life as i know it!

October 20, 2009 - Huaraz, Peru

 my my it has been a long time! I apologize to everyone for my lack of entries. Life has just been so crazy nowadays, every since classes started and our time all became devoted to becoming peruvian university students and speaking a foreign language! It truly is exhausting!! But now, midterms have finished and I feel "over the hump," time to relax and enjoy my last two months (!) in Peru. Since I last wrote, a number of things have happened. My friends Meredith, Michelle, Peter, Hugo and I ran the Nike Lima Half Marathon, which was the coolest experience. The race only cost about $10 to enter, which included chip, goody bag, and two t-shirts! It started in the Centro de Lima where all the beautiful government buildings are. People absolutely filled the streets, all in our mandatory red shirts and all really excited (and nervous!). As the race started, the mayor of Lima wished us all luck and the Killer's "Dancer" blasting from the speakers. As it was the 100th running of the race, every few kilometers there were people dressed up from each decade dancing to blasting music. There were also traditional Peruvian bands playing and drummers along the way. And, on the way, our friends Jen, Rumi, Fernando and Juampa were waiting to cheer us on, then were there again at the finish!! It was so great to see them and such a nice encouragement. The race wet all the way to the waterfront in Miraflores, a nice district near where I live, and back to the center again! It was a really nice way to get to know the whereabouts of the city better and to see close-up where we had continually been driving by! Finally, after 2 hours and 13 minutes, my friends and I finished holding hands to the same Killer's song. It was such a great experience and a great feeling to have accomplished such a long race! After meeting up with our friends at the finish, we head out to the most delicious lunch of ceviche and other seafoods at this great palce near where Rumi lives. It was the perfect way to end such a good day!

 In addition to classes, I have also started my volunteer work here in Peru. I am working at a place called MUndo Libre, which means free world, and is a home for children from the streets of Lima who have struggled with drug addiction. I am working in the house for the boys, who are between the ages of 7-15, and have all spent their lives on the street. It is astounding how many kids you see wandering the streets here, selling things or sometimes begging for money. It is so nice to see a place where you know they all are safe, ar eating regularly, and are working on getting better. I have really enjoyed my work there so far. I go in three days a week to hang out with the boys. We usually play marbles, play basketball, fooseball, and sometimes thumb wars and arm wrestling! They are all so much fun and such sharp, smart boys. On Wednesdays, I come a little earlier and help the boys with their school work. Although they don't attennd school during their treatment at the house, they do have scholastic reinforcement and tutors who come and give them lessons. The kids range in abilities; while some can't read, others can very well. After their recess time, I usually accompany the boys to their "workshops," which include t-shirt stamping, pottery, candle-making, and drawing. I have made good friends with the kids and with some of the other people working their, and I'm really enjoying myself.

In the week following the marathon, my friends and I attended a Peruvian national soccer game and also with some friends from England who had come to Lima! My mum's friend from high school, Jill, has a son named David who is about the same age as me. He is currently traveling South America before he stops in Argentina to study spanish for a few months. At this time, he was with two other English friends from home who were accompanying him on a few of his travels. He contacted me over the computer and we met up with them, and all went to the game together! The game was really fun, we all bought Peru shirts and were very spirited. Although Peru's national team is terrible and had no chance of qualifying for the world cup, they beat Uruguay in this game! Itt was so exciting because everyone had told us that they would never win and that it was going to be a boring game, but it ended up being great! I hope we get to go to another soccer game before we leave, they really love the sport here and I love to see that! 

About a week after the game and my visit with David, the girls and I (Jen, Michelle, Ana Maria from Finland Catilin from Wisconsin and Anche from Germany) ventured to Huaraz, a little town in the northern Andes. There, we first took a tour to a lauguna within the state ppark, which was absolutely beautiful and the clearest aqua colred water I have ever seen! After that, we went to the town of Yungay, which is now deserted because of an enormous earthquake and avalanche that completely wiped out the city about 50 years ago. It was a very eery place, knowing how many people had been killed there, but also very beautiful. I imagine that everyone must have loved living there. The next day, we set out on a trek through the Cordillera Blanca, a beautiful mountain range  as one of the world's greatest. We set out with our two guides and two horses who helped carry our stuff, and hiked through the most gorgeous views of the mountain range, including the tallest mountain, Huascaran. Everything was breathtaking, including the laguna that we arrived at where we set up camp for the night. After setting our things down, our guide asked us if we would like to keep climbing, and we said yes. After a while, it was only Ana Maria, Ancha and I with our guide, and it seemed as if we would keep going further and further. Finally, he asked us if we would like to climb close to the very top, to where we might be able to get a better view of Huascaran. We couldn't pass up the opportunity, and after all, we had gotten that far. When we finally arrived at our destination after a grueling climb, the sight took my breathe away, literally, and even made me cry. There in front of us was the most amazing view of the white mountain range that I will ever see in my life. We sat mesmorized, feeling on top of the world, for minutes, before we realized that it might be getting dark soon, and headed back down. The next morning, we woke up freezing and exhausted and ready for the next day of hiking. To return, we made our way back down the way we had come, and stopped on the way at a gorgeous waterfall. After a few more hours, we had made it back to our base, exhuasted and falling over with fatigue, burom there, we caught our bus back to Lima and finally showered. haha. All in all we had an amazing trip and felt so adventurous!!

Wooo...I believe this entry has gotten far too long, not enough room to write about our next trip to Trujillo. ut do not fret, I will write again tomorrow! Midterms are over and I don't have much schoolwork for the next coupe of weeks! tTime to catch up!

I love you all very much and miss you like crazy. 2 months and I'll be seeing you at Christmas! So crazy!

love megan xoxo

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