Studying abroad is definitely an adventure. Schoolwork is slightly more stressful, but in return, you get to visit new places, meet great people, and adapt to a new environment.
Ironically, adapting to my new environment has been a slow process; the bus system works differently than the US, while exiting a micro (bus), I injured my foot. Considering that, I have and always will be clumsy, this was expected. My foot has bruised to the size of a bowling ball but has improved significantly in the last few weeks. According to the doctor, I should be fineeee soon.
Currently, as I write this, I am reminiscing on the times when my foot was useful. Thanks to my feet, I have been able to travel, and site see some of the beautiful parts of Peru with the Compañeros PUCP (shout out to this student-led mentorship program). I have been to Paracas, Huacachina, Pisco, Ica, and Antioquia.
Luckily, this student group has made traveling around Peru a lot easier, I have had the opportunity to bond with Peruvian, and exchange students during these trips, there is something about Mother Nature that is always able to bring people together.
During one of my first weekends in Peru, I went on a trip to Ica, Peru. As I have mentioned before, Lima is currently cold right now, but visiting Paracas and Ica was like jumping right back into summer. Peru has a vast biodiversity, so it is possible for it to be cold in some regions while it is warm/hot in others.
Paracas is along the coast. There we visited Las Islas Balletas (or also known as the “poor man’s Galapagos”) and the Paracas National Reserve. The visit to Las Islas Balletas has to be done by boat and altogether the tour was approximately an hour and a half. In the Islas, we came across this amazing geoglyph called “La Candelabra”. It is uncertain of who and why this geoglyph was placed, our tour guide told us that there are several myths around this geoglyph that ranges from religious symbolism to finding the treasure that once belonged to pirates.
On the islands, we were able to get up close to sea lions (which are practically water dogs), and penguins!! Following the islands, we went to the National Reserve of Paracas. This area was extremely interesting, as you have to go through the desert to reach the coast. On the way, we made a stop on the fossil deposit that comes from pre-Incan times. The reserve preserves a vast majority of Peru’s marine ecosystem.
Following the coast, we went to the Huacachina Oasis (which p.s. was a very warm place, and I was also dehydrated). I had a once in a lifetime experience in this desert as we went on a dune buggy ride which felt like a roller coaster! Our driver made this ride so much fun, he taught us how to sandboard overlooking the small village and beautiful sunset which reminded me of home. This village is literally surrounded by mountains of sand and the center has a pathway surrounded by restaurants, markets, and the oasis.
That Sunday, we visited Pisco, Peru. Here, we learned about the distillery process of Pisco (a famous alcoholic Peruvian drink), the cultural symbolism and importance this drink has for Peruvian identity. During the distillery process, from what I recall, people hold a ceremony for when the drink is made. It has tremendous significance for their national identity.
Overall, Peru is treating me pretty great!