Meghan, outbound to Peru

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for everyone and everything that I have come in contact with this year. With only weeks left in my second home, I am realizing just how much I truly love this place. Every day as I go about my activities, I am taking all the little moments in as priceless memories. From overcrowded, almost broken buses, to chicharron sandwiches, to the Peruvians all around me with their unique mannerisms, I’m taking mental note of it all as how my year here is.

Recently, I have been attending a local university studying psychology and Spanish, and have really enjoyed this experience to further my learning of the language and to learn a bit of psychology which has always interested me. The university is very big which gives me the opportunity to know more people, to attend reunions, and even practice some sports.

Since I last wrote, I also visited the Amazon jungle and the city of Iquitos. I really fell in love with the atmosphere and general energy of the place and promptly tried to convince the Rotarians to leave me. Though I did have to return, I am very happy to have had the experience.

While there we also did a service project bringing school supplies, clothing, and food items to people of a small village there. It was really great to meet and interact with the local people who live in such an isolated place, where 3 hours in a boat is needed to reach the nearest city. Many had never been far from their homes, but their general interest in the world was really cool. While talking with the natives, we were also led around by some of the best tour guides (6 and 7 year old children). They showed a friend and me all around the town and even took us to their home by boat. While on the trip, we also took some hikes through the jungles where we could see tons of animals such as monkeys and tarantulas, and boat rides to spot the river’s pink dolphins and countless bird species.

Many people from this region refer to the river as ‘the lungs of the world’ and I really can’t describe how amazing it is to be in a place like that, that is so pure and untouched. You can really feel new and nourished in such a place. My Rotary club also sponsored 2 students from villages in the Amazon to go on exchange next year in Canada and Brazil, and getting to know them and learn about their lives is vey interesting. When returning we all-starred and cheered for them on their first flight ever, and in Lima, they always make me laugh with their awe at things like the internet and big cars.

As my year draws to a close, I take joy in knowing I will carry this experience with me forever. If I could give some advice to all the future outbounds out there, it's to take each minute as it comes and to be present enjoying those days because once you have 300 days and 10 minutes later you’ll only have 10. Now as I return, I will bring back with me another home, perspective on life, another culture, new foods, new dances, and memories shared with new families and friends. All of who I once was is different now. I am forever grateful for this year and these experiences that have amounted to the memories that will always hold a special place in my heart. Lastly, thank you to everyone who made this possible. Until we meet again, te amo Peru.