Hasta Luego…

Well Peru, it’s been fun. You’ve shown me some awesome sights and taught me a lot of Spanish. I met some cool people, did some cool things, and generally just had a rad time.

But all things must come to an end. In a few hours, I will be on a plane, heading to the far North; back to where I belong. This trip may have been difficult at times, but I don’t regret it at all. It was a fantastic experience. I am definitely going to encourage as many people as I can to study abroad somewhere. I think that everyone needs to see a bit of the world.

So goodbye for now. Perhaps I shall return one day, to see the fabled Incan halls.

To everyone else, I can’t think you enough for all the support you gave me. This was a scary thing to do, but I’m glad everyone pushed me to challenge myself. I know I never replied to any of them, but all the comments everyone left were very nice to remind me that everyone was rooting for me.

I’ll see you all soon!

Hasta Luego.

-Terry

To the Foothills!

As my departure gets ever closer, I think it’s great that I can still find interesting stuff in a city that I have lived in for 4 months. Case-in-point: my expedition yesterday afternoon. For the longest time I have been seeing these miniature mountains in the distance and never really bothered about them. When I was looking out my window yesterday deciding what I was going to do that day, I figured that now was as good of a time as any to check them out up close. And thus began another 4 hour excursion through the streets of Lima.

My Goal for the Day

On the way, I got to admire more of the very interesting architecture that is all over the place. I suppose if you need a giant building, you might as well make it look awesome.  For instance, the following is a bank. I could not get the whole thing to fit in one shot, no matter where I was standing.

I'd like to see someone #occupy this...

I also found a nifty clocktower/office building. Because what city would be complete without a clocktower? All the cool places have them.

And for those interested in culinary delights, here is a very swanky-looking restaurant called “El Hornero” (The Baker). I looked through the window, and saw lots of gleaming silverware and porcelain. So this one might be a bit beyond my budget. But it definitely looks cool.

Swanky!

But wait! I have more! Peru being a catholic nation, you are practically tripping over churches when you wander around the city. That being said, there are only a few that are quite as large as this one. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen bigger ones) Granted, this picture doesn’t really do the whole thing justice since I wanted to focus on the part I found most visually interesting. And for those of you who are curious, the message on the banner translates roughly to “Put yourself on track this Christmas.”

But enough about buildings, now for the prize! At this point in the day, my legs were starting to grumble angrily at me. Which is about the time I reached my goal.

 

That’s about it. Just a tiny range of miniature mountains. I was hoping there would be a way to climb them, but there was only a narrow road and it looked a bit too treacherous to scale. It is mostly sand with large rocks buried in it. Also they are pretty steep. After pondering a moment, I felt it would be a bit silly to get myself seriously injured when I’m leaving in 5 days. So I walked up a small outcropping and was able to take a picture of the surrounding neighborhood.

¡Bienvendios a Surco!

This “barrio” is Surco. It’s a–shall we say–less than affluent neighborhood in the city. Lots of dirt. But everyone seemed like they were out having a good Sunday. At the very bottom you can see a huge gaggle of kids playing soccer. I admit I sat down from way up above and watched them for a bit. Mainly to rest my legs, but also because I like soccer.

Now we get to the most fun part! When I stood up, dusted myself off and looked around, I realized I had no idea how to get back to my apartment. I had taken so many different side-streets and flipped directions so many times, I wasn’t 100% sure where I was. There I was, genuinely lost for the first time!

But since I was out exploring anyway, I decided not to take the weeny method of hailing a taxi (of which there are about 16 billion to choose from). Instead I just marched in the direction I felt was the right one and kept going for about an hour and a half until I saw something I recognized. In this case, it was a Mazda dealership that I had seen a few times before. On the way there, I stumbled on to a pretty upscale collection of stores.

As hard as I searched, I couldn’t find a name to the place, so I’m just going to call it the Surco Shopping Center. Oh well, 80% of all the stores expensive women’s clothing and accessories. Not really much to interest me.

So I saw some neat buildings, reached my goal, and got lost. Pretty fun day. I’ve gone West and hit the ocean, and now I’ve gone East to hit the mountains. I wonder what I will discover when I go North and South.

Only a few more days to go!

See you all soon!

