PASEO Program Adventure—Day 59: Lima, Peru

On Monday morning, I was picked up at 9:30am again for another tour with Viator. We started the morning visiting a local market in Villa El Salvador, a district of Lima that is considered to be one of the city’s shanty towns. The tour guide and I picked up some breakfast food, as we were invited by a local community leader to have breakfast at her home.

Once we purchased bread, meat, cheese, and palta (avocado), we made our way further into Villa El Salvador, specifically to Bello Horizonte. Our host had a warm, delicious quinoa drink prepared for us upon our arrival, and we spent the morning discussing local “scary” stories or childhood fables, as well as difficulties that this individual faces when advocating for members of her community and ways to improve her community as a whole.

Viator provides Villa El Salvador with funding that helps support community projects, in addition to completing community service within the town, as well as other towns without sufficient resources. We walked around the district and continued talking about some of the dire needs that the community faces. In some of the pictures below, you will notice yellow stairs that lead to most of the houses within the town. Years ago, locals had to walk up sharp rocks (that often ended up cutting through their shoes) in order to get to their houses, as their were no stairs or set paths.

Many women fell on their way up the rocks, and sadly enough, many of these women were pregnant and ended up losing their babies. When a local political candidate stopped by the town a few years ago, he asked what the locals needed most. They responded by saying a better way to get to their homes. Once elected, the official made sure that stairs (known as the famous “yellow stairs”) were provided throughout the town. While the situation has improved significantly from what it once was, there are still areas in the town without stairs, leaving many locals continuing to walk up dangerous, sharp rocks. The town continues to have needs that are not being met, especially ever since the devastating huayco ( mflood) hit Peru in March, which has left many other cities in need of government resources as well.

After the tour concluded, I stopped by Parque Kennedy in Miraflores, a beautiful park named in honor of President John F. Kennedy. From there, I walked over to El Mercado Indios, a local artisan market. Keeping in mind my flight tonight was scheduled to leave at midnight, I had plenty of time to make my way through the city. Following El Mercado Indios, I took a tour of Huaca Pucllana—impressive ancient ruins from the Wari culture, which was built around 500 A.D.

After the tour, I returned to Barrancos to take in the artistic sites, and then returned to my hotel, where I enjoyed dinner before finally making my way over to the airport for my (delayed) flight. Touring the different districts of Lima these past few days was truly enjoyable, especially since each district offers something unique and exciting. However, regardless of where you go, the locals continue to remain humble, kind, warm, and extremely welcoming, which is always incredible to experience. 

As I get ready to make my way to the airport now (even though by the time I publish this, it will likely be a few days from now), my experience in Peru is one that I will definitely cherish for years to come. But over the next few days, I’ll be sure to write about my “closing remarks” and highlights of the trip. So for now, it’s not goodbye. It’s more of I need to make my flight, so I’ll pick back up with where I left off tomorrow.

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PASEO Program Adventure—Day 58: Lima, Peru

On Sunday morning, I booked another tour through Viator, which focused on learning more about Peruvian cuisine. We stopped at a different local market, and learned more about the vibrant, delicious fruits and vegetables native to the different parts of Peru—la costa (the coast), la selva (the rainforest), y la sierra (the highlands). One specific fun fact (that I actually remember) is that Peru is known to have a wide variety of potatoes—more than 3,800 to be exact, and more than 55 types of corn. Incredible, right?

Once we learned a little more about foods native to Peru, a local chef met up with us in the market. We had the opportunity to choose a menu that we would be cooking for lunch, and decided on ceviche as our entrada and lomo saltado for our main meal. Ceviche is made of small size pieces of fish marinated raw in fresh aromatic lime juice, tender onions, and boiled sweet potatoes, mixed with or without Andean hot chilis. Lomo saltado on the other hand is beef tenderloin slices, sauteed with onions, tomatoes, aji (hot peppers), and more spices. It is served with French fries and rice. Once we had all of the ingredients chosen, we drove over to a local outdoor kitchen, where we began our cooking course.

We started with cutting up vegetables and preparing the fish for our ceviche. We took a quick break to enjoy chicha morada, a refreshing drink (made from purple corn), as well as cancha (toasted corn nuts) and chifles (fried platanos) with ají. We then sampled local fruits, native to Peru including lucuma, granadilla, tuna (two types—green and purple), aguaymanto, and pepino dulce.

Once we finished snacking, we got back to work and completed our ceviche. While it may take hours or an overnight process to cook fish in lemon or lime juice anywhere else, the lime juice in Peru is so strong and acidic that it only takes three minutes mixing the juice with the fish in order for the outside of the fish to cook. Since ceviche can often be spicy, sweet potatoes are usually added in order for there to be a sweet taste included in the dish as well.

