The best part of Peru were the beautiful people I met. They were part of everything, and now, they make up a whole new part of my heart. This post is dedicated to them.
It is something totally different, to come back from studying abroad. In the words of a friend, "it's like a part of you is missing." She told me that when I first got back to the states; I couldn't have agreed more (the first 2 weeks were awful). It is a whole other world, a whole new part of my heart, and it is difficult to explain.
But now I have been home for over 2 weeks. I have started to feel happy again, remembering why I love being here. My love for the USA and for everyone here goes so deep, but that is for a different post.
Every day I feel Peru, some aspect of it, deeply. Every day the Peruvian part of my heart is felt in so many ways: I feel the warmth of the people, I feel joy to remember and I smile, I feel longing, I feel sadness, I feel the tears at night when I think of the children in the jungle, I laugh, I feel gratitude- a THANK YOU! to God, I feel family there, I have questions. I feel all these things because I am not where I have just been. To have lived deeply in one place and then to leave it suddenly, I feel this and it is a worthwhile challenge. Above all, it is because I experienced it. My time there – though it was for but a moment – touched me, created a new world inside of me, and will be in me always. This is part of my story. It happened, and it is part of me now. My life was so enriched by everything and everyone there in Peru.
I want to dedicate some words and pictures to my Peruvian family and friends in this post. These people opened up their hearts to strangers like us, knowing that we would eventually leave. Warm hearted and relational, they always wanted to help us and wanted us to be happy. Peru has unparalleled beauty in its make, but even more so in its people. I believe that nations have destinies, hence I believe Peru has great destiny in regards to herslef, South America, and the world. I believe in her and I pray for her.
So here is to you, Peru. Here are my words to the people that are Peru.
While in Lima, I lived with a family in a beautiful neighborhood. I had a housemate from CO named Haley. She will be one of my lifelong friends. We shared so many great experiences with our family. They showed us the culture through food and language, opened up their family to us, and they were the ones who shared the most about the Terrorism Age of the late 80's early 90's in Peru. They were so good to me and so I want to write a little bit about each one.
My mom Nancy is a beauty, I mean literally, she could be a model! She encompassed the gentleness of motherhood with her kind and nurturing ways. While we were there, her first grandchild was born and she loved being with him and holding him. I remember I was crying in the kitchen once, and she just embraced me, using the words that a mother knows to comfort me. Also, Nancy loved to give to those in need. Finally, she is such an amazing COOK! I loved her fresh strawberry juices and food from her garden on the roof. My favorite memories with her were simply sitting at the kitchen table at night, talking and laughing after supper was over and going parasailing with her - I love seeing the wild streak in people! That was fun. She is one incredible mother.
My dad Carlos Miguel is hilarious. I felt that we had a special bond, like a real daughter and father. He would always joke with me and teased me about my LOVE of picarones (a delicious Peruvian postre). Sometimes at the supper table he would go on rants about his thoughts and philosophies on life. I think he should be a professor, and Nancy told me he would have loved to be one. My favorite memories with him were simply joking around the house, I loved that.
My sister Ketty is super cool. She is in her later 20's and has an awesome boyfriend. She always had a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye, was so friendly and chatty, and was always up for a good time. My favorite memory with her was spending a night in her boyfriend's family's cabin on the beach. Kody, me, Haley, Cesar, Ketty, and Alfredo (her bf) stayed there talking and laughing. We also walked along the beautiful beach at night. It was so much fun.
My sister Karla is so beautiful. She is also in her late 20's and is very smart. She is multilingual and has a killer job doing smart things with a huge company and computer science. She is a very sweet and gentle soul. She reminds me so much of Nancy :)
The Arimborgos: This is the family I met in Iquitos, and it feels like we are family now. I stayed with Israel and Jennifer and their kids, it's like they're family now. Tammy, their sister, took me all around Iquitos and down the river just for fun. We had some great talks. The Arimborgo's are such beautiful people and they are doing so much for God, Love, children, youth, and adults out in the jungle through their lives, two schools, and church. The weekend I spent with them Iquitos is easily one of the best weekends I had during my time in Peru. Shout out to them!
Mis amigos: Peruvians are such fun loving people. They are quick to tease and laugh. They are also hard working (the ones I know). I made some good friends down there and I want to give a shout out to Hugo (such a sweetheart), Pablo (crazy and fun loving), Christian (fun!), Martin (my beloved cousin!) and so many others. Also, I wanted to dedicate some blog to some of these people who touched my heart for always:
Joel: Joel was like the dad of our PUCP - ISA group (PUCP- my university ISA- my study abroad program) He is one of the most gregarious and kind people I have ever met. He took us around town multiple times and genuinely cared for each one of us. I have three memories that stick out the most when I think of Joel.
- I was having a bad day when I ran into Joel on campus. Just his persona made me smile, but later he saw me sitting on a bench with 2 ISA friends and gave me a chocolate candy and ran off. It made my day.
- This one also involves food: One day I ran into Joel on campus and immediately he asked me where I was going and told me he would accompany me even though he had 20 things to do (like always). He told me to go to the café on campus and he would meet me there. He came and chatted with me, so genuine as always, and then left me to study for my big test. He had bought a cookie to eat but then gave it to me, telling me to save it for after the exam and text him when I was done so he could celebrate with me in spirit (which I did, it was awesome).
