Highlights: Overall, the highlight of my trip was getting to meet my host family. I became very close with the whole family, especially my host sister, who happened to be the same age as me. I still stay in touch with her and have met up with her, as well as many other friends that I met during my time in Peru. There were so many different wonderful experiences that it is hard to pinpoint one thing as being the best.
My favorite thing was just being completely immersed in another country and new surroundings to explore. While I was in Peru I was able to go white water rafting, horseback riding, learn salsa dancing, and visit countless Incan ruins all on a weekend. I was able to see one of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu, and walk through all of the awe inspiring ruins. And I was able to go into the depths of the Amazon Rainforest, and wade through waste deep water to get to a lodge with no electricity where I would stay for 4 days. The variety of options available were endless. I look back on this trip as one of the highlights of my life, and can't wait to return to the beautiful country.
Morning: While living in Peru, my typical morning consisted of waking up and eating breakfast with the other volunteers and my host family. The house that I lived in typically had approximately three volunteers living there at a time. After this I took a collective part of the way to get to my volunteer project and then walked the rest of the way. I volunteered in a clinic for mentally and/or physically disabled children.
The first thing that we would do was get the children dressed and bathed for the day and then take the ones that were old enough to school. Then I would either play with the children that weren't in school or since I was a registered nurse I could go into the outpatient part of the clinic and help the nurse triage the patient and administer medications. In the down time filing, organizing, and stocking would be completed. The children that attended the school would return for lunch and the volunteers would help feed them and take them to any specialist appointments that they had.
Afternoon: After working in the clinic for the morning I would return back to my host family's house for lunch, again all meals were eaten at a set time and as a large group of everyone living in the house. After lunch I would walk to the Spanish school where I took private lessons that were included as part of the program, or if I didnt have classes I would return back to help at the clinic.
After the work was done there were a lot of things to do in the city of Cusco. The first things that I did were explore the many ruins and ancient sites in and around the city, which were easy to get to in a short amount of time. As time progressed and I had done most of the sightseeing I relaxed more in the afternoons and would shop or hang out in the various parks and cafes with my friends.
Evening: In the evening, once again dinner was provided by the family, often times the host family did not eat dinner with us, as lunch is the main meal in Peru. If there were any meals that you did not want to eat at the house you could eat out as long as you let the host mother know. Typically I would eat dinner at home and then meet up with friends afterwords for a drink or would do my homework for my Spanish class. One of my favorite activities in the evening was to go to the bars/clubs where for the first hour or two free salsa dancing classes were offered. When I first saw the locals I thought there was no way that I would ever do that. I thought that I could never dance the way the locals could, but I really enjoyed trying. The Spanish school also offered get-togethers once a week where all of the volunteers could meet and participate in a different activity ranging from cooking classes to movie nights, which was a great way to meet new people.