Once we enjoyed our ceviche, we got back to work once again and completed our lomo saltado. Learning more about such reputable Peruvian cuisine was a great experience, and being able to taste the results was just as enjoyable.

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PASEO Program Adventure—Day 57: Lima, Peru

This morning (Saturday), I booked a tour through Viator called Lima Colors and Flavors. The tour guide picked me up from my hotel at 9:30am, and once we picked up the other tourists, we drove to the district of Chorrillos, which is a local town that prides themselves on fishing. Here, the fishermen can be found fishing at 4:00am, 11:00am, and between 2:00-3:00pm. Their wives can often be found tending their stands in the fish market. Based on the times that the fishermen are out fishing, it is recommended to eat ceviche in the early afternoon and not for dinner, since the fish is freshest earlier on in the daytime.

Once we finished walking around the fish market and the port, we continued our tour in the Chorrillos neighborhood, and walked around the local markets. We sampled a wide variety of fruits native to Peru including lucuma, granadilla, tuna, aguaymanto, chirimoya, pepino dulce, pitahaya, tumbó, and platano de isla. The colors of the fruits were vibrant, and the fresh taste of each one was absolutely delicious.

Following our walk around the local markets, we stopped for lunch in a cevichería, where we ordered chicha morada to drink (made from purple corn, cinnamon, cloves, a little sugar, and pineapple), and triples which included arroz chaufa, chicharron de pescado, y ceviche. The food was great, and it was just what we needed to continue our walking tour.

After lunch, we drove to the district of Barranco, and saw the Bajada de los Baños  (a pathway to the ocean), as well as the romantic Bridge of Sighs, which is known to be a romantic site. It is also said that if you walk across the bridge while holding your breath, you are entitled to a wish. As we walked around the district, we came across beautiful art painted by talented local painters. In 2015, Barranco organized a competition named “Las Paredes Hablan” (The Walls Speak). About one hundred people entered the competition, and the ten finalists were each given public wall space to paint their artwork. Some of the incredible art work can be seen pictured below.

As nighttime approached, I stopped by Larcomar, an impressive outdoor shopping center located by the ocean in The district of Miraflores. There is a free art museum that features paintings and photography from local Peruvian artists, so I made sure to check that out, before enjoying dinner (ají de gallina) and walking around the center.

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PASEO Program Adventure—Day 56: Trujillo Alto, Huanchaco, y Lima, Peru

On Friday morning, we hosted another workshop with a different group of Líderes Escolares. Similar to what I mentioned in yesterday’s post, today’s workshop focused on mental health, including psychoeducation regarding the difference between sadness and depression, the difference between stress and anxiety, how to spot signs of suicidality, and resources that the students can use in the case that a peer is experiencing any of the aforementioned topics.

The students who participated in today’s workshop were younger than most of the other students we worked with thus far, but their interest and participation in such serious topics was great to see. Following the workshop, one of the students stood up and thanked us for the work we have been doing in Peru, and for the information and support we have provided the Líderes Escolares with. You can never know if you are making a difference in the surrounding community, and even though we still don’t know whether or not we have been and are making a difference, it was truly rewarding to hear such young students thanking us for working with them. After working with such inspiring, young leaders, one can’t help but feel a great sense of hope for the future.

After our workshop, some of the social workers we have been working with took us out for a delicious lunch, consisting of ceviche mixto and chicharron de pescado. As soon as we finished lunch, I had to get back to Huanchaco for my last Spanish grammar class.

Once our class ended, another student and I ran over to facilitate our last group with adolescent males that I spoke about throughout the past few weeks. Today’s group focused on support systems and evaluating the different types of support we each have in our lives (including practical support, social support, emotional support, and advice-based support). This activity helps you realize the types of support you may or may not have, which is useful in thinking about who one’s main confidants may be. We then focused on TIPP, which I wrote about on Monday.

During times of crises, TIPP is a useful tool that one can utilize to take a step back from the crisis to de-escalate the situation. TIPP can be used when one is about to engage in dangerous behaviors during a crisis, when an individual needs to make an important decision, but is too overwhelmed to think/make a decision, the individual is not processing information effectively, the individual is emotionally overwhelmed, and/or the individual isn’t able to use his/her abilities. TIPP stands for Temperature, Intense Exercise, Paced Breathing, and Paired Muscle Relaxation—all of which are techniques one can utilize during a time of crisis. As we finished the session, we celebrated our time together and the group members’ participation throughout the past few weeks with a chocolate cake.

Following the group, we ran over to the beach to watch the sunset one last time, before having to leave Huanchaco later that evening. After enjoying the sunset, some of the other students and I went for dinner, and returned back to our house to pack, before leaving for the airport. Since I won’t be returning to the States until Tuesday, I took a cab to San Isidro (where I will be staying for the next few days) once I arrived in Lima at around midnight. 

