Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Happy Birthday to me...

So today is my birthday. It's a bitter sweet occasion, just because of the fact that I am in Peru with my family that I have never spent my birthday with. But at the same time I am away from my family back home. I miss my mom. Alot. My whole family actually. I'm a little sad but I have to suck it up and enjoy my day of birth.

I ended up staying at Tio Ismael's house lastnight. He and Roxanna had planned on taking me out to lunch for my birthday. I had really been wanting to eat Cuy (guinea pig) again since I had tasted it a few weeks ago. I got woken up super early because I had a birthday phone call. I was a little annoyed at first because it was 7 AM! But I ended up just going back to bed and slept until 9. We had a light breakfast. Some orange juice and fruit salad. We are always on a diet but usually by the end of the day we end up eating anyways. Around noonish we went off to find a restaurant that served cuy. We found one pretty close by. There were some men singing and playing guitar and banging on a cajon (I don't know how you would say that in spanish, the actual interpretation is "drawer" it is this wooden box thing that they just bang on with their hands like a drum or something. I guess it does kinda look liek a drawer so maybe that's why they call it that) The music was great and we ordered alot of food. When they brought out my cuy it looked kinda scary and wierd. But once I tasted it I just couldn't put it down. It was soooooo delicious!! The best meat I have ever tasted. Better than chicken, better than rabbit, better than duck! Seriously better than anything I think. And it is so low in fat as well. Too bad they only sell them at pet stores in the states as pets. Plus it's probably illegal to eat them there anyways. Oh well. I sure did enjoy myself though.

Cuy - My birthday lunch!

After lunch we went to Plaza San Miguel to just walk around and window shop. I did find some pretty awesome boots I really liked though, but too bad I am broke! We bought a cake and then headed to Tia Nelly's house. My cousin Dante had planned a little lonchesito for me and people were gonna come over and have cake and just hang out. When everyone finally got there we ate some snacks and had some wine and they all sang Happy Birthday, like 5 different versions of it, and we ate some cake. It was so good to spend it with some cousins, and aunts and uncles.

After that I headed to Surco, to my cousin Stefani's house. Tio Ismael drive me there with Roxanna, Claudia and Monica. They had planned a little thing there for me too. I was kinda stressed out about having so much crammed into one day. But I managed to get everything I had to do done. We got there around 10:30 and they had made some papa la huancaina. They toasted to me and we all just sat around and chatted and laughed and had a good time. After Tio Ismael and all them left, me, Carlos, Tio Benjamin, and Tia Gloria ended up staying up until 4 am just hanging out.

All in all my birthday was great. I've never had so many people want to spend time with me so it felt really nice. Especially being so far away from everything I know.

Lucho, Ruben, Dante, Monica, Claudia, me and Israel

with Claudia and Monica

Ruben and Lucho

Monica, Claudia, me and Tio Ismael

with Tio Ruben

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Tia Grimalda!!!

Today Tia Grimalda turned 87 years old! Alot of us went over to her house for a little birthday get together. I woke up early this morning and went to church with Tio Benjamin. We picked up Tio Daniel on the way there. Luckily we rode a taxi but we still got there 45 minutes late. As we got out of the taxi Tio Ismael and Roxanna were walking down the street towards the church. We ended up stopping at some little random corner store and buying candy, gum and cookies. I get kinda bored at this church so I need to have a little snack. We all do..By the time we got to church there wasn't much time left of the sermon. After it was over there was this luncheon thing that we had all planned to eat at before heading down to Tia Grimalda's house. There was sooo many of us from the family there. As I sat at my table and just looked around at all my aunts and uncles and cousins, I couldn't help but smile and feel so happy and blessed to be surrounded by such beautiful people. I love my family so much. And I just wish I would've had the chance to grow up around them and had more time to spend with them through my life. But regardless I feel like it's such a wonderful time in my life right now that I can spend with them. Anyways, we had chicken with rice and it wasn't that great but it was food. It was pretty funny though because all my aunts and uncles were complaining about how bad the food was. They did serve us some good tea though! So Tia Nelly came too. We were all happy to see her. She doesn't get out much since her surgery anymore. Well when she got out of the taxi when she got to the church she was crossing the street and she fell! She said that Tio Ruben panicked and grabbed her arm to lift her up and she screamed because it was her bad arm, the side where she had her mastectomy. So he got scared and let her go and she fell again! Poor thing..But she seemed fine, she complained like always but she is still so cute!

