Voluntaria en Peru

Buenos dias, like many of you may know I have been shitty at posting since returning home from Peru. I had gotten myself into such a routine of writing and coming up with ideas and when I came home, I had gotten out of that routine that I just didn;t write, at all. However, my 5 weeks in Peru were some of the best weeks of my life and I really do want to share what I did while I was there.

This post is going to be centered around the volunteer aspect of the trip (why I went) but since it was basically the same every day, I’m not going to make post after post about it. So, enjoy a brief intro into volunteer life in Lima

In Lima, there are 4 different volunteer programs; Child care, Teaching, Medical, Construction (summer only). I, and most of the others volunteering were part of the childcare program. I wasn’t really educated on the other 3 programs, however, within the childcare program, there are 5 different orphanages, Divinos Jesus (‘functioning’ children ages 0-9), Esperanza (special needs 0-9), San Migitas (special needs 9-18), Renacer (special needs 18-65), and Vidas (teen mothers and their babies).

At Divinos Jesus (my placement), Esperanza, and San Migitas, people are given some children to look after (at Divinos Jesus it is consistent but at the other two it can change depending on the needs that day). At Divinos Jesus, you play with the children, feed  them, put them to sleep, etc. I was in the room with babies ages 0-6 months, we were giving bottles, working on motor skills, and putting them down for naps. At Esperanza and San Migitas, there was quite a bit of physical and hydro therapies, along with feeding. At Vidas, it’s mainly talking to the mothers and then taking care of their children so they can have classes and try to be normal teenagers. And finally at Renacer; all of the childcare volunteers go there at the end of the month for a big fiesta to celebrate all of the birthdays from the month.

I love babies so being in that room was so much fun (yes even when I got thrown up all over). I loved all 6 of the babies and I give so much credit to moms of multiple children and moms in general. I definitely got too attached to the kids, one in particular, so I do miss Roberto, Fredy, Valentina, Estrella, and Galeska, but I miss Belen the most. I am not allowed to post photos of the babies or anyone at any of the orphanages because it is a government owned facility, but trust me, babies are SO CUTE.

We did that everyday from about 8-1, so most afternoons we had free. However, on Monday and Wednesday afternoons we would head out to La Punta to volunteer at a halfway house for girls from ages 12-17. We would do a daily game, english lesson, and craft. I loved seeing how the girls progressed from the time they got to La Punta to when I left and seeing the girls leave was bittersweet because I loved them and it was so nice getting to know them, but on the other hand it was amazing because they were making progress in their lives. Some of the girls were so funny, some more reserved, but all of them were genuine, sweet girls who just got mixed up in the wrong crowd. While I loved the babies, these girls were the highlight of volunteering and when I left, tears were shed from both the girls and I, and I really hope they all get out and make progress to live their best lives they can.

Alicia

Warm vodka

Interesting title I know… but bear with me until I get to that story.

Whenever I am not at home, ie. college, vacation, a friend’s house, I always wake up super super early the first few days I am there. This was no exception. I woke up at around 6:30 or 7 (I don’t remember). I didn’t get up though, mainly because I didn’t want to wake any of my three roommates nor did I know how to get out of my bed.

Once my roommates had gotten up and gone downstairs, I basically cannonballed off of my bed (which really hurt) tumbled on the ground and made my way downstairs as well.

 

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The view from my room

Breakfast that day (and every day) consists of bread and marmalade (Peru is known for their Marmalade and it’s amazing!), and a variety of exotic fruits.

After Breakfast, all of the new girls (Marissa, Annie, Skylar, Tressia, and myself) along with Leo and Clara made our way to Plaza San Miguel to exchange money and make ourselves acquainted with the plaza since we would spend quite a bit of time and money there.

We made it back just in time for lunch which was a really yummy pasta salad, rice, and a salad. If you think that’s a ton of carbs you should wait for every other meal (everyone always complains and I just think it’s annoying).

 

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just a bathroom mirror selfie of a sleepy, peruvian gal

After lunch, all of the new girls squeezed ourselves into a taxi and headed to Miraflores (a very touristy area on a cliff displaying the Pacific Ocean in all of its glory). In Miraflores, we walked along Parque Kennedy, which is named after President JFK. This park is full of stray cats just walking around and doing their thing. The urge to pet them was so real, yet we didn’t because A. who knows what they had on/in them and B. they were quite skiddish around humans (no doubt due to some little kids trying to yank their tails).

By this time, the five of us had all opened up about being nervous the night before and for the same reasons. We had talked about families, friends, past trips, so many things and we were really getting comfortable around each other.

By the time we had finished telling stories, we were at Larcomar, a shopping center with about the same sorts of stores that the Panama airport had. There we walked around, took pictures of the coast, talked with some locals etc.

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View of the Ocean from LarcoMar

Some of the other girls in the house had told us about this Incan Market that was by Miraflores. Marissa wanted a bag, I wanted to look around and see the colors, and the other girls didn’t have a preference of what we were doing so… after a 25-minute walk or so we made it to the Incan market. The market was full of colored bracelets, bags, sweatshirts and more, alpaca blankets were displayed on every wall, and so many hand-carved trinkets. It was such a sight to see and while I didn’t buy anything that day (I didn’t want to lose anything) I will definitely make my way back to the Incan Market later in my trip to get some goodies.

After Marissa bartered for a bag and we had scanned the entire market, we hailed a taxi and were on our way back to the volunteer house.

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The Incan Market

After dinner,  seven of the eight people who hadn’t gone out of town for the weekend decided to go to Miraflores to go clubbing. Well, the three older people (the 4 new girls were exhausted but we wanted to see what clubbing in Peru would be like… so we tagged along). Apparently buying alcohol in bars and clubs in Peru is just as expensive as the States, but buying bottled liquor is much cheaper so we walked to a local grocery store and came out with 2 bottles of $4 vodka, a knock off orange juice, and plastic cups.

