I realize that much time has gone by since I have updated you on the goings-on in my life. To sum up the last few months, not much has happened. I am teaching my neighbor kids English and having a lot of fun doing it. We start out with a planned lesson and end up just asking and answering questions about the States or about words in English. We have a great time, and it’s given me a reason to go over to this family’s house at least once a week and socialize. I adore their family, they are super sweet! I have also been working a little with the missionaries that come in to work with the foundation. I translate for them during their trips and help out with things. I do have a good time getting to know new people, however at the end of their trips I am always glad to see them go, mainly because I have just had white-people overload. A little too much stimulus and work than I am used to for a normal week. So that is mostly all that’s been happening here! Now on to the Peru adventure!
Our Peruvian adventure began around 4 am Friday July 1st. We left from Leah’s house in a prearranged camioneta, which left us on the side of the road to wait for a bus to Guayaquil to pick us up. After waiting for about a half hour we finally caught a bus; got into Guayaquil around 9:30 am. Inside the terminal we did some wandering around trying to find a good bus company to take us across the border. The trick was finding one that was going farther than just the border to leave us safely on the other side in Tumbes. This part of the trip was a little exhausting, what with all the buses and traveling. We arrived in Tumbes sometime in the evening around dinnertime. We found an ATM to pull out money in the local currency, which are soles. $1 = ~ 2.70 soles. Then we spent some time walking back and forth, and back and forth talking to bus companies trying to find one that goes to Trujillo but wasn’t full and was willing to drop us in Pacasmayo. This was a challenge, and we ended up settling for a local bus that was almost completely full. We got 3 cramped seats in the last row next to some young local boys, who we later found out (around 5 am) had a fighting rooster in a bag behind our heads. It was a normal rooster who enjoyed greeting the raising morning sun with the typical crowing. Fun! This was probably the worst bus of our trip; it was 8 hours overnight, and we arrived the day before our race early in the morning. But we had finally arrived in Pacasmayo, Peru!! The landscape in Peru was quite different from what we expected the coast to look like. It was all sand and desert. And the beach in Pacasmayo was so much colder than we thought it would be! It was kind of a surprise!
We found our hostel El Duke, run by an old surfer dude. Settled into our room, which didn’t have a door on the bathroom, so it’s a good thing we’re all so comfortable with each other! Then we stumbled around town looking for some breakfast, and then register for the race. We met some of the PCV’s from Peru and we chatted for a while with them. Interesting folks. Uneventful rest of the day, spent resting, and walking up the only big hill in the race to see Jesus at the top. Sunday morning came all too soon, and with it, RACE DAY!!!! I was pretty nervous, never having done a race like this before. But we all got ready and headed down to the boardwalk where the starting line was. The atmosphere was thrilling! Everybody hyped up ready to run. The starting gun was a shock when it went off, and off we ran; all bunched in a pack as we ran down the boardwalk. Approaching the big hill it wasn’t as daunting to me, having “trained” at an altitude of 3,200 meters, and having to walk up a steep hill every day to my house. Made it up the hill no problem, but shortly after I felt the need to walk, and thus began my 10k run/walk. It was a fun experience, esp once I hit the turnaround for my group; all the runners that were passing me were all very encouraging and upbeat. I was so happy once I reached the Jesus statue at the top of the hill and knew I was so close to being done!!! I reached the finish line to see all the green shirts from the 10k runners cheering me on, that was a great feeling, crossing that finish line and knowing it was all over! As soon as I crossed, I threw my shoe off to relieve the pain of my burst blister, which was bleeding through my sock. But all-in-all, well worth it! Thanks Leah!! I met up with Carrie after I had recovered a little and we got set to cheer for the others as they passed their midpoint in the race. Around 12:30 it was all over. There was a small ceremony to recognize all the winners and a group foto. We took some time back in our room to refresh then headed out and met some PCV Peru folks for some lunch. It was really enjoyable, and we spent the time talking about some of the differences between our services and the differences between Peru and Ecuador. It was quite interesting to see such differences in countries so close to each other. They use different words for avocado, the ceviche is a completely different dish; in Ecuador it’s a soup, in Peru it’s a plate of seafood. Delicious though!! We spent the rest of the day laying around and resting.
Monday we left Pacamayo to head to Trujillo, we ended up on the same bus as some PCVs and one guy was extremely helpful and showed us their main hostel to go to where we could store our stuff till our bus to Lima at 10:45 that night. As we got to the hostel there was a tour group leaving to visit the ruins of Chan Chan and a couple other places, so we quickly jumped on that wagon. There wasn’t room in the bus they had already arranged so they called another car in to drive us around. We ended up in a swank black car with nice leather seats; we felt really special being driven around in such a nice car!!! We arrived at the first set of ruins, Huaca Archo Iris made by the Chimu people who are a branch of the Moche people. They were partially restored because the rain has destroyed a lot of it and they are uncovered so they are still being damaged from the little rain they do receive. The type of temples this group of people made are constructed with only one main entrance in between 12 feet walls. Their adobe-like walls remain in some parts, still holding up because of the strength of their mixture; made with animal hair as well as mud and other substances. Their designs on the walls are quite beautiful, depicting people dancing for fertility, rainbows, and mermaids. After viewing this first site we then travelled to the actual site of Chan Chan. As we drove in we could see mounds and mounds that used to be the 10 temples of the Chimu people. Each emperor had their own temple, so they were a short lived people. As we walked into the main entrance for the only reconstructed and (pretty much) complete temple, we were amazed by the height of the walls and the large open plaza where the body of the emperor would be laid out on display. We continued through the temple and saw some other interesting things. After our Chan Chan adventure we headed back to the hostel where we had stored our stuff, met up with fellow volunteers Christina and Joe for some great pizza and sangria! We had a great time with them!!
After a great dinner and conversation we had to get back to catch a 10:45 pm bus to Lima. We were amazed when we saw the interior of the bus. We climbed to the second floor and went to the back to our seats, right next to the bathroom. We had an attendant who showed us a safety video and passed out a snack, then put a movie on for us to watch. Before we knew it, it was morning and we were in Lima!! We had a breakfast in the terminal, and I was astounded by the quality of the food in Peru, even in a bus terminal it was wonderful!!!! I had ordered a jam and cheese sandwich, and was so surprised when they delivered to me a hot buttered and toasted sandwich with melted cheese and a slice of ham in the middle. It was delicious!! Peru was shaping up to be pretty great!!!