Rocks, Shopping Malls, and Father’s Day

My first weekend in training got off to (quite literally) a rocky start. Yanacoto, otherwise known as “Rock City”, is home to some very interesting hieroglyphics. There is an owl made of stones and if you climb high enough you can see it!
Hiking in Yanacoto

Bright and early (10am) on Saturday morning a group of about 20 trainees began the two-hour trek through the rocky Yanacoto mountainside. We walked past the squatters’ village and ended up in a place that could pass as the moon. I have never seen so many rocks!

Sad ending: I got really scared of the height right before the top because the path was steep and narrow, so I didn’t get to see the whole owl. It was a great chance to break in my hiking boots and if nothing else I got some good exercise.

After a nice shower (no electrocution this time) I headed out with my host mom and sister! My host mom had mentioned that she needed to go to Santa Anita and asked if I would like to join. Having no idea what we were doing or where exactly we were going, I grabbed my coat and hoped for the best.

Our adventure began in a moto taxi down to the combi stop. Moto taxis are little three wheeled things that take people down hills, through smaller towns/ side streets, and the stupid ones even drive on the highway. It cost .50 centimos to go down the hill, because they cruise down on neutral, and .80 centimos to go up. Naturally I had to take a family selfie to document my first moto ride in Peru!
First Combi ride in Peru

From there we got on a combi and settled in for an hour and a half ride to Santa Anita. We were headed in the direction of Lima and as we got closer the sidewalks and highway began to fill with people, street vendors, trash, cars/vans/18 wheelers going every which way. All around people were weaving through traffic and sticking their hands in open bus windows trying to sell snacks or water.

When we finally got off the combi my mom told me to hold my purse tight and stay close, we definitely weren’t in tranquillo Yanacoto anymore! The streets and sidewalks were dirtier than even NYC and I was so confused as to what we were doing in Lima.

After a ten-minute walk we turned the corner and (much to my surprise) walked into a mall. This four-story utopia was complete with a Chili’s, Pizza Hut, and Cinnabun! I literally could not believe my eyes. It was clean, filled with every store you could think of, and bigger than any mall I’ve been to in Texas.
Mall in Santa Anita, Peru

We headed into a department store and when I saw all the signs for a Father’s Day sale, I finally realized that we trekked two hours to get presents for my host dad! The store was a mad house because Father’s Day is a big deal here, but we ended up finding a jacket, sweater, and shirt.

I had a little reality check as we were walking through the men’s department when I looked down and saw a little bit of Yanacoto stray dog poop on my shoe. The contrast between the have’s and have not’s in Peru is baffling! It’s reassuring to know that even though Peru has touristy/developed cities, our work is still necessary because there is such a huge economic gap.

After getting our regalos, eating an ice cream, and going grocery shopping (yes, the mall has a grocery store) we made our way back to Yanacoto to prepare for the next day.

On Father’s Day we woke up around 8am and gathered downstairs to watch Wilder open his presents. After knowing how much work went into getting the gifts, it was fun to see his reaction!

Later that day we also had a big lunch to celebrate. Jacky and Wilder got pollo a la braza while they were shopping for the week at the Mercado, and we also had salad, rice, papas fritas, soup, and aji. It was SO much food!! I finished off the day with a long nap (food coma) and some host sibling playtime.