- Of the many memories, I will not forget chicken dancing, singing, and doing other silly things with him in all parts of Lima. He has such a great voice and is such a fun person. I loved sharing those moments with him!
Carlos (and Bart): I also met Carlos and Bart at PUCP, and I have so much love for these two goofballs. Carlos was like my brother, always teasing me. He also was a kind of ISA dad to all of us. I would miss him on the days when I didn't eat lunch with him and Bart (other amigo). Bart is a really kind hearted guy. We would always talk about faith. When I did eat lunch with them, they would usually drive me crazy, (especially Carlos and he knew it), but all the more, I love them! Here are my three favorite memories with Carlos and the gang:
- Carlos, Bart, and another friend came to watch us all run the 10K in Lima. They made us a sign and hung out with us after. I remember being dead tired, almost at the finish, and hearing "VAMOS MEGAN y LINDSEY!" only to look over and see CARLOS and BART! That is exactly something my real brother would do. Loved it.
- Going to Bart's soccer games with Carlos, David, and the girls. Laughter and teasing always ensued.
- Carlos and Bart came to see me off at the airport, Carlos being dad-like and Bart being his kind self. They came to bring me a gift and say goodbye. It was hard but their teasing made the night. Good times amigos, good times.
Cesar: Cesar was always at our house because him and Haley, my house mate, were super close. Us three had a special bond, and we experienced a lot together. Cesar is really laid back and goofy, at times a little reckless. He has a heart of gold and was always watching out for Haley and me. I have so many good memories with him but here are my top three:
- Spending the day with Cesar, Haley, and Kody traveling to 3 different beaches south of Lima. We hit the road, not exactly sure what we were doing, and had ceviche, Inka Cola, photos, laughter, and great memories at the end of it all. Cesar was so welcoming to Kody, they became good friends.
- Traveling to and from Mancora with Cesar and Haley. This was one huge adventure because again we had to wing it, but Cesar was always tranquilo/calm. He loved the adventure of not always knowing what would happen, him and I shared that (poor Haley) He always had a crazy idea or something funny to say, even after Haley and I got our ipods stolen (hahahaha its funny to me now)
- Spending my last days with him and Haley, going to the zoo then Help at night. I just LOVE these two people. They both have hearts of gold, and are very dear to me.
Willy: To put it simply, Willy is "lo maximo" – he was my adventure buddy and best Peruvian friend; I am forever grateful for everything he showed me while I was there and he holds a very special place in my heart. Also, I feel I need to write it, but I think he is going to do something really special for his country. Just a bit about Wilfred: he is very proud of his country, a visionary, smart, super competitive, super helpful, and wanted to show us the best Lima had to offer. He always answered my extensive questions about Peruvian culture and always made me laugh in the process. I understand much more because of him. Here are my top three memories with Willy:
- Shelly, Willy and I had plans to chill out on a Monday night and it ended up being a huge adventure (normal para nosotros). We went to Pascuale Hnos, which is a delicious sandwich place owned by the famous Peruvian chef, Gaston. Of course we had to be silly and dare each other to eat ahí (spicy sauce). After we began walking all over Miraflores where again, another competition started like this: If I drank from a nasty fountain, Willy had to too, and Shelly would document (kind of like a referee). We spent the night doing dares, laughing, taking pictures, and all the while having mini lessons about Peru. It was the first night that I felt like my true self, doing dumb things and experiencing Lima in a very special way.
- Jam Session Night: Cesar, Haley, Shelly, Willy, and I spent the night jamming, singing, and recording music. This was 3 nights before I left. All of our inside jokes were in full swing, all the memories in the music were being saved for all of time, and it was so special and perfect to do it with my closest friends. Willy and I recorded "Good Riddance" and it is something I will always carry with me. Music is the best way to spend time and end time with good friends.
- Help: The second to last day in Lima was a beautiful day. Willy showed me the end of Lima's coastline in Chorillos. The day was foggy and the ocean subtly raged. There is a cross high up on a hill at the end of the city's coastline, a trademark of Lima, and I wanted to see it before I left. Beyond and behind that final visible frontier of the coast is a small bay, if you will. There is a restaurant that sits on broken up cliffs in which the ocean crashes up against. We explored the area and then walked the Chorillos coastline. It was like the exclamation point to the adventure of Lima, and perfectly so with Willy because he was my adventure buddy. I had finally seen the whole coastline, and I felt like I knew Lima (meaning there was a fullness to that journey, a knowing of Lima in a more intimate sense, seeing its beauty and everything it is and could be and knowing it from the heart. This is what I mean. There is a whole side of Lima, the outskirts, squatter villages, and certain neighborhoods that I don't know at all, in fact its an entire world I have never experienced.) I returned home and got ready for that final night. All of us (everyone- ISA kids, Peruvian friends, EVERYONE) met up at a venue called Help! It was a tribute to the Beatles night so a band was playing all Beatles covers. I can't explain the feelings that flowed that night, but I got to tell everyone how much I loved them. It was like writing the whole story on my heart with each person I talked to. It was such a profound night. Willy was the last person I talked too, and it was really special as we talked about the whole experience in Peru. I will never forget that night.
In the end, I still have more to blog about, but this one is very dear to me. I am back in the States, but there are still so many things I would like to say, but these people will always live on in my heart. And I thank God for putting them in my path. I look forward to seeing them all again someday. (yay for skype!)