The first chapter of our trip started in the city of Lima. The city life is as you would expect, but with a few cultural differences. For instance, our tour guide, Ruben, told us that Lima is considered to be one of the worst cities to drive in, in the world, next to London. Another difference that took adjusting to was that every sign and menu was in Spanish. It made it a bit more difficult to communicate, but it forced us to try something new and step out of our comfort zone. One of the most interesting activities that we participated in was a bike/food tour around the city. We spent three hours riding bikes throughout Lima, while stopping at beautiful sites, and trying a variety of foods from local family restaurants. Lima gave us a smooth transition into the Peruvian culture, but our outlook on their culture expanded once we touched down in Cusco.
Chapter two of our journey began in Cusco. Upon our arrival, we landed at approximately 11,000 feet above sea level. The drastic change in altitude definitely took it´s toll on the group. It took about a day for everyone to get back to normal and feel like themselves. However, this did not stop the group from pushing on and having a great time. While in the city of Cusco, we visited breath taking cathedrals and historic ruins. The background knowledge that we learned about the Inca way of life allowed us to jump headfirst into the raw indigenous culture of Native Peruvians. The drive to the village was at times scary, but the views were worth it. We were welcomed by the village women, with beautifully decorated flower necklaces. The feeling of being in the home of the natives was surreal. Seeing their living style, from their clothes to the structure of their houses, gave a feeling of being in a documentary, because this was not an environment we were familiar with. They showed us the way they made clothes and other materials, which was unlike anything we expected. It may be safe to say that their work ethic is admirable. Along with that, they were kind enough to lead us along a trail for 3 hours with a smile on their face throughout the whole hike. The hike allowed us to further appreciate the beautiful terrain of Peru, as well as the people who inhabit it.
So far, this trip has taught us many new things that have changed our outlook on life. By seeing these people, their culture, and the land in which they live, we are able to understand what it truly means to be citizens on global perspective. Although our trip is soon coming to an end, we are excited to see what our final days in Peru will hold. We cannot wait to bring back the knowledge we have gained here in order to positively impact those around us at Shenandoah.