Ciao,

-Terry

Wrapping it All Up

My oh my, how the time flies. I came to this country 4 months ago. On August 1st, I stepped off of an airplane I had been on for 9 nine hours, got whisked away to a crappy hostel, floundered in my first month of class, and began to absorb an entirely new culture and language.

In 8 more days, I will be hopping on a different plane, and setting off in a decidedly more northerly direction. I am finished with my study abroad period.

Yesterday I had my last final so now I am done with classes. Walking out of the school gate (I am not being metaphorical here, there is actually a gate you have to pass through to get on to the campus) for the last time was a little weird seeing as how I saw it almost every day for the past semester. And now, in all likelihood, I will never see the University of Lima ever again. Although if I ever come back to Lima, I will probably swing by for nostalgia’s sake.

Anyway, I thought I would take a few pictures on campus for every to see

I think it will be disconcerting going back to the sprawling WSU campus next semester. Everything at Ulima is compact. There isn’t a lot of acreage to go around in this city, so they have to make the most of what they can get. It was a pretty campus though. Lots of trees and fountains. I did not see any statues, however. Most American campuses have those things all over the place.

That giant thing is “R” building  (if you recall, they identify buildings just by letters, not by people’s names) and it is where I spent most of my time. This has nothing to do with any choice or fondness, mind you. Of the 4 classes I enrolled in this semester, 3 of them were held here.

This is the little bank kiosk station place where I would exchange my US Dollars ($) into Nuevos Soles (S/.) I have no idea what percentage they took out for the exchange process, but overall I didn’t concern myself with such matters. It was on campus and convenient.

And here is lunch. This is a fairly typical meal that I would have every day at school. Soup, (I could rarely ever figure out what kind) juice, and then steamed rice + ______. One of the many things I will have gotten out of this trip is that I am much less picky when it comes to food. After around the 4th week, I stopped trying to guess what I was eating and just started chowing down. Food is food, right? Of course, having dishes with no rice in them is going to be strange to go back to. Over my four months, I have probably eaten the equivalent of a medium-sized paddy. How can you have a meal without rice? It’s inconceivable! (That being said… I haven’t had pizza in 4 months. So I am sure I can find some way to ease the transition…)

So that’s that in terms of classes. I’m gonna be looking to do a bit more explor-i-fying in the next week and see a bit more of the city. I will keep you all filled in with that!

Oh! And before I forget, this is the last call for souvenirs! If there is anything at all you want from Perú, now is the time to tell me. Maps, books, t-shirts, coins, collectible thimbles, whatever. Tell me what you want and I will do my best to track it down in the next week. So hurry!

Ciao

-Terry

And They Shall Build a Statue of Me…

This weekend I decided to get out and see more of the city I have been living in for over 3 months. So I just walked out of my apartment, found the nearest combi, and just headed off. After about 30 minutes or so, I clambered out at random and found myself in an area called San Isidro. At least I think. There were lots of signs with “San Isidro” on them so I may have just made an assumption.

One of the first things I noticed about the San Isidro district was that they really like statues. And not just any statues…

Yes. You are seeing that correctly. 3 different statues in 3 different locations. All of the Historically-Significant-Dude-Atop-a-Majestic-Horse variety. I bet that if I had stayed in the area longer, I could have found more. Perhaps I will have to go hunting in a new area next weekend. I wonder if I could find a woman on a horse. Women in history rode horses, right? Or was that a strictly macho thing?

Anyway, along with the equine monuments, there were several parks in San Isidro. Lots of people jogging,  people walking their dogs, a high school (or whatever their equivalent to secondary school is called) dance team practicing a routine, and I even saw an old couple doing Tai Chi in the middle of a clearing. It’s a very modern city, Lima. Haven’t seen a whole lot of crazy foreign outfits. But I did see Jesus carved into a tree stump. And that’s got to count for something.

In a Catholic nation? Who would have guessed!


In my wanderings, I also stumbled across the Mexican Embassy:

This building with a ton of world flags in front of it: (perhaps I was in the Diplomatic District or something…)

As well as just general traffic:

As most cities are wont to be, Lima is noisy. I’m actually looking forward to getting back to the suburbs so I can escape the constant background noise of horns, car alarms, cell phones, generic shouting, and street vendor kazoos. Call me stale and boring, but I look forward to once again be in an area where the only noise to get riled up about is the  dog barking 2 blocks away.

However, the crown jewel of my exploration was hitting the beach.

