Nos vemos pronto Perú

On March 12th, Holy Cross sent out an email informing us that we had to return home due to the increasing global crisis of COVID-19. A few days later, on March 17th, I pulled back into my driveway of my Lexington, Massachusetts home after about 5 weeks in Peru, instead of 5 months. And here I am on April 22nd finally forcing myself to write a goodbye blog. I’ve admittedly thought about this blog every few days as I go on runs around my town and have time to let my mind wander.

My final days in Peru were a whirlwind. The arrival of COVID-19 was rapid and relatively unexpected. Between finding out that we had to come home and flying out of Peru, there were about 4 days. Suddenly we had to take advantage of every second that we still had in the country. We made one final beach trip, electric scootered through Miraflores, drank chilcanos like it was our job, and ate chifa. We laughed, we cried, we danced. Yet while I spent my final days enjoying time with my amazing friends from Holy Cross, the call for our quick departure left little to no time for goodbyes. As I packed my suitcases, waves of emotions and tears hit as I realized the deep impact which my new friends from Peru and around the world had had on my experience in Peru and on my life. I realized, and I continue to reflect on this even now that I am home, that even the smallest everyday interactions or impromptu conversations with people can have such a profound impact on you.

It was all the small moments which made up the life-changing experience which I had in Peru. Lunch with Steve at the comedor central, laughing hysterically in the silent Biblioteca de Ciencias Sociales instead of reading for class, playing pisco drinking games about limones and vikingos, successfully learning new salsa moves, watching Tito realize he likes We the Lion, playing BINGO with the Parroquia, dancing for hours and hours at my host parents’ Boda de Oro, playing foosball at Pierre’s house, making workout “friends” at Smart Fit, having an unspoken friendship with the bodega owner across the street as I buy the same three items every time I enter, staying up wayyy too late laughing with Nina in Tarapoto, ending up at a random restaurant at 11pm ordering drinks with Joe and Javier, desperately attempting to study for the Estado y Política midterm with Ennedith, sitting outside at the Comedor de Arte attempting to do reading for a final but instead talking for hours with Javier and all the other people who passed through, interviewing Peruvians about the education system with Grace, and looking down at my watch at the club and realizing it is 5 am and I’ve hit my 10,000 step step goal for the day.

There are a LOT more memories. These are just a few.

My first few weeks home, I think I was in a strange sense of shock. I was, and am, happy to be safe and home with my family during these challenging and unprecedented times of COVID-19. I am thankful for every moment in Peru. The experience helped shape me. I learned, I loved, I grew. While I had hoped to continue to nourish relationships I made, improve my Spanish, learn more about the unique country, and so much more, I know that this is not the end of the journey. One day I will return to Peru. And until then, I will hold the memories close to my heart, try to virtually stay connected with folks, and apply lessons learned in Peru to my life here in the U.S..

To anybody thinking about studying abroad. I say GO FOR IT! Keep in mind that it probably will not be a walk in the park. You will be faced with challenges. But you will also meet amazing people, experience new things, and learn a LOT.

In my first blog post back in July of 2019, I wrote that I was taking off on the biggest YOLO of my life. And that is exactly what it was. I embraced the fear of the unknown, one day at a time. I challenge you to do the same. I wrote that “Sometimes you have to jump and hope you don’t just land on your feet, but that you FLY. ” I stand by this. May we all have the opportunity to fly. Cheers to embracing the continuous unknown.

¡Cuídense!

flying over lima
and FLY I sure did!
sunset
Callao
sunset over the notary
Neighborhood sights on a beautiful summer evening
On the Malecón as the sun goes down
On the Malecón as the sun goes down (photo by Joe Ertle ’21)
Enjoying our final evenings in Lima. Much love <3
Chilcanos and tequenos at the bar
3 por S./20 Chilcanos y Tequeños por favor!
girls on the beach
Day tripping to the beach in Chorrillos with the chicas! Only got a little sunburnt….

AND here are a few more photos just for the mems:

host parents celebrating their 50th anniversary
Mis papás anfitriones celebrando su Boda de Oro!!
Host mom and I
Hermi, Te quiero!
foosball, dancing, and fun
Foosball, Fiorella dancing, and Manuel doing who knows what… Seems about right 🙂
dancing salsa
Salsa hasta que se apaguen las luces
Peru flag
Ciao Perú

 

Tarapoto!!

