. I felt his memory should be honored too.

Altar Colectivo

Altar Colectivo

Last weekend, Calin and I finally made it to Cajamarca.
We took a Tepsa bus. It is a 14 hour trip. We left Lima at 4:15 on Thursday afternoon and arrived in Cajamarca at 9am on Friday morning (took longer than normal–our bus was stopped several times along the way). Cajamarca is known for its delicious milk products and historical sites (Atahualpa–the last Inca was executed here). I must admit I liked the historical sites better than the food, although we did buy some yummy manjar blanco.
On Friday, we ate breakfast at the Tuna Cafe. I had a sunny-side up egg (result of inadequately explaining over-easy), bacon, and pineapple juice. We visited the Iglesia de Belén, ex-hospital for men, ex-hospital for women (made into a museum), and the cuarto de rescate (Atahualpa ransom room). We purchased the tickets for these 4 places in a bundle deal for only 2.5 soles a piece with our student discount. Then we payed 7 soles for a tour guide (worth it if only for a funny memory). After that tour, we visited a San Francisco church with catacombs and a museum outback. Then we tried our first cuy (guinea pig). I have to say I wasn’t too impressed and kind of grossed out haha. It came with a face, teeth, paws,a TON of bones, and little meat. After dinner, we headed for a musical we had seen advertised. Turned out it was at a high school 🙂 It was actually pretty good. They performed Oscar Wilde’s “The Ghost of Canterbury.” I loved loved loved the little kid ghosts.iglesia de belénpachacamacex-hospital de mujeresarrow headscuarto del rescatesan francisco churchgoing down to the catacombscatacombscatacombs 2little ghosts at the musicalOn Saturday, we visited the Baños del Inca–ancient thermal baths-about 10-15 minutes from Cajamarca. In addition to showing off the old, they now offer a heated pool, saunas, hot showers, massages,etc. We didn’t partake in the new–just checked out the incan baths 🙂 they were pretty cool. After returning to Cajamarca, we ate the menú at the Tuna Cafe: palta rellena, lomo saltado, a gross dessert haha, and chicha morada ( i liked it!). Then we trekked up to Santa Apolonia, the mirador, and the Incan seat.
banos del inca up to Santa Apoloniaoverlooking Cajamarcamiradorincan seat
We took a 6:30 bus back to Lima and arrived around 9 am on Sunday morning. It was all in all a great trip, and I’m so glad we FINALLY made it!

Why we travel

I mean, I can’t obviously give you THE answer. But I can talk about me!

I traveled in my first few weeks here for a weekend to Viña del Mar and Valparaíso. They’re two towns located on the coast, about 1.5 hours from Santiago; the bus ride between them takes about ten minutes. [OU also has an exchange program with the Universidad de Viña del Mar.]

This is Viña:

Viña del Mar

Plaza Vergara, Viña del Mar

It’s a resort town, founded in the late 1800s by Santiago elites who wanted a summertime beach getaway.

This is Valpo:

Cerro Artillería, Valparaíso

Cerro Bellavista, Valparaíso









It’s a port town, historically economically critical and culturally vibrant.


Honestly, I didn’t like Viña very much. As far as I’m concerned, it was just like any other resort town (in any country): there are restaurants, and casinos, and big hotels, and artesanal/souvenir shops, and a beach (and a Museo de Arte Precolombino that we didn’t go to). It was fun and definitely nice to spend a day at the beach while it was still summer, but there was nothing distinctive about the town for me. Also, it’s probably relevant that casinos and big hotels aren’t really my preferred choice for spending money to entertain myself in the first place.

Valparaíso, though, I loved. The houses are all painted and hanging precariously off the city’s hills, there seem to be more stairs than sidewalks, there’s street art and murals everywhere, the port is still busy every day, and I just really enjoy spending time there. It’s different, and endlessly fascinating. I went back there on Saturday with two of my good friends from Norway, to visit Pablo Neruda’s house (La Sebastiana) and conocer (lit. meet, know, be familiar with — a very elegant little verb) more of the city. It was great.

