Cusco, Peru: The Culture & The View (Nala in Peru)

After a week of almost everyone being in and out of the hospital, the group was healthy and back together again! The last two weeks of our trip were spent with each of us living in different host families. Honestly, I think living with my host family was one of my favorite parts during the trip. In my host family’s house lived eight family members, but luckily I was able to have my own room and bathroom. It was a very nice house, with a huge yard. I hit the jackpot with this host family because they had eight guinea pigs, and six little newborn puppies! During all my free time I would take the puppies outside and just play with them for hours. My host family was nice enough to even let me have my friends from the group over to come play with the puppies.

During my first weekend at my host family’s house, it was my host mom’s, Lupe, birthday. So, that Saturday there was a huge party for her at the house and tons of family members and friends came over. I really enjoyed the birthday party because it was a great time for me to practice my Spanish. Everyone seemed quite interested in me and wanted to know all about the United States, asking a million questions. Most of all, everyone was very patience with my Spanish speaking and helped me if I didn’t know a certain word.

With Lupe’s birthday just passing, another big event that the whole city celebrates was that week called Corpus Christi. Corpus Christi is a festival that celebrates fifteen saints that arrive from different places to the Cathedral of Cusco. A couple friends and I decided to go Plaza de Armas, where the heart of Corpus Christi was. There were thousands of people everywhere, and we could barely move around. In the Plaza, a Catholic mass service was going on, while people paraded the Eucharist as well as the huge statues of the saints around the Plaza.

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With Corpus Christi, there is also a special dish that is eaten called chiriuchu. This dish includes chicken, jerky, sausage, cheese, cancha (a type of corn kernel), algae, fish eggs, and guinea pig! When I returned to my host family’s house later that afternoon I think understood why they had so many guinea pigs. Yes, they had been eaten for the chiriuchu. I told myself that I would make an effort to try all the foods served in the chiriuchu (yes even the guinea pig). It was an interesting mix, and while it was not one of my favorite dishes I had had while in Peru, there were parts that I did enjoy.

The last weekend in Peru, the group and I of course had the make the journey to go to Machu Picchu. It was a four-hour train ride to get to the base of Machu Picchu, and the next morning we all woke up at 4 in the morning to see the sun rise on Machu Picchu. It was an incredible thing to witness, and even a few tears were shed. The Machu Picchu ruins are in between two mountains called Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu. We were fortune enough to be able to climb the Machu Picchu Mountain, which was the hardest yet most rewarding hike to do. It took us two hours to hike up and a hour to hike down! But, the view from the top was like nothing I had ever seen before. There are no words to describe how it felt feeling like I was on top of the word, and even pictures do not give it justice.

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With our last few days rapping up and all the sad goodbyes, I was not ready to leave this place that I was beyond fortune enough to be able to be a guest in for the past month. I had improved my Spanish tremendously, ate great food, learned about an amazing culture, and most of all met incredible people that I would never forget. I was sad to be leaving, but knew I had an unbelievable experience that no one would ever be able to take away from me. And for that, I was happy.

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