From March 7th-10th, we left Lima and headed to Tarapoto, ready to escape the city traffic and busyness for a few days. While Tarapoto is a city, it is MUCH smaller than Lima and much calmer. The majority of transportation is via Mototaxi instead of buses or cars. This trip definitely helped me affirm that the jungle is my favorite climate in Perú. The food, fresh air, calmness, culture, and nature, all add up to make the selva a beautiful place. While Tarapoto was much different than my experience in Iquitos last semester, I still loved it!

In Tarapoto, we did a night walk in the jungle, tried out new foods and fruit juices, visited waterfalls and large lagoons, fished and made pottery. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves and show the lovely trip which we had.

More than anything, I am beyond happy to have shared this experience with the lovely group of students who came to Perú with EdOdyssey. It would be impossible to count the number of laughs we shared or hilarious stickers we sent in our Whatsapp group during this trip. From swimming in freezing cold water, to tasting camu camu for the first time, to catching a plastic bag while fishing instead of a fish, it was all smiles! The trip was yet another reminder that study abroad is so much more than just the “study” or the “abroad”. It’s about the people you meet, the connections you make, and the experiences you share with those around you. <3

 

We found a bunch of rañas on our nighttime walk
We found a bunch of rañas on our nighttime walk!

 

holding a snake and a funny face
And a few snakes too! AHH!
Crossing a river on a giant raft in order to get to a lagoon for the day
Crossing a river on a giant raft in order to get to a lagoon for the day

 

Whole group posing for a photo
The SQUAD 🙂

 

group photo in front of a river
photo creds to our amazing guide!

 

posing funnily at the waterfall
Believe it or not, but we missed a nice, strong, rainfall… and that’s exactly what we got this day at the waterfall!

 

Chaufa Regional and plátano frito!
Chaufa Regional and plátano frito! YUM!

 

Joe caught a fish!
Joe caught 4 fish! Future in fishing? Maybe!

 

Finishing up the fishing trip
Nothing but smiles!

 

 

PARTE 2!!

Anddd we back!

 

On February 6th, I hopped on a plane to Canada. And then I hopped on another plane to LIMA! Yeah, I know that going north to go way south makes no sense at all, but it was cheap so it makes at least a little sense….

 

Leaving for Peru felt a bit different this time around. I already knew what to expect of the university, the people, my house, the program, and my host family. The only 2 major differences were that it was going to be a new group of Holy Cross students and I’d be arriving in the depths of SUMMER.

 

So on February 9th, I arrived at Tanta for my welcome lunch part 2. Walking up to the table a few minutes late, like a true peruvian, I was warmly greeted by a hug from our cultural advisor, Luis, and lots of smiling faces. After just that day, I knew that it was going to be a great group. The beauty of study abroad is being able to connect with diverse individuals and people you may never have been friends with otherwise. While I knew all the Holy Cross students coming for this semester, during my two weeks here so far, these previously “hi”-friends have become true friends. I’ve always believed that the people you surround yourself with play a crucial role in the shaping of your life and the experiences you have. The group’s positivity, desire to improve their Spanish, and overall commitment to taking full advantage of the opportunity to be in Peru for a semester has already made the beginning of this semester special!

 

Over the past two-ish hot, sticky, and wicked sunny weeks of summer, the mornings have been spent back at El Sol Spanish school in Miraflores. In the tardes, we either have activities organized by the EdOdyssey team, or have free afternoons to disfrutarnos. As I write this blog, it is a free afternoon and I’m sitting in a park writing with pen and paper, watching dogs play with each other. The sun is beginning to set, and the cool breeze feels like the perfect refresher after another hot, humid, Lima summer day.

 

There are many more updates to come, but I’ll pause here…. Peru PARTE 2 is going just dandy. Only a few tears have been shed so far, mainly due to the frustrating bus system, so I’ll consider that a win J. It has been great to see and hear from peruvian friends again, dip my toes back into the nightlife, and bond with the new Edodyssey group! Additionally, being the only student with my host family this semester, I’ve been able to bond and chat with them a lot more. Due to summer vacation, the daughter of my host brother… my host niece I suppose… has been staying at the house and it has been a real blast bonding with the energetic, talkative gal!

 

Cheers to 5 more months in Peru!!

 

Enjoy some fotos from my first two weeks!

Blog written on paper in the park
Blog writing in the park

 

Beautiful Museo Larco and the garden outside of the museum
Visiting the beautiful Museo Larco on a free day

 

Some artwork at Museo Larco
A small selection of the thousands of pieces of artwork at Museo Larco

 

Joe and Nina dancing and having a blast on the dance floor at Sachun restaurant
Joe and Nina dancing it out at our dinner at Sachún restaurant

 

lots of dogs all trying to get food
Visiting a dog shelter with 90+ dogs!