That’s right! While you all were busy being cranking your thermostats up and getting colds, I went to the beach. I think I am the winner in this competition.

The coastline here is pretty rocky, so I didn’t make a sand castle or anything. It would have been easier to just make a small fortress. But it was nice to just sit on a rock for a half hour and watch the waves come in.

As you might have guessed with a city of 2 million+ people right next to the ocean, the shoreline is… shall we say: “not the cleanest it could be”

But that was to be expected. If I really want to see some pristine waters, I can always head back to Paracas. And it would seem that people here are losing shoes and tires left and right. As I strolled amongst the refuse, I kept coming along another pair of tattered shoes and yet more shredded tires. Should the world ever experience a crippling rubber shortage, I know the first I will go to scavenge.

The cliffs are pretty neat though and fairly well maintained. All the grass is neatly cut and there are lots of flowers. When I got to the coast there was a small regiment of people in green uniforms carrying landscaping supplies.

Well that was my adventure for the weekend. Getting lost in San Isidro and wandering the beaches. We shall have to see if I am feeling up to it next weekend.

In the meantime…

Go get lost in your own city and find something neat!

¡Ciao!

Peruvian Peculiarities

Question.

What do you get when you combine acrobatics, gymnastics, martial arts, and dance?

I’ll give you a minute.

Give up?

Naturally, you get Capoeira.

I spotted this group performing as I was leaving the cafeteria. Looked interesting, so I stuck around and observed.

WATCH ME!

To my surprise, my friend Androw informed me that capoeira is not Peruvian. It’s just popular here. Turns out it comes from Brazil. A dance developed out of a fighting style made by Brazilian slaves. History is neat!

For those of you curious to know more:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capoeira

If you want to see some professionals:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8xxgFpK-NM

I thought this was neat and different, which got me thinking on the many occular oddities that one can spot in Peru, and not in–say, for instance–Wichita.

First up; remember when I noted that people sold everything in the streets? I don’t know why but I think this one is particularly strange.

Who doesn't want some fresh juice?

They are selling orange juice. Actually, they’re not just selling it. They’re making orange juice. Every day I see these ladies out there slicing up oranges, throwing them into a press, and pouring out bottles of the stuff. Now to be fair, one could argue that this is little different from 10 year girls selling lemonade in Suburbia (if any lemonade stand has ever turned an actual profit, let me know). It’s just different to see. (Don’t really want to think about the hygiene thing. No. They are not wearing gloves).

Next we have one of my favorites: the reverse tricycle.

A real man's bike.

Think back to when you were growing up and your parents told you that you were too big to ride a tricycle and that it was time for you to learn how to ride a real bike. It turns out that all you need to do is switch the wheels around and you’re golden! I’ve seen these used for a myriad of transportation purposes ranging from building supplies to yard waste to products. As cool as these are, I have also seen motorized versions of these on the highway stacked with stuff. I know what I want to ride to school now…

After that, we have the security sheds. Or shacks. Maybe “hut” is more appropriate. I’m open to suggestions on this one:

If my degree doesn't work...

Not much to look at are they? This one was empty, but these things literally spring up all around the San Borja neighborhood. Everyone in them always looks really bored. I can see the interview now…

“What are your qualifications for this position?”
“Well, I have 19 years experience sitting down on various chairs, couches, seats, stools, and I’m currently studying Advanced Benchmanship at my local community college.”

In all seriousness though, I must admit that when I’m walking home from my night class and step into the neighborhood, I always have a small feeling of “Okay, there’s a shed with a dude in it. No worries.” (Not that I have ever felt in any danger whatsoever or anything. Chill out parents.)

And on the topic of safety…

Getting a strong "Do Not Touch" vibe.

Every single house has some combination of spikes and electric wires. And those wires are live. There is a broken one on the path I use to get to school, and that thing sparks and snaps like crazy. If someone gets into your property by going over your wall, they have earned your stuff.

And finally… I don’t know whether it’s just a city thing or I just have little knowledge of their common physiology, but the pigeons around here are really fat. As in if you walk toward them, they don’t fly away. They scuttle. Flying would take waaaaay too much effort.

Someone needs a treadmill.

