Peru profiled

Hi all, as I continue with my long awaited Peru series, I wanted to discuss the house dynamic. Living in a house with up to 24 other people at one time can get a bit hectic, especially when everyone is so different, culturally, emotionally, and otherwise. I’ll start with the people who live in the house and then start with the volunteers in the order I met them. I have also decided to not put every volunteer in (it was over 4 pages long) so here are a few highlights.


Lidia- The owner of the home we stayed in. She also runs the volunteer program in Lima. We didn’t really see her too much. On our first day, last day, and whenever she left and returned to the house

Lidia’s husband- He was sort of creepy and always touched the girls in a friendly (?) way but I hate being touched so no no.

Abu- Lidia’s mother. She lived on the first floor and would open the door for people if they came home later. She loves talking to the volunteers but she only speaks Spanish so it was a struggle for some of the volunteers.

Sole- The house chef. Sole speaks only spanish and always wears fun patterns on her clothes. Was always very supportive of my vegan needs and always made sure I had enough to eat

Carla + Rudy- They took us to placement every day and they were always there to answer questions we had


Marissa- The first person I met because we had connected on facebook through the IVHQ page. We were also on the same flight from Panama to Lima (she is from New York). She was there for 6 weeks, her boyfriend came for a weekend (yes flew to Peru for literally 2 days) and she ended up being kind of a bitch. More on that later.

Martina- The one who opened the door for us when we arrived at the volunteer house, and who also became one of my favorite people I met while in Peru. She is from Italy and is one of the funniest people I had ever met. I wished I had stayed longer mainly to spend time with her. I’ve already told her that when I study abroad I will make sure to visit her for a weekend.

Clara- 18 year old Clara, from Maryland, was one of my roommates. She had been living in Nepal helping with hikers and was now volunteering in Peru. She was such a sweet girl and I obtained a Maryland sweatshirt from her that she couldn’t fit anywhere, and I actually met up with her in Cusco.

Skylar- Originally from Texas (oh yes politics were an interesting subject) she had been to 3 countries in her gap year before starting at UT Austin. She has a sweet exterior but she, just  like Marissa became pretty bitchy. But like I said, I’ll get to that later.

Annie- Annie was only here for a week, because that’s all she could get off from work. However, during her first week, Skylar, Marissa, Tresia, her and I spent most of our time together.  She is also from New York and works at a hotel. She was super sweet from the time I did get to know her.

Tresia- There is so much to say about Tresia. She is a 30 year old dietician from South Africa and is one of the sweetest, kindest, most hilarious people I have never encountered. She was by far one of my favorite people I met in Peru and I can’t wait to give her a visit.

Paola- Another one of my roommates. She is from Cancun and is like so beautiful ??? She turned 20 while in Peru so we had a cute party for her and another girl. She makes phenomenal videos of her travels, I could watch them all day.

The Canadians- Shaunna, Maxine, Kalen, Natalia, Brittney, Kelsee- The 6 of them were here for college credit during the last 2 weeks I was volunteering. Natalie annoyed the shit out of me and all she ever talked about was Brazil (she’s never been), Kalen was like very very attractive, and Kelsee was (in my opinion) the nicest of them.

Sylvia- My final roommate. Sylvia, was also from Italy, and works for Revlon. She lives in Milan and while her English isn’t tremendous, she tried so hard and really improved during her two weeks. She told me that when I study abroad, her and I can roadtrip down to visit Martina.

Kandi- One of the kindest ladies I’ve ever met. Kandi is from Jamaica and she loved her coloring books. Her and I helped Malley (next) try to get over a conflict with her roommate (Ana) and the three of us bonded because of that.

Malley- Malley is from Michigan and I literally love her. We both hate Donald Trump and conservative assholes and the education system in America. She had a lot going on medically and took like 12 pills (not an exaggeration) each day and people got mad at her for it (why ????) which caused quite a bit of unneeded conflict in the house. She is going to a school in Chicago in the fall so hopefully I can see her a few times when I’m home.

Ana- Ana was from Canada (not part of the Canadians) and all she did was bitch about Malley. I’m one who can be down to talk shit on occasion, however, when you devote all of your time talking about how much you hate one person, it gets really obnoxious.


Okay, that was still most of the people I met, but a lot of people left a mark on me and I wanted to share who they are with you all.

Alicia

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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

Final post before Peru!!!

Happy Thursday to you all. In a matter of 12 or so hours I will be on my plane to Peru. I wanted to make one last post prior to leaving just to be like ‘hey, I’m leaving’ and so on and so forth.

For those of you who are new or simply don’t pay attention to my blog posts… I will be in Lima, Peru for the next 4 weeks volunteering in an orphanage(s). Basically, in regards to posting, I am hoping to post 10 posts at the most over the next 4 weeks (but expect a ton of Peru related posts when I get back home). I am not going to say that I will have any consistency in my posting whatsoever (and I really don’t care) and I just really wanted to get that out there.

