June 5th marked our One Year Anniversary in Peru! Not to be confused with our one year as volunteers anniversary which happens August 22nd, because that was the day we finished our training and became official volunteers.
To celebrate this monumental occasion here are twelve cultural experiences and fun memories from the past twelve months!
1. Eating guinea pig.
A Peruvian dietary staple is the cuy, or guinea pig. Typical to the sierra, cuy is frequently eaten during celebrations such as birthdays, weddings, or any other holiday. Many people have small enclosures in their backyards or courtyards where they raise cuys.
2. Dancing Huayno.
This type of music and dancing is typical to the sierra and involves a lot of footwork! I have yet to master, or even come close… but I am the token gringa so in general I can do no wrong if I try. Fun fact about this dance is that men and women do not make eye contact ever. If you do it is considered a very intimate gesture.
3. Riding in a moto taxi.
Meet the clown car of Peruvian transportation! A moto taxi is a little carriage attached to the back of a motorcycle body and it is usually a cheaper mode of travel that is used to go short distances or in small towns where there is not much traffic. The back seat is, in my opinion, big enough for two people but in true Peruvian fashion they almost always squeeze three.
4. Getting a souvenir from the Bull Fight.
At the end of the first bullfight one of the matadors gave me a bloody bandera. These are the things that the matador sticks into the back of the bull and the colors represent the colors of the flag of the matador’s home country.
5. Watching a bull fight for the first time.
Everyone has their own opinions on bullfights and it is even that way in Peru. Part of my job is here is to share culture and that means having respect for things that may be different than my own culture. That being said, watching a bullfight live is quite an experience and there is so much training that goes into it. It really is an art form.
6. Eating weird fruits.
Rule of thumb, if it has a skin that means it’s a clean fruit and I will try it. It seems to be working well because every no name weird looking fruit I’ve tried has been delicious! Except lucuma which I only like in yogurt or ice cream.
7. Riding the combi in Lima.
Our mode of transportation to training for three months was a ten minute combi ride. Combis are about the size of a party bus, so there are seats on either side and then standing room in the middle. Do not be fooled… it is not a party. People are shoved on and during peak morning and evening hours there is usually someone hanging outside the doorway. It was quite the adventure every morning and as you can see from the pictures we got real close real fast.
8. Pinning ribbons on cows at the town fiesta.
Single handedly one of the hardest tasks I have ever been asked to do! I will remember this day forever because it was such an honor to be involved in the most important celebration of my town. Do not try this at home…
9. The ultimate paint fight during Carnavales.
Celebrating carnavales is an age old tradition in Cajamarca and the day of the 100,000 people paint war was one for the books. Five hours and six buckets of paint later, this was the final product. Still finding paint in random places!
10. Teaching an elementary class and living to tell about it.
If you would have told college me that I would teach an elementary class, I would have laughed in your face. I am all about working with kids and I taught individual piano lessons for years, but it takes a special kind of patience to teach a class of 30 seven year olds! I guess that is what Peace Corps is all about, experiencing the unexpected and learning to do things you never thought possible.
11. Discovering the beautiful scenery in Peru.
I think the pictures really say it all! We are so blessed to be able to live and work in a country filled with green mountains, beautiful beaches, and rainforest.
12. Learning about the complex and amazing Peruvian culture!
Learning is the key word. From the day I stepped off the airplane I have not stopped learning about the heritage and fascinating history that surrounds us here. Every where you turn there is another mountain being excavated and a pre-Incan society being discovered. I am always impressed by the long lasting traditions and pride the Peruvian people have for the ways of their ancestors. The connection they have with the land is something that no book or scientist can explain.
Well it’s been an eventful year! I can’t wait for all the adventures to come in Year 2.