Tomando: Refresco de Cebada


The word tomando in Spanish literally translates to “taking.” However, here in Peru we use this word for “drinking.”  You “take” juices, coffee, sodas, alcoholic beverages, etc. – and I must say that one of my favorite things about Peru are the drinks.  Since sharing is caring, I wanted to do a series on culturally essential Peruvian drinks. I’ll be sure to link or post recipes when possible so you can enjoy the Peruvian goodies at home in the US. Enjoy!

I moved out of my host family’s house about three weeks ago. And the move, although, I


The toasted barley

had been anticipating it, happened a little earlier than I had planned  (Its a long, dramatic story). And I found myself in a not quite ready apartment with no cook station but still with my basic human need for eating food. So for a couple of weeks, I was eating fruits for breakfast and eating unsatisfying salads for dinner. But for lunch, I made sure I got a full meal in a menú restaurant which sells a set menu of cheap food (about 4 soleswhich was the same amount I had been paying my ex-host mom for lunches.

And just about every time I went for my menú, I would be served this kind of bitter, kind of sweet dark beverage that reminded me a lot of emolienteI had seen it before being sold on street corners during lunch time but when I was living with the host family nobody had ever made it or bought it. But, oh guys,  just like with all the other Peruvian drinks I’ve grown to appreciate, it was love at first taste. And after a few days, I finally asked someone what the drink was and found out it was refesco de cebada. So I said the word cebada five times in my head (because that’s my very scientific way of making sure I remember new Spanish words) and when I got home I made sure I consulted Google translate. I learned that cebada is the Spanish word for barley and the reason why it reminded me so much of emoliente is because barley is a main ingredient in the quintessentially Peruvian drink.

So what’s a girl to do when she finds out that there is a new Peruvian drink she loves? …

I learn how to make it and I share it on the blog of course! Let me walk you through the very easy, very uncomplicated recipe for refresco de cebada


The dark deliciousness of refresco de cebada



  • 2 liters of water
  • 1 cup of toasted barley
  • Sugar (to your liking)
  • 3 limes (the limes in Peru are tiny so might need to modify this for those huge American limes)
  • Pineapple pieces (Optional)


  • Pour the the 2 liters of water and the 1 cup of toasted barley in a pot
  • Bring the water and barley mix to a boil and then let simmer with top on for 30 minutes
  • Remove the barley water from the fire and mix in the sugar (as much or as little as you want) while the water is still hot
  • Squeeze the lemon juice into mix and wait for it to cool (or if you’re fancy and you have a refrigerator put it in the fridge and let it cool there)

** If the drink comes out looking dark and a little unappetizing, don’t worry,  its supposed to look like that**

And its that simple, folks! Now you have a the bitter sweetness of refresco de cebada in the comfort of your own home. And as always, if you try out the recipe, let a sister know!

If you’re thirsty for more, feel free to check out more delightful Peruvian drinks in the Tomando Series here.


The 24 Hour Bus Ride

The trip to  Lima from my site in Northern Peru has become such an large part of my service. And I always think to myself, “I wonder how much of my service is spent in a bus,” because the trip is about a 24 hour journey and 20 of those hours is one loooong bus ride.

It sounds beyond horrifying, I know. I remember my second day in Peru, we were introduced to a volunteer from Amazonas and when she told us that she had to travel 24 hours to get to Lima, I specifically remember thinking, “Welp, that’s the last place in the world I want to be placed.”  And here I am a year and some change later and for the most part I have come to enjoy the 24 hour journey. Maybe its the solitude and relative peacefulness of sitting alone or maybe its the simple fact that I know I’ll soon be in Lima – the promised land where there’s non-Peruvian food as far as the eye can see, museums galore, and the anonymity that comes with being in a large city.

So what’s it like? How do I not go stir crazy? What do I do for all those hours? And all the other questions I’m sure you’ve asked by this point. Well I’ll tell you:

Before I Leave I Make Sure I Have: Earplugs, Dramamine, Reading Material, Long Sleeve Shirt (for the air-conditioning), Slippers, Eye Mask (or something that can function like one), Baby Wipes.

1. Wait for a Car in to go to Jaen 

There are no [safe] direct buses that go from my site to Lima so the first thing I have to do is travel to a small city in Cajamarca called Jaen. Its a bout a 50 minute ride from where I live. I go to the terminal and I have to wait for the car to fill up with people for the car to leave as there is no set schedule.

2. Arrive in Jaen, Eat Lunch

They don’t serve lunch on the bus so I go to a little restaurant that right above the car terminal in Jaen. After I finish, I walk over to the bus terminal and wait for the bus which


The Bagua – Jaen Car Terminal

leaves daily at 3:00 PM.

3. Take a Seat

Its 3:00PM and its time to leave! I always buy a ticket for the VIP salon which is the small closed off room on the first floor of the bus where all the seats are large and with lots of cushion. They even give you a small blanket. I make a point to get one of the single VIP seats so I can sit by myself and capitalize on the whole solitude thing, ya know?

4. Read 

So now I’m all settled in and the first thing I usually do is I read. I read for about 2 to 3 hours or until I get tired of it. They often show movies where the audio isn’t optional and the volume is decided by the bus attendant. And since the bus attendant is, of course, Peruvian, that means the audio is obnoxiously loud by American bus culture standards. That’s one of the reasons why the ear plugs are so important.

5. Nap Time


VIP Seat

After reading or being virtually forced to watch a movie because the volume is at ridiculous levels, I usually doze off. I wake up around 8ish and at that time, the lights are off and other people are dozing off or listening to music. At this point, I’m just listening to my iPod and watching the small coastal towns pass by my window.

6. Chiclayo Stop

Chiclayo is a coastal city about 7.5 hours away from Jaen, and for a reason which seems to make no sense to me, they make everyone get off the bus at around 10PM for about 20 minutes. I usually just sit there and whip out my iPhone because a few months back I begged one of the workers there to give me the wifi password.

7. Dinner Time 

In Peru, dinner is generally served later than it is in the States but on the bus its ridiculous


The late night bus diner

. They wait until after the Chiclayo stop to serve our dinners. At that point its about 10:30 at night. They turn the lights back on and they also put the movies with the non optional audio back on. I mean it makes ZERO sense. And every time I’m at this point in the bus ride I get annoyed because the last thing I want to do is watch a movie, with bright lights while eating a rice and chicken dinner at 10:30 on a 20 hour bus ride. It drives me crazy.

8. Bed Time

After I scarf down my dinner as fast as possible and the bus attendant comes to collect the trays, I immediately pop a Dramamine which is something we get in our med kits for nausea but it also causes extreme drowsiness. I wrap my scarf around my eyes to block out the ridiculous blinding lights that are still on and I put my ear plugs back in because the movie is still going and the volume is still crazy. I honestly don’t know when they turn the lights and movies off for the night because I’m always asleep before I can find out.

9. Wake Up & Breakfast

I always joke that Peruvians don’t really sleep because I’ve never seen them go to bed and I’ve never seen them wake up. I’m always sleeping before them and I’m always awake after them. I would definitely say that as Americans, we put a large emphasis on the


The bus breakfast that I never eat

importance of getting a good night’s rest – Here not so much. Additionally, as Americans there is a whole culture to “mornings.” We recognize that there are morning people and there are non-morning people and the general expectation is that the morning people respect the silence and space that non-morning folks need or that unnecessary noise really shouldn’t be made until after 9:00 AM or so.

Well that’s not the case in Peru at all – cultural norms around “noise” are very different here. I fully wake up at about 8 AM on the bus but I start to hear noise at around 6 AM. And by noise I mean, the movies are back on full blast and people having full blown convos on their cell phones not even trying to whisper. They serve breakfast a 7AM so the attendant is moving through the cabin asking everyone their drink preference. This is another point  where I am pretty annoyed but I begrudgingly come out of my make shift sleep mask and confront the reality that this is Peruvian bus culture.

10. Los Olivios to Javier Prado & Arrival

There are two stops in Lima. One in an outskirts neighborhood called Los Olivos and another (the one that I use) called Javier Prado. We stop at Los Olivos and a good majority get off the bus there. The problem is that because traffic is so bad (Lima has some of the


Reading to keep my mind off the traffic

worst traffic in the world) it usually take about 2 hours to go from Los Olivos to my stop. It’s  a test in patience because you know you’re so close but it still takes forever. I usually break out my book at that point to try to get my mind off of how much I want to get off the bus.

And finally I make it to Javier Prado! I usually head straight to the bathroom and take a quick baby wipe bath, brush my teeth, and wash my face. Then I go out to all the wall of taxi drivers who are hell bent on overcharging me to go to Miraflores. I find a cab that doesn’t wan’t me to go penniless for a 15 minute ride and I head off to start my Lima adventure.

And even though there are some parts to the 20 hour bus that drive me crazy, I definitely think it will be one of those things from this experience that I’ll have a sense of nostalgia about when I get back to the States.




