One Month Down in Peru – Lessons, Experiences, Gunshots?

What a special day today is!

I welcome you all to a special day for Oriana and I! Today marks our FIRST WHOLE MONTH of living in Peru, and what a way to bring it in with gunshots this morning! There were 15 gunshots (I counted, yes) near our apartment (the noise probably carried down the road and was not right outside), but no worries we are OKAY. Man oh man, has it been a crazy month in Latin America. We have experienced so much in this short amount of time (but it feels so long at the same time). In this short amount of time, we have learned so many valuable lessons. We encountered obstacles from drinking the water and eating certain foods making us sick, a trip to the hospital, a day trip to Pucusana, a daytrip to a breathtaking beach, and mastering the art of transportation alone, and the list goes on and on! I want to welcome you to a post of reflection of this journey thus far

I cannot believe I am here sometimes. I have been thinking a lot how lucky and fortunate I am to be experiencing this lifestyle. The fact I am taking this risk and traveling at the age of 23 blows my mind sometimes. It can be scary sometimes living here, but I am so appreciative that I am able to live this way in this stage of my life. What do I mean by scary? Well, you know how sometimes it can be hard “adulting” in the United States? Imagine doing all of that in a different language, with a different culture, and with different systems. It can be challenging, but it is SO worth it!

20180216_135520.jpg

I grew up in the country without street lights, without car horns, with the knowledge of the area, and peace and the tranquility of living in quiet semi-secluded neighborhood. Now jump right into a city of almost 10 million, not knowing the language, and figuring out how to live (like life isn’t hard enough in English at home!). My new lifestyle holds so much learning and growth potential, and I am truly living in the moment each and everyday.

20180214_160713.jpg

 

Challenges and Learning Outcomes:

  • How to take public transportation – in Spanish
  • The language barrier – Spanish learning in progress
  • How to overcome food/water sickness – Purchase boxed water (it helped immensely)
  • How to walk the streets less like a tourist with how I present myself
  • How to appreciate what I have
  • Being happier for no reason at all (or for everything I have for that matter)
  • How to become a local in the area
  • Finding a job – English Teacher
  • How to teach and English class (I’ve taught two classes already)
  • Finding out how the phone services work
  • How to bargain with sellers
  • How to cook (in progress)
  • Making friends
  • So much more

 

20180216_183348_HDR.jpg
A beautiful sunset in the district of Barranco

 

The First Couple Weeks

Oriana and I have come so far from day one. We used to walk the streets to explore and feel a little uncomfortable as outsiders. It felt weird at first when everyone looked at me and her with sideway expressions of, “why are you here”. It felt weird to take the bus as I never really took the bus back in Wisconsin. Living in a city, (something I have never experienced) in a different language was a huge step and is a HUGE accomplishment for myself. I now feel more comfortable walking the streets, and today I went to work by myself taking the bus by myself comfortably. Also. finding a job was actually pretty simple for the connections I have here, however it was still an obstacle, and I still want to push myself professionally (big shoutout to Gringo John!).

20180207_182851_HDR.jpg
Stunning

Life Lessons

One of the most important life lessons I am learning is to be happy and appreciate things more. This also includes the small things. For example. watching the sunset over the ocean isn’t something I could do everyday back at home, and now I can. Every moment is precious in life. Additionally appreciating the time with loved ones is limited and I am learning to take advantage of the time that I have when provided with them (I am talking about friends and family back at home, and even here). I miss you friends and family! Another lesson that I have learned is that seeing homeless people, Venezuelan Immigrants struggling to live (*Small explanation of Venezuelan immigrants below), poor indigenous people, and other struggling individuals, has made me realize that the life you have is so precious. I will share another story with you soon about people who make a living off of the bus, and it’s heartbreaking. Even if you cannot help someone financially, you can always give them your time. It is so easy just to smile or talk to the people around you. You would be surprised how far a simple conversation and smile goes for people who struggle. Your time can be just as valuable as currency, it’s amazing.

*In Venezuela, there is a government and economic crisis that is forcing Venezuelans to leave their own country to survive. Blogpost coming soon on the Venezuelan crisis.

Uncomfortable Situations

Now, my pictures may look like times here are always gold and dandy, however that is definitely not the case. We experienced a couple sketchy situations. One night we were getting ready to go to sleep when we heard a ton of rustling around outside, dogs

20180131_234852.jpg
One of the groups fighting each other with police on scene

barking, people shouting, and when we ran to the window, there were two mobs of people fighting each other. They were physically fighting, throwing things, trying cause physical harm to the other party. This happens every once and a while due to sport conflicts. This was NOT gang related. They are related to soccer matches and soccer events. Now, remember that these types of situations are similar to those after the Super Bowl in Philadelphia this year, or if you are a packer fan, violence that can come after a bad game. These types of things can happen everywhere and anywhere. This just happened to be in front of our apartment. Eventually the cops came and gunshots were involved (sorry mom and dad for not sharing this with you until now), but I want to share that traveling is not always gold and glamorous like a lot of bloggers share. This is the reality of life and the world, and I want to share the truth. For example, this morning, we woke up to 15 gunshots as stated earlier (I counted) at 5am. What a way to share the first month here. Also for those who are wondering, we are looking for a new place to live. It is not unsafe, but we would prefer somewhere more inviting.

