We arrived in Peru after a long tedious flight, which was particularly difficult for me as a result of my long legs. As soon as we got out of the airport we were met by our in country coordinators who were greeting us enthusiastically to our new surroundings. Easily noticeable, as we were all wearing our Progressio t-shirts, they quickly introduced themselves and ushered us towards the mini bus to take us to the temporary accommodation where we would be having our in country training, in a bohemian district called Barranco, in the capital city of Lima.
The bus ride towards our new home gave us a taste of our environment, fast and noisy cars filled the roads and new faces with dark hair and tanned skins gave inquisitive looks to the new guests in their country.
The accommodation we were staying in was a real treat. It was a house owned by priests who have rented out the place to volunteers and priests from around the world for the last 40 years, and the staff were so friendly and welcoming, always ladling us with food that we instantly felt at home.
The two supervisors, Cesar and Marianela, are truly wonderful people and we couldn’t have hoped for better hands to help us through our short time here. They were extremely keen to help us in any issues or problems we have here. They give such interesting answers about any questions we may have about local customs or culture. Also they are brilliant at helping us with our key Spanish words and phrases that are useful to our time here.
We stayed in Barranco for two weeks filling the time with guest speakers and Spanish lessons. The Spanish lessons were given by a delightful woman named Maria Isabel, who only speaks a bit of English but has such infectious warmth and charm, and numerous amusing actions that the lessons are always a joy and productive.
From our guest speakers, many of whom are former Progressio Development Workers, we learnt about the many facets of development issues that hinder or help Peru. From political issues of guerrilla armies and corrupt politicians, to education and lack of water, we slowly began to understand more succinctly the difficulties the people here face. In particular the extremity of just how bad some of it is, shocks me into realising just how ignorant, I in particular, was to the political turmoil that surrounded the country here in Peru.
On a lighter note, our first hand experiences have been nothing short of astonishing. Everyone we meet seems so nice and welcoming, always interested in our stories, and even taking pictures of us! Even though we barely can communicate, you slowly learn that simple hand gestures and a warm smile can get you more than far enough to get across what you need to say.
And the food! I really can not think of a time when I have been so spoilt by such exquisite flavours and variety. I struggle to comprehend after experiencing first hand the lovely tastes of the food, mixed with various heritages and influences here, why Peruvian food is not one of the best known and beloved delicacies in the UK or around the world.
The time in Barranco is now over and the real journey begins. We have now made our way to Villa El Salvador to spend the remainder of our 10 weeks. It’s a completely new surrounding and our anticipation and excitement has been renewed as we begin to learn again about our placements and the new people we meet.
By Alex Kosieniak-Madejski
Photographs from top to bottom:
1: The Beach in Barranco - Left to right – Anike, Stephen, Farah, Alex, Shalina, Yohance and Hussein (©Anna/Progressio) 09/10/11
2: Arrival in Peru - Left to right - Farah, Alex, and Anike Taken by: Yohance 01/10/11
3: Spanish Lesson - Left to right – Maria Isabel, Farah, Hussein, Stephen, Alex, Shalina and Anike (©Yohance/Progressio) 06/10/11
4: Lunch in Barranco- Left to right- Yohance, Agata, Stephen, Marianela, Alex, Anna, Anike, Cesar, Adrianna, Shalina and Farrah
(©Hussein/Progressio) 07/ 10/11