Posts tagged “Peru

A Trail of Thought

Posted on 10 May 2017

My thoughts go like this. I’m in a national park – a relatively remote one, at that – and one may think it’s untouched and pristine, but no, it’s not. There was a mine in this park. I scramble among the ruins, trying not to touch too much. The desert has worn out the mine by now: it’s just over a hundred years old and it looks the part. And I say desert. This used to be grassland, but ranchers’ cattle gobbled it up. It is still beautiful. So, okay, there was a mine in this not-pristine wilderness but what about before that? Before the treads of cattle and the settlers who brought them, Native Americans were here; you can see old symbols they…

Take Care

Posted on 29 November 2015

Recently, I’ve been up in the mountains. The Pacific Northwest weather has turned; it has started raining, and a chill has settled in the air. People have cranked up their heaters, are lingering inside more and more, and the dark drifts in early. Total insulation, isolation, however, is impossible, though we often do not feel it, hiding away as we often do. I’ve been raring for adventures. Almost every weekend spent at home with chores seems like a weekend lost. Ben found a hike, Heliotrope Ridge, that sounded like an especial, beautiful adventure: fording several water to come up to a glacier at Mount Baker. So we made our way, hoping across several rivers and gradually gaining altitude, until we hit our last obstacle.…

A Dreamland

Posted on 15 June 2015

I am hungry for new scenery, for vastness. Huaraz and its surroundings provide. The Cordillera Blanca towering above, around. The green and rocky path. I sink in. I look around as if it’s a dreamland. Earth is full of dreamlands. Everyone can find a dreamland, different, widely different, from whence they come. My eyes just drink.

The Flood

Posted on 31 May 2015

Under a tree I sat, brow inevitably furrowed. My eyes felt red. I looked around at the greenery. It was not too cold, not too hot. Large flowers, and an avocado tree, were not far. I was in Kenya. But I was miserable, I seethed, I felt trapped in this place, in my skin. I picked at a piece of grass then threw it as far as I could. Sexual harassment had, long ago, gotten very old for me. I would say I was used to it—the waiting to cross the street while men leaned out of a truck and hollered, the walking home from class briskly and hearing whistles despite my headphones, the shielding my face as men laughed, sticking cell phones in…

Walking Deep

Posted on 22 March 2015

Hour after hour dripped by under the sun, and perhaps Antonia and I were wondering why we didn’t just take a tour after all. Striking it out by ourselves at an early hour from Arequipa to Colca Canyon, we took a bus to Chivay, planning on connecting to Cabanaconde shortly after. “Oh yes, you’ll be able to do that,” the ticket seller told us, but in Spanish. Oh nope, we weren’t able! After wandering through the small town and being pointed in direction after direction, we were resigned to the fact that the only bus to Cabanaconde was the one coming from Arequipa a few hours later, the one we should have taken. Disheartened, we wandered to the road out of town, wondering if…

Volunteering Abroad: How to Make Sure You’re Actually Helping

Posted on 14 October 2014

  Volunteering abroad can be a wonderful experience –you get to travel and do some good for the world at the same time. Win/win, right? Unfortunately, not always. I’ve learned this lesson through experience on three different continents; I have completed volunteer internships in Peru and Kenya and I just returned home from a project near Lake Baikal in Russia. All of these experiences taught me something, but some volunteer projects are more effective than others. As an international volunteer, you may be doing less good than you think – or worse, even causing harm. International development is fraught with complexity that is still debated even among experts on some points. However, there are guidelines that you can follow when choosing a volunteer project…

Where the World is Larger

Posted on 14 July 2014

My first experience with big, nay, huge, all-encompassing mountains converted me. I love them. I just wasn’t aware until I landed in Peru and first experienced them. After spending my first week in Cusco, getting to know my host family, finding my way around, and adjusting to my internship, I joined some others on my program for a hike. We took a bus to Urubamba, a town in the Sacred Valley, from which we hiked up and up, along a gravel road that wound behind the town, toward views of the Chicon glacier. Our destination was not the glacier, though, but rather an elusive waterfall. The gravel road ended and we climbed along a ridge, skirting prickly bushes and other grabby plants. Despite being in rather…

That Which Disappears First Fades Away

Posted on 22 April 2014

Peru contains 28 of the world’s 32 climate types and is home to around 90, maybe more, microclimates. Our guide spouted this fact, along with many others, as our van whipped along the mountain roads from Huaraz to Pastoruri Glacier in Huascarán National Park. This number was completely believable, having two days before taken a bus from the world’s second largest desert city, Lima, to the second highest mountain range, the Cordillera Blanca. Maybe it was the altitude making me light-headed, but after having lived in Cusco for a few months I doubt it. When we stopped at a small hot spring to contemplate the scenery of the park, my head spun with the elation that is unique to witnessing an unfamiliar, beautiful place…

The Irreversible Act of Leaving

Posted on 15 December 2013

If you venture elsewhere, almost inevitably you must leave. You may return, but your actions were irreversible, cannot be undone, for the place you left never will be exactly the same for you again. Time passes, things change, you change. And when you love an experience, a place, or just simply know that it has shaped you, departure feels like doors closing slowly. The world has many, and they won’t all stay open for you. Seinäjoki, Finland, June 2007. I clung to my friend tightly at the train station. It hurt so much to leave. Finland was my place; I had found it. We had enjoyed the long, bright days and twilight nights of Provinssirock, the revelry of Juhannus, and the tranquil comfort of…

We Live on the Same Earth

Posted on 21 September 2013

The cold had entered my bones. The heavy mist swirled in the nearby sky above us as we overlooked the village of Cancha Cancha from our vantage point at the foot of the ascent to Pachacutec Pass. Rocks rose from the ground; smoke rose from the rocks. We approached the smattering of houses and began chatting with a young boy who spoke Spanish, though it was like mine, somewhat grammatically amiss. He sold us some straw and came to help us start a much-needed fire. It was more fumes than warmth, but we huddled close. Darkness descended—utter darkness. We were in the middle of the Andes. No electricity, no roads, so no light. Low lying clouds rolled over our tents and the village below.…