Invasion of the Turkish Telenovelas

In Latin American television, the telenovela rules all. These drama and romance packed series dominate the tv and you can catch everyone from little kids to old señoras glued to the screen to get their fix of their favorite stories. And although I’m not too fond of the novela (I find the overblown drama and sweeping romantic plots quite ridiculous), I have noticed that the novelas from Turkey are wildly popular here. One Thousand and One Nights, Feriha’s Secret, Black Rose (my host family’s favorite), Prohibited Love, and Fatmagül are all imports that have found their way into the hearts and homes of the


Black Rose, my host family’s personal fave

Peruvian household – So much so that there has been a surge of kids born with Turkish names like “Onur” and “Sherezade.”

But why is that? I mean, Latin America is the birthplace of the telenovela, right? They’re the experts at pumping these things out like it’s nobody’s business so it seems unlikely that a small time Turkish novela market would even come close to infiltrating.

Well folks, the story actually begins in Chile in 2014 where by chance, a Chilean network imported the series One Thousand and One Nights. It quickly became an overnight success and spread to other countries including Peru. Left hungering for more Turkish melodramatic goodness, Peruvian networks, like Latina, started shelling out the big bucks to import more. According to some folks, these overnight show sensations became so popular because they already share a lot of the themes and values of the novelas that are born and bread in Latin America.This means, plot lines that focus on tumultuous or forbidden loves and families that stick together through thick and thin set against the societal problems of the day. The International Business Times even says that the Turkish shows do a great job with attracting little old señoras because they tend to be more conservative than the new risque generation of Latin American produced shows. Go


Turkish president in Latin America


Just to give you all some perspective, about ten years ago, Turkish television exports only brought in about 1 million per year and today, they’re raking in a whopping 350 million annually, thank in large part to Latin American consumers. Now that’s what you call a come up! And in a trip he made to the region earlier this year, Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, even shouted out the international success of Turkish television saying, “We see this visit as a step at the right time. We can see that the people of two countries, which live far away from each other, meet along common cultural themes. In this respect, the acceptance of Turkish [TV] series has pleased us.”

Even though I am not an avid watcher and these shows present a limited view of the Turkish people, I still think its pretty cool Peruvian folks get to learn a little bit about Turkey  – a country that most Peruvians would otherwise see as a distant land they would have never thought about before these prime time dramas hit the scene. And in that way, these two seemingly unconnected people and cultures separated by vast landmasses as well as oceans, can find some common ground.

Shout out to globalization!

Want more Turkey in Peru? Check out this post here.


Thanks for Choosing Me – I’m Headed to D.C.

I love writing this blog and sharing fun anecdotes and Peruvian culture with you dear readers. It really has been one of the most fulfilling parts of my service thus far. To be honest, I think the main reason why I joined Peace Corps is because ever since I was little I have always been interested in learning about other cultures – just ask my parents. So to be recognized as a finalist in the Office of Third Goal’s blog initiative as a finalist was such a dream come true. And to be selected as one of the winners and have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to share my love for intercultural understanding is just the sweetest cherry on top of a delicious sundae – And let’s make that a brownie sundae from Friendly’s because I day dream about eating one far too often.

I want to say thank you to anyone and everyone who voted for me during the Facebook voting round. We came out on top at over 1600 votes – imagine that! I have less than 400 friends on that social media platform and because of you all, you helped me to be numero uno! It was almost overwhelming to feel that much love and support from all the people who have been in my life (and maybe I even shed a little tear). So thank you to my family, especially my parents, to whom I’m sure I gave mini strokes when I said I was once again moving abroad. Thanks to my friends, friends of friends, old educators back home who helped give me that extra push during the voting. Thank you to my wonderful network of PCV friends who are always there for me for the highs and lows of my service, thank you to the beyond amazing Peace Corps Peru staff whose support always motivates and encourages me to be a better PCV, and thank you to mi Perú because although sometimes you are hard on me, you are giving me the experience of a lifetime and making me a better person each day.

Today marks one year since arriving in this country and starting this wild adventure with nothing but a bunch of strangers and a hope that all would work itself out and right now, I just feel nothing but gratitude. Again, thank you all so very much.

See you in two months, America.

P.S. check out the shout out the US Embassy in Peru gave me on their Facebook page!

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My Narrative as an Afro-Latina Peace Corps Volunteer

I don’t usually re-blog but this is a deep post from an Afro Latina sister who served in Nicaragua.