So when we got done with lunch we all headed out. I rode with Tio Ismael, Roxanna and my three old aunts. And it sure was an interesting ride. I think I got a little deaf on the way there. They are so loud and all they do is bicker. It was kinda like being in a car with the Golden Girls. We had to stop at the supermarket because we had to pick up a cake. I had to get out of the car for some peace and quiet, even if it was going into a roudy, crowded grocery store. Me, my tio and Roxanna went in there and bought some gummy candy, an empanada, and I bought some yogurt. And we kinda just wandered around. I think we all have ADD or something. We just got so distracted. Then we lost the reciept to pick up the cake so that took us another 10 minutes. In the end it was in Tio Ismael's back pocket, which he had checked 3 times already. It was pretty funny.

We finally got to her house and everyone else had already gotten there and were waiting for us at the door. Tia Grimalda was so cute and little like always. We all had some good bread and coffee and the cake was fantastic!! It was Guanabana cake which is one of my favorite fruits..I met alot of cousins and 2nd cousins and even third cousins I had never met before! We had a great time singing and just hanging out. I love being here!

these babies had the hugest little cheeks!

some 2nd cousins I had never met before. I forgot their names

Tia Deborah, and Tia Grimalda

Tio Ruben, Tia Grimalda, and Tio Benjamin

aunts and uncles all together

Tio Daniel, Tio Ismael, and me

my crazy uncles

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What AM I doing here??

So I am sitting here on my bed just thinking about everything. I can't believe I am really here sometimes, in Peru. So far away from everything that I own, everything that I know, everything that equals comfort to me. I have no car. I have no way to get around alone because I don't know my way around and everyone is too scared to let me go off by myself because it's not that safe. I'm so used to being so independent, going where I want when I want and now I can't even do that. It's like I have been stripped of everything that I always knew. And now I am just vulnerable to everything surrounding me. It's really scary to me in a way, but in many other ways I embrace it. Being here is making me really look at my life and appreciate everything that I have been blessed with. When I left to come here I really felt like I was in complete chaos in my life, emotionally and mentally. I really had no direction. I always have all these crazy dreams, and aspirations that I always plan on working towards but for some reason always get sidetracked. I don't know why the thought of settling down in one place freaks me out so much. It's sounds dumnb to even say that being that I have been stuck in Nashville for 17 years and haven't done anything about it. That's why I refuse to buy a house because then that will mean that I have decided to stay in one place. Maybe one day I will figure out what it is that I truly want in this life. I know that all I really want to do is something to change this world, to make it better, as cheesy as that might sound, but I really see myself helping others for the rest of my life. What good is it to be in this world just to satisfy your own selfishness? To me that is just too shallow to even consider.

As the days go by here, sometimes I feel like I'm not doing anything, like I am just wasting my time. I get to sleep in, I don't have any commitments to take care of. I go from one place to another. But when I see someone smile because of something I have done for them, or by helping someone financially, to me it is all worth it. I know I am putting school on hold once again, just to be here, but I am able to spend time with my amazing family that I never had the luxury to be surrounded by growing up. It saddens me at times when I see my family here not always communicating and visiting each other. They have always had it easy to see eachother and to them it's really not that big of a deal all the time. But to me all I ever want to do is go see everyone! They don't all know what it's like to grow up moving around all the time just having parents and 2 brothers to celebrate birthdays and holidays together. Which it's not like that wasn't good enough but still. I never really knew my family here. Even now that I am here I am learning so much about everyone. I'm so thankful that God gave me this oppurtunity to be with my family. I hope this isn't the last trip I will take here. But I definately feel like I am here for a reason this time.