Yes, I will have down time, however, I may want to nap or explore and do other things besides blogging. I’m not gone, I’m not dead, I’m just out here, enjoying life.

I am super excited for this experience and the next 4 weeks of my life. Until I get to Peru (or my plane) I must logoff because I have to shove this computer into my backpack, along with so many other things. So, hasta pronto mis personas favoritas y hasta pronto Lima

Alicia

10 free things to do in Chicago

Hello friends. I will have no money when I get back from Peru so I have decided to make a list of some things I will be able to do in Chicago. So, if you are like me and have no money to your name, you can also do these super duper fun things with me. Also I leave for Peru in 5 days LIKE WHATTTT. Anyways, let’s get started.


  1. Lake Michigan- There are so many different beaches you can go to enjoy Lake Michigan. From North Avenue to Oak Street there is a beach for everyone! No matter the season you can walk, run, or lay out on the beach and have a day full of fun.IMG_4546
  2. Lincoln Park- Situated on Lake Michigan, Lincoln Park is home to numerous statues, an abundance of grass for walking, laying, playing, etc. sanctuaries, a rowing canal, and so many other fun options. You can spend an entire day at Lincoln Park and still be yearning for more time hereIMG_6046
  3. DePaul University Art Museum- What better way to support your own school than by admiring the art of your peers? This museum is open year round (closed Mondays and Tuesdays) and always has new and interesting exhibits for any art taste.
  4. Lincoln Park Zoo- Home to over 1200 animals, the Lincoln Park Zoo is one of the oldest and last remaining free zoos in the entire country. Enjoy a day of gazing at flamingos wading in water, to giraffes and zebras munching on some hay.IMG_3580
  5. Millennium Park- Take a picture in front of the infamous ‘Bean,’ take a walk around Maggie Daley Park and in the winter go ice skating. No matter the season or day of the week, Millennium Park is full of fun adventures.IMG_5621.jpg
  6. Lincoln Park Conservatory- While winter in Chicago is a sight to see, sometimes the best thing to do is spend the day indoors. At the Lincoln Park Conservatory (situated amongst Lincoln Park) you can admire greenery, flowers, and trees of all sizes and biomes all in one place.
  7. The ‘Mag’ Mile- Chicago is a hub for upscale retail. And, even if you don’t want (or can’t afford) anything, simply walking the Mag Mile is a trip in itself. From Ulta to Chanel, there is a store (or a few) for any shopper.
  8. Oz Park- Named after the Wizard of Oz, here you will find statues of the Wizard of Oz characters, an abundance of trees, critters, and so many dogs who would love a petting or a game of fetch.
  9. Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool- If you are looking for a calm place to relax in the midst of finals season, the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool is the place for you. The only sounds you’ll hear here are the quiet chirp of the ample bird species and the ripple of relaxing waterfalls. It’s a refreshing venue filled with wildlife, stones, and trees, and will make any stressed person feel zen (at least for a while)
  10. Museums (free days)- Chicago is a city known for some of the most amazing museums in the country. While these museums can be a bit pricey (students get discounts), most Chicago museums offer free days on multiple occasions throughout the year. Simply look up the museum you want to visit and search ‘free day’ alongside of it and you’ll be ready for a day full of art or science… or both!Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 2.17.26 AM.png

Peru prep

Hi everyone, I leave for Peru in around a month and to say I’m nervous is an understatement. Obviously, I am excited but nervous nonetheless.

I have met a girl on Facebook who is from New York who will be in Peru at the same time as I and we end up on the same connecting flight in Panama City, Florida, so it will be nice to have a familiar face and it has also been calming knowing someone else is just as nervous/excited as I am. We have requested to room together (her request as I really don’t care who I room with) but it might not happen. If it does great, and if not, just the chance to meet more people.

I went to the doctor last week and he gave me 6 (?) prescriptions for typhoid, altitude sickness, and a ton of other things I may or may not need. I am literally going to have an entire pharmacy in my suitcase. But I’d rather be safe than sorry, especially in a new and foreign place such as Peru.

All I have to do medically is receive my yellow fever and flu shots, which I will be doing this week. As for the trip itself I just have to pay my actual program fee and then I am officially ready to go to Peru. Yes, I have to pack (and unpack and repack), buy some shoes, gifts for the kids at the orphanages, and a few last minute tasks but this is so crazy to me. I am going to Peru, something that a few months ago was just a mere thought in the back of my head is actually coming together. It’s crazy what $1500 and a good puppy-dog face can do.

I never thought I would be going to Peru at all, let alone a month, and I have to keep telling myself that yes, I am in fact going to Peru. I can’t wait to update you all about my adventure as the day I depart nears, and throughout my entire trip. ¡No puedo esperar a Peru!

hablaré pronto

Alicia