Any self-respecting cat would have a field day in Lima. Come to think of it, I actually haven’t seen a whole lot of cats since I got here. I see dogs all over the place, but can only remember seeing a kitten once when it wandered into the hostel I stayed at 3 months ago (Holy cow! I’ve been here for 3 months!) Maybe the pigeons have something to do with the cat shortage. I’ll have to look into this essential matter…

I will try to keep my eyes peeled for anything else that I find interesting. Tomorrow is All Saints Day here, so maybe something cool will happen if I go looking for it!

¡Ciao!

Cincuenta Por Ciento

Well, it seems to have been a while since I last posted anything. Last time we talked I was chowing down on octopus and watching hang gliders get unnervingly close to skyscrapers. You may be wondering what’s been happening in between then and now.

In short, not much. I go to school, I come home from school, I go to the grocery store, I read books, play some games on my computer, talk with my girlfriend, etc., etc. Really, I’m doing what I would be doing back home, just… sort of a Spanish version. Admittedly, the feeling of pioneering and adventure has worn off a little, but that’s to be expected. I’m actually not all that sad about it. It’s a good thing that I’ve reached some semblance of comfort so very far away from the States.

In any case, this weekend marks 2 whole months that I have been in a foreign land. 2 months. Away from home. Away from familiar. Away from my native language. Honestly, it doesn’t feel like it has been that long, but writing out “2 months” makes it seem so.

So on this 2-month-i-versary of my stay in Lima, I thought that I would reflect on things that I like about studying abroad.

Firstly, I love that everything is so darn inexpensive! (Comparatively).  Look at the picture below.

Delicioso y Barato

This pile of delicious keeps me satisfied for just under 2 weeks-ish. A collection of food like this will generally cost anywhere between 40 – 50  Nuevos Soles. Which when transmogrified into US Dollars comes to around $17.00. This means that I can feed myself each day for less than $1.50. I don’t know about you, but I think that is really awesome.

Speaking of money, I have decided in all my wisdom that coin money is the way to go. The picture below has is a collection of “dinero.”

Nuevos Soles

The ones I use most often are, naturally, the coins. They’re easy to carry around, they don’t wad up, you don’t have to worry about tearing or ripping them, you don’t need a wallet for ‘em, and they’re just generally cool. You might be saying, “Terry, we have lots of coins in the USA too.” But the cool part here is: you can actually purchase useful things with them. I mean, go find 2 quarters. 50 cents. Now go into any store and try to buy something using just those quarter. Can’t be done. At most, you can get a gumball. With 50 “centimos” in Lima, I can get a bus ride. The ball is your court, American monetary system…

And now, speaking of public transportation, Wichita definitely needs this in some form. I have never been a huge fan of driving. It’s really boring. And it’s also expensive. Seeing as how I haven’t really been in the USA, I don’t really know what gas prices are currently at, but when I left, it was pushing $4.00 in Kansas. I love not having to purchase gas. Also, I love not having to be responsible for dealing with… This.

El Tráfico de la Noche

Yes, I might have to wait for a bit to get through on a combi. But it’s someone else’s job. I can sit back, throw on my mp3 player, and let someone else deal with it.

That’s all I can really think of for now. Overall, I’m liking it. It’s interesting to see a different part of the world and observe a different culture from the inside. In general, the Peruvian people seem to be a rather industrious bunch. Everywhere you go you see people building things, cleaning things, selling things, repairing things, guarding things, managing things, taking things apart, moving things, driving things, and lots of other “things.” Everyone is always up to something productive.

Well, two months down, and 2 months to go. I like it here, but that’s not to say I’m not looking forward to getting back stateside on a permanent basis. I like adventures and all, but I think I’ve gotten my fix from all of this.

Now don’t forget to go have adventures of your own back home! Just because you’re not in a foreign country doesn’t mean there aren’t fun and exciting things to do!

Hasta luego,

-Terry

p.s., oh! My latest food experiment here has been a “papa rellena.” Essentially, take hash browns, wrap them around a bunch of…. stuff, and then cook it. It’s not too bad. I imagine it all depends on what you put into it. I forgot to take a picture, but this is pretty similar.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/3/31/Peru_PapasRellenas2.jpg/250px-Peru_PapasRellenas2.jpg

Also, every single meal here has rice. Every one. I have not eaten one dish or platter in this country that didn’t come with steamed white rice. It’s gotten to the point where I’m not sure I’ll be able to get used to it when I get back home. If I order a hamburger, I might accidentally call to the waiter: “Hey! You forgot the rice!”