Saturday, February 20, 2016

21 Things I Learned From My First Month Of Living In Peru

Today marks my first month in Peru. How time flew so quick. To celebrate surviving my first month, I made a list of things I learned, observed, and experienced the whole time I was here.

  1. You can subsist on 14 Soles (roughly PhP190) worth of food budget for 3-4 days. Cooking is an essential skill you have to acquire when traveling slow. 
  2. On my first day of work in the kitchen, I was forced to cook an omelette for a customer. I've never done it back home (yes, I am awful like that) so imagine how I murdered my first omelette. I apologised to the guest but he was fine with it. Oh, did I mention I forgot to put salt on it? ✌🏼️ +_+
  3. If you are not a loaded traveler (I mean come on first-world-citizens-who-claim-themselves-as-budget-travelers, you clearly haven't got clue of third-world-travelers-on-budget), buy your beers from supermarkets and drink it outside. Sit down in one of the many parks, sip on your cerveza while people watching. Beers in hostel bars are expensive, that's how they profit. Ssshhh. 
  4. Canadians are the nicest bunch of travelers I've ever encountered behind (and outside) the bar.
  5. I met a few really nice American couples (they are out there, just rare breed!) traveling South America; BUT
  6. I also met young American women who were the WORST. Let's just say they couldn't hold their alcohols, wrecked havoc in the hostel and pretty much caused an embarrassing scene which we still talk about until today.
  7. Peruvian women are so gifted. I could stare at their bums all day and not get tire. 
  8. Reggaeton is a huge deal in South America. You will hear it everywhere so get used to it. Or better yet, learn to enjoy it.
  9. Don't leave Arequipa without eating Chicharrones. Preferably those found in Mercado de San Camilo. 
  10. When being introduced to a local for the first time, kisses on the cheek are normal.
  11. Also, a peck on the cheek before you leave. A simple ciao won't cut it.
  12. I am still mistaken as a Korean.
  13. There will always be friendly and curious travelers, talk to them.
  14. But be wary of old travelers, they could be grumpy. Smile and suck it up.
  15. Even if you've traveled extensively, someone will always have better travel resume than yours.It's mindblowing how they could. 
  16. Dutch are the second nicest bunch.
  17. I like Peruvians because they do not stare at me. They do, however, stare at my feet whenever I walk around in my flip-flops.
  18. It is RARE to see Arequipeños wearing flip-flops. They ALWAYS wear shoes.
  19. In Lima, you can get away with flip-flops and pekpek shorts on summer. Everyone's showing skin, even the oldies (eyelovet!). 
  20. While accompanying a few friends for a late lunch, an old but obviously drunk man gave me a shiny un Sol to remember him by. Kinda weird but hey, I wouldn't say no to an un sol!
  21. Rest assured when I serve you your cocktails, they are clean. It's my takeaway after working for more than 3 weeks in a hostel bar. ;) 
I will be heading to Chile next week, stay tuned for my long-distance bus stories (huhu). Include me in your prayers if you are one of my friends who does. 😁

Ciao ciao!

Monday, February 15, 2016

A Valentine Post But Not Really

When I woke up today at 6.30am, I looked for my phone and opened Facebook like I usually do. While scrolling down my feed, I saw my cousin's status announcing that our grandmother, the woman whom I was named after, has passed away.

I was surprised but calm. Then I went about today's activities. It's a Sunday so I'm in charged of kitchen. Once I was done prepping the kitchen for breakfast, I had a little down time. I decided to post about her passing away in instagram. It was while composing a caption that everything sank in. I allowed myself to mourn and cry a little.

The hardest bit of her passing away was I never got to say goodbye seeing as I'm on the other side of the world. But I do think that she will forgive me for it. We might not have the closest relationship, like my cousins have with her (since they all live in one house), I know ours was one of mutual admiration. I admire her for her courage to endure everything that had been hurled her way, for taking care of her (too many) grandchildren even if it meant giving up something for herself. My cousins, aunt, and uncle are the luckiest because they got to live and spend so much time with her but oftentimes I can't help but think that they drove her to the extremes and eventually it wore her out. She was aware of it but she chose them still.

I heard the reason why a certain cousin hated me then and made my life miserable - back when I used to lived in the same house during weekends - was that because I was her favourite. I never believed it. How could I? I didn't see her for almost seven years (I was shipped off to the province, came back when I was about to start University) and my mother isn't exactly well-liked in the family (let's just say she is the black sheep so initially, I thought everyone wouldn't like me as well).

My cousins had all the advantage in the world so why would she choose me? As I grew older, I realised that she might not really have uttered those exact words to anyone. She might, at some point, talked and bragged about how I was in the best University in the country, how I was a scholar blah, blah, blah that my cousin thought of me as a threat. Our grandmother got sidetracked for a while and she did not like it. I admire her sneaky way of getting into someone's head although I kind of paid for it for a few years.

When I told her about our trip to South America, she was genuinely happy and excited for me. I heard it in her voice and saw it on her face, how it lit up after hearing I was flying to the other side of the world after years of saving up for it. Her approval meant a lot to me. I'd like to believe that she approved most of my life choices, like not marrying at an early age like everyone else in the family had lol.

Wherever you are, I hope I made you proud. Sorry I was not there to hold your hand one last time.

Rest now, Lola Sarah. Say hi to Lolo for me.