Travel Latina

After only being back in the States for a few weeks, I was planning on writing something nostalgic to express what my Peace Corps service has done for me and what it symbolizes in my life because it has truly been a life-changing, and eye-opening experience that I will never forget. I’ve made the most amazing friends and long lasting relationships with Nicaraguans and Americans. Sadly, however, the first thing that I’m going to write about is the present, heartbreaking reality that is weighing on me: our society needs a huge change.

I recently posted a picture of some friends and I standing in solidarity in response to the violence and systematic-mass killings that have taken place against people of color in the United States. For Peace Corps Volunteers (PCV’s) of color worldwide, it is painful to watch what is happening from abroad, and frustrating because we feel so helpless…

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Vote For Me and Send Me to D.C.

¡Ya está la hora para votar! As I said a couple posts ago, my blog was chosen at the end of July to compete as a finalist in Peace Corps annual Blog It Home Contest which highlights volunteers that use their blogs to share the culture of their host country with people back home in the States. The winners will be sent to D.C. at the end of October to participate in a week of intercultural presentations, professional development events, and other activities around the city.



Voting is easy! All you have to do is “like” my picture posted on Peace Corps’ official Facebook page. After you’ve “liked” it, make sure to share the link and encourage your network of Facebook friends to “like” and share as well!

Voting lasts from August 11th-August 15th and winners will be announced on August 17th. Those of ya’ll that know me know that one of my favorite things about my Peace Corps service is writing this blog and that I put a lot of thought and effort into it. So if you’ve ever learned something new about my new home Peru by reading Siyah En Peru, be sure to vote me all the way back to the States!

CLICK HERE  HERE HERE TO VOTE FOR ME – And while you’re at it, here are a few of the posts that have been crowd favorites:

Where Fruit Cake Is Not A Joke

Tomando: Pisco Sours

Dearly Beloved, We Are Gathered Here Today To Get Through This Thing Called Peace Corps

El Ritmo Sabroso: A Guide to Afro Peruvian Instruments

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money, Mo’ Money

Santa Catalina Monastery & Its Naughty Nuns

For Colored Folks Who Have Considered Peace Corps

Your Imaginary Boyfriend: Jefferson Farfan

Kids Named Hitler

The Best Worst Trip Ever


The Best Worst Trip Ever (Laguna De Las Momias)

Brittany White doesn’t hike, she doesn’t camp, and she certainly don’t ride no horses. So when I got invited on a camping trip that involved a 8 hours horse back ride and 2 hour high altitude hike to camp out in the middle of nowhere to see a cool lake and pre-Incan ruins, I let my naiveté cloud my vision and I said, “Sure, why not?”


Us on horeseback

We were headed to a place called Laguna de las Momias, or Mummy Lagoon  named for the 70 mummies from the Chachapoyas culture found high above the lake back in 1997. And ya’ll know I’m all about the history, so I found a way to romanticize travelling far off the beaten path to look at some obscure ruins on the edge of a cliff.


First, lets talk about how I chose to be cheap and buy the 5 sol poncho instead of the 20 sol poncho and how it rained for the first 3 or 4 hours of the trip. So there I was wearing the thinnest, sorriest piece of tattered plastic on horseback as it rained all over me and all I could do was cry – real talk.

I initially was able to keep my crying on the DL because nobody could really tell the difference between my tears and rain drops but then lunch rolled around and blew my

cry laugh

Me laughing and crying at the same time

cover. See, our guides had been telling us that we would be stopping for lunch in a cave so in my head that meant we’ll stop, make a fire, eat a warm meal, change into dry clothes – You know, that whole bit that I probably saw somewhere in a movie once? Yeah, that didn’t happen.

We ended up stopping right out in the middle of nowhere with zero shelter from the falling rain and eating chocolate bars and cookies for lunch. I was so cold and my hands were so frozen that I couldn’t even pull my pants back up after I went to the bathroom – my friend Hilary had to help me like I was in an old folks home.

I wanted to cry because I was so upset and I wanted to laugh because the thought that I  shelled out a couple hundred soles to have the worst time ever is actually pretty funny in self deprecating kind of way. I mean truly, if any of my friends would have described my worst nightmare, they would have described this trip and to say that I was way out of my comfort zone would have been an understatement. Anywho, after about 7 more hours of grueling travel, we finally arrived at our campsite, dried off, warmed up, ate, went to bed and pressed the reset button.