 

street artwork of a women in Barranco
Artwork in Barranco

 

Selfies with Adriana!

 

Right after the bus emptied out on my trip to El Sol in the morning. 50+ people can fit into this small bus!

Finals

**finals ended about 3 weeks ago but figured I’d still post this*

There is always going to be the debate: which type of final is better? A paper or an exam? There are pluses and minuses for both. With an exam, you have to study hard leading up to it, but then it is over and done with in a couple of hours. You don’t necessarily know what the questions will be on an exam, so there is an inevitable element of surprise and fear. With a paper, you slave over crafting the best possible piece of work you can before the turn in date arrives. You have the questions or prompt you need, and the necessary resources are at your disposal.

Finals in Perú were absolutely no easier than finals at Holy Cross. This semester I had three final papers and an oral exam. While I was very nervous studying for and heading into my oral exam, it ended up going very well and I left feeling like a weight had been lifted off my chest. As a perpetual procrastinator, my biggest challenge this finals szn was that two of my papers were due on one day, and the next day I had my other paper due. While it is possible to write one paper the day before, it is not possible to write 3 extensive (high quality) papers in three days. I knew this going into the week. Of course, I still procrastinated. After 4 nights of barely any sleep, some chocolate, and too much coffee, all my finals were turned in. Pages and pages of Spanish words complete, it felt good to finish off the semester.

Yet this was not realllyyyy the end of paper writing. For Holy Cross students who study abroad in Perú, there is a required ICIP (Independent Cultural Immersion Project). This project requires students to immerse themselves in an activity, volunteer opportunity, or other cultural experience while in Perú. At the end of the semester, you have to present your experience and/or findings and write a final paper. As I attempted to get the paper done so I could be fully in vacation mode, I found that the combination of 6 months of life in Spanish and my true passion for my project made writing the final paper relatively easy.

Turning in this final paper allowed me to take a deep breath and say chau to this semester of schoolwork. It has been tough, but I have learned so much unique information that I could never get out of Holy Cross courses. This semester I learned about the complexity of Peruvian politics, society, and cultures. I expanded my anthropological perspective. I improved my ability to critically read in Spanish, as well as write strong academic papers in Castellano. In and out of the classroom, I learned and grew in ways I never have before. Just as with the final exam vs. final paper debate, there are pluses and minuses to study abroad. Study abroad is hard. Study abroad is a challenge. But study abroad is also an incredible opportunity to expand your mind, your perspective and your understanding of the world.

Thanksgiving 2019: Thankful for my Host Family

Thanksgiving this year was quite a bit different than my normal American Thanksgiving. While I actually have been out of the country for Thanksgiving in the past, this year felt especially different because I would be celebrating the day with people who don’t know much about the history of the holiday or the “normal” traditions. But as my dad made sure to remind me when I was complaining about not having my favorite foods for Thanksgiving this year, “it’s about the people you spend the day with,” and not what you eat.

This past Thursday I had a wonderful brunch with my host parents and my host aunt [I’ve never called her that but I guess technically the sister of my host mom would be my host aunt…]. My host mom made turkey, potato salad, a salad, rice, and humitas. To share with my family one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes, I attempted to make sweet potatoes. I had to improvise a bit due to the usage of a different form of oven than I would usually use, but in the end they still turned out delicious! Before the meal, my host family had me say my thanks and my host mom also said a few thanks. The meal was quite nice and was a fun time to chat about Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and American traditions.

Here are some photos!

Me with Hermi, my host mom, and Sara, my host mom’s sister!
Thanksgiving with the Family!
Yummy food! Thanksgiving with a Peruvian twist this year!
Sweet potatoes are normally made in the oven but this sort of made due… Nothing can beat sweet potatoes with brown sugar, cinnamon, and marshmallows!

ANDDDD the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, I ran the Lima Night Run with my host brother, Tito. Well… I didn’t run WITH him because he’s way faster than me, but we both ran the race! It was a super fun event and a cool experience running in Lima in the dark! At one point during the race, we ran through a tunnel that they lit up with colorful lights and played music! Overall, the race was great, but there was one portion that was stairs and steep inclines and it was PAINFUL. Even Holy Cross stairs wouldn’t prepare you for 40 flights of stairs in the middle of a race!!

After the race, there were various giveaways and a concert by We the Lion, a popular Peruvian band!

