Saturday, April 30, 2016

Arequipa! A few musings on our days.


I've enjoyed people watching and listening to people's conversations.

I've had a good day. That's all. I like Arequipa. It
reminds me of Boston. I don't like the traffic.

Today was our second day in Arequipa. We started the day off by going on a walking tour around the colonial district of the city. My favorite part was trying the "cheese ice cream" and going to an old cathedral with a lot of old art work. The rest of the day I napped until dinner and then went out for pizza. It was really good pizza.

Today was so amazing. This city is beautiful! I really appreciate how close everything is to our hostel. I'm also so appreciative of all of the locals who have tried their best to accommodate us.

I have been really enjoying the freedom in finding food, even when my Spanish completely fails and there are tons of miscommunication. I have been learning to not be ashamed, but instead taking it as a step in my learning.


I have enjoyed the city of Arequipa. Yesterday we ate at a restaurant and it was great. It was probably one of the better restaurants we have been to on the trip. I enjoy the weather here. It is less humid than Lima and even sunnier than Lima. The hostel in Arequipa is nicer than the one in Lima too. I spent more time at this hostel and one thing I like better is that it has more amenities. Arequipa is cleaner and less noisy, which I prefer to the more crowded Lima. However, I really enjoyed the beach in Lima, which Arequipa does not have.

My favorite moments in the last couple days were the many times I walked through the city and looked down a narrow cobblestone street and it made me stop and say, "wow".

Today I sat upon the rooftop of the hostel, gazing upon the  mountains, listening to the sounds of the chattering, buzzing city. I couldn't understand where the musical dinging sound of the ice cream truck was coming from until I looked down into the street and realized--it was a dump truck.

One thing I noticed was that because of Arequipa's remote location, some things seem more scarce or have a smaller selection.

I haven't left this bathroom all day. I'm bummed I've been missing the city. I hear it is nice.

I enjoyed talking with my fellow hostel guests, each with their own unique and diverse story.  We all came from different parts of the world and took wildly different paths in our lives, yet we all share a similarity--this convergence in Arequipa.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Travel for me is a lot about perspective. The perspective that while I'm travelling, it doesn't matter what the consistency of my hair is or the cuteness of my butt happens to be at the moment. The perspective that all of the little things I spend the majority of my time at home worrying about simply don't matter when I'm looking at houses made out of tin and sticks in the middle of a desert. Here what really matters is not that this pair of shorts in the store is super cute, it's that I remembered to apply sunblock in the last 4 hours. It's important that I am one of the only ones in my group with enough experience with the language to communicate with a taxi driver, or let my fellow travellers know what their options to eat are, or yes, with what frequency I'm pooping. When travelling, all of the logistics and chaos of getting to know a new place make everything seem so much more complicated, but the state of mind that I'm in is so much more simple.

Before I left, my mom told me that travel brings out the best and the worst in everyone, and maybe I'm jumping the gun a bit in saying this, but so far, the "worst" hasn't been terribly bad. The "worst" has been vastly diminished in comparison with the closeness we get by having to navigate a new city together, being crammed into a bus packed with Peruvians and having to hold onto your neighbors tight to prevent the both of you from sitting on the lap of an unsuspecting Peruvian, getting up in the wee hours of the morning to select the best of the fruit for the rest of us, and most importantly, going on a group-wide adventure to satisfy my need for a churro. So overall, my hair may be waxy, my pits may be smelly, and my shorts may feel frumpy, but I'm feeling very good about where my mind is.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

A page from the quote book....

"Are we there yet."
"Can we just stay here, in this know, and not go home?"
"Can we go back to the park?"
"No matter how much fruit you eat, that is not a breakfast."

"Are we there yet."
"Advertising is everything."
"Don't call me Yellow Beard."
"I really just argue with Ryan."

"I've decided to try everything."
"Yeah, I could help you with that cake."
"I never thought I'de be in the South America."
"Food is more engaging when you eat in a foreign place.

"Let's not talk about this ever again."
"Man, I love me some cathedral."
"I ate like 60 grams of chicken protein. Good meal."
"That book is bound in human skin. What's wrong here?"

"I will talk about my poop all of the time."
"I"m not going to sleep anyway, do you want to split a coke?"
"Bonjour, hola, good morning. The boy's room smells... rancid."

"Humanity is messy."
"I'm a chair"
"So, senior project..."

"There was a chicken foot in my soup."
"It is cool that I can look over everyone's heads all the time here."
"The bus was... interesting."

