Since we are food science students, it was only natural for our first priority in Peru to be “arroz con pollo” (rice with chicken) and “juga de piña” (pineapple juice)!
After sleeping in a little (we got to our hotel at 4 am! A good sleep-in was earned) we hoofed it to the beach area of Miraflores where a stunning view of the Pacific waited for us.
Our group leaders led us to Tanta’s Restaurant where we feasted on beef stir fry, Tuca Tuca (beef filet in a coating and fried, with rice, beans and a fried egg) and fresh seafood. And of course, as much fresh juice as we could handle.
After such a delicious lunch we were rejuvenated and ready for exploring the rest of Miraflores, like a cat park that had no cats (beautiful, but I was told there would be cats ready for petting and scritches) and buying lovely crafts from the local market. There were more culinary delights, such as “Chicha morada” (a sweet drink made from corn) and “Picarones” (a fried doughnut-like pastry made with sweet potato). But the most important was a hot churro filled with dulce de leche that affected me deeply. My life is now divided into two: BC (Before Churro) and AC (After Churro). Nothing from BC matters; all that matters is finding more churros filled with dulce de leche.
Or until I find something even more delicious that consumes my entire being. We’ve barely scratched the Peruvian culinary experience!
Since being in Peru I have noticed that there are similarities between Peruvians and Canadians as well as lessons we Canadians can take from Peruvians.
First I would like to point out the similarities:
In Cusco, Saturday mornings are set aside for lawn care maintenance. Up the street from where we are staying you can find a guy who is cutting his grass with the assistance of four of his neighbors, who offer him sage lawn care advise or active criticisms. Each of these grass gurus are standing around with their hands in their pockets or holding a drink as they watch their compatriot battle the notoriously evil crab grass (yes they have it here too!) with a pair of scissors because lawns are very small here in Cusco. With a hard edge to his grass cutting technique he takes no prisoners ( or leaves any crab grass intact!) as each of his buddies look on, knowing it will be his turn at the next house to offer his advise or criticisms. Those of us in Canada with lawns are familiar with this type of urban peer pressure, except here in Canada the group offering the advise is also measuring the amount of torque used in their weapon of choice or the power of the poison, as they reach for another cold one.
Another similarity between Peruvians and Canadians is in regard to the “tax man”. In Canada we have been known to refer to these members of our society as snakes. In Peru they have a particular name for them…Cobras. Need I say more?
The lessons I feel we as Canadians could learn from Peruvians are:
Make our history accessable to all, for free. Granted Canada does not have a long history when compared to Peru, but the little bit we have available should be accessable to all Canadian citizens for free. Peruvians live with their history everyday, cities that were built by the Incas are still being occupied and are thriving such as the beautiful city of Ollantaytambo, and unlike Canadians Peruvians have free access to all of their museums and archeological sites when ever they want to reconnect with their past and do so regularly. If we as Canadians want to know where we are going, we need to know where we have been…I’m just saying.
Another lesson Canadians could learn from Peruvians is, enjoy life. In the country of Peru there are more than 300 festivals happening throughout the year for people to choose from. The longest lasting and most elaborate of which is the Candaleria Festival. Groups of people come from all over the country to participate in the numerous parades happening throughout the city of Puno for 18 days, dressed in ornate beautiful costumes that are similar (there’s that word again) to the costumes worn at Toronto’s Caribana.
If we Canadians had a festival every day, week, or month of the year (including the horrendous months of January, February and March) we may find our mental health improving as a whole across the country.
It has officially been over a month and a half here in Cusco, Peru. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel to Peru. If there’s one thing that comes to most people’s mind when they think of Peru is Machu Pichu, and certainly not wrong about that but there is much more to Peru than just this historic site. From the people, the culture, their history and the diversity in both their climate and abundance of fresh produce. The lush greenery that consists of Sacred Valley and the high peaks that surround Cusco is a marvellous sight itself. As part of my placement here we have been working with a group at a local orphanage doing activities like mandala drawings which are more so a form of art therapy for the girls 3 days a week and the other 2 days the girls spend a few hours learning or excelling their knitting skills. But its not so much the activities that we have been doing but more so the relationship we have started building with a few of the girls is the more rewarding part of this experience. We also teach English two days a week to a group of girls. Although there is a language barrier at times I have certainly learned to read body language and to read faces.
And I will conclude with this short clip of a baby Alpaca, which are native to Peru.
The land of mystery, culture and sights beyond words. Just in the last few months I have had the opportunity to visit and explore, Puno for the biggest festival in all of Peru and even one of the 7th wonders of the world Machu Picchu. Beyond that this experience has changed and challenged my outlook of life so drastically. With all of the riches Peru has to offer it is also lacking in many things as well. Here I have had the opportunity to work with many children whom I have been so fortunate to build relationships with. They open their arms readily and eagerly to meet and befriend new people and I am lucky enough to be one of these individuals. We have started to finally see progress with the greenhouse which is amazing. I look forward to being able to continue to grow and learn at this amazing opportunity.
It has been just over one month in Cusco, Peru for my placement abroad, and the experience thus far has been different but exciting. There are a few projects that I will be working on while I am here. I am currently working in a local orphanage and was told to think of a project I could work on with the girls. I wanted to implement a program that would be different and fun. I came up with the idea of teaching a few origami classes. I was a little nervous because of the language barrier but to my surprise it went really well! We were able to make the origami and take polaroids with the girls in order to show off what they made and remember the experience. The other students came up with the idea of creative writing and drawing. Another project we wanted to work on at the orphanage is the greenhouse that Centennial College initially made. The plastic on the frame is beginning to rip and some of the gardens are not being used to its fullest potential. It just needs a little work and it will be good as new! Last, we were asked to do some English classes with some of the local teenagers in the area. We had an agreement to teach them one hour of English and in return they would teach us a half hour of Spanish. It was a little tough to know what we wanted to do but with a little planning it has been going great! We will be visiting other orphanages in the area and our goal is to accomplish what we did in the current orphanage we are at. The intention is to bring programs to the girls that they will enjoy and learn some new skills from them. I intend on continuing to learn as much as I can about this beautiful city and understand how things can be different from Canada. I am trying to enjoy and appreciate the opportunity I have because I know the next month and a half will fly by fast!! Below are some photos for you to enjoy!
Jessica Ro, Social Service Worker Student, Centennial College