The next day we hiked down to the lake which is beautiful. The lagoon itself is mysterious with its quiet and dark waters just giving me all the life Indiana Jones movies are made out


Ancient skull left at the mausoleum

of. We crossed the lake in preparation to climb up on the cliff side to see the mausoleums where the mummies were found.

Now, I could lie to ya’ll and tell you that I made it to the top and saw the mausoleums and the ancient skulls and wall paintings but I didn’t. I got half way up the cliff and decided to stop because your girls heart was about to explode from the hiking a steep incline at a high altitude. I’m not ashamed to admit that because even though functioning outside of your comfort zone is great, I still know my limits and I was just done. I waited for my friends to come back and had them show me their pictures as we headed back towards our camping site.

The next day, we set off back to civilization having mentally prepared ourselves for the cold, the rain, and the misery but to our surprise the trip back was pretty awesome. We laughed, we joked, and learned that a cookie and piece chocolate lunch isn’t so bad when it isn’t seasoned with the tear salt. It was amazing to be able to appreciate how the landscaped moved from cloud forest to barren open plains, to open farm land – it made it all worth it really.

I laugh now at my thinking initially, “Why not do this ” because there were a million

dear god

Me during one of the many times I was playing myself

reasons not to do this and everything about the trip description screamed, “Brittany, don’t play yourself,” and you know what? I did play myself -about a million times over.

Doing this trip reminded me a lot of doing the Peace Corps. I laughed, I cried, I laughed and cried at the same time. It was long and hard not only my emotions but on my body and I really, really missed home. But I had a great group of volunteers who helped as we collectively laughed off the ridiculousness of it all and before you know it we were back at home but with a once in a lifetime opportunity underneath our belts.

So I guess all this to say, cheers to the best worst trip ever. You were somethin’ else.

Blog It Home Contest 2016

I’ve stated a bunch of times on this blog that Peace Corps has three goals:

  1. To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained Volunteers
  2. To help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served.
  3. To help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans.

The first two goals are great but the last one, the one we appropriately call Third Goal, is what this blog is basically all about. Simply put, Third Goaling is sharing the culture of your host country with Americans. Now, Peace Corps was founded in 1961 when computers were still the size of conference rooms so, historically, it has been hard for volunteers to actively pursue Third Goal activities during their service due to lack of communication with the world outside of their sites.

In the past ten years, due to rapid globalization, easy access to internet sauntered onto the scene and began to change the world – including the Peace Corps Volunteer experience. IMG_8758It’s actually quite amazing if you think about it. I’m thousands of miles away from home in the middle of nowhere South America but I’m still able to talk to my friends and family in the States every single day.

And with the advent of the internet, volunteers have started to use the power of blogging and social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram – you name it – to share their experiences and host country cultures with loved ones back home. Recognizing how this technology can be utilized to do amazing Third Goal work, in 2013 Peace Corps started the Blog It Home Contest to encourage volunteers to use their blogs to increase cultural awareness.

Each year since, winning volunteers are invited to Washington, D.C. for one week to promote the Third Goal in a series of intercultural presentations, professional development events, and other activities around the city. And this year, my blog has been chosen as one of the 20 blogs that made it to the final voting round.

On August 11th, Peace Corps will host about a week long Facebook voting round. The scores from the Facebook voting and the scores the judges have given our blogs are then tallied up and the top 8 or 9 are selected to participate in the week long activities in October.

So thank you to anyone who has ever read or supported this blog –  If you want to send me to D.C. this October to continue to share Peruvian culture (and to be reunited with my beloved Dunkin Donuts) get ready to vote for me this August.

I’ll be sure to write a reminder post when the voting starts in a couple weeks!

Thanks ya’ll,




Lyrics de Libertad (Feliz 28)

Well I don’t know about ya’ll but the speeches made by my POTUS and FLOTUS at the DNC has me feeling all the feels for my sweet homeland America right now – just makes me want to walk around in a Lady Liberty print outfit complete with American flag print underwear, no joke.

Anywho, all these feelings national pride are pretty appropriate this week because its Peruvian 12045568_10153029644700981_5365230625817777452_oIndependence Day! Today, July 28th, marks the 195th anniversary of Peruvian independence from the Spanish Empire thanks to General José de San Martín. Today is also the day when the cambio de poder or change of power happens if there has been a presidential election in the same year. Being that this was an election year, I now have a new host country president — Pedro Pablo Kuczynski. Additionally, towns usually have parades throughout the main plaza where everyone can get a good view the spectacle.