20180216_152039.jpg
Oriana posing in front of Barranco’s many street art

This has been such a wonderful month of ups and downs, but that is life. These ups and downs help me remember one important phrase that I like to live by,

Keep Going, Keep Growing

It is so important to keep going strong during the downs to build back up and learn. Learning these lessons are part of life, and is important to become the person you want to be, even if you don’t know who or what you want to be. Keep pushing through everything, and you will learn so many valuable lessons! That is exactly what I plan to do with my future adventures and experiences.

20180207_175511_HDR.jpg

Thanks for joining in on today’s special post, I hope you enjoyed today’s stories and reflection. I am so grateful for every lesson and experience thus far and hope to continue learning and loving, because that’s what life is about. That’s all for now, and remember this: Keep going, Keep Growing.

Cheers,

Chris

20180216_190044.jpg
One of Peru’s national drink

 

 

Parque de las Leyendas – What to do, tips and more!

This park is too incredible for the cost of entry! Only 12 soles! This is roughly the same as four dollars to EXPLORE this MASSIVE park right here in San Miguel. This park offers an eternal winding maze of a zoo and so much more! Now, I have mixed feelings for zoos, but that aside, it is incredible, and for the most part it seems like their animals are well treated and well kept. Anyway that aside, there is a “lagoon” that is obviously manmade, but you can take boat rides, paddle boats, and simply enjoy a small body of water while indulging on must have refreshing Inca Kola! Ahhhh! There is so much more to offer in this park as well…Just read on! Actually here is a list of things to do! Check it out and click on the link!

What El Parque de las Leyendas Offers

  1. Tour the HUGE zoo
  2. Have a picnic in the large field or play futbol with the locals
  3. Visit the lagoon and rent a paddle boat or take a boat ride
  4. Visit the Incan ruins (depending on the day)
  5. Visit the botanical garden
  6. Eat at the restaurants inside
  7. Take the kids to the playground, mini maze, and small theme park
  8. Read and learn about biodiversity, art, and Incan history

Checking out the google maps around our area in San Miguel, we noticed a big hunk of green space on the map. I was thrilled to see a park so large near our area! However, it took Oriana and I nearly two weeks to finally visit the park and it was right in our backyard!

That little green spot is the WHOLE park. It is massive for what it has to offer!

The Entrance

Walking around the park, first thing to notice are the large stone walls with an appearance of a prison. Another interesting observation is that there are many “doors of entry”, however none of them function for entries. That part was a little frustrating because we could not find the darn entry into the park. What did we do? The only logical thing to do… to walk allllll the way around the giant park until we found it at the southwest corner… Now I may be exaggerating, but the park felt like the size of Central Park, New York! When we found the entrance, we were SO thrilled to get in! It was so welcoming with a giant arch with the name of the park in huge letters towering over everyone entering.

 

Escaping the City

Inside the park are restaurants, Incan ruins, side stalls that sell drinks and snacks, a field to have a picnic or to play futbol, and so much more! Within the park there is a feeling of tranquility within the city. There is a feeling of home (Wisconsin for me), as the walls, trees, and park scenery really mutes the busy city side traffic. 10/10 I recommend going to Parque de las Leyendas.

The first thing we explored was the zoo. We learned about all of the different species of birds and macaws that live in Peru and in South America. However, there is one specific bird I would like to bring to attention. The national bird of Peru, the Andean cock-of-the-rock, is not considered an endangered species (like the Peruvian told me). The Peruvian who was sharing this with me, was so thrilled and so incredibly enthusiastic about the national bird, which was amazing to see. This brings me to the my next point of environmental conservation. There was only a small section of environmental education. The irony, there was garbage all over the floor, kids feeding turtles human food, plastic bottle tops floating in the water with fish and other marine wildlife, and to be honest, Peruvians litter all the time, it is terrible. I would love to find an environmental group here in Lima that helps with environmental educational programs, or even create my own. Maybe one day there will be a chain reaction to help care for their city and their environment around them with more respect for their place that they call home.

national bird of peru
Andean Cock of the Rock

Helpful tips for your next visit!