Most of my Brasilian friends, though, hated Valpo (and really liked Viña), saying, “It’s dirty. It’s falling apart. It looks like a favela (slum). We didn’t come here to Chile to see poverty; we already know that*. We came to see richness.”

*To be clear, I’m not saying that all (or most) Brasilians are impoverished (in fact, the poverty rate has declined by about 60% in the past decade). However, the 1980s-90s were economically extremely difficult for Brasil, and the continuing enormous income inequality in the country makes poverty there much more visible than in Chile.

So, how do I/should I react to that? What does that say about what I came to South America for? There are obviously several other justifications I could provide for my preference of cities (see above), but it’s these little remarks that slap me in the face, over and over, with how often I take for granted or just plainly don’t think about the basic inequality (economic and otherwise) that separates me from most of the rest of the world. It’s horrible, and thinking about it is one of the easiest ways to ruin my day — because not only is it unfair and unjust in its own right, but it also generally ends with me feeling crushingly guilty for having so unwittingly benefited from a global economic system that I have zero control over.

Does this preference for Valparaíso then peg me as just another gringa looking to gawk at a “less-developed” country (at least stereotypically)? Is it patronizing of me just to be interested?  At any rate, my desire to travel there seems to be driven by its difference from any city I’ve been to in the US, which certainly says something in itself.

And this is the part where I should write a post devoted to recognizing and elaborating and analyzing my privilege: as a United States citizen (more generally, as a “Westerner”), as a university student with a great scholarship whose parents are still paying her way, as a student with the financial and academic resources to study abroad at all, to name a few (there are many more, not the least of which is just being a white, straight girl from an upper-middle class family).

Unfortunately, because of time constraints, it’s not going to happen today.

Instead, with all this in mind and on my mind, I’m off to Bolivia!

I know I promised a “food blog” from my Machu Picchu/Cusco trip. It will come!!!! But first I wanted to blog about some of the amazing experiences I’ve been having lately learning about Peru’s history.

My favorite course here at Católica is called “Justicia y Organismos Públicos” taught by Jo Marie Burt. Profesora Burt is a visiting professor from George Mason. In class, we’ve been studying transitional justice.
Transitional justice is a response to systematic or widespread violations of human rights. It seeks recognition for victims and to promote possibilities for peace, reconciliation and democracy. Transitional justice is not a special form of justice but justice adapted to societies transforming themselves after a period of pervasive human rights abuse.

If you do not know much about this time period in Peru (as I didn’t when I first arrived), I highly highly recommend reading about. Here’s the wikipedia link–it really doesn’t do it justice.

I feel like basically, the easy/common thing to do is blame all the human rights violations on Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path–maoist, guerilla, terrorist group started by a professor at an Ayacuchan university named Abimael Guzman (their leader captured in 1992). The Senderistas wanted to take over the government and make a “New Democracy.” They went to the rural, indigenous areas to gain support, highlighting the failures of the current regime and boasting change for the better.) It is true that SL was responsible for many many many violations–massacres, disappearances, torture, sexual violations.. However, according to the CVR (the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Peru), the Senderistas were responsible for 54%, the MRTA (Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement) was responsible for 1.5%,and the Peruvian armed forces were responsible for 37%.

Some specific cases if you would like to learn more “Cantuta Massacre” “Barrios Altos Massacre” “Putis”–all committed by the armed forces. “Uchuraccay Massacre” where journalists were killed in Ayacucho. “Tarata Bombing” “Lucanmarca Massacre”Assassination of María Elena Moyano” carried out by the Shining Path. The Peruvian government was ill-prepared to fight the Senderos and their guerrilla war. The rural, indigenous, quechua speakers got the brunt of the impact. 79% of the victims were from rural areas (only 29% of Peru’s entire population lives in rural areas). 75% of the victims spoke Quechua or other native language as thir primary language (Only 16% or Peru’s population speaks a native language as their first.) These statistics show how lopsided the violations were. Statistics given in class–time period: 1980-2000.
69,000 deaths
14,000 forced disappearances,
600,000 displaced persons
4-5,000 arrests without justification

