The Peaks of Lima

Written by Katrina Brazzel, 2015 Peru: Mind & Body.

I can’t believe that it’s already been a week and our time in Lima is behind us. Looking back, there is so much that we have done that it would be impossible to describe it all in one post. So, instead, I’ll stick to the highlights, or ‘peaks’, as Megan would call them.

The first peak would be meeting the other participants. We have all bonded so quickly that it feels like we have known each other our whole lives, rather than just a few days. Everyone is so open, honest, and accepting. I really feel like I can be myself, which is something that does not come naturally to me. Even during tough discussions, such as our talk regarding how we personally deal with conflict, everyone both listened to and respected one another. We have joked that the Peru: Mind and Body program attracts a certain type of person, and I definitely think there is some truth to that. Everyone I have met is so laid back, friendly, generous, and open-hearted.

The second peak would be getting to know our wonderful program leaders. They are that perfect balance of knowledgeable, confident authority figure and approachable, lovable friend (the fact that they give some pretty excellent hugs also helps). They skillfully adapted to the unexpected arrival of the president and the coinciding road-blocks that stood between us and our lunch. I don’t know how they did it, but they managed to keep 14 hungry people sane while we weaved through the busy street of Lima’s historical downtown. Then, on one of our last nights in Lima, Megan took us to one of her favorite cheesecake places. On our walk to the little cafe that overlooked the ocean, we talked about our families, our goals, and interests as equals.

Meg and Gordon

My final peak would be the activities. Although I can’t list all of the amazing activities that we have done, here are some of my personal favorites…

On our first night, to learn a little bit about the culture of Peru, we took a salsa dancing class. To test out our sweet new moves we went out to a local club where everyone was able to let loose! Though the dance lessons kind of went out the window after a few hours as we resorted to some of our favorite cheesy dance moves, I think we will always remember our amazing salsa instructor whose passion for dance crossed the language barrier.

To get a little more acquainted with the city, Meg and Gordon surprised us with a photo scavenger hunt on our fourth day in Lima. We had to take pictures of ‘the most gringo-y gringo’, a ‘heroic act’, and ‘the most cats in one photo’. Personally, my favorite part of the scavenger hunt was sharing the songs/raps that each group created. With such a creative and hilarious group, each composition was golden, especially the line “Cuanto Cuasta? Let’s Fiesta!” that ended an original rap created by the winning team.

As another surprise, later that night, we went to a fountain/light show/water park. It’s hard to put into words the amount of child-like joy that can be felt by a group of 18-30 year olds as they run through a fountain obstacle course.

I can honestly say that, other that the public transit system in Lima, there haven’t really been any low points, or ‘valleys’. Each activity, whether it be going to a powerful exhibit on the Shining Path, or discussing the impact cultural norms and biases, or learning to cook Peruvian dishes, has been a blessing with this wonderful group of people. I have already learned so much about Peru, about myself, and about my fellow participants, and we have so much more time together. I can’t wait to see what other adventures await us!