Everyone got a headlamp and had them set to the green setting as we started the race!
Nothing like a free cerveza to top off a race 🙂
Thankful for Tito for daily dinner chats and inspiring me to run
Aftershow: We the Lion

 

Bread: My biggest weakness in Peru

Let me just start by saying that I had no idea what Peruvian food was before I got to Lima, and quite frankly, I thought it would be similar to Mexican food. Oh how I was wrong.

During our pre-departure meeting with the President of EdOdyssey (program that Holy Cross does study abroad through in Peru), I shouldn’t have brushed off the president’s comment about how we will probably gain weight. At the time, I had just ended my 12 year competitive ice skating career and was still in great shape.

At Holy Cross and at home, I had never struggled with finding and choosing healthy food options. My favorite foods were, and still are, fruits and vegetables  in addition to a daily dose of ice cream. In Kimball dining hall at Holy Cross, I would indulge in a blueberry muffin on Mondays and Wednesdays for breakfast, but I would always accompany it with a big bowl of fruit. My go-to lunch and dinner was a bowl of brown rice with grilled chicken and a bunch of lettuce and salad fix-ins, topped off by some balsamic vinaigrette. When garlic knots were served, I gladly indulged. When I was craving a bagel, I also indulged.

Yet as I previously stated, my entire time at Holy Cross was characterized by a busy combo of studying and ice skating. Each week I practiced up to 6 days and about 18 hours. I could easily afford to eat bowl of ice cream or a garlic knot here and there. But at the same time, I was astutely aware of the importance of eating well, getting my daily greens, protein and sources of nutrients.

So here I am in Peru… and Bread is my weakness.

I think of students studying in Italy and I’m like, “yeah, I could see how they’d gain weight from eating lots of yummy pasta.” But in reality, I think the carb intake of a Peruvian diet tops a daily dose of pasta.

For breakfast, we get two rolls of bread (pancitos) and an egg, as well as a fruit smoothie.

For lunch, we are on our own. I would go as far as say that about 95% of food options, at restaurants, at bodegas, and at the university, are carb based. Most peruvian dishes include a combo of potatoes and rice. If you’re lucky, you’ll get multiple types of potatoes in your meal! Additionally, among quick snack or lunch options there are empanadas, croissant sandwiches, and triple sandwiches which have about 4 or more pieces of bread in them.

For dinner, our host mom serves us Peruvian food. More bread, potatoes, and white rice.

Each week I tell myself I am going to cut down on how much bread and bread-related foods I eat. But bread is my weakness. What’s a post-dinner tea without a piece of bread with jam?

As I continue to fill my body with carbohydrates and attempt to save my body at the gym each day, all I want is a salad. I miss Kimball. I miss the Pub and being able to design my own salad. I miss the accessibility of healthy options. I miss the days when I didn’t have to tell myself to not eat bread.

Don’t get me wrong, Peru’s food is great! Matter of fact, apparently Peru is the “Best Culinary destination in the World” for the 7th consecutive year (World Travel Awards).

So I guess the point of this blog is to share with you that when someone tells you that you will gain weight in Peru, they are probably right. And if you have even the slightest affinity for bread in the U.S., bread will probably become your weakness too if you come to Peru.

Here’s to another month of bread intake and looking forward to numerous salads and platefuls of vegetables when I get back to the states for Christmas!

Traveling Around and Parents Weekend(s)

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the chance to do some traveling and also to have a wonderful visit from my parents!! Before my parents arrived, I enjoyed a high altitude, yet super fun and adventurous, trip to Huaraz. It was wonderful bonding with friends and getting to know new people as well. During the weekend, I stayed with four friends in a local hostel which was housing lots of people who were visiting Peru. It’s amazing how many people travel alone and make friends at each stop during their travels. During one of our hikes, Grace and I got to know two lovely ladies from Portugal and Holland.

The following weekend, I welcomed my parents to my new home of Lima! We took a weekend trip down south to Puno and then while I was taking classes during the week, my parents took a trip to the jungle and stayed at the same lodge I stayed at in August! To round off their trip, we had a few days to explore Lima and do some sightseeing around the city!

Enjoy the pics!!