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PASEO Program Adventure—Days 29 and 30: Lima y Huanchaco, Peru

On Saturday morning, I flew to Lima for the day to see my dad who came to visit. I landed at 9:30 in the morning, and we left on a city bus tour an hour later. Our first stop on the bus tour was the Museo Oro,  del Perú y Armas Del Mundo. 

In 1960’s, Miguel Mujica Gallo took his private collection of historic artifacts and created a foundation that manages the Museo Oro, del Perú y Armas Del Mundo. The artifacts on display were truly incredible, and it’s definitely a site worth visiting. The rest of the bus tour was spent driving by different historic landmarks and important buildings throughout the city. After a hard day’s work of sightseeing, it was only appropriate to treat ourselves to some ceviche for lunch. 

I returned to Huanchaco on Sunday morning and spent the day walking around the city by the beach with some of the other students on the trip, before officially starting the second half of our program. 

PASEO Program Adventure- Day 2: Leaving Lima for Huanchaco

Seeing as my flight from Fort Lauderdale was delayed (I feel like you can no longer have expectations when using any type of transportation these days), I arrived in Lima, Peru shortly after midnight. By the way, if anyone is actually out there reading this, this post is a day behind- so as to live in the moment. (I figured writing that would be a good, understandable excuse. And if not, stop by tomorrow to see what I’m doing today.)

I was able to spend the morning with family friends from the city, as we shared breakfast together in Moraflores, overlooking a beautiful city and ocean view (top left photo). Since it is wintertime in Peru, the sun doesn’t shine as often in Lima, which explains the cold, overcast weather. 

My flight to Trujillo was scheduled for the early afternoon, so shortly after breakfast, I had to head over to the airport to make it to my final destination. The owner of the house we are staying in picked me and the other students up from the airport, and drove us to Huanchaco, which was a 15 minute drive, at most. 

We took a quick tour of the city, which is known to be a fisherman city with great seafood. (I’ll keep you posted about that). While the size of the city is small, it is seemingly filled with life, as you can hear Celia Cruz, Marc Anthony, and many other classics playing from inside the restaurants by the water. At a time like this, I’d say it’s fitting to hear the words, “La vida es un carnaval.”

The other students (from across the country) and I had dinner at a restaurant called “My Friend,” which offers a variety of Peruvian dishes, as well as hamburgers and pizza for visiting Gringos. I ordered pollo a la plancha con arroz y papas (grilled chicken with rice and French fries) for only 16 soles (around five dollars). The cost for food in the area is pretty inexpensive, so here’s hoping I eat well before any Amazon/Whole Food buyouts and mergers make their way over here. 

Tomorrow starts our first class with a local psychologist in Trujillo- Psicología en Peru. Until then, hasta pronto!

PASEO Program Adventure- Day 1: Flying to Lima, Peru

For anyone who stuck around throughout my hiatus, you probably realize that it’s been a while since I last posted on here, aside from following through with my Simple Quote Sunday challenge. A lot can happen in such a short span of time, but I won’t bore you with minute details. I’ll save those for a rainy day. 

Having recently graduated from a three-year master’s program in clinical mental health counseling and vocational rehabilitation counseling, I’ve found myself stuck between choosing what the next step will entail- pursuing a doctorate degree or joining the workforce. Before making a final decision, I was fortunate enough to come across an exciting opportunity that truly sparked my interest (and helped me postpone my decision making for the time being). 

About a year ago, I was informed about PASEO (Psychology and Spanish Elective Opportunity)- a Spanish for Mental Health Immersion program that focuses on global mental health. This immersion-based language training program is designed to build Spanish skills for use in mental health settings. 

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend the program last summer due to classes and internships, but things seem to have a way of working themselves out. Now that I’ve graduated, the timing couldn’t be better. Besides, I couldn’t think of a greater opportunity, given the fact that there is such a large Spanish speaking population in Miami, and an immense need for mental health services in so many underserved Spanish-speaking countries. 

So, for the next month, I will be living in Huanchaco, Peru, and working in Trujillo, Peru. I’ll be sure to provide information about both cities throughout the upcoming weeks. During this trip, I’ll be taking intensive Spanish classes- mainly focusing on use for the mental health setting. I will also be practicing under a licensed clinician at a site of my choosing. 

I decided to work for the court’s Juvenile Restorative Justice Program (Justicia Juvenil Restaurativa). Again, I’ll be sure to include more information about this program as my time in the program progresses. 

I’d like to think that we should always be open to new adventures, and I’m glad to say that the time has come for me to embark on my newest adventure. I look forward to sharing this exciting journey with you, each step of the way. Cheers to new adventures for all of us. And for now, it’s time to get to Lima!