Iv'e been staying with Tia Nelly this week and we have been having such a good time together. She has been telling me all of these stories about my mom and my other aunts and uncles, she's also told me alot about my grandmother. She died from cancer when my mom was 8, so I never knew her but love to hear stories. So I have been helping her out alot around the house and making breakfast for us every morning. I make papaya smoothies every morning and have been making some oatmeal with maca these last 2 days. She is teaching me how to cook some Peruvian stuff like Torrejitas, which is these pancake type things but you put vegetables in it and fry them, they are sooo good!! She taught me how to make that special concoction she has to drink for her immune system. That was kinda disturbing to make the first time. But now I am used to it! She also taught me how to make this spicy yellow pepper sauce that is absolutely amazing!!! It's one of my favorite things to eat here, I love to put it on everything. I am so glad I know how to make now! Even though you can't find that yellow pepper in the states. Augh! I'm going to have to bring some over when I get back to grow my own.

But Tia Nelly is doing so well! It's so great to see how well she has recovered since her surgery. She will soon start chemotherapy. I am going to come and help her when she starts because it's supposed to be really hard on the person the first time. She has so much faith in God with everything and she is always so happy with life. She is such an inspiration! It makes me want to never complain about anything physical again! Two days ago she woke up and her right arm worked perfectly. She was swinging her arms everywhere and saying how God made her arm all better. She had been praying all night for that she said. We have been taking walks to the supermarket every couple of days and we walked to church on Sunday too. I really can't believe she is doing so well. And now that she is drinking all those special drinks made from Cuy and Pichon(baby pigeon) her energy seems to be up. I know that chemo won't be so hard on her because she has such a positive attitude about this whole illness. More people should be like her...

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Guinea Pig....

So I started feeling a little sick Saturday morning. My throat was hurting some but I didnt think anything of it. But by saturday evening I was already feeling pretty sick. I went upstairs and laid down around 8. Stefani came upstairs and we ended up talking and talking then she turned on some music and we ended up dancing and dancing. Ha! She is so fun..

But Sunday I ended up feeling like complete crap! I had planned on staying at Tia Nellys house for the week. So Tio Ismael came and picked me up in Surco and was going to take me the next morning since he had a doctors appointment closer where she lived. But when I talked to my mom that night she said I shouldnt go since I was sick and possible contageous. Since Tia Nelly just had surgery her immune system is weak and she is more prone to getting sick quickly. So I ended up just staying with Tio Ismael. It was so much fun. My he is hilarious and his family there is so nice and all we do is laugh, like 95% of the time! His wife Rosanna has 4 kids, Giovanna is the oldest but she is married and has her own place, then there is Julio, Jorge, and Cinthya, they all live there too. Wednesday was Julios birthday. His mom made a cake and she also prepared Al Gorrobina, this yummy milk drink, we all ate and listened to spanish music and danced in the living room. It was so fun. I didnt really feel that sick anymore by then. But I ended up just staying until Friday. Friday morning me, Tio Ismael and Rosanna went to Tia Nellys house. Rosanna was going to prepare this special concoction that people up in the mountains drink to help fight disease and illness, and make your immune system alot stronger. And since my Tia Nelly and Tio Ismael are both fighting cancer they decided they need to start drinking that stuff. One of the drinks is made with Cuy(guinea Pig) boiled in water with garlic, onions, celery, pepper and some other stuff. After it boils you put it all in a blender, bones and all, strain it and then drink it. I had never tried Cuy before but have always been curious to try it. They fried some of the Cuy that was leftcuy left and gave it to me and Tio Ismael. I ate some and it was sooo good!! Better than chicken. It was kinda sweet tasting. I ate half of it. I know it sounds gross but its normal here to eat guinea pig. I am definately going to try it again. Tio Ismael is going to take me to eat a whole one barbecued this Friday! I cant wait!!!!

dancing in the living room

Tio Ismael dancing with little Ashley

dancing with Julio

infront of Tio Ismaels house

uncooked Cuy(i know it looks pretty gross!!)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Stolen goods....

