Category: Trujillo

Reconnecting with my love of travel

As I previously mentioned, instead of staying in Chavin we decided to go straight to Trujillo. We got in around 4:30 am on Monday morning; rather than mess with a CouchSurfer, we just checked into a hostel that Caro’s guide book had recommended. That was the best thing that we could have done. Due to the harrowing weekend that we had had before, I found myself at the end of my rope by Monday morning. I was this close to changing my plane ticket and returning that very day. But we were able to rest in the hostel, take it easy for a few days, and by Tuesday or Wednesday I was feeling worlds better. I’m sure that the shower – my first in 5 days – also helped enormously :).

So Monday was a pretty low-key day, basically just recuperating from the weekend. I spent a lot of time in the main square of Trujillo (which is absolutely lovely – definitely my favorite city yet), just writing, taking pictures, and talking to people. People say I look Hispanic, but I still think I stick out like a sore thumb – I’m constantly having people coming up to me trying to sell me something or ask where I’m from. This can get pretty annoying at times, but it also is an excellent way to meet people, if you choose to look at it that way.

That is, at least, how I chose to look at it, and I really did get the opportunity to meet quite a few interesting characters.  I met César, the indigenous man who was admirably persistent in trying to sell a tour to me. At first I didn’t mind talking to him, because he was keeping his distance; but over the course of the afternoon he kept coming back and getting closer and closer. When he tried to give me a kiss on the cheek even though I was obviously and quickly walking away from him was around the time that I left the plaza for the afternoon.

But not all of the people I met left a bad taste in my mouth like César did. Take Israel, for example, a cop who was stationed in the plaza that afternoon. I’m not really sure why there were so many policemen there – there was no threat of violence or unrest. Poor Israel looked so bored, I think he was just looking for an interesting distraction.  But he was very nice, and more than happy to show me where to exchange money, or find cheap artisan shops, or recommend good restaurants, or just tell me a little bit about himself. I really enjoyed talking with Israel.

I met George because he was, not surprisingly, trying to sell me something. When I made it clear that I wasn’t interested, he decided to just sit down and tell me the whole history of Peru, Trujillo, and the central plaza de armas. I suspect that he was doing it because he wanted a tip, but it was still a fascinating story. My favorite part was his description of the symbolism that the fountain in the main plaza has. The central figure is a youth holding a torch that symbolizes liberty. Around this youth, there are other figures that represent the stages of liberty – first, the oppression of the indigenous people, second, the fight to break the chains of slavery, and finally freedom in the end. In between those figures, there were also smaller ones that represented the great things of Peru, such as education and its beauty. It was really quite an impressive fountain. I love symbolism.

Monday was a much-needed day of rest, and also a reminder to me of what I love about traveling – connecting with people. But by Tuesday Caro and I were back on our whirlwind sightseeing tour. We went to two different sights on Tuesday, called Huaca de la Luna and El Brujo. They were both incredible. Constructed thousands of years ago, even before the period of the Incans, and made from simple adobe mud bricks, it’s truly amazing to me how much of these structures are still standing. The same goes for the 200 kilometer square complex of Chan Chan, which we saw the next day. Although we took tours to Huaca de la Luna and El Brujo because they were obligatory, we went on our own to Chan Chan, and spent hours wandering the complex ruins. The site itself was very impressive, but the area around it was rather strange, actually, and we spent a long time wandering the marked paths around the ruins looking for the museum that was supposedly right around the corner.  But we never found it – all of the paths just led to dead ends, so eventually we gave up and headed back into town (maybe it’s a marketing ploy to try to get you to buy a tour – only the tour guides know how to get to the museum! Hehehe…)

It was with great sadness that we left Trujillo on Thursday morning. Trujillo was by far my favorite city yet. The plaza (and city in general) was lovely, the people were friendly, and I even got to go dancing on Tuesday night! If I ever go back to Peru, Trujillo is definitely going to be one of the places that I visit. Maybe by plane this time, to avoid all of the time in buses :).

