Hollaaa..I am FINALLY here...sitting in the internet cafe...which is not quite what they have back home...I am in a make shift cubicle, plastic stool in a side annex of a shop...but it works!...Ayacucho is amazing...I can´t believe I am wondering the streets of South America right now...it took a long time to get here...but met some cool people on the way. My flight from Miami to Lima I sat next to a women, Maria, who was visiting her parents in Peru...she works for the U.S. govt and military and does warcrime investigations in Afghanistan...etc....she was amazing...she told me everything I needed to know, self defense, drugs, people, food, culture,health....fun...all in 6 hours..she then helped me through customs and gave me her card for any emergencey...it was a good start.
I met up with my group around 11 pm in Lima...we all clicked instantly, it was totally refreshing, a great mix of people from all over the world...We spent the night in the cafe in the airport and got on our plane to Ayacucho at 6am...the plane was an experience...it was made by and for Peruvians...most of us had to sit cross legged in the plane because the seats were so close together...and in mid air the propellor caught on fire...I guess it wasnt that big of a deal though...the view was AMAZING...two hours over the Andes...never seen anything like it before.
Ayacucho...is very interesting...very poor, but the one place in Peru that has not been Westernized...the culutre still perserved...the women wear traditional garments big embroidered skirts, sweaters, big felt hats, and they sling thier children on their backs wiht brightly clolored woven fabric...they are all below 5 ft 2 also...I stand out to say the least...they are amazed by white skin...they want to touch it and stare at you...and point and yell gringo...very friendly though.
We got our introduction today...and the do´s and donts of the city...it was interesting Peru is in the top 5% of the producers of cocaine in the world...at first it was strange because we were told that they are very proud of having this association because it has been a tremendous benefit to the Ayacuchan economy...meaning restaraunts are actually full and shops are thriving...people here very much dislike Chavez and feel cheated by his political ¨philosophy and promises. Also, the police are corrupt they are known the plant cocaine in foreigners pockets and bags, catch you, and arrest you charging thousands of US dollars for bail...nuts...I guess its like an developing country though...its part of it. We are given coca tea to acclimate to the altitude...it definitley helps...local people here , also refered to as Indian or indigenous tribes chew the coca leaves which is their form of tobacco...makes them hallucinate...they have several forms of natural drugs...drug trafficking central apparently...here and Columbia...yet the people are very religious...so it is not necessarily the locals, except for rasafari´s that consume drugs, but mostly produced for export...
Altitude is rough...we are 10,000 feet up so walking down the street you find yourself out of breath, but with time you get acclimated I am told...the home base is safe and clean and the rooftop is amazing..nothing fancy, but the stars are crazy...you can see the southern cross being in the southern hemisphere..and they have bon fires at night...when looking down on the city I feel like I am sort of in the middle east, the buildings from a top are all made of clay or stone like material...very arid looking...its their dry season, and laundry pinned up on lines on every roof...you see coca cola bottle on roofs to catch rain water for use...the water here is really contaminated...some people have gotten very sick in our house from local food and ice in drinks...but they do a pretty good job of adjusting the cooking in our house for foreign digestive systems... they serve guniea pig as their main dish and ceviche...yet to try both, but am going to attempt to while I am here...mmm or at least think about it...and they have cafe...coffee...so at least one comfort from home!
A girl heard there was a local gym here and wanted to try out a Peruvian aerobic class...apparently hilarious, she didnt last too long...but it tooks us forever to find the gym which really is only a ten minute walk...got lost in the city for roughly 2 hours...but id like to think we were more so exploring....saw a lot...its amazing what people try to sell...some put bathroom scales on the streets and for 1 new sole you can weigh yourself, because most people cant afford them...walking down the streets every other block there were mothers sitting on the sidewalk breast feeding their kids...its a very open culture... the kids are beautiful...dark skin, huge eyes, and they all smile and laugh alll the time...its so great....makes me excited for placement!!
Its been crazy, and fun...this is my first day getting to actually explore/getting lost, getting here meant 30 hours of no sleep so finally got great sleep last night...this weekend I am going to Machi Miccu with some people...next mon, tues, wed is a strike (which is apparently a common mishap)I wont be able to work in the clinic so it seems like the perfect time to travel....cant wait...very excited...we have to fly back to lima and then to cusco and staying in hostels in between...next adventure...its supposively one of the most beautiful places in the world! ill post pictures, it took me ten minutes to get internet access though...so its a bit slow down here...give me some time and they will come!
this place is so far from anything in America its hard to have my words do it any justice, but learning a lot in the first day and especially on the trek getting here...ill be writing in the next few days...all in all I am safe and having a blast...just takes some time to adjust to this new world, but so far its a success!!
Friday, June 26, 2009
So...I am currently sitting downtown Chicago trying to remember everything I could have possibly forgotten...hmmm...in my limited 20 pounds of luggage?...yikes... I think I'm going to have to wear everything I own on the plane...(thanks for the advice Upton)...My flight leaves tomorrow morning from O'hare to Ayacucho...24 hours of traveling....crazy... I can hardly wait!....I have never had a blog before, so this is all so new to me, but created it so family & friends can keep track of what I will be doing in Peru and to document my trip...not so sure what to expect...next post written from the Andes!...wish me luck!