"I'm not going to, but you should totally poop on the airplane."
"I could live on mangos."
"Everyone's mother talks about how much they like Nolen. It's weird."

"I a-Peru-ve of your decision."
"The trick is to make a lot of bad puns. They the  mediocre ones sound great."

"No, my mother did not get me a rape whistle. I got me a rape whistle."
"No, these German guys actually worship the devil, but they are so polite."
"I can function without coffee,  just not well.

"I'm Nolen's protector now. Awesome."
"Shut up your face."
"This rock star is ready for bed."

"Ok, so who has the map?"
"I don't want to poop on an airplane."
"We have eleven students. Eleven."
"Are there sweet potatoes?"

"Thank you in advance for giving me reasons not to 'forget' you at this park."
"I don't dart."
"So, did you poop yet?"
"I don't know what you're eating, but put some in my mouth, please."
"Now what did we learn?"

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Day 2ish

This was our second day waking up on a Hostel bed in a completely foreign country. I had personally been preparing myself to be in complete culture shock, for a while as this is my first time leaving the country.
     Going through customs was way easier than I expected, but I immediately realised that taking three years of French and avoiding Spanish at all costs was not a good life decision, as Ryan would say. We passed through customs with no problem and entered a very brightly lit orange baggage claim, with no windows and only fluorescent lights. It was very hard to tell the time of day. We all immediately noticed the sniffing beagle, who we later realised was a fruit smelling dog. Of course I was the only member of the group that the beagle approached.  As the suspicious dog jumped on my bag, the man asked me in Spanish "frutas, frutas?" and my pale, confused face must have shown my nervousness as I shook my head and said no. After a couple of minutes, and trying to put as much distance between myself and the dog, the man and the dog were back, as it jumped on my bag scratching and yelping. At this point, it was obvious that the man could not let me go, and he asked me to open my bag. I complied. After not finding anything, they allowed me to take my bag.
     Now, actually onto day two! I woke up early with the group of girls in search of fruit for breakfast. We searched for an inexpensive fruit cart, only passing a couple open stores. One thing I've noticed is that the city wakes up pretty late, in my experience of cities. The local coffee shop doesn't open until 8 am. We finally found a small market with a good amount of fruit. After Nina, Lila and Kestrel collected the fruit, Ryan went to pay. The woman wrote down 185 and Ryan asked all of us for more soles... which is a crazy amount. Nina and Lila came over to sort it out,  and of course it was only 18.5 soles (which is about 6 dollars)... typical.
     After everyone was fed and happy, we set out on our adventure to the historical district of Lima. The first quest of the journey was to find the bus station, which was located near the market we visited earlier (but we took a much different route that took more side streets). After loading a single metro card with enough swipes for the group, we made quite a scene as we lined up and entered one by one, passing off the metro card. The bus in Peru has been the most boundary-pushing experience. After walking to the platform, we realised that we would have to push and keep very up close and personal with Peruvian strangers. Immediately, I had a little butt moment with a middle-aged Peruvian woman before she pushed and shoved to get off at her stop. As an influx of Peruvians pushed on, I was immediately thrown into the sweaty back of Tim. After a very touchy bus ride we had to depart quickly, as the bus stops are extremely short.
     As I sit writing this in the hostel living room, with Ryan constantly pestering me about waking up to run at 6 am and Julia tiredly waiting for me to finish so she can publish it, I am ending this blog post with a combination of the ideas from the people around me.
     So Beunos Noches de Lima, Peru
       -Lylah Isadora Guzynski-Hakimoglu-Tay

Monday, April 25, 2016

Blog Post
By Lila Shaw

Night of arrival:

We exchanged money and got situated, tired and discombobulated from our long day of flying. We got through customs and a sign reading "Rick Gordon", held by a kind Peruvian stranger. He was curious who Rick Gordon is. He spoke broken English, more broken than mine and Nina's Spanish. We talked with him on the way to our surprisingly non-sketchy vehicles, two small vans. Monuments and religious statues pass us by as we drive hurriedly among run down, caged off, dusty and colorful buildings. The streets criss-cross chaotically and the cars cut between lanes restlessly. It is approximately 11:45 PM.  Cacti and palm trees are strewn on every street corner. The music on the radio is in English, much to my dismay. I am so enamored with absolutely everything.  I attempt to read passing billboards, squirming in my seat in anticipation for the adventures to come.

