Monday, September 28, 2009

My Final Post

Well, I'm back. In the U.S. that is, and the truth is, well, I love it. And seeing as I'm no longer there, I feel that I am no longer discovering Peru. So I'm going to type up a quick, I'm-back-and-this-is-what-I-now-know-or-think-I-know-or-I-guess I have discovered about Peru.

My first stop in the "Ari's back" tour began in Missoula, Montana where I spent three and a half fun filled days with a few of my friends, former co-workers, and taking in the sites and sounds of one of my favorite little cities in the world. I ate at all my favorite restaurants and always with my favorite people. I even got to visit the new cohort for IYFD, and I think they're an amazing group of people. I stayed with Amber one of my best friends, and two of my close girlfriends made a 5 hour trip to see me for a total of about 8 hours (part of that sleeping, most of it talking). I visited my all-time favorite professor, and one of the members of my IYFD cohort (I miss them all dearly, it was just nice that Anna could come and visit). And I saw a ton of MCT (my former company) and visited with one of my friends who I have known since childhood. She's got a baby now!

I was so content being home. I then spent about six days with my parents. I did another little presentation for a class in my dad's new school district. It was interesting just rattling off information about my time there and trying to make it interesting for a group of teenagers. So I talked less about my work and more about how totally cool Peru is when you travel around and really dive into all that she has to offer.

After my brief trip to Oregon, I moved to Arizona! That's right folks. I'm living here in the desert, and I LOVE IT! It's so warm and beautiful all the time. I don't have a job yet, and I'm putting all my eggs in this basket. My driver's license says Arizona and all my accounts etc. are down here now. So here's hoping for a great job!

At the Diamondbacks game my first days in Arizona, of course, with a cold brew.

Well, back to the promised "lessons learned" section.

Here is what I learned discovering Peru:

1. Friends don't necessarily have to have the same interests, abilities, talents, political/religious views, or even speak the same language. Friends are the people who are there to offer you part of themselves even under the most difficult of circumstances.

2. Guinea pig is a tasty, but labor intensive food. Regardless, Peru has a lot to offer in wonderful gastronomy. (Is that the right word?)

3. Peru is a diverse country with different types of people and soils. The jungle grows cotton, while the Mountains grow potatoes, while the coast produces rice and bananas (to name a few of the many wonderful things grown in this amazing place).

4. Peruvian people do not trust very easily or quickly, but once they do you have a friend or friends for life.

5. The Peruvian school system needs a lot of help.

6. BUT good teachers do exist and do offer their students a quality education if only in the subject matter the teacher teaches.

7. Lima is not the best place to visit when traveling in Peru, and if it's the only place you go, I question your reason for living.

8. Starbucks is better in Peru.

9. But if you want something really great, go to California Cafe or Cafe Andino in Huaraz, Ancash. Heck, Ancash is just better, period.

The awesome Peace Corps crew from Ancash about a month before I left. Some of them are still there, some of them are not.

10. There is more to Peru than Manchu Picchu, and if you've been, I can guarantee you that your guide lied to you...a lot.

If I think of more, I probably won't post them, but if I start a new blog, I'll make sure everyone gets the memo so you can follow along wherever I land. Also, if you could be sending prayers and positive thoughts for me, I'd appreciate it. Especially now as I look for a great follow-up job to my Peace Corps experience. Peace Corps really was the hardest job I ever loved and one of the best decisions I ever made, but more importantly I'll never have to start a sentence with "I should've..."

Thanks for following me as I discovered Peru. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Peace.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


So absolutely loving my time in Argentina. I'm just about to travel to Chile for a few days, but I'll be back. So here are some pictures from the first part of my trip. The following are some pictures of Loly and I at different places around Buenos Aires. For those of you who don't remember, Loly was my host mom from training, and now she lives in beautful Buenos Aires.

In Tigre, where I did my souvenouir shopping.
At the world famous botanical gardens, so peaceful.
The Eva Peron museum near the botanical gardens.
The combination of my two favorite things books and theatre! El Ataneo in downtown Buenos Aires.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Now, officially, a RPCV (Returned Peace Corps Volunteer)

I know the title is mis-leading. I haven't really returned from anything, yet. I'm headed off on two glorious weeks of fun and travel to Argentina and Chile. But today I C.O.S.-ed (yes, we do make verbs out of everything). So I Closed my Service.

And I left Jangas with many tears. I saw both of my host parents cry for the first time. I held my host sister, Yuli as she sobbed uncontrollably at the bus station. I gave my boyfriend (now ex-boyfriend as we decided we couldn't make it work long distance) a quick kiss and got on the bus to Lima. I sat down on the bus and probably very awkardly scared the poor woman to my left as I cried silent tears as the bus pulled out. I smiled for a second as I saw my host sister and boyfriend standing on the corner waving good-bye to me one last time, I blew them a kiss and turned away as the tears started to fall - hard.