My first long weekend :)

So, like I mentioned in my last blog, this was my first long weekend of the semester. I spent Friday and Saturday on a trip with most of the other students to three little cities, Mérida, Cáceres, and Trujillo. In Mérida, we went to ancient Roman ruins and a museum of Roman antigüedades – I am absolutely in love with all of the mythological influences and mosaic depictions around here. It’s probably one of my favourite parts of all of the visits. In Cáceres we took a tour around the Medieval Barrio of Cáceres – it’s been preserved in its original Medieval condition, castles and all. There was also a statue that is said to bring marriage to anyone who touches his toes…sorry mom, I couldn’t help but touch them :). Check out the statue here. We stayed in a hotel in Cáceres Friday night, and went on to Trujillo the next day, where we visited a huge fortified castle. It was all very cool, and I took lots of pictures for you, my loyal readers, that you can check out here. But I’m kind of getting tired of sightseeing. I feel like that makes me very uncultured and uncivilized, but that’s how I feel, nevertheless. It seems to me that, after you’ve seen dozens of palaces and castles and ancient ruins and gorgeous churches, they all start to look the same after a while. Plus, I’m really really tired of hearing about everyone’s drinking escapades and loose behaviour and foul mouths. There’s a reason that I don’t hang out with the majority of the students here. Two full days with them was pushing my limit – I was glad when we finally pulled back into Seville. My host family was not home on Saturday – they had gone to the beach – so I spent a quite evening catching up on homework and my blog and just revelling in silence and solitude. Every night after dinner, my host parents put on their little aprons and do the dishes while I clean up the table – it’s really quite adorable, seeing these 2 little old people side by side in their aprons, doing the dishes together :). Since they weren’t here tonight, I did the dishes for them, so they wouldn’t come home to a dirty kitchen – but I did it without the apron :D. After dinner I watched Leap Year by myself on my computer. Not exactly the way most students would choose to spend a Saturday evening, but it was much needed for me.

Sunday morning I went to church. It was awesome. The service was wonderful, and I also got to meet people from all over the world. There was Flor, a French student who’s here studying history in the university for the semester. Moni is English, and she’s here doing an internship of sorts at an insurance company. Polina is from Holland, and she just started studying Spanish 2 months ago! Right now she hardly understands anything…but she’s here until February, I’m sure she’ll learn un montón by then! Let’s see, I also met Michael, who is originally from Cuba, but now lives here in Seville and sings in the worship group at church. He’s very good – he was a famous performer in Cuba before he left. He’s also rather attractive…but don’t tell him I said so! 😉

I went out with 2 Spaniards, Miguel and Raquel, and Sarah in the evening. We were going to go to the Plaza del Museo and look at the artwork there (one of my assignments from Jon), but it was closed :(. So we walked for a while and ended up in a different plaza, drinking juice and watching an outside Flamenco performance by the lovely fountains that were there. It was only as we were leaving that I realized that those were the fountains of Alameda de Hercules, another one of my assignments. So I still ended up checking off something on my bucket list, although it wasn’t the one I was planning on doing :). On our way back, I saw an incredible sight, one I had despaired of ever seeing in Spain – rain. It has not rained a drop since I’ve been here. It would decide to rain today, when I was over an hour’s walk from my house. Luckily for me, Miguel lives pretty far away, and so he always drives me into the city. So he gave me a ride back, which was far preferable to walking back in the rain :).

I just realized that I never told you what my homework was for this week! (I’m talking of Jon’s homework, of course; I have 3 classes with the same professor, and he doesn’t believe in giving us homework. So I have lots more free time that most of the students here :]) Anyway, here were my assignments for this week: 1) Visit the Seville City Cemetery. Look out for a subtle, yet interesting story etched forever in stone; 2) Have a King’s breakfast! Go to the churros stand on Calle Arfe. Rumor says that when the King stays in the Alcazar (fortified palace), he sends someone to this stand to pick up his morning churros; 3) Go watch improvised flamenco dancing al Lo Nuestro on Calle Betis; 4) Do cartwheels in your hall in the middle of the night; 5) Set up some pots and pans and let the rocker in you out with a wicked awesome beat.

I was dancing all over the house last night, when my family was gone at the beach. I’m glad they were gone, because I highly doubt I would have done that had they been there :). Also, I think #5 might be difficult to do – I don’t exactly have random pots lying in my room, and I would feel weird banging on my Señora’s kitchenware :). And I refuse to go to Calle Betis – it’s known throughout the city as the place where all the Americans go to get drunk…and they do it everyyyyy nighttttt. I went there once at the beginning of the program, and got my fill of it for the entire semester. But I think that, since I saw a Flamenco dance at the fountains of Hercules today instead, that totally suffices for #3 :). Anyway, enough of my babbling for now. I’m sure you have other things to do than read my blogs all night, and I have to go finish what little homework I have to do.