Grace, Lisa (exchange student and friend from Germany), and I in front of the Pastoruri Glacier
Grace, Lisa (exchange student and friend from Germany), and I in front of the Pastoruri Glacier!
Puya Raimondi plants and a cloudy sky
Puya Raimondi… a cool cactus/pineapple looking plant! It is native to the high andes of Bolivia and Peru.
Beautiful Landscape of Pastoruri! Lake in the foreground and mountains in the back.
Beautiful Landscape of Pastoruri!
The lagoon 69 sign and the lagoon in the background
A TOUGH hike but WE MADE IT!! High altitude and steep hiking are a difficult mix but the view of Laguna 69 is worth it for sure!
Sarah standing in front of the Lagoon 69 and the mountains in the background
wrong school apparel… oops
Sarah and grace and two other women squating in front of Lagoon 69.
Grace and I with our new friends!! It’s amazing how nature and adventures can bond people from all over the world!
Host mom and brother with my parents
Parents meet host mom and host brother!!!
Sarah and her parents standing in front of a lagoon at Sillustani, a pre-incan burial sight
My parents and I at Sillustani, a pre-incan burial sight.
My dad standing next to a large tomb at Sillustani.
My dad standing next to a large tomb at Sillustani.
Image of a sign at a parade.
Right place at the right time! We got to witness two parades while we were in Puno! This one was over 2 hours long and was put on by a school in the city. The parade included dance performances, a celebration of golden wedding anniversaries, the history of the World and of Peru, as well as bands and more!!
Sarah's dad excited to eat the anticuchos which are on the plate in front of him
Dad very excited to try out another peruvian dish, Anticuchos (cow heart)!
My mom and I on an Uros Island, which is constructed of reeds and floats on Lake Titicaca.
My mom and I on an Uros Island, which is constructed of reeds, and floats on Lake Titicaca
My parents posing on Taquile Island!
My parents on Taquile Island!
Sarah and her mom with the sun setting and sitting on top of a boat.
My mom and I enjoying the sunset over lake Titicaca and the cool evening breeze atop the boat on the way back to Puno !
Peru flag and Sarah from behind.
PERU!!
Sarah's parents standing together in front of a park in Barranco.
Parents after a stroll around beautiful Barranco, a municipality of Lima. I don’t have any pictures, but we also stopped at a book fair and I was able to grab some new books and a few christmas presents for people!
French toast with berries!
Last but not least, my DELICIOUS french toast at brunch in Barranco! After eating peruvian food for five months, little tastes of home always hit the spot! 10/10 would recommend stopping for brunch in Barranco!!

 

Weekend in Ica!

After a super long stretch of staying in Lima, we finally escaped the city and took a little vacation to Ica, Perú. As part of the Holy Cross study abroad program in Lima, we have three trips which are planned out by and led by EdOdyssey (the program which Holy Cross does study abroad here through). Ica is the second trip that we get to go on.

Our wonderful program coordinator, Patty, runs a small hotel with her family in Ica and kindly welcomed us in for the weekend. During our brief two day stint in the area, we went sandboarding in the sand dunes, rode in a buggie (see pics!), had a barbecue in the sand dunes, cooked (well… prepared) our own Peruvian food, saw sea lions at the Islas Ballestas, and so much more! En route to Ica we also got the chance to learn a little about Afro Peruvian music and culture and even play a little bit ourselves!! After that, we stopped at the Hacienda San Jose for a tour of the hacienda and breakfast. It was definitely a strange experience to witness how a place where slaves were tortured and mistreated, has now been turned into a hotel and tourist attraction. Following this, we stopped at Tacama, a vineyard, for a tour and tasting. We sure love our wines and piscos 😉

I’ll let the photos speak for themselves. T’was a wonderful weekend of laughter, Huawei phone jokes,  playing in sand, and enjoying el SOL!

Sarah, instructor, and kid are pictured. Sarah and the kid are playing the cajón.
This kid was a musical genius on the cajón!
A view of the field at Hacienda San Jose
Hacienda San Jose
Patty, and the Holy Cross students enjoying the sunset. A nice group photo
Patty and the HC kiddos 🙂
The girls of Holy Cross take a selfie with the sunset
Nothing like a sunset selfie amirighttt?!
The Holy Cross crew standing on the sand buggie
Our transportation for the evening! Like a rollercoaster… but in the sand! Also great because when we sandboarded down the dunes we didn’t have to walk back up hahaha
Sarah in the car and everyone else is asleep
On our way to the Islas Ballestas. Looks like the fam is a little tired!! Got to get the Z’s in whenever you can!
Sea lions on a rock at the Islas Ballestas
Sea lions at the Islas Ballestas!!
parcial bridge and the islands
After learning about the exploitation and history of guano in Peru during multiple of my classes at PUCP, it was nifty to put the history a little more into context.
Holy cross students sitting around a table preparing ceviche and learning from Patty's mom who is standing up and demonstrating.
Learning how to prepare Ceviche, a SUPER popular Peruvian dish consisting of raw fish (which get “cooked” by the lime juice), limes, onions, choclo, and whatever else you want to add to it! I’ve eaten about 5 bites of fish during my entire life so I was quite proud of myself for eating a substancial portion of the dish I made!!
Causa dish and Sandra
Second dish we prepared: Causa
This is one of Sandra (my housemate and pictured here) and I’s favorite dishes here in Perú. Definitely a must-try if you are visiting!!