So this week I was planning on going back to the school to help out with the kids. I decided to take Monday off to just relax and not do anything. I was pretty tired from the whole weekend. So I called and left a message Monday afternoon that I could go on Tuesday. I never got a call back so I just took the rest of the week off for myself. I did buy myself a cell phone on Monday though. Finally! Now I can keep in touch with all my family here since I am just all over the place lately..

When Lucho gave me a ride back to Tio Benjamins house on Sunday he told me that on Wednesday he would come pick me up and he would take me to the Malvinas, its kinds like where you go buy stuff off the blackmarket. I was so excited because I had heard about that place and really wanted to go check it out. Anyways, so he came and picked me up Wednesday morning. We went and picked up his friend Luz also and it was alreadt late so we went to go get some lunch. We went to this little rinky dink restaurant and got Leche de Tigre. Which is kinda like ceviche except it has alot more lime juice and its served in a cup. It was really good! I put alot of rocoto, a really really hot, red pepper from here, sauce in it to make it even better. After we got done there we headed to Las Malvinas. This place was crazy!! There was soooo mcuh stuff there. all they really sell is electronics, so there were tons of cell phones, radios, stereos, computers, Ipods it was amazing! And everything was so cheap too!! I saw an Ipod I want to get that was maybe 60 bucks and it had like 60G! It was kinda scary being in there too because most everything is stolen there so we were surrounded by tons of thieves. But oh well. I wasnt too worried. Luchos friend works there and he told us where to go and who to buy from. I was so mad that I had already bought a cell phone the day before! I saw much cuter ones that I wanted and they were even cheaper! Oh well.

After we left there we went to this little Peruvian Festival. We were trying to find a place to go eat some food, but at the festival there werent many people eating and it looked kinda sketchy so we decided we would eat somewhere else. We leftthat festival and went to another one closer to downtown. I ended up buying a couple more hats and some other stuff. We called Monica, Luchos sister, to come meet us and go eat pollo a la brasa(rotisserie chicken) with us. We found her and went out to eat at Rokys. It was soooo delicious!! I think its one of my favorite things to eat right now!!

After dinner we went to Tia Chocos house, where they live and hung out for a little while. I was able to see my cousin Claudia again and everyone else that lives there. I was exhausted but we ended up staying there for about an hour. The other day a pregnant dog snuck into their house and gave birth under Luchos bed! Ha So he had to clean it all up and now they have 4 little puppies. I went up to the roof and saw them. They were so cute..I wish I could keep one..

I went and stayed with Tio Ismael for a few days. We had planned on going to go visit Tia Margarita. My mom sent me some money to buy her a blender. She didnt have one and had to borrow one from a neighbor. Poor thing..She was so happy when we came to see her and even happier about her new blender. We all stayed and hung out for a while with her. Then we went to visit Tia Nelly, everytime we go see her she always feeds us!! We stayed there for a couple of hours watched our novela and then went home. I went back with Tio Benjamin, I had already planned on going out with Stefani that night for her friends birthday. We ended up going to this place called Voce. It was pretty cool, there was a live band in the beggining and then some good latin music later on in the night. We had so much fun. I was sooo tired by the time we left though!!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Real Felipe...

Today I went to the castle of Real Felipe with Janisse, Dante, Ronald, tia Nelly, Daniel, Ismael, and Mimi. Real Felipe is located in El Callao and its just this huge castle where many many years ago the king and queeen lived and all these wars and stuff went on. The castle tour was alot of fun. But I hate following tour guides. They are all so boring and I get so confused and just cant even pay attention. I just kinda walked around and did my own thing and took pictures.