We took a cab to Miraflores(where most of the nightlife happens) and started passing out the mixed drinks. (PS I am legal here so it’s all good). When our drinks were being poured and distributed, I had the pleasure of being the first sip. It tasted like cough medicine that your parents have to force down your throat when you’re little. But we had a lot of it to drink so we shoved it down our throats.

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We had a man from Cusco take this.

After we finished our drinks (well Marisa hid the vodka bottle in a bush), we got to the club. At the club, they played a variety of English and Spanish music and had an insane amount of flashing strobes. it was nothing too fancy, but it was nice to be able to check out the party scene of Peru.

I got home with 2 of the other girls at around 230 that morning and immediately passed out in bed, and the other 4 didn’t get home until 5. Nevertheless, we were up at 730 to explore Lima some more.

Sunday was a lot more laid back. We took a taxi to Barranco, a less touristy, more local city by the ocean. There we found a cute cafe and Skylar had her first acai bowl, and there was a very very cute Colombian barista who complimented my Spanish speaking abilities.

We got lunch in Barranco after walking along the beach for a bit. For lunch, I got grilled veggies and rice, and tried Sangria for the first time. It was good but definitely not my favorite drink in the world.

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Cafe with acai bowl and frozen coffee

After lunch, we went to this little sort of Farmer’s Market, called Feria, which had clothes, food, soaps, cosmetic products, and just anything you could think of. We didn’t buy anything there but looking around was really nice. A few of the booths even had fake Kylie lip kits, which I thought was rather funny.

After walking around all day in the scorching heat, we needed something sweet. We found this little gelateria called Blu, which had a line wrapped around the entire block, which made us sure it had to be good. They also had sorbet (vegan!) so I was able to indulge in an amazing banana mango mixture that was absolutely heavenly.

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Gelateria

We ate our gelato/sorbet in a park in Barranco which was filled with cute puppies and live music, an A+ on all ends if you ask me.

We finally made it back to the volunteer house, ate dinner, showered, and promptly fell asleep, awaiting what was to come n the following four weeks.

Alicia

¡Estoy en Peru!

¡Hola a todos! I am officially in Peru!! Sorry that I have been a bit MIA lately but this is the first time I have unzipped my laptop since arriving. I figured I would give a bit of a rundown of the first day for this post and then write about my first weekend for another post.

Basically, I woke up at 4:30 Friday morning, got dressed, did my final packing of chargers, books, Fitbits, and phones, downed a Dunkin Donuts iced mocha with almond milk and made it to the airport. I was there 3 hours before my flight(recommended) however, passed through baggage checking and security in about 20 minutes so I had ample time to fill my water bottle, buy some plane snacks and magazines, and use the bathroom.

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Upon boarding the flight, I made my way to my window seat (that didn’t have a window) and waited patiently for the girl in front of me to open hers (she didn’t). I spent the 5-hour flight to Panama with on and off naps, watching friends, reading one page of my book and playing Sudoku on my phone, you know… the typical traveling things.

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breakfast

Upon arriving in Panama, I had to walk the entire length of the airport to find my connecting terminal (which is fine since I’ll be doing the same on my flight back with an8-hourr layover). The Panama airport was nothing like I had expected. It was oozing in glitz and glam. The walkways adorned with Pandora, Rolex, and Louis Vuitton shops and the shoppers matching the ritzy ways of the entire airport.

I took a seat at my terminal, while I awaited the arrival of Marissa, the girl I had spoken to on Facebook. I had only ever seen her in a full face of makeup (profile photos) so there was a girl who resembled her in the airport but I didn’t approach her just in case I would have made a fool of myself.

My window seat on this flight did have a window (which made me a very happy gal) so I was able to see Panama and Peru in all of their glory during my flight. We finally arrived in Peru at about 730pm, to which we made it through a very simple cutstoms process and made our way to baggage claim. After getting all of our bags, seeing quite a few dogs, and exchanging $20 we found our driver and we headed to San Miguel.

Our driver was a very sweet man who spoke little to no Engliah and really likes Salsa music. Speaking decent Spanish myself, I was able to communicate with him pretty seamlessly.

I immediately fell in love with Peru. The cool breeze (which I can now say is not always there), the Palm trees, the colorful houses, and so much more made me really feel like Peru was definitely the place for me. The insane driving, however, I can live without.

Marissa and I arrived at our volunteer house, unloaded our baggage, and were immediately welcomed by Martina, an Italian girl who had already been volunteering in Peru for 3 months, and has three more months to go. She knows the house, rules, bus stops, everything really, inside and out and she was very informative and helpful for any qualm we may have. She gave us a tour of the house, gave us a rundown of all of the rules, and showed us to our rooms. After somewhat settling in..AKA shoving all of my belongings into the small closet and drawer i was alotted, I made my way back downstairs to get acquainted with the space, girls, and wait up to meet 2 more new people.

I tried to stay up with the other girls, but all of us newbies were so exhausted, that I went right up to bed. My bed, doesn’t have a ladder so I basically have to do some aerobics to get up there. It’s not too bad, especially since I am one of the tallest people here, I have definitely gotten used to it. the first 2 days were actually hell though, especially trying to get down.

Once I finally made my way into my bed, I got really nervous. The girls who had already been here were best friends. They talk about everything and they do it with such ease. I sort of felt as if I were intruding on their friendships. I really thought I was making a huge mistake coming to Peru. Trying to put those negative thoughts behind me, I shut off my phone, pulled up my covers, and went right to sleep.

Alicia

Also, If you want to follow my journey more frequently, follow my Instagram: @aliciaheninger