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.