Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Another Question Answered

If you were recommending places for someone to visit in Peru what would be your top 3 places you'd recommend? Why?
Choosing places to visit in Peru is much like trying to decide your favorite child, merely impossible. I would just like to say from the get-go that everyone who likes to travel and wants to see the world needs to make sure that Peru is at the top of the list. Not only can one visit the beautiful coast in places like Mancora and Hunchaco, but you also have a number of amazing ruins – both well traveled and less well known and on top of it there are these amazing cities to visit like Cajamarca and Arequipa. Not only that, but you can go on treks, hikes, climbs, kayak trips, etc. It’s a virtual paradise of experiences and adventures. With that said, my top three would have to be:

1. Ancash – I know I live here, but I really have seen other parts of Peru and still find that I like this place the best. There is just so much to do and see here. Plus, Huaraz is a small capital city and is easy to navigate and find people who are willing to help you figure out your travel adventures. In Ancash you can easily see Huascaran (the second largest mountain in the Americas), go on any number of treks, hikes, biking, etc. And on top of that there are some pretty interesting ruins and small cities with a lot of history. It’s also a pretty well kept secret. Everyone comes to Peru to see places like Cusco (where Machu Picchu can be found) and the Amazon River, but I have yet to meet the disappointed tourist in Ancash.

2. Chachapoyas – A sleepy little town near Kuelpa (Pre-Columbian ruins), Gocta (7th largest waterfall), and a number of other little things to go and do or see and still a decent night life. For historical value, Cusco is probably a better bang for your buck, but in terms of people, I have not found nicer people than the people I met in Chacha. It also could be your gateway right into a trek down the Amazon River because Chacha is on the border of the jungle. It was very beautiful there, but mostly the people were so great.
3. I know people expect Machu Picchu on this list, but I’m going to give this final spot to Zorritos, Tumbes where we stayed at this beautiful ecological lodge. Not as nice as Mancora, but less traveled which I really enjoyed. Plus, the Peruvian coast is gorgeous no matter what. Plus the mud baths there are so worth the 2 soles it costs to enter.
Well, there are my top three. I haven’t been to the Amazon yet; it’s ultimately my last big trip in Peru before I return to the States. So of course, the list might change before I leave, but for right now, if you’re coming to Peru make sure you try to hit some of these smaller, lesser known places.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

And then none...for a week.

I really thought I was on some kind of a roll with the last couple of blogs, but apparently it can be just as easy to slip back into apathy.

Here, many communities have a summer vacation program called vacaciones utiles or "useful vacations". In Jangas teachers are teaching traditional dance, theatre, soccer, volleyball, math, and yours truly is teaching nine (count them - nine) computer classes. This started out as one of my favorite things to do, but as kids don't come or come on weird days, I'm starting to get a little bored with it all. Not to mention I have students that can do some of the most advance work and some students that don't know how to turn a computer on.

But one of my bigger successes has taken place. Since I arrived in Jangas, I have been trying to start a Youth (& Young Adult) Health Promoters Group. And it finally is in action. I have about 6 active young adults and adolescences that attend a weekly talk on everything from nutrition to first aid to STIs. I hope this group will grow and we can use it to go into the communities and teach others what we are learning. At the very least there are 6 more people who know how to help a burn victim. I love it when I have good things to report, and this is an even sweeter thrill because I didn't think it was going to actually happen. I was about to give up on it all.

So there is a quick update. I'll keep answering your questions in the next few posts. Keep them rolling in.