A couple of weeks ago, our professor was out of town. Instead of going to class, she asked us to visit Yuyanapaq, a photographic memorial to the victims of the armed conflict. Yuyanapaq means “para recordar” or “to remember” in Quechua. Here’s a link to a random blog I found that has pictures of the memorial-with captions from the blogger (I didn’t think to bring my camera):

The memorial did an incredible job of making history come to life. Words cannot describe what an impact it had on me. And today, I was fortunate enough to receive a publication of the memorial that includes the majority, if not all, of the the pictures with captions. My teacher brought them to class!! Yuyanapaq is awesome–a great way to memorialize the conflict and its victims. The exhibit evokes many strong emotions and serves as a place for Peruvians to remember and contemplate their history–as well as for foreigners to learn about it. One photo in particular had a strong effect on me. It was a black and white of the Pan American Highway with tons of rocks on it and a combi off to the side. The rocks formed a roadblock for the combi and the senderos killed everyone on the combi. It struck me hard. I have traveled on the Pan American before in a combi just like the one depicted. The conflict during which this picture was taken ended a mere 10 years ago. It is still very fresh in the minds of those who lived through it. Yuyanpaq brought history to life for me and made it personal. I will never forget the atrocities that occurred here in Peru…ever.

On Saturday, June 5, Calin and I visited the Ojo Que Llora monument in Campo Marte (park in Lima). This is a monument by an artist named Lika Mutal, who was born in Holland but has lived in Peru for 40 years. Mutual inspiration for the monument was her visit to Yuyanapaq. The monument consists of a maze of around 47,000 stones that used to have the names of 27,000 victims on them (taken from an official list). Visitors are meant to follow the maze of stones from inside out until they come face to face with Mother Earth or Pachamama in the center. She is represented as an eye perpetually crying–a stream of water continually flows from this sculpture. The monument was funded by private donations. There is a huge debate about this monument–basically about how to distinguish “victims” from “perpetrators”. Many believe that among the rocks, are names of both. The monument was defaced once in 2007 when news of Fujimori´s extradition surfaced. The persons responsible for this attacked a guard at the monument, smashed several rocks, and left neon orange paint all over the monument. The sun and weather have washed away all the original names on the rocks (painted with permanent ink), and now the rocks are being inscribed and placed in a series of ceremonies.

The day after we visited “El Ojo que Llora,” I attended a group meeting for a project in Justicia class. Our group met with members of EPAF (Equipo Peruano de Antropología Forense). We discussed the case we´ve been researching–El Caso de Putis. This event occurred in December 1984 in the region of Huanta. In this region, there had been high sendero presence. Many of the people living in the region, had fled to the mountains and forests to hide in 1983. A military base was installed in 1984. The armed forces asked the villagers to come out of hiding, promising protection from the Senderos. When the villagers returned, the military led them to a site under the pretense of making a piscigranja or fish farm to aid in the redevelopment of their town. The men started digging, and when they had finished, the all of the villagers lined up around the holes for the fish farm. The military proceeded to shoot all 123 of them–men, women, and children (many many many innocent children–the youngest was only 1 year old). Basically the villagers had dug their own grave. The CVR–truth and justice commission of Peru–investigated this case and confirmed that these events occurred. They found two graves, one in 2001 and the other in 2003. These graves were not exhumed until 2008–24 years after the massacre had occurred. EPAF helped with the exhumation, conducting tests with DNA and identifying the bones, clothes, and other possessions within the graves. They also found bullets with the markings of the armed forces inside. The testimonies of the CVR and the evidence from the exhumation matched perfectly. (Exhumations are only allowed in Peru if the case is being brought to court) However, there is still no justice for the case of the Putis. To find out why my group believes why you can read our essay. (I will try to attach it later)

While talking to members of EPAF, we touched on the subject of memory. I gave the example of September 11: For my children, it will “just” another part of history. How will they understand the importance or impact of what happened? EPAF emphasized that this is the importance of their work–not only to help with exhumations and run tests and analyze data but ALSO to make sure people don´t forget.