 

Cena Internacional

This past Friday evening, Steve (another Holy Cros student) and I attended a potluck dinner with about 40 other international students and 20ish Peruvian students. The event took place at the house of our Peruvian friends and it was a great evening.

Steve made quesadillas and I made an American classic: Peanut Butter and Jelly! While I was making the PB&Js, I was surprised at the excitement which one of the Peruvian girls had for them! She had worked with Americans in the past and said that they brought PB&J for lunch every single day… which she said got tiring but now she really misses it! Others also knew about the sandwich and commented on how it is a TRUE AMERICAN FOOD!

The other participants brought delicious food from their home countries! Some of my favorites were a spicy Korean street food, Crepes, Spanish tortilla (potato dish), and Ratatouille! Two of my french friends made Ratatouille and it was absolutely delectable! One student from Sweden brought a variety of swedish gummies. I think this was my favorite “dish” because the Swedish candy, Billar, are my favorite gummies. You can only find them in Sweden and I have had so many funny memories with them while traveling around the world with my synchronized skating team. If you get the chance to go to Sweden, Billar are a MUST TRY!!

In addition to the abundance of delightful food from around the world, the evening was also a great chance to chat with friends and meet some new ones! The night was filled with conversations, dancing, eating, and FOOSBALL!

Steve and I make quite the foosball team…. We may not win too often but we sure try hard! We played two different sets of people and while playing against the second pair of students, I think we scored one point for their 20+ points… I asked the french student if he played foosball a lot and he goes “only while on vacation”…. based on his skills, he must go on a lot of vacations!

Unfortunately, I was having too much fun to take any pictures during the evening, but I’ll be sure to upload some pictures soon from other events!!!

Fun with the Fam and the Parroquia

La semana pasada… oh sorry! I forgot I have to write in english here!! #immersed

Last weekend Sandra and I went to an event with our host parents that was hosted by their church parish. When we left for the event we thought it would be a few hours, maybe a parade, some music and dancing, but we were sure in for a FULL DAY!

Here are a few highlights from the day:

  1. To go to the event, we somehow piled 5 people in my host brother’s tiny FIAT (host mom, host dad, host mom’s sister, host mom’s other sister’s husband)
  2. We ate SO MUCH FOOD!! For lunch Sandra and I got Causa (layers of mashed potatoes filled with chicken salad) and then we each had a dessert. I had Torta Hindu (a type of cake that is filled in the middle with what I believe is manjar blanco…aka dulce de leche… aka caramel). It was DELICIOUS! And thennn, we were sitting at the table and the husband of our host mom’s sister (she couldn’t come because she was sick) brought over a ton of Picarones for us to have. They were also DELICIOUS!! Picarones are a Peruvian street food which are basically fried dough rings that you eat covered with miel de chancaca (sugary syrup). Qué rico!
  3. various singing performances by groups and solo artists
  4. dance performances, including multiple awesome performances by a group that did traditional dances from the region of Puno
  5. dancing with our host family in front of hundreds of Peruvians from their parroquia (parish) . This was the first time dancing with our host family and it was so funny! Quite a blast! May have even picked up a few dance moves 😉
  6. The BIG ATTRACTION: BINGO!! Throughout the afternoon, there were multiple rounds of bingo that went on. During each round, it was completely silent, as everyone was focusing intently on trying to win the game. The prizes were various electric kitchen supplies (grill, juice maker, blender, rice cooker, etc.) as well as 4 monetary prizes! Sandra and I were aiming to win the “Masters” prize of 2,000 soles (about $650 dollars) but unfortunately we came up short 🙁

While I didn’t get any homework or studying done, this turned out to be an awesome day of bonding with my host family, eating lots of yummy foods, and making fools of ourselves on the dance floor! ((funny story: I went to the laundromat two days later and the lady there goes “I saw you at the parroquia on Sunday! You were dancing!!!” and I simply laughed and responded with “sí…”))