Now it seems as if my town just isn’t feeling the whole patriotism thing today because when I wen’t down to the plaza there was nada. But I wanted to leave ya’ll with a little taste of Peruvian Independence so I wanted to share with you guys the Himno Nacional del Perú or in American terms, the national anthem. Personally chosen by Peruvian liberator General San Martín from a public contest, the lyrics were written by a man named Jose de la Torre Ugarte and it goes a little something like this:


Somos libres, seámoslo siempre, seámoslo siempre,
Y antes niegue sus luces el sol,
Que faltemos al voto solemne
Que la Patria al Eterno elevó.
Que faltemos al voto solemne
Que la Patria al Eterno elevó.

We are free; let us always be so,
And let the sun rather deny its light
Than that we should fail the solemn vow
Which our country raised to God.
Than that we should fail the solemn vow
Which our country raised to God.


Largo tiempo el peruano oprimido
la ominosa cadena arrastró,
Condenado a cruel servidumbre
largo tiempo en silencio gimió.
Mas apenas el grito sagrado
¡Libertad en sus costas se oyó!
La indolencia de esclavo sacude,
la humillada cerviz levantó.

For a long time the Peruvian, oppressed,
Dragged the ominous chain;
Condemned to cruel serfdom,
For a long time he moaned in silence.
But as soon as the sacred cry of
Freedom! was heard on his coasts,
He shook off the indolence of the slave,
He raised his humiliated head.

That’s right, and there’s about six more verses where that came from. If the nationalism surging through your veins is just too much and you need more verses, just give it a quick google search. And for those of you whose Spanish reading game is below par, don’t you worry, I’ve linked the audio version below. ¡Enjoy and Feliz 28!  ¡Viva Perú!


Throwback Thursday: Santa Catalina Monastery and It’s Naughty Nuns

For those who know me, its no secret that I love history. As a PCV, I’ve hit the jackpot with a IMG_8529placement in Peru. There’s so many different cultural heritages to learn about and so many great archaeological sites to visit that would make any history buff want to cry. Not to mention, there is so much more to Peruvian history than just than the Incas and Machu Picchu. So in the spirit of sharing my love for history, I decided to do a series called Throwback Thursday where I highlight a specific part of Peruvian history on a Thursday of course. Enjoy – I hope ya’ll learn something!

Arequipa is such a great place to visit especially if you love history. When I went, I didn’t go with any plans except to walk around and see some of the beautiful colonial structures. In many ways, the city itself is everything Lima isn’t. Where Lima is rough and gritty, Arequipa is more refined. Where Lima is a bustling with automobile and pedestrian traffic, Arequipa, all although filled with tourists, is quieter, cleaner and  with a slower moving pace.

Besides seeing Juanita, the ice mummy, one best places I visited was the Santa Catalina Monastery. Built in 1579, it is a IMG_8532huge mini city within the city that was founded by the Dominican Second Order nun, Maria de Guzman. Initially, the monastery was meant for rich upper-class women from Spanish families and each family would have to pay a dowry upon their daughter entering the monastery. Some dowries were as expensive as 2,500 silver coins which would be the equivalent of 50,000 dollars today — Ballin. On top of paying a hefty dowry, nuns were assigned up to 4 slaves to do their daily chores and were also required to bring things like paintings, intricate tapestries, clothes, and other things would make the environment scream, “We love God, but we love us some money too.”

But the sinning don’t stop there, ya’ll. It was also pretty common for the nuns to throw extravagant parties in their quarters – and no, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph weren’t the only folks invited. On even more scandalous note, the rumor is there were tunnels that connected the monastery with a church nearby that housed monks to aid the nuns in their nightly creeping. Stories of pregnant nuns and monk baby daddies were fueled by the allegation that a baby’s skeleton was found encased within the monastery walls however, the church denies such claims.

The monastery nuns raged right on up until 1871 when Pope Pius IX sent a strict nun toIMG_8528 shut the party at the Santa Catalina social club down. She also freed all the servants and slaves and sent all of the dowries back to Spain in an effort the begin reforming the monastery.

In the 1960s, the structure suffered significant damage due to two earthquakes that struck Arequipa. In order to help pay for restoration costs and installing electricity and running water, the 20 remaining nuns opted to open up Santa Catalina to the public as a tourist attraction in 1970. And, today, history loving folks like me can freely roam around the beautiful grounds and learn about the story of malcriada nuns that loved to have a good time for only 35 soles.

Love history and want to hear more about colonial girls that just wanna have fun, check out my first Throwback Thursday post here.