August 4th was by far the most difficult day of my service. I can't believe my two years are up. I can't believe that the life that has become so normal is now about to change to become like a dream. The phrase I heard the most in the last week was "no nos olivides" (don't forget us) and as I promised each person time and time again that I would never forget them, I realized they knew I wouldn't forget them, but that they were asking me, in their way, to return one day. And I absolutely plan on doing everything in my power to do just that.

So, I thank you faithful readers. I don't think this will be my last post as I have so many pictures to post, and maybe more stories to tell as they come back to me, but I am no longer an "official" PCV. And I'm crying a little bit just thinking about it. I'll try my best to write over the next couple of weeks, but I can't make any promises as I will be jumping from place to place. But maybe I'll have some time and some funny stories to tell. Until then..."no me olvides."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Long Time No Write

I didn't mean to go on a month long hiatus. But with the end of my service coming quickly, finding things to write about and time to write about them have been very difficult. So I hope you will all forgive me as this blog will just be a collection of photos. I will try to get a good in-depth blog up before the end of my service (only a week and a half left), but if not...thanks for following me as I spent two years and three months discovering Peru.

Two of my students working on their "typical foods" presentation in English class.

Same class, other students. Not an impressive pic.

At the Pacasmayo Marathon, I was only a judge, but here I am giving a high-five to my good friend Bron as she was at km 7 of a half-marathon.

My family took a trip to the Chavin ruin. Here we are in front of the bridge that connects one side of Ancash to the other side.

I took a quick visit to my friend Jason's site with a good friend of mine from Jangas. We walked to the Cave of Gibberish, and I had a really good time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Plans for life after Peace Corps

This question has been in the cue for awhile, but like all people that have no idea what they're doing with their life, I procrastinated. So here's the plan as I know it. I plan on spending my birthday in Jangas. I also plan on spending the day after in Jangas (because who wants to travel on an overnight bus on their birthday - not me). So my last official day as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru will be August 5th. The next day I plan on traveling to Argentina to visit my host mom from training. Loly now lives in Buenos Aires, and I can't wait to see her again, meet my host dad for the first time, and see my little sisters who are probably all grown up two years later. I have to admit, I am very nervous to travel by myself, and I just read about how H1N1 is hitting Argentina and that's not helping to calm me any. Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those people who thinks that it's as easy to get as many think, but I will for the first time since...well, I don't know...will be without consistent health care.

After approximately a week in Buenos Aires, I plan on traveling to Igazoo Falls, Mendoza, and Santiago, Chile. Right now, it's all tentative and I don't have a firm plan yet. Which means I will finally be testing my Myers-Briggs profile to see if I actually am a thinking or a feeling person. (Travel was the analogy used by the first person who helped me try to figure out my M-B, and in case you're wondering I still don't know).

I found a pretty cheap round-trip ticket, and so I will fly back to Lima on the 24th of August and leave that evening to return to the States. I should be landed in Missoula at approximately 4:00pm. And yes, I am very excited to see all my friends there again. So, Missou crew, let me know if we can get together any time on the 26th or 27th, because on the 28th my dad will pick me up, and we'll head to Oregon in order to give my Mom a big hug.

I'm not sure how long I'll stay in Oregon, but eventually I plan on moving to Arizona. This is actually another long story that I should probably save for another day. And the truth is, knowing me (and I do) life happens and my plans will change. Probably more than once.

Friday, June 5, 2009

So Much to Say

...but I won't be doing it in this post.

Instead, I want to share something that I thought was kind of cool. Over the past week my host mom has been harvesting quinoa - the super food, we're starting to hear so much about in the States. Well, it is grown here in Peru, and it's pretty cool.

It's very nice to see your food go directly from the field to the table. It makes one feel connected to what they eat. I recommend everyone grow a small herb garden or vegetable garden. I guess just one of those things I learned in the Peace Corps (well, and from my family...but I'm not blogging about that).

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Selva Start

You can't really see it in this photo, but this restaurant is called "Ari's Burger". The first time I've ever seen a restaurant with my name.

WATCH OUT! I'm driving the boat that took us to Iquitos.

We took a four day canoe trip into the Amazon Jungle. It was so gorgeous. That's Bailey in

It's been a long time since I climbed a tree. I believe this one is over a 100 years old.

This was one of the bathrooms during our trip. We tried to take pictures of all our bathrooms. This one was literally a wood box with a hole where the excrement dropped straight into the river. Obviously had to take a picture.

This is me with a sloth. How cool?

Well, the jungle was definitely one of the best trips I've taken while in Peru. As you can see from the sunset, it was absolutely gorgeous. We had a great time and I highly recommend it if anyone ever comes to Peru. I'll try to write more later, but I thought you might enjoy seeing a little about the trip.