Monday, January 13, 2014


Today was the first morning I think I can actually call altitude training.  I went with Joaquin and his cousin, but whenever they stopped I’d keep running for a little while, then turn around and go past them, then turn around and run ahead again, etc.  So I was able to run for about 15 minutes without stopping.  It did get harder, but I still wasn’t going very fast.  I’ll progress with that as time goes on.  I’m thinking that I’ll follow the Pavvo runners training schedule again.  I need to find it, but it was very helpful to me in cross country in high school and I think it could be very helpful now too.

After returning and eating breakfast, I mentioned that I wanted to mail the gifts to my parents and go to the pharmacy.  It ends up I didn’t need to do either, since they had what I needed from the pharmacy and we’re going to take a different avenue for getting the gifts home.  Catie is going to help me by bringing the gifts to the states in her bag, then mailing them from there.  It will be faster and cheaper.  That’s the way to do it. 

But, we still went out to several places.  The first was a plaza (I forget the name…) where many people go to sell things they’ve made.  This spans from clothes to wooden spoons to plants to food.  Very similar to the markets in the US with many little tents set up.  That was fun, I didn’t get anything this time because I was still feeling it out a little bit but I’ll definitely go back.  Gabriella got a little dog toy that walks around and barks.  Joaquin wanted a mini cactus.  The lady selling the cacti told me I had pretty eyes.  I’m seeing a trend here.

Next we went to the Real Plaza (translates to the royal plaza), which is their mall.  I was shocked at how similar it was to an American mall.  Lots of stores selling shoes and clothes, Coney Park videogames, and a complete food court.  This is the most diverse place I’ve been during my time here.  I’ve been surprised by how non-diverse Peru is.  That’s one thing I’ll say about the US; there are many places that are very diverse.  The cornfields of Hopkins where I grew up are probably more diverse than Cuzco.  No joke.  Except now I’m the 1% instead of the 99%.  I’m perfectly comfortable with that, but I know I stand out in a crowd.  Most days, I see 3-4 white people walking the streets.  That includes looking out the window during bus trips around the city.  I say 22 today in the mall.  Still a small percentage of the total number of people there, but definitely the most I’ve seen in 1 day since arriving.  I haven’t seen anyone who appeared to be of African descent, and I think 2 Asians.

I know what you’re wondering.  If this place is so non-diverse, what is their food court like?  Have no fear, America is well-represented.  Popeye’s Lousiana Chicken.  KFC.  Burger King.  Papa Johns.  Spreading grease and obesity to the ends of the earth.  Of course, and let’s not forget ChinaWok.  However, it was staffed by Peruvians instead of Chinese.  That’s not common in the US.  We ended up having something from a Peruvian fast-food restaurant.  I enjoyed the chicken dish quite a lot.  I also had a chincha beverage, which is a fruit native to Peru.  I wouldn’t object to trying to grow some of these things in the US.  It’s different than anything I’ve tried before, but it was very tasty.  The high sugar content probably helped that, but still.

We walked around for a little while longer, then I got a new case for my ipod and Joaquin got a new iPad case.  Fun stuff.  Then we left; dragging kids around a mall for too long is absolutely exhausting.
Today was a beautiful sunny day.  Very few clouds in the sky, perfect for taking pictures.  So upon arrival back home, I headed back out the door.  One of my favorite things to do is explore a place with no agenda except to learn and take pictures.  I stayed on main roads and guarded my stuff well so I never was worried about getting my pockets picket.  I stayed near home, going down one of the main roads that I need to take when I go to work or to ProWorld.  I liked the pictures I was able to get in this lighting, here are a few of my favorites:

Looking down a street very near the ProWorld office.

Flowers in a park very near my home.

Back home, I was tired.  So I ate dinner and played a few games, but nothing too intense.  It’s so great to actually be able to slow down when I’m tired.  Back home, being tired is just an inconvenience interrupting all I need to get done regardless.  Doing whatever my body wants; what a revolutionary concept. 

Tania talked to me more about my Spanish today.  She asked how I learned, since she’d never heard any volunteer speak nearly as well as me.  And many of them were getting a degree in it, or had taken many classes in the university.  Before I bash them too hard, I do have to say I think I’ve been given a gift of language.  We have yet to see how all these gifts I’ve been blessed with will lead me in the future; I’m very curious.  I know I picked up Spanish more than most, and I was actually not doing too poorly in Chinese when I decided to scrap it because of a lack of time.  But gifts aside, I’ve had 2.5 years in high school and 0.5 years in college.  If you’ve had 4 years of Spanish classes at a university, you should be far advanced from my level.  I can’t help but wonder what could be causing this dichotomy.  To be fair, I think GVSU does have a good language program.  All of the advanced language students I’ve talked with seem to have a very good grip on their respective language, be that Chinese of Spanish or whatever else.  But what could be going so wrong that a number of universities have students graduating with degrees in languages they can’t speak?  I’ve always been so concerned with science education (which is also very important) that my thoughts have never extended to languages.  A question to ponder…

Additionally, I now have an answer to that common question of “What was the most surprising difference between the US and Peru” or “What was most shocking about Peru?”  Breast feeding in public.  Yup, didn’t expect that.  I first saw it in the clinic, where I didn’t think it was that big of a deal.  It’s a clinic, you need to get used to that.  Then I saw it in the open air market.  This lady was talking to people while selling her stuff with her shirt pulled up nourishing her child.  That was definitely more surprising, I can’t imagine having a conversation with someone like that.  Then I was in line for food at the mall, and there it was, happening right in front of me.  I had let my guard down since everything else about the mall seemed so similar to America.  Breast feeding is one thing I’m very satisfied with how it’s handled in the US..  

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