  • Pack your own lunch
    • Of course there are places to buy snacks and eat at the inside restaurants, however if you are ready to save a dollar or two (despite saving money in Peru already with their economy), you will save a ton and still enjoy a wonderful day in Peru at this park located in San Miguel
  • Bring a hat and sunglasses and sunscreen
    • It. Is. Hot. And. Sunny. Bring it…You will need it.
  • Bring plenty of water
    • Stated underneath the last bullet point as well.
  • Bring your best walking shoes
    • The park is enormous. You will need your best walking shoes to see everything comfortably. Avoid your flip flops if you can. You will thank me later. Unless you aren’t going to walk very far. I am wearing pretty nice walking shoes with memory foam or whatever it is, and my feet were pretty sore by the end of the day!
  • Have kids? Perfect, they will love it
    • The mini maze, playground, and theme park will easily keep your kids entertained for hours. Also everything else the park provides is kid friendly like the botanical garden as it winds endlessly through beautiful vegetation.
  • Be ready to spend the day there
    • Oriana and I spent the whole day there and we need to go back. As much as we saw, there was more to be seen, more to be remembered, and it is easily enjoyed a second time! There was part of the zoo in the central part of the park that we did not even see so we definitely will plan on going back!
  • Be ready to learn and read the small signs
    • There are signs everywhere about the Incan ruins, the biodiversity of Peru and also South America in general, and about Peruvian history as a whole. Incredibly interesting!

 

Thanks for reading about our great day at the park! I hope the tips have helped you, and I hope to see you next time on my next post! Leave a comment, suggestion, or a question about this post or a what you would love to know about! Also a fun feature added to the bottom is a slideshow of our pics of our adventure!

Cheers,

Chris

 

 

 

Valentines Day Madness in Peru! How to be the best lover living here with tips

Hey! Wow!  Valentine’s Day is a day of Madness in Lima, Peru!

Valentine’s Day in the United States can be someone’s favorite holiday, or everyone’s worst nightmare (if you are single). Our society pressuring couples to buy chocolates in the forms of hearts, buying flowers to “surprise” your significant other (who really may or may not expect them), and maybe even buying jewelry or a giant teddy bear, or one last one….a potential proposal! How romantic. Well, after experiencing Valentine’s Day in Peru, let me tell you. Single people looking for a partner must be incredibly depressed! Valentine’s Day is madness here and is a thousand percent more intense!

Seriously! Imagine yourself walking down the street and everywhere you look are hearts on buildings. Balloons on every street corner. Look to the left and there is another person pumping up balloons full of hearts and I love you’s . The city growing in a horror fil like setting with hearts, candies, roses, and commercialism of their favorite holiday in Peru, el dia del amor y la amistad! ❤20180214_184256.jpg

So yesterday I was writing the blogpost about our new job opportunities in San Borja. While I am sitting there furiously typing, I see in the corner of my eye that their massive heart balloons, and candy shaped candy sitting on the Starbucks table readily available for the customers to deliver to their significant others. It literally came out of nowhere! When Oriana and I left to go back to our home district, it was a zoo outside!20180214_184331.jpg Everywhere you look advertisements for Valentine’s day and last minute flowers and balloons to buy for your significant other! The venders screaming in your face… “Need a flower for your girlfriend?! She would love this balloon!”….Me holding Oriana’s hand squeezing harder and pulling us through the tunnel of venders for our sake of survival. It was a close call, but we made it out with some pictures to share as well.

How to make an incredible Valentine’s Day in Peru

  • Buy these things for your significant other:
    • Flowers – one or two….or three or four. Note: Make sure they are roses! Roses=Love!
    • Balloons – Buy a big balloon that says Te Amo or I love you! The more balloons the better! You honestly cannot go wrong with like 15 balloons. Your significant other will go bonkers for you.
  • Go to Starbucks and buy complimentary Frappuccino’s This is mostly what the younger cats did.20180214_190208.jpg
    • The Peruvian culture is not extremely big into coffee, so a tea will do just fine as well.
  • Have a picnic for lunch at some park, or just go to a cute park and hold hands, and make out in public. Peruvians are incredibly open to this and do not care about PDA (Public display of affection).
  • Of course they have movie theaters in Lima, this isn’t the jungle! Go to a movie and be ready to hold hands or have your or your partner’s arm around you the whole movie.
  • Be ready to give as much candy and desserts to your partner and gorge yourself, because that is what this day is about.. I mean love (for desserts).
  • Be ready to show and give as much love to your partner as you possibly can!

 

20180214_190755.jpg
Here is my Valentine! 

So I am glad you are here learning about Peruvian Valentine culture! Who knew that this was a huge hyped up holiday! Like I said, they hype it up so much more than the United States does, and that is unbelievable! Thanks for tunin’ in! Next post: is on Oriana and I’s trip to Parque de las Leyendas! Come check out this massive park with us that will be posted on Saturday. As always, leave a comment or suggestion! Chao for now!

Cheers,

Chris