First day in Arequipa and an explanation of what in the world I am doing here

To begin, I would like to explain how I came to be in Peru.

As you all know, I spent last January roaming Chile and studying Spanish there. I saw so many amazing sites and met some incredible people, and I knew I had to travel again. When I got back to the states, my friend Tc urged me to look on Omprakash, a site with reputable volunteer opportunities all over the world including the cost of living. I immediately fell in love with HOOP (Helping Overcome Obstacles Peru) and proceeded to hassle every college student I knew to come with me and volunteer. When it seemed that everyone had plans for winter session (and my friend Ro found an even more amazing opportunity to study abroad for a semester in Spain), I decided that going alone would have to suffice, and applied.

To say that the HOOP staff has been incredibly supportive and accommodating would be an understatement. They explained to me the realistic goals of their projects and how I could contribute as a volunteer. They helped me figure out where to stay and even more importantly, made me feel comfortable and empowered as a young woman traveling alone in a foreign country.

With my mom’s help, I booked my flight. I also applied to UD’s Honors Program for an enrichment fund award, and fortunately was given money for transportation, one of the largest costs when traveling.

While in Peru, I will be teaching arts and crafts (and English) to children of various ages in one of the outskirts of Arequipa, a shantytown called Flora Tristan. A HUGE thank you to everyone that donated supplies to me! I have already met many volunteers and people in charge of the school, and I am very excited to begin working there. My other goals for this trip are to venture to Cuzco/Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Colca Canyon, and maybe a Volcano.

There is also lots to see and do (and eat) in Arequipa (Ah-re-keep-uh)! Today, I met with Brad in the office at 11 to talk a little more about the project, and another volunteer, Robert, met me there. He gave me a tour of the city, pointing out some of the more historical and little known facts.

This is the Plaza de Armas, a few blocks from my hostel. The green christmas tree is made of sprite bottles!

There are many buildings on the streets that have gates in the front that open up to courtyards like this that have offices or shops inside of them. This courtyard houses the museum where Juanita, an Incan Mummy resides.

This right here, my friends, is fried mashed potatoes with a teeny bit of ground beef and onions on the inside. I will be eating more very soon.

This river is apparently what divides the touristy part of Arequipa from the more residential (and affluent) part. In the background, you can see two volcanoes, El Misti and Chachani. I would like to hike one of these or Pikchu Pikchu, which is not pictured.

There are many monasteries, cathedrals, and nunneries such as this one below.

To end our journey around the city, we stopped in a restaurant and got papaya juice. He knew I am scared of the water, so mine is with milk instead of water. It was good, but I don’t know if I’ll ever really like a fruit juice/milk combo served at room temperature.

After resting at my hostel and planning my trip to Cuzco later this week, I met up with some people to go to a cafe. Here, I got a frozen strawberry lemonade and chicken sandwich with tomato, fried potato straws, and mayonese and aji sauce (a creamy spicy sauce made from peppers). We finished the night with a few rounds of ping pong and a short walk back home.

Written by Morgan Lehr

See how you can get started volunteering with HOOP Peru here.

To learn more about HOOP Peru please check out HOOP’s Twitter and Facebook:

https://twitter.com/HOOPPERU
https://www.facebook.com/HOOPPeru

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