When I left for volunteering in Huanchaco in January there’s no way I could have told you that I’d still be here half a year later. I also could not have predicted the connections I’ve made, the children I came to know and love, and the half-blind Peruvian puppy that will soon journey across continents with me. There’s no telling what Peru has in store for you… but I can tell you that unforgettable experiences is written high up on the inventory list. What happens in Peru definitely doesn’t stay in Peru – it will be with you for the rest of your life. It’s difficult to sum up 6 months of volunteering with Otra Cosa Network in a few words, so I decided to create a list to highlight 10 of my own most unforgettable experiences while living in Huanchaco.
1. My volunteer work with OCN started in the free summer HELP English program held in Huanchaco’s library. I’m still impressed with how much English the kids learned in just 2 months!
2. Pablo Picasso said that every child is an artist. Now I know this to be true. I was able to spend weeks teaching ballet and modern dance to kids who had never before been able to express themselves with movement. By the end they could tell a whole story without speaking.
3. Living in Huanchaco sparks a certain simplicity of life that just doesn’t exist in the US anymore – or at least is much harder to find. I don’t remember the last time in my country that I was able to spend a full day teaching at school and still have time in the afternoon to go surfing, buy a freshly caught fish for dinner at the market, and catch the sunset on the beach.
4. Peruvian food, enough said.
5. Rescuing my half-blind puppy is definitely high on my unforgettable list (not to mention the vet bills being ¼ of what I’d pay in the US). She may not have survived to see next winter, but now she’ll be able to see snow this winter.
6. The classes that I taught were not only English classes, they were also classes of patience and acceptance, and I was the recipient of that information.
7. Getting hugged by a conglomerate of tiny smiling faces every morning is not a memory that is easily dismissed. The warmth of the Peruvian people in general will stay with you for a long time.
8. Apparently there are only 7 wonders of the modern world. However, the person who made the list never witnessed the fiesta palo cilulo, an interesting Peruvian festivity. American celebrations just don’t stack up to the ones in Peru. (key words: color fest Peru)
9. The mountains of Peru did make it to the 7 modern wonders list, and with that I can definitely agree.
10. If variety is the spice of life, then volunteering in a new country with new people may be just as picante as Ronie’s aunt’s ceviche. Sometimes life doesn’t always end with death. If you stop meeting new people, stop having new experiences, and stop trying new foods (e.g. guinea pig), then life may just end before death. And if you’re wondering who Ronie’s aunt is, then you should come to Huanchaco to find out.