After the tour we walked to La Punta de Callao. We took lots pictures and walked and walked. I bought some gummy candy from a little person selling candy on the side of the street. Candy is so cheap here and I love candy so much, its hard to resist any good candy sale! After we walked all the way to the end we went to eat some dinner. We hadnt even had any lunch yet so we were all starving! They all ordered anticuchos (cow heart on a stick) but I ordered mollejitas(gizzards) it was so good.

entrance to this tiny black hole of a prison

the statue of the unknown soldier

Real felipe

me, Janisse, and Mimi

view of the ocean

when we came down from the tower there was some random Pirate telling a story

ha! Ive always wantedto take a picture in one of these!

Las Ruinas de Pachacamac.....

So my cousin Janisse is visiting from Chile. She recently got married and her and her husband Ronald came to Peru for their honeymoon. I havent seen her since 1989! It was good to meet up with her again! They are going to travel all over. They stoped by in Lima for the weekend to see her grandma(my tia Nelly) and sightsee here. My cousin Dante, her uncle, took the weekend off to show them around. They invited me to go with them. They came and picked me up Saturday morning and we drove to this little town called Lurin, to eat chicharron(pork) for breakfast. They are supposed to have the best tasting kind there. We approached the little town and we were driving down the street of chicharrones, where every little restaurant is known for selling chicharron. All of a sudden 2 crazy women jump infront of the car and told us to stop. At first I thought they were trying to rob us. Then the lady was yelling at us to come and eat at their restaurant, And the other lady was sticking huge forks into the car through the passenger window with pieces of chicharron for us to try! It was crazy! They wouldnt let us get through for like 5 minutes. We finally were able to get away and then other people came and did the same thing. I just kept eating what they were shoving in our faces, it was so good! So we finally got to the one we had planned on going to. We ordered a big order of chicharron and bread. We had a side of sarza, which consists of onion and lime juice. It goes good with ANYTHING!!! And we drank some black coffee. What a delicious, unhealthy breakfast. But so satisfying!
So after breakfast we drove to the ruins of Pachacamac. These ruins have been there for centuries. The day was pretty overcast but luckily it didnt rain or anything. We walked and walked soooo much! I dont know how many miles it was but I thoroughly enjoyed the hike. It has been so long since I hiked or did anything outdoors like that. It felt good to do a little exersizing. While we were there we met some random people. They were American and it was wierd to me because I didnt know if I should just keep talking to them in spanish or what. They obviously thought I was from here. So I just starting talking to them in english to make it easier on them. They were from Arizona. It was nice to talk in English again! It had been so long! Whats even wierder is that sometimes I randomly start thinking in spanish...hmm.

A little Alpaca we ran into

he was so cute

part of the ruins

Lucho, me, Dante

Lucho, me, Janisse, and Ronald

we had to walk all the way to the top to get to the Temple of the Sun

walking towards El Templo Del Sol (temple of the sun)

view of Lurin

in the temple

looking down the stairs

view of the ocean

another wall

all of us

the random people we met and their interpreter

view of part of Lurin

sign in english!

Tauri Chumbi Palace

my shoes got so dirty


this town was built on a valley

I snuck up to take a picure. We arent supposed to go off the trail

dirt road hiking

I didnt care what the sign says

After we left the ruins we went to eat some ceviche!!! It was so delicious! We also ordered some fried sea animals which consisted of calamari, fish, clam, octopus, shrimp and other stuff.

We left there and went Tia Mimis house for dessert. She was making picarones, these sweet, round, doughey things that they make here that you dip in syrup. It was so good. My uncles and aunts were there to and we watched the futbol(soccer)game and just hung out.

tia Mimi making Picarones!!!yum!

Later that night we me, Dante, Jannisse, and Ronald went to this place called "Sachun", a restaurant where they have typical dances and music folklore. It was so amazing to see those people dancing all those crazy dances, and the music was so good too. We watched, danced and ate. I had alot of fun. I definatley want to go back.

some Pisco Sour to start off the night

let the dancing begin!

dance of the jungle

the people sitting onfront of us ruined the picture!!!

im not sure what this is

these are all brothers and sisters that have been singing together since they were kids.

this guy was kinda wierd