I never in a million years expected the reaction that I had to Peru. I absolutely fell in love with this beautiful country. And somehow this is how Peru somehow stole a little piece of my heart . . .
I had HUGE culture shock when I first arrived in Cusco (almost to the point of completely hating the city), there were hundreds of homeless dogs urinating and pooping in the streets, sometimes your just not quite sure what your eating (and learn for your stomach’s sake to not ask), you may not know if that puddle your stepping in is water or quite possibly dog urine, I (quickly) learned the importance of carrying toilet paper around Peru, I was completely taken aback by how incredibly beautiful the Peruvian countryside is, fell in love with Peruvian coffee (i hate coffee, so this was a big deal!), bartered the price of my Machu Picchu painting down successfully by 25 soles-in broken Spanish. I ate Alpaca which tastes very similar to pork tenderloin, stayed very far away from guinea pig, learned what it was like to be a minority and took a different perspective away with that.
I’ve learned the importance of staying hydrated at a high altitude, and to just carry aspirin or advil for those headaches. I learned about the burial practices of their culture, attended a Peruvian cooking class- and brought recipes home with me! I visited a 900 year old Inca town that still uses the same irrigation system from 700 years ago, learned the difference between an alpaca and llama, and that Peru has some really woolly donkeys, that in fact are not alpacas. Ooops . . .
I drank Inca tea (mixture of eucalyptus and coca leaves), bought three big bags of Peruvian coffee from a market- surrounded by animal heads, took the most beautiful train ride in my life. And I drank more than one Pisco Sour (an alcoholic drink that contains raw egg)!!
I was charmed by 2, 3, and four year olds we visited at their school, was welcomed into a local Peruvian home for dinner, learned that even though you don’t fluently speak each other’s language you can still have fun and laugh with each other throughout an entire meal (the highlight of my trip). I took part in a ceremony conducted by a local shaman, learned that complete strangers can become such great friends. I visited Machu Picchu after getting up at 4:30am, taking two buses and a train to get there, realized (as I have with every trip I’ve taken) how incredibly lucky am for the life I have chosen to live. I saw a glimpse of what abject poverty looks like, I’ve learned that sometimes we get so caught up in the little things that we steer away from the things that really matter.
I did not want to leave this country and come back home. I was contemplating how I could study abroad in Cusco, but I also understood that even if I did, the moments would never be the same. I came home humbled and grateful. For the very first time I experienced reverse culture shock, and, honestly had a hard time adjusting. I don’t know the exact moment it happened, but Peru took a little piece of my heart. I can’t wait until I can return and explore more of this beautiful country!