Since I last wrote in February, I've mostly been working and hanging out in Lima, exploring various nooks & crannies of the city. But I've taken a few smaller trips to other parts of Peru too.
The rest of February was mostly working and hanging out with Peruvian friends & volunteers, seeing parts of Lima like Huaca Pucllana (some pretty ruins in Miraflores) and going to a friend's birthday party.
Posing outside Erico's (which we lovingly call Carmen's for the woman who always takes our order) in Chaclacayo
Outside Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores
With some of the kiddos I teach library class to in Zone Z Los Alamos, Huaycán
With some more of my kiddos after art class in Zone S - Linda (a participant) made this adorable piece of art with drawings of myself and one of the volunteers, Zach (whose name she adorably spells as "Isac") saying "The Light and Leadership Family"
With friends at the parrillada
At Playa Pulpos
With my friend Tamy at Barranco Beer Co.
March was characterized by going to a parrillada (BBQ) at a friend's club called El Bosque, which is near Chaclacayo, dancing in Barranco, seeing Playa Pulpos (a pretty, less populated beach south of Lima), going to our favorite burger place in Chaclacayo - Erico's - and (unfortunately) losing my iPod while running. I also got to experience Lima restaurant week and go to two amazing restaurants - amaZ and Maras. AND last but not least, I got to travel to Ayacucho in the last week of March for Semana Santa (holy week). There, we ate lots of amazing food at food festivals, explored Andean towns, shopped artisan wares, saw a bull run, went to a life-altering museum about the Shining Path, met new friends, and basically experienced what every vacation aspires to be. The following are my Ayacucho photos:
Muyuchi (sesame ice cream) with a dot of bright pink tuna (cactus fruit) syrup from the main square. I might have eaten a lot of these...
Emblematic arch, "Arco del Triunfo" just off the main square. This was built in 1910 to commemorate victory in battle against the Spanish on May 2nd 1886.
A woman selling wawa sweet breads in the main Ayacucho market. The market was full of all kinds of goodies, like Ayacucho textiles, artisanal honey and chocolate, and a natural sugar (similar to Mexican piloncillo) called chancaca.
Artisans from whom I bought this beautiful, handmade quena (andean flute). Ayacucho was overflowing with gorgeous handmade goods like textiles and items made from "piedra de Huamanga" (Huamanga stone), a type of alabaster mined in nearby areas.
Muyuchi sellers in traditional dress in the main square.
During Semana Santa, many groups of people would create huge murals throughout the main square made of natural materials like ochre, flower petals, and leaves, which were stepped on at night by the parades carrying the figures of Mary and Jesus (among others) at night throughout the entire week.
Local musicians playing serrano (mountain) music on the quena and guitar.
Clay figurine on a rooftop in Quinoa, a village famous for its artisans that is located near Ayacucho.
A master potter making a clay piece half his size in Quinoa
An artisan's workshop in Quinoa
The obelisk memorial at the Pampas de Ayacucho Historical Sanctuary. This was where one of the principle battles for independence from the Spanish took place on December 9th, 1824.
Selling sweets made of figs, plums, peaches, quince, and the like in syrup at a food festival in Ayacucho.
Chorizo!!! We had one plate and then immediately ordered another after tasting it. I don't need to say any more.... This was at a food festival called Mucho Gusto Ayacucho ("nice to meet you Ayacucho) at which we spent (ahem) 6 hours eating all sorts of awesome food like chancho al palo (bbq pork belly), passion fruit ice cream, honey pisco, and chicharrones with puca picante (fried pork belly with potatoes in peanut sauce).
Pachamanca - potatoes, meat, apples, and plantains slow cooked in an oven made in the ground filled with coals and superheated rocks.
Traditional hats of Ayacuchanos waiting to see the running of the bulls on the day before Easter.
An amazingly talented female musician, part of the all-female (which is extremely, extremely rare) traditional musical group, "Killa"
Running of the bulls before Easter. This bull was dragging several men behind him on a rope like it was nothing.
Cross just outside of the Museo de la Memoria (Museum of Memory) in Ayacucho, which says "no killing". This museum is the most impactful museum I have ever been to. What makes it different is that the families of victims and victims themselves own and run the museum. Our guide, Maribel, was a victim of torture for 6 months by the Peruvian government during the Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) era, and everything she said was profoundly moving, educational, and thought provoking. If you ever go to Ayacucho, this should be the first place you go. Ayacucho was the birthplace of the Sendero Luminoso movement, and it saw the brunt of the deaths, disappearances, tortures, among other human rights violations during the 80s and 90s.
One of the city's famous 33 churches. Each church supposedly represents one year of Jesus' life.
Playing the Wakra, or bull horn. These were played on the day of the bull run, and many people wore red that day in honor of the bulls like the scarves these men have on.
A chicharrón restaurant gave us a traditional anise and sugar cane liqueur, which we were told is a Semana Santa tradition.
Photo by my friend Tamy - Ayacucho city views from our hostel and enjoying the day with friends! We stayed at Hotel Samary, which was in a great location, clean, and had awesome views - definitely recommend it.
When we returned from Ayacucho in April, I celebrated my 25th birthday with my friends in Barranco. This month I also discovered the Centro Cultural Peruano-Japonés (Peruvian-Japanese Cultural Center), which is a large building full of 2 Japanese restaurants, a couple Japanese gardens, rooms for art and music classes, a store selling Japanese goods, a theater, a teahouse, and a museum on the history of the Japanese in Peru. What a wonderful little find!
Photo by my friend Bryan - being sung to in Spanish, English, Arabic, French, Finnish and Polish by friends from all over the world, and with my birthday crown my friend Jessica made me!
Ramen and green tea at the Pervian-Japanese cultural center
We also went to Churín, a small town 6.5 hours North of Lima where you can find lots of hot springs. We went to one complex called Mamahuarmi (whose hot springs, though they were beautiful and in a beautiful location, were not very hot) close to Churín, and another which was 1.5 hours away in a place called Huancahuasi (which was both hot AND beautiful!). I also bought lots of the great dairy products this town is known for. This was a beautiful, cheap vacation, the busfare was S/45, the hostel was S/15, the hot springs were S/18 for transportation to Huancahuasi and S/3-S/5 to get in, and the food was super affordable and really delicious. If you're in Lima, you should go. (photo credit for these photos and the Matucana photos to my friend Shelby, I didn't bring anything to take photos on either occasion).
At Mamahuarmi with our friend Saúl
Hiking to Atankallo
Then we went on a small day hike to gorgeous Matucana, which is in a province neighboring Lima to the East called Huarochirí. We first went to Chosica, a 45 minute bus ride from Huaycán, and then it was another hour or so by bus to Matucana. We hiked to the Atankallo waterfall and back, a lovely 1-2 hours day hike. The woman who worked the entrance fee both commented that we had done the hike ¨so fast¨!
So many adventures in the past few months! Coming up, running the Lima half marathon, going to a wedding and maybe traveling outside Peru (Bolivia perhaps?) in July! Till then, I'll leave you with one of my favorite photos from the last few months of me with the volunteers: