Girl’s Lives Matter

Another volunteer told me a story once about a student in her town who won one of Peru’s national scholarships called BECA 18. This particular scholarship is every college-goers dream but is only available to people living  in extreme poverty. It pays not only for full tuition but also room and board, books, and a small monthly living stipend. And because students in Peru leave high school as minors at the age of 16, they need their parents’ permission on official documents. Now any parent that I know back in the States would not hesitate to sign off of such a life altering opportunity to study for free in one of Peru’s top universities but this student had one problem – she was born a girl.girlsof4atechnico

And because she was born a girl, her father found it inappropriate that a young woman should be living  alone and studying in a big city hours away from parental supervision, her father unequivocally said, “No,” and shut the door to his daughters education, surrendering her to endless domestic tasks and long days harvesting crops.

I first heard this story about a year ago shortly after I arrived in Peru and I was beyond shocked but I soon learned that stories such as these are not at all uncommon. I have mentioned before in this blog that Peruvian society is heavily governed by a strict set of gender roles often giving men and boys more power and control over their own lives – especially over their own education.

I see it when I walk into a home economics classroom and all the girl students are cooking and the boy students are all sitting down waiting to be served.

I hear it when a student tells me that most girls feel more valuable when they have a boyfriend as opposed to when they have an education.

I notice it when I ask a group of students what they want to be when they grow up and the boys always respond first while the girls sit silently in reflection as if no one as ever asked them that question before.

And I painfully hear it when I blatantly ask my group of girls what they think about the restrictions society has placed on them because they are young women and they say, “That’s just the way things are. We don’t think about it too much.”

It makes me sad because they should be thinking about it. Their mothers, fathers, brothers, educators, and government should be thinking about it. Through her Let Girls Learn 13119950_10153418378615981_1854205061214794671_oinitiative, First Lady Michelle Obama has repeatedly said that a country that does not invest in the future of its girls is a country that is hindering its own progression and development.

It is hard to constantly see the harsh reality of young girls and women in Peru and to combat those deeply embedded notions about women, in my role as a volunteer I try to talk about my life in the States as much as possible – about how I lived alone, about how my parents and my friends’ parents encourage both their daughters and sons to pursue a life of their own choosing, and about how all of my girl friends have jobs, their own apartments, and/or are in graduate school. In doing that, I would hope that the girls will see that it is okay and perfectly normal to want to have dreams to pursue an education and career and that what they want for their lives matters.

Today is International Day of the Girl and I just wanted to remind people that there are girls all around the world – future diplomats, mathematicians, educators, scientists, writers, philosophers, human rights activists, and mothers who will contribute to their countries by raising future generations – who are being locked out of a world of possibilities simply because they were born with two X chromosomes. Please remember to take the time to see what you can do to help young women have the same opportunities as their male counterparts.

And if you want to learn more about the state of education for girls in Peru, check out this short documentary from UNICEF:

All The Noise, Noise, Noise, Noise

Watch this video:

Yeah, that’s basically how I feel here in Peru  every single day – WOMP. I’m a person who hates noise and loves silence so if there is one thing I probably won’t miss about my town, its the noise. I mentioned before that on my 24 Hours Bus Ride post that noise and cultural norms around noise are completely different. I never really realized how much Americans valued silence or quiet time before I came to Peru and its definitely something I will never take for granted again. I mean, the fact that we even have noise ordinances and we can call the police if a neighbor is being too loud at the wrong time of day/night, I think would be a mind blowing concept here (and also, culturally, never work).

By general American standards, Peruvians are just loud. It’s something that I have, in the saltiest of  ways, accepted as apart of my life now. I’m sure all of this “noise” I speak of and often complain about to my friends and family back home is pretty ambiguous so I wanted to make what I’m dealing with a little more clear and I decided to track all the obnoxious noise I can hear from my apartment in just one day (and hopefully make light of one of my not so favorite things). Here we go:

5:00 AM – The rooster and the turkeys go all day long but I start to hear them around  five in the morning. I think the roosters get the rep as the most obnoxious wake  up call but, in my opinion, that should really go to the turkey – so loud, so obnoxious. I HATE the turkeys.

6:00 AM – Soy milk is a big thing ’round these parts and an early morning wouldn’t beimg_9155         complete if the soy milk man didn’t ride up and down the streets on his moto taxi with loud speakers blaring, “SOY MILK GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH! VITAMIN A, VITAMIN B, AND VITAMIN D,” repeatedly. And if that  wasn’t loud enough at the end of it he whistles a dumb tune into the speaker after he says his little spiel.

6:30 AM – Just around 30 minutes later, the soy milk man passes again saying the same thing. At this point I’m pretty much awake but still trying to pretend that this can’t be my life.

7:00 AM – Ah, the joys of trash collection in the States – so simple, so quiet and discreet.  Trash collection here happens basically everyday and instead of relying on people knowing it comes every single day, I’m assuming the town leaders got together and said to themselves, “Selves, how do we make garbage collection in this here town as annoying and disruptive as possible?” This resulted in a garbage truck  with a loud speaker and an ambulance siren. The loud speaker has a recording  that says, “NEIGHBORS BRING YOUR GARBAGE. WE COME BY FROM 6AM – 3PM  MONDAY THROUGH SATURDAY. BRING YOUR GARBAGE. WE ARE  WATCHING OUT FOR THE HEALTH OF YOUR FAMILY.” Then it cuts to a recording of a kid talking to their parent about how garbage disposal in the correct manner is so important and at the end the kid goes, “WOW, DADDY! A  CLEAN CITY IS REALLY IMPORTANT! *Cue Ambulance Siren*


7:30 AM -I get up out of bed because at this point, there’s no use in acting like this


Chicha de Jora moto taxi with loud speaker


can’t  be life. So I get up to start my morning rituals and from the bathroom window, I can hear those turkeys going full blast.


7:45 AM I go to my kitchen to make my breakfast and I can hear the TV or radio going pretty loudly from the señora downstairs. But I will say that even though its loud, its  no where near the volume my ex-host fam would use. They were out of this world with it.

9:21 AM – 11:00 AM – Around 9ish everyday, this mysterious Peruvian pan flute music comes on. Wherever its coming from is far but its always there in the background as if to remind you that you’ll probably never have a moment of complete silence until you get back to the States.

12:15 PM – Around lunchtime, like the soy milk man, the Chicha de Jora (another delicious Peruvian drink) man comes around on his moto taxi with his loud speaker, “DELICIOUS CHICHA DE JORA!” Then he let’s out an “AAAAAAHHHHHHH,” as if he’s just taken a refreshing swig of water from God’s personal water fountain to let us all know how delicious his chicha is.


The goats that show up across the street every couple days


12:28 PM – 1:59 PM – The neighbor across the street doing house work blasts the same two Jose Jose songs: Lagrimas & Voy a Llenarte Toda. Not bad songs but I certainly don’t want to hear them on repeat for an hour and a half.

2:16 PM – Mysterious pan flute music can be heard again

2:33 PM – Garbage truck passes for the second time with the same annoying loud speakers and siren

3:12 PM – Goats and their herder show up in the empty lot across from my house. The         goats stop to eat the grass in the trash filled lots while making their silly goat noises for about 20 minutes before they go back to wherever they came from.

5:00 PM – I kid you not, a marching band passes by. Trumpets, drums, clarinets. A legit marching  band. I’m in disbelief.


Marching band marching down the street


6:21 PM – The guy selling picarones (a popular Peruvian sweet) comes by with his moto taxi and loud speaker screaming, “FOR ONE SOL, DELICIOUS PICARONES. ONE PORTION FOR ONE SOL.”

7:30 PM – The tamale woman comes around not with a moto taxi or loud speakers, but by foot, simply screaming at the top of her lungs, “TA – MA – LES” over and over  and over and over again.

8:10 PM – Street dogs fighting in the street

8:11 PM – Some event has started in the plaza and I can hear every word the MC is saying

11:11 PM – It’s a 11:11, make a wish! My wish is that the event in the plaza ends but it doesn’t come true. I sign off on another day in Peru and go to sleep with my ear plugs of  course.

11:25 PM – Just as I’m falling asleep, and just as unbelievable as the marching band, I hear  a round of fireworks. And there is no super special occasion or holiday that I’m  aware of, its just another noise day in Peru.


Late night fireworks



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,