I believe this is the importance of memorials like Yuyanapaq and El Ojo que Llora–to FORCE people to remember what happened so that it won´t happen again. I like the way a guest professor to our class put it best in these few statements (he was talking about film, but it still applies:) ) :

–>The images call us to reflect and analyze what we see.

–>They give new generations the possibility to have a memory so they can investigate the events so they can turn “myths” into history.

Preliminaries: Apologies for my extended absence! I was locked out of this site for a while (my fault). Also, scratch what I said about extranjeros not actually being interested in the US’ domestic politics; trying to explain the health care debate intelligibly in Spanish is incredibly difficult (probably because it’s also difficult to make sense of in English, but that’s (sort of) a different story).

I spent four days a few weeks ago in Pumanque, a tiny town located about three hours southwest of Santiago and three hours northeast of Constitución (the epicenter of the earthquake), where about 200 engineering students and another exchange student friend and I spent four days constructing mediaguas (emergency shelters) with the organisation Un Techo Para Chile (“A Roof for Chile,” more or less like Habitat for Humanity) for victims of the terremoto. Seventeen more charter buses of USACH students went to six other towns to do the same.

The experience was a lot of fun. I met a lot of new people. I ate a lot of good food (including Gala apples right from the tree! I’d never seen an apple tree before!). I made liberal use of words learned in my Pilates class (like estirar – to stretch, as in “Stretch the measuring tape,” and hundir – to sink, as in, “Oh no, the roof está hundido!” (has a leak)) to communicate with my cuadrilla about the building process. We slept at an internado (military barracks), and I met a few eighteen- and nineteen-year-old soldiers completing their mandatory military service. We all spent a lot of time shivering (winter is coming fast).

I feel like I say this a lot, but the countryside was also beautiful. My new chileno friends tended to give me incredulous looks when I said so, but just because the region’s not Chiloé doesn’t mean it’s not lovely in its own right! Mostly though, I just really enjoyed getting to travel to another part of Chile while making myself useful at the same time, and will definitely go again if I get the chance.

I was also asked no less than four times there, “Don’t Americans speak worse English than the British?” which bothers me on multiple levels. My inner wannabe-linguistics major immediately screams, “But there’s no such thing as a “better” or “worse” language!” Then my experience here makes me remember that I definitely make an exception to that proposition where accent is concerned. There are people I live with who I still have a lot of trouble understanding after two months on account of their accents, and comprehensibility seems to me probably the only reasonable standard for “judging” a language.

And the fact that I’ve only really run into that question from Chileans has a lot to do, too, with how they relate to and think of their language. I spent a lot of time at the internado talking about the language Chileno (as distinct from Español) and its modismos (special vocabulary/idioms). Chileans are very acutely aware that they speak (self-described) “worse” Spanish than say, Peruvians or Mexicans (two nationalities known for their slower, very clear manner of speaking), both in terms of their accent, which is so difficult to understand, and the fact that they make up so many modismos, and from what I can tell their grade school English teachers have been indoctrinating them to think that you can similarly judge English dialects.

(I’ve also clearly found myself being a lot more knee-jerk defensive of my country and most things associated with it than I expected. Anyway, I stand by my position that you can’t judge Standard American against Standard British English in the same way, though I guess comparing regional accents this way would be essentially the same as comparing Spanish accents by country.)

Anyhow, those kinds of questions, as well as giving informal English lessons to my house-mates who are taking English classes, has turned me on to the differences in English dialects, too. For instance, when I look through an English textbook, I can generally tell within a few pages whether it’s written in British or American English, and not just because of the extra ‘u’s. There are more subtle differences in usage, like the use of “mustn’t” or “needn’t” instead of “shouldn’t” or “can’t,” or the fact that, “I’m mad about this blouse,” never means, “I just love this blouse,” in American English. But that’s neither here nor there; just goes to show that wherever you go and whatever you do, you’ll always end up learning most about yourself.

Hm, what else? I’m sick again! (Every two weeks, de nuevo.) Other than that, I’ve been reading reading, for Latin American Lit and because my History of Chile professor found me a few books in English!, since I have essentially zero context for the politics of Chile ca. 1920-70 (on a related note, I can’t imagine how students managed study abroad before the internet).

