Justin, outbound to Peru

Bienvenidos todos! How's the weather in your neck of the woods? I can tell you that it is more than beautiful here! As I sit down and think and think about what I'm going to tell you all in the next few paragraphs, I first have to say that the first (almost) two months of my exchange feel like I have experienced so much more than what I would experience back at home in the US. Who am I kidding, this is my home now! Rotary, in-bounds, Rotexs, and directors, they are all right when they say this is going to change your life, they are right when they say this year is going to be like no other year! The first two months here have not been all sunshine, but let me tell you, the amount of light and bliss that comes out of the times of darkness, is something I cannot begin to explain in words! Positiveness and resilience are what I think about every day! I learn something more and more about myself every day, some things that I would never think I could do. But in that time what I say to myself, is take the leap, take the step and go for it!

Alright alright, I'll stop with my preacher-hood and explain some of the feelings and experiences I've had so far! When I arrived in Miami and was waiting for my flight to Lima, Peru, that is when the moment (or a few moments) of "You're going to be living in Peru for a year" hit me. It hit me hard! And that's when the whole experience started! I landed in Lima, carrying my 65 L backpack and my suitcase. The biggest three smiles were waiting for me as I search through the terminal for familiar faces. This must be them! They hugged me, and it felt good to be hugged! They greeted me in the warmest way, offered to carry my bags, asked the ins and outs of my trip and wanted to begin this journey with me! I cannot thank them enough for that! My first family's house was beautiful, far out from Lima in a district called San Borja. I was welcomed by my first host brother, Luis, my host sister, Fernanda, and my other host sister, Joseline! What amazing people they are! I am so excited to visit them in January!

TALK. That's what helps. A LOT. I found myself at a loss for words sometimes, well a good amount of the time, and felt like "Man, how am I gonna improve my Spanish?" But then I remembered just keep asking questions, keep wondering, and keep learning! So that's what I tried and try to do every day. Ask "What is this?" "What street are we on?" "What am I eating?" (Definitely ask that) you guys get the point! Not only does it take your mind off any worries you have, but you learn so much about where you are!

The food. Well put it this way. I'm having trouble seeing my shoes any more, because of the food. It is very very very good, and it is a lot! Here in Peru, I eat a lot of chicken, with a lot of rice, with sides of different potatoes that I can never seem to get the kind right! A new kind every day! Two well known staples for Peru's agriculture are Potatoes and Chicha! Chicha is a purple corn that is grown only in Peru. It is then boiled in water, and the flavor is extracted, add some sugar and extra fruit and you have yourself a refreshing drink! I've learned to say yes to all the food I'm offered..."More?" "Absolutely!"

After my few short weeks in Lima, I hopped on a plane and took a puddle jumper down to Arequipa where people love their city and love constructing building out of pure Sillar rock from the surrounding mountains. You guys remember, when I said how welcoming and loving my first host family was, well now you can multiply that by about 32. The family that I am living with now, make me feel so at home, they are so welcoming and caring! My mother cooks and cooks and cooks and makes sure my host father, brother and I have more than enough! My host brother, Carlos, 18 now and loving his exchange in France! It was a very short time spent with him, but if it wasn't for him I would not feel as comfortable walking around the city and knowing some of the history! He's a amazing friend, and I hope to continue that with relationship with him! Thanks man!

A day in the life: Wake up around 6:30 for class at Dunalastair. Water is heated from the sun, so showers are in the evening. Step outside, to a beautiful blue sky with hardly any clouds, feel the sun beat down on your neck, yet still feel the cool morning air touch your fingers. Driving is crazy, but I love it! There's something about, darting through a 6 ft gap with your car and then slamming on your brakes as you notice the taxi in front of you slamming on his breaks because the bus in front of you wanted to watch the street performers that come out while the red light counts down from 30. I get to school around 8:00!

Here's another blessing, the 12 exchange kids in my school! They are from all over the world, and In two short weeks they have become my friends. We have planned trips already and made plans for the rest of the year! Our laughs together I think make the band in school seem weak! They are amazing and I so look forward to sharing more and more experie nces with them! Get done with school at 5:20, long day right? It goes by quicker than you know it! I like it! Tomorrow we go to a dog shelter to clean up and give care to them! GIVING BACK is something I hope to do here every chance I get. I could not thank Rotary enough with all that they have done not just for me, but all the current and previous Exchange students! You guys are all a blessing and I hope I can show all of you what a blessing it is!

I hope you guys have enjoyed reading this post and all the other students! I will update you in the next month with the progress in my Spanish and the about the upcoming trip all of us are taking around the Southern parts of Peru. YES, that means Machhu Pichhu! 

Until next time,
Salud! Take great care! And shoot past the moon!

Justin 

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