To start things off, here is the link where I´m posting my pictures from Peru, so check it occasionally to see more photos (I will announce if there is anything super duper exciting to check out): http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=199337&id=512638949&l=6f190aef53
Family: My niece is the cuttest little girl ever. For those of you that have seen Monsters Inc. she looks exactly like Boo, and acts like her sometimes. I love it every time she calls me Tia (I don´t think I´ll ever actually be an aunt from home, haha).
The first actual day that I was here, I met my abuela (grandma) and some other members of the family, and they are all very sweet. At one point, me, my grandma, my mom and my brother were standing in the cocina (kitchen) and my grandma asked me if my mom was sad that I was gone. After translation from my brother, I said si. She then asked if I was sad, and I said si. At that point, my mom turned around and embraced me in a big hug, and after pulling away she put her hand on my cheek and spoke quickly in spanish. Even though I did not understand what she said, I understood the support that she was giving me, and I appreciated it.
Food: The food here is fantastic! There is always rice, potatoes or yuca served at every meal. I have loved every meal that I have eaten here, and I can´t wait to learn how to cook food like this so when I get home I can share it with everyone. I did have my first interesting food experience though, let me tell you. For lunch a several days ago, we had what looked like pasta, with beef, and on the side a potatoe and meat dish. I assumed that the meat with the potatoes was beef as well, but as I found out a couple of days later, I wasn´t quite right. After taking several bites of this ingrediant I wasn´t sure about, I knew that it wasn´t beef. It´s texture was a little bit more chewy, it had a whole lot of viens/other internal looking qualities of it, and the taste wasn´t very beefy. I knew that I was eating something from the inside of an animal, but I wasn´t sure what exactly. I tried to keep this off of my mind while I ate, because I was afraid that I might have some awful gag reflex. But with each bite, I could not keep it from my mind. So, I ate. And I ate some more. The problem with lunch here, is that it´s the biggest meal of the day, so there was no escaping the quantity of this internal organ that I had to eat. It didn´t taste BAD persay, but it didn´t taste like the best damn thing I have ever eaten in my whole life, either. The thing that was the most confusing to me was that there was SOOO much of it, and there were six of us eating our own seperate portions. While eating, I was going through all of the organs in my head to see if any of them would match up with the amount that we were all consuming. I canceled out the possiblities of: hearts (not chewy enough anyway), tounges, livers, and gizzards (haha). I had no idea what I was eating, but I knew that I didn´t want to ask while I was eating. A couple of days later, I remembered to ask my brother. We had: Chanfainita, in english this is known as: cow stomach. Boy oh boy, was I surprised! This is a delicacy of Peru that I did not know about as I thought it stopped at cow hearts and guinea pigs. Cows have more than one stomach... and I´m sure they are big to begin with... this would explain the abundance of it. Moo.
City: The first thing that I noticed in the city were all of the trees here. Most of which I have never seen anything like. I love them, and I want to start documenting them. The second thing that I noticed were the colorful houses. Many of the houses are painted in bright oranges, blues, reds and pink even! There is this particular hillside that we have passed a couple of times now, and almost every house is a bright color. I am captivated by it each time we pass because many houses are colors you would never see on a house in the US. I´m loving the brightness of the city. Currently, this is the only bright thing in the city because the sun hasn´t been out yet. I have been here for almost a week and I still haven´t seen the sun. It is driving me insane! The advertising here is really only for political stuff (or Peruivian things, which is nice), there are a LOT of KFC´s, McDonalds, Dunkin´Donuts (more than Colorado), Pizza Huts and Starbucks. And there is a surpisgnly large amount of stray dogs, and a small amount of dandilions.
Me: I am surprised with how relaxed I have been. I am not sick yet, which for all of those who have traveled with me, know this is HUGE. Normally I get sick within the first couple of days, but I don´t even have a sniffle! I have been going with the flow, now more than ever, which is also a big change for me. My daily planner was booked until the very second that I left last Wednesday, but since I have been in Peru, every day is blank. Granted, I can´t really plan much here, not yet anyway... but it is a nice feeling to not have to pay attention to the time, and when I get home, I hope to find the balance between "go with the flow", and an organized schedule.
Last, I have been amazing myself every day with the amount of effort I am putting in to speaking spanish. I am not getting too frustrated, yet, and I´m not embarrassed or shy to try to speak in my spanglish with other exchange students, my family or other peruvians. I am more open with my spanish here, then I was at home, practicing with my friends. I am content with where I´m at right now.