And today I cleaned my room, went shopping at Líder (Wal-Mart affiliate) and went with some friends to a concert/benefit featuring Chilean folkloric music and dance for Lolol, a little town affected by the earthquake. Came home to find the residence (and its residents) in total chaos since it is, after all, a Friday night. What I mean to say is, my life’s been pretty low-key lately. Not every moment is thrilling and different; routines happen everywhere. Which is not necessarily a bad thing — it just leaves me with less to blog about!

Hasta pronto!

Wow. I can’t believe my time here in Peru is winding down. I am almost 2/3 of the way done. A little more than 6 weeks to go.  That fact evokes a mixture of emotions–as ready as I am to come home, I still feel I have a lot more to accomplish here in Lima. There are still things to be seen, and I would love for my Spanish to get a little better. It has definitely become better, but not quite as much as I would’ve hoped for at this point.

Jon arrived in Lima at 2 am last Friday morning–delayed in Houston.  I took a safe taxi Taxi San Borja to and from the airport. You have to call this company well in advance to get a taxi, but late at night–especially since I was alone, it was definitely worth it.  The taxista was nice and showed me where to go to pick him up and then waited (for an hour due to customs and baggage claim) for me to return with Jon.  He took us to my host stay. We got about 3 hours of sleep and then the same taxista picked us up and took us back to the airport for our flight to Cusco.

Here’s the logistics of our trip:

Friday--Flight to Cusco left around 10, in Cusco around 11. We took Taca airlines.  Checked into our hostel, Wasichay in Cusco. It was a great location-and ok room for the price.

Saturday– Our travel agency Andina Travel picked us up at Wasichay at 6:50 am. We took a Perurail bus from Cusco to Piscacucho and then the Peru Rail train from Piscacucho to Aguas Calientes. We arrived in Aguas Calientes around 12:30 in the afternoon, and our hostel Pirwa Hostel (highly recommended by a friend of mine, and I loved it too) picked us up from the train station. Everything in Aguas Calientes is basically within walking distance so we walked to our hostel, left our backpacks, and then walked to the bus station. We took a 20 min bus up to Machu Picchu! and spent the afternoon there (about 3 1/2 hours). We didn’t use a guide–just walked around by ourself. I had a tour book especially for MP, but decided not to use it about 3o min in and just soaked up the beauty instead of figuring out what each rock was haha.

Sunday– We took the 10 am Peru Rail train and were back in Piscacucho at 11:30. Then we took a Peru Rail bus to Ollantambo. Then our travel agency sent a taxi to pick us up from Ollantambo and bring us back to Cusco. We didn’t get back until a little after 3 pm because the towns of Ollantambo and Urubamaba were celebrating a religious festival and the traffic near Urubamba was backed up.

Monday– We took a flight to Lima from Cusco at noon!

This was definitely a whirlwind go-go-go type of trip, but Jon only had 6 days in Peru-so it was necessary. And quite honestly, I felt like we got what we wanted out of the trip–great food, relaxation, and MACHU PICCHU!  There was probably a lot in Cusco to see that we didn’t, but I really don’t feel too bad about it……

I would defintely definitely recommend using Andina Travel. And ask for Erick! He speaks English, which is nice when planning a complicated schedule, and he was very quick to respond by email!  I booked our flights to Cusco, our Peru Rail train tickets, and our hostel in Aguas Calientes all on my own. Then I sent this information to Erick, and he handled coordinated transit bus/taxi pick ups, our entrances to Machu Picchu, the bus to Machu Picchu, and our hotel in Cusco.  As far as I could tell, I payed no extra than what I would’ve for these services had I done it all on my own–agency must get a discount. And it saved us a montón of time and stress. When the agency picked us up from our hostel in Cusco on Saturday morning, the lady had our train tickets, MP bus tickets, and MP entrance tickets all stapled together for each one of us and in a nice brown envelope. Also the only reason we had to do taxi and buses to and from Piscacucho was because of the January mudslide. Normally Peru Rail would take you straight from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, you would take the same bus from AC to MP and be done with it.  Apparently Peru Rail has been changing ticket details last minute frequently and having an agency who was used to this and adjusted according was awesome. Plus having the bus and entrance tickets to MP in hand was soooo convenient. No standing in long lines, figuring out where to the ticket offices are, etc.