The hostel is clean, friendly, and colorful. The gate is tall and metal and we have to buzz to get in and out. There is razor wire or a myriad of iron spikes dancing on top of every fence. The hostel patio is inviting, we spend much of our time there hanging out and enjoying the humid, warm air.

Our first day of waking up in the hostel we woke to Rick having brought us avocado, passion fruit, papaya, clementines, eggs, onion, a pepper, bread, butter, and jam. Kestrel and I cooked the eggs in the beautiful little kitchen and I told our incredibly friendly host (a woman, about 45? So hard to tell...) about our group. Our most frequent topic of discussion is probably poop/pooping; how to, when, what, and many excessive and or graphic details that I won't include. However...we are definitely already very close with each other in this way. The group dynamic, although whiny at times, is quite smooth. We all seem to be getting along very nicely! We are certainly a headstrong group, but there is a lot of flexibility among us and I think we have been very good about hearing each others needs. So far so good!

We have been noticing how humbling it is to see how many people there are in the world. I keep thinking about how each and every one of the people I see has a life, goals or hopes, and a family, and I know absolutely nothing about them, and probably can't even converse that well with them. There are so many people who are so different from us, but we all have so much in common. We share so much with these strangers just by being human and having human needs. It's also wonderful to gain perspective about things like toilets... we are all so used to the privilege of flushing our toilet paper and never seeing it again, but here we are grateful to flush our poop, and still adjusting to putting our used tp in a trash can...where it will stay...and not flush away into the ether.... the point is, we are all gaining a ton of perspective on our home lives in Vermont, whether or not we have all realized it yet.

It's so wonderful to get to know each of my peers more personally and in a new setting, each person on this trip has so much to offer.

We saw some of the most beautiful things today, including a meal outside near a big indoor market full of fruits and meats, and then the coast below us. I am finding it very challenging to express any fraction of the wonders we are immersed in, although I try every moment to record the beauty I see with an absurd amount of photos and plenty of journaling. I fear that I will forget details that open my eyes so wide, but recording things isn't as important as living them. When I think about it, I'm not that stressed about living each moment to the fullest, because whether or not I am writing, snapping photos, or just gawking at everything, each of these is a form of taking in all of the beauty around me. Anyway, enough of this, here are some of the photos I took today! I love them, it's so beautiful here. A picture is worth a thousand words....

Day 1

As the sun rose on Lima our adventurers woke cheery-eyed and excited to start the day.  Ryan and Alec went on an early morning run, scouting out the city streets for the first time, while the rest of the team took turns showering off our travel grime.  Rick walked to a local market and returned to the hostel, arms full of bread, eggs, and fruit.  Kestrel began scrambling eggs while the rest of the team broke into the passion fruit, a first for many of the students, and took turns slurping its delicious seeds.
After a wonderful breakfast we quickly began cleaning up, working as a team to wash all our dishes.  By the time we were ready to start exploring, the hostel plaza, which had been covered in avocado skins and mango juice a moment earlier, looked better than we'd found it.  We left the hostel with our bags packed light, the rest of our gear locked safely in our rooms, and headed deep into Lima's business district.  Our first stop was a two-story supermarket where we stocked up on bottled water.  From there, we headed towards a large indoor and outdoor market full of small shops and vendors selling everything from touristy knick-knacks to fresh fruit to meat being butchered in front of us.
Once we'd finished exploring the market we settled down at a small restaurant for a delicious and filling lunch.  We then headed towards the promenade which overlooked the beach.  We spent our afternoon wandering up and down the promenade's walkway, watching the surfers and hangliders swoop around us.
We eventually made our way back to the hostel where we rested before heading out once again to find dinner.  After a few tries to find food that worked with our price range we stumbled upon a chinese resteraunt playing Peruvian soap operas.  It was an instant hit.  With bellies full of rice and noodles we slowly walked back to the hostel, our legs finally feeling the work we'd put them through.  Most of us made it home just in time to collapse in our beds, but a few brave souls made one final excursion to the beach to see the stars.  I, however,  decided my legs were done for the night.  While the rest of the group was either in bed or on the beach, I sat in the muted evening light of the hostel plaza and wrote this.
-James West

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

T minus 43 hours to departure.... and a watercolor flag

Page one of Ryan's watercolor notebook. 

In 43 hours we depart on a marvelous adventure. 

Famous advice for exploring the universe: 
Don't forget your towel.
Don't panic.