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Photo by Teva Corwin (2018 Summer Photo Contest Entry), Peru 4-Week.

Perfecty Peruvian Things: A letter for homesickness

I’ve recently found myself thinking about “home home” more frequently than before. I imagine myself on the Dane County Regional Airport’s escalator and a few seconds later running  to hug my family. By that point, I won’t have seen them in four months. On the drive home and late into the night I’ll share all my stories that are better told in person than over FaceTime. I hope I’ll be stuffed from dinner and glazed lemon cake.

Daydream over, I snap back to reality and find myself in Peru – sometimes in my salmon colored bedroom, other times out and about. Looking around and reflecting on memories I’ve already made, I know I’ll miss Peru too… it has become my home. I therefore compiled a list of perfectly Peruvian things as a preemptive measure to combat any future reverse homesickness.

1. You started everyday the Peruvian way by eating “pan” and drinking “avena.” Sometimes there was fresh fruit juice, jam and butter, but those were special treats.

2. You got to Ollantaytambo for work on a combi by spending just two soles everyday. It was wild. The buses wouldn’t leave till they were filled to max capacity but they would always, always stop to pick up more people along the way. That meant that people, even the man who brought an open can of gasoline with him, stood anywhere there was a smidgen of space. Don’t forget the time someone’s luggage flew off the top of the combi.

3.  Every public bathroom was built with a space for toilet paper and soap dispenser. Au contraire to popular opinion, this does not mean you will actually find any. Instead, you had to bring your own supply or pay 0.50 soles for paper to the person manning the bathroom.

4. Rice, potatoes, bread, pasta. Enough said.

5. The moto-taxis (enclosed motorcycles with a backseat big enough for two people) didn’t stop for anything or anyone at any time, including intersections. They just gave two little beeps and hoped that any other vehicle/pedestrian would heed the warning. These were the coolest little things to ride in.

6. I loved, loved, loved going to the markets. There was a permanent one where I liked to buy peanuts, watermelon and maracuya… or whatever else looked good. On Wednesdays before work you would squeeze in a trip to the open-once-a-week market. That’s where you got the best strawberries and bouquets of beautiful fresh cut flowers.

7. Many Peruvians living in more rural areas still wore traditional dress. Women and girls wore their hair in long braids.

8. No matter where you turned, you were surrounded by glorious Andes: on your morning run, on the roof at work, driving on excursions, or walking home. You thought it was amazing to climb them.

9. The times you spent laughing and learning with your home stay sisters, other Civic Semester participants and coworkers at Sacred Valley Health.

I hope that these few slivers of a time gone by bring you back to your Peruvian home.