When back from Cusco/Machu Picchu Jon and I rested/went to a movie– ROBIN HOOD!!!with Russell Crow and Cate Blanchett–so good! Then the next day, we went to Miraflores–Park of Love, beach, another movie DATE NIGHT with Steve Carell and Tina Fey–also good! and dinner at the Rosa Nautica. Then Wed (day he left) just rested and showed him around my neighborhood and took him to the 4 estaciones jugeria for dinner and banana milk (my new fav drink).

All in all it was a successful trip. It was hard to say goodbye again, but I’ll be back in 6 weeks!!!  Also the things he brought from home (my sister packed them) are really gonna make my time in Lima better–assorted teas from the candy basket, cinnamon disks, trail mix (goldfish, dried cranberries, mnms, and peanuts), warmer shoes, extra workout shirts, moisturizer, hot chocolate mix, new OU scholars tee, and LuLu (my stuffed bunny)!! My sister is amazing. I love and miss her so much.

I’m going to do a separate post about the food we ate while traveling and in Lima! The food was definitely Jon’s favorite part!!!! And I don’t blame him–we happened upon some great places with great dishes!!!!!


The seasons have begun to change here in Lima. It is now fall! When I first arrived, sandals and shorts were the appropriate attire. Now, layers are more efficient.  When the sun is out, it’s warm-ish. But there are stretches in the morning and definitely after sunset that are absolutely freezing!! The temperature might be 60, but it feels like 40 or below. And according to some (new!yay!) Peruvian friends and our host family, June will be colder.  So…I need to invest in a warmer jacket ( I only packed a light Columbia zip-up jacket) and some more comfortable closed-toe shoes! I don’t want to wear my tennis shoes everyday, and the couple pair of closed-toes I brought give me blisters easily!  My boyfriend is coming for a visit (he’ll be here Thursday ahhhh!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 ) and I’m going to ask him to bring my boots and also take home some sandals and other summerish clothes that I will no longer be needing.  I figure I’ll buy a warmer coat here, because I don’t want my peacoat making a trip to Lima.  I would hate for something to happen to it! Besides my Lima winter coat can also serve as a souvenir!

As a result of not initially being prepared, I have a bit of a cold.  I went to the pharmacy (boticas–they’re literally everywhere) and told them that I had a headache and a stuffy nose. They gave me a pill called “gripadyn” –not an antibiotic, because I asked– but no idea really what it was, although it did work wonders along with 4-5 pocket packs of kleenex! (Funny side story about the kleenex: I went to a corner store to buy some pocket packs, and I knew the word for kleenexes was “pañuelos”.  I had bought “pañuelos” in Mexico and had remembered the word from seeing it on the package.  However, I never realized I had only just read it and never said it out loud. So when I asked the lady at the counter for the kleenexes she had no idea what I was talking about.  I had to resort to the hand motion of blowing my nose :/ This was followed by a well-intentioned Spanish lesson.  She actually had me “repeat after me”.  She was like– “pan….repita! pan” ….”ñu”…”el”… “o” and I humored her and repeated 🙂 🙂  I kinda still have trouble saying it, and I think next time I will try saying “Kleenex” with a Castellano accent haha it works with things like oreos :))

Some linguistic tips for fall (in addition to the pañuelo lesson):

resfrío (cold)

gripe (literally flu– but I think here it is like a stomach bug? or sickness in general–b/c often they ask if I have gripe after I describe my cold symptoms…ok maybe this one wasn’t actually a tip, but rather something I’m trying to figure out..)

chompa (jacket)

abrígate! (keep warm or bundle up)


I also found that I have a fish allergy.  Kind of weird since fish (both fresh and marine) has never made me sick before.  Well, remember how I got sick last Thursday and we didn’t end up going to Cajamarca as a result? We ate fish for lunch that day.  Well I chalked my sicknesss up to a motion-related one because everyone ate the same food and I was the only one who got sick.  However…. this Saturday we also ate fish for lunch. And sure enough, two hours later  I got sick in the same exact way (same headache, acid reflux, vomit-type).  I feel the fact that I ate fish both days is enough to consider these episodes noncoincidental… I am also allergic to betadine (contains an Iodine compound–I looked up the word Iodine and it’s “yodo” in Spanish.) From what I’ve been reading, marine fish can have a large amount of iodine or a protein similar to it in their muscles.  I don’t really know how I can be unallergic to iodized salt and other iodine-containing foods, but I am allergic to the iodine in the fish….. Maybe different forms of iodine.

Perhaps this is something I will learn in medical school. I’ve tried to search out the answer on the internet (google and such), but the answers are exteremely variable–seeing as how anyone can post their opinion on the web!  Well–if anyone reading this can enlighten me–I’d love your input! (Especially Lizz if you’re reading–maybe you can ask Dr. Ryals if he knows!) Also, I’m not sure exactly what kind of fish I ate (only that I ate the same kind both times) –my host family calls it “diamante” or diamond fish.

Time after Midterms

Besides the two relatively short bouts of sickness related to the diamond fish, my time since midterms has been thoroughly enjoyable.  I have caught up on blogging, reading, scholarship essay writing, working out, and a little sightseeing!

This past Thursday Calin and I went to the Center of Lima for our first time! Cindy and Serena (two other OU students studying at Católica) were nice enough to take us! We now know which combis to take from school and a little of our way around.  We walked through Plaza San Martín and the Plaza de Armas, ate lunch, and went up to the Mirador San Cristobal! It was a great trip. We only stayed a few hours because we had to get back for class, but hopefully we’ll go again soon and get to see more!

Calin and I also went into Wong for our first time. I am so so so excited about my first (good) purchase of turkey meat and cheese for sandwiches.  ( My first time was at Metro, and I was very disappointed). Calin and I have also tried out two Mexican restaurants: Mi Carcochito (last post) and Sí Señor.  We went to Sí Señor today in Miraflores.  I think it was my favorite of the two.  It had many more choices and almost all were Mexican (where as at Mi Carcochito the majority was Peruvian, but they offered tacos).  I ate tacos de carnita cancun or something along those lines. They were great, great, great flour tortillas with meat, pineapple, onions, peach, beans, and guacomole inside. Calin had enchiladas, which she said were really good.

List of restuarantes to try before I leave is now the following:

–>Rocoto Relleno

–>a cevicheria en Miraflores (which might be tricky now with my aversion to fish)

–>Don Rosalina

–>Como Agua Para Chocolate

–>Limeño Tradiciones

–>La Rosa Nautica ( Hopefully I get to check this one off when Jon comes!)


I have yet to get all of my midterm grades, but hopefully I will this week. I did get my “Etnicidad, Identidad y Nación” grade back and it was an A! (which I was proud of because it was an essay test in Spanish).  I am still waiting on my “Seguridad Internacional” grade–it was also an essay test–, my “Justicia y Organismos Publicos” ensayo–5-7 page essay in English–, and my Quechua exam…..which practically everyone cheated on (not me-gracias to my morals and OU’s strict academic honesty policy). And the teacher is not going to make us retake it!  The teacher was not present at the exam–a proctor was, and everyone whipped out their notes claiming they were “like” dictionaries (b/c dictionaries were allowed, but not recommended). It was one of my most bizarre experiences here. I was livid about the whole situation, and from what I could tell it was not as big of a deal to the professor or the students. The profesora lightly scolded everyone the next class period, but that was that.

Oh well, what’s done is done haha–I need not stew about my Quechua test any longer, and I am  so excited for this week! I have four days of class, and then Jon will get here late Thursday night. And we will be off to Cuzco and Machu Picchu for the weekend! I hope that all goes smoothly! Wish us luck! And I